How do you pick what book you’re going to read next? I normally just have a sense of what’s next in my queue, as well as a short list of books I’d like to get to soon, so I don’t really have to stop and think about it. But more than once this summer I’ve found myself at a loss as to what I was in the mood for or unable to pick among a stack of books, so I’ve been trying a few different ways to pick out my next read.
For instance, I’ve been reading My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg for ages (rather, I read about half of it, put it down, and haven’t picked it back up for at least a month), so I’m pushing myself to finish that. But I know I won’t want a nonfiction book next and I have a few arcs I’d like to read by the end of the month, so I’m thinking I’ll go for the romance arc first (Intercepted by Alexa Martin) because it’s been a couple of books since I read a romance, and then I’ll read the YA arc (Meet the Sky by McCall Hoyle). And after that, I’ll probably start The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin since it’s a completely different genre and she’s doing an event later this month, so I’d like to read it before then. But I also want to finish up John Adams by David McCullough, so we’ll see when it gets closer which one I’m more in the mood for.
However, I just got approved for an arc of A Notorious Vow by Joanna Shupe, which I am super excited for, so the reality is I’m probably going to punt everything to read that and then circle back to my initial plan.
There’s a lot of flexibility in that list and it is definitely subject to change, but I kind of know what’s coming up soon. This summer, though, I’ve had a lot of instances where I don’t know what I want to read next, especially if I know I’m in the mood for a specific genre but don’t know what or if there’s a big stack I suddenly feel the need to read immediately but can’t decide where to start. The tips below have been really helpful and fun and kept me from avoiding reading because of my inability to settle on a book.
At one point this summer, I knew I was in the mood for a romance but couldn’t settle on one out of a stack on my shelves, so I assigned each one of them a number (basically, the top one on the stack was one, and the bottom was seven) and then looked up a randomizer and asked it to pick one for me.
This was actually interesting, too, because I didn’t necessarily pick the first book it gave me. I think I got two books through this method and decided I wasn’t happy with the result of the randomizer, so I kept refreshing the randomizer until I was happy with the book it picked for me. I didn’t know with my initial stack that those weren’t the ones I wanted to read, but once they came up as my choice, I knew it wasn’t quite right.
You could also roll a dice (or google “roll dice” for the same effect) if you have less than six books and want to make it more interactive.
Make a Friend Pick
I had another instance this summer where I had a big stack of books in a bunch of different genres and couldn’t quite decide which one I wanted to read next. So I described them all to my husband and asked him what he thought I should read.
It’s actually kind of neat to see what the reasoning is behind your friend’s choice. His though was that the book in question sounded like something different than what I normally read and that I should get out of my comfort zone (he picked Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and I wound up really disliking it, but I can’t say I regret that he picked it since I had been meaning to read it for ages).
I imagine someone else could also pick up on which book you’re most excited for and suggest you go with that, or say they want your opinion on a book before reading it themselves. You’ll probably find all kinds of interesting logic if you go with this option!
Read the First Pages
I’ve seen the Try a Chapter Tag floating around online where people read the first chapter of a bunch of different books and then try to decide, but that’s too slow of a process for me personally. You could be six chapters into one book instead of one chapter into six books in the same time period!
But I see the logic behind getting a sense of the book in order to help you make your decision, so I decided to just read the first couple of pages of each book instead of the entire first chapter. Ideally I tried to read to the first break in the text, which interestingly enough was usually three or four pages into a book, but if there wasn’t one, then I just stopped after four pages and made myself move on to the next book.
It was actually a really helpful way to get a sense of the different tones and writing styles and see what I was most in the mood for at the time.
Like I said, I usually kind of know what I want to read about two or three books in advance, though it’s definitely a very fluid list. But these methods proved really helpful to force me to make a decision and keep reading. Plus it was kind of fun to see what I would wind up with! I can definitely see myself using some of these again in the future just because I want to and not necessarily because I can’t make a decision.
How about you? How do you pick what to read next? Have you ever used any of these methods, or do you have any other tips you recommend? Let me know in the comments! And definitely report back if you try any of these and let me know what you think!