- Books, Literature, and Writing
How to Choose a Good Book
Picking a Great Read
Are you an avid reader? I am--and I go through three or four books a week, on average. Over the course of several years, that number adds up--and often I find that I'm short on quality books. I'll start one and it will be poorly written, poorly plotted, or just uninteresting. Then, I get annoyed that I've wasted money and time.
If you also read voraciously, or if you're just looking to get into the habit, it's important to pick books that interest you, entertain you, or move you in some way--the most fulfilling reading experience is one where you connect with the book in some facet.
Read on for tips on choosing a good book!
- Science Fiction
- Chick lit
Considering Genres to Pick a Good Book
Many people have a genre or genre of books they prefer--for instance, mystery, romance, or suspense. If you choose a book within one of your favorite categories, you will be more likely to enjoy it.
Choosing a Genre for Avid Readers: If you already love to read, you know what your favorite genres are and also have favorite authors. So, it should be fairly easy to pick a good book based on your personal preferences. Look up a few of your favorite novels on Amazon, and see what other people have bought along with that novel; Amazon will also recommend similar novels in the same vein. You can also search by genre on Amazon (or Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads).
Choosing a Genre for Those Who Would Like to Get More Into Reading: If you're not really a reader but would like to start reading more, you may not know what kind of book to pick up. Take some time to think about what you like--are you a very logical person, and enjoy the news? The true crime genre might be for you! Or if you enjoy puzzles and stretching your brain, mysteries would probably be a good fit. It also helps to think what kind of movies you like--romance, suspense, horror--and then choose picks in a parallel genre.
Flipping Through the Book to Test Its Quality
Of course, you can pick up a book in your favorite genre and the book can be terrible! Especially with the rise of self-publishing, many novels on the market today (mostly on Kindle) are rife with errors, plot holes, and generally terrible writing that make you regret spending your hard-earned dollars.
If you're downloading a book on Kindle or Nook, be sure to download the sample first. If you're not hooked in the first few pages, you've saved some money! Or, if the book is poorly written or edited, you can weigh whether or not you think the story itself will make up for the unpolished presentation.
If you're buying the book in a traditional bookstore, stand for a few minutes and skim the first few pages. Does the writing resonate with you? Do the first few paragraphs grab your attention? If so, it's probably a worthwhile buy. I always do this in a bookstore, because generally I hate first-person writing; if I pick up a book and it's in first-person, it usually goes right back on the shelf.
My Favorite Novels
Asking for Recommendations and Reading Reviews
One of the most tried-and-true ways of choosing a good book is to ask for recommendations and to read online reviews of books.
Good sources of recommendations include:
- Bookstore clerks
- Book blogs
Recommendations and reviews aren't always spot on--occasionally the masses will adore a book you just can't stand--but generally they are a good indicator of a quality read.
Sticking with the Classics
If you're stuck on finding a good read, there's always one genre to which you can turn: the classics. These books have endured through the years and proven to be not only entertaining to their readers, but also multi-faceted and meaningful.
Try a list of "Top 100 Classics" and pick a few that interest you--you might be surprised at how timeless some of the stories are, no matter what era produced them.
Passing a Good Book Along
If you find a good book, do other readers a favor and pass it along! Give away your copy to someone who will appreciate it, or go online and write a review. Other readers will be greatful!