Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Next Good Book

After finishing a book, I sometimes have a hard time figuring out what to read next. Should I re-read a book that I have read and loved in the past, or should I take a leap into less familiar literary territory?

What follows is a short list of my go-to strategies for finding the next good book:

Pick up the first book in a series

This is a strategy that I have developed for myself over the years. If you saw my home library, you’d notice that a good third of it is comprised of what I like to call “series-starters.” I find this strategy to be helpful, because it takes away a lot of the work in finding the next book to read. If you like the first book, you have more to look forward to! I recently used this method, picking up The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. I’m only halfway finished with it; and, honestly, I’m not sure if I’m going to continue the series or not. But, it’s comforting to know that if I do decide to continue the series, there are five more books waiting!

Of course, depending on the length of the series and how quickly you get through it, you may find yourself back in What-Do-I-Read-Now? Land sooner than expected. That’s why I sometimes need to use…
Online Reader’s Advisory Tools

There are a ton of resources online that can help you find your next book. One of my favorites is NoveList Plus, which you can access through the library’s website with your library card. Simply put in the title of a book or an author’s name, and NoveList will provide you with a list of “read-alikes.” That’s how I found out about Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles—Wrede was listed as a read-alike for Terry Pratchett.

One of the best aspects of NoveList, however, is that each title has been thoroughly analyzed by experts. The resource will provide information about storyline, pace, tone, and other elements of each title. You can then find other titles with those same characteristics. For example, I enjoyed how the plot of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is character-driven, but it’s going to be a while before I want to read another story that’s as emotionally intense. I can use NoveList to find character-driven books in other genres.

If you want a more social experience, you can try websites like GoodReads.com* and LibraryThing.com. These sites are composed of user-generated ratings, reviews, and recommendations. I like to use sites like these when I want to know more about a specific title before making a commitment to reading it. If most people liked the book, then I am more willing to try it for myself.

But, my number one source for reading recommendations has to be…

Asking a librarian!
Librarians are living, breathing, walking, talking resources—take advantage of their skills! They may not have read every book in the library, but they have been trained to connect readers with reading materials. Tell them what you like (or what you don’t like), and they will find books that match your tastes. Seriously, let them do all the work!
Our Reference staff, left to right: Cailey, Mary, John, Amanda, Kristin, and Meredith.
(This was Halloween; we normally don't carry weapons, even pretend.)
So, what about you?  How do you like to discover the next good book to read?
-Ariel J.

*To the right of the screen you can see our librarians' GoodReads feeds, showing their most recently read books and ratings. Click through for full reviews!

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