Reading 101: How to Decide What to Read Next?

I love reading but I have so many people in my life who don’t quite understand the fuss. If you’re of the same kind but like the idea of being well-read, then my series that covers the basics of becoming a true reader is for you! I already posted an introductory post way back in October 2017, which outlines the steps to becoming a book lover, so feel free to check that out if you haven’t. This post is for those of you who have already found that one book you thoroughly enjoyed and are looking for more but have no clue who to turn to or where to search. I’m dividing the post into two sections because shortlisting the book to read next is a two-step process, according to me.

Reading 101 - Next Read

Step 1: Make a list of potential books – a TBR pile

1. Get recommendations from bookish websites

If you thoroughly enjoyed your last read, chances are you’ll like more of the same kind. The best place to check out similar books is Goodreads. Since the new app update, I’ve been loving this site. Although not without its fault, I use it to keep track of my reading and connect with more book lovers online. It also has a great recommendations which are tailored to your reading tastes. You can also of course try some other bookish websites, although I haven’t personally used any – find more in this article. The simplest way would be to Google, obviously.

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2. Ask a bookish friend

Whether online or in real life, bookworms are always waiting for a chance to gush about their favourites. Do your friendly neighbourhood bibliophile/online best friend a favour and ask them to give you a list books. The good thing about asking someone who knows you is that they’ll probably mention books that you might enjoy as opposed to getting a random recommendation which you may or may not end up liking.

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3. Walk into a bookstore or library

This could be virtual or real, depending on what you can access. Head over to the section that has the genre you like best or just browse through and pick up any that catch your eye. Asking the librarian or bookstore employees can also help you add some books you might not have otherwise noticed. Again, depending on how much you can spend or can read once you check out the books, shortlist the few that you are drawn to the most and head back with your haul.

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4. Make use of the online bookish community

Book Twitter and Bookstagram are two of my favourite places not only to meet more like-minded people but also add to my ever-increasing TBR. It’s always helpful to know what the latest trending books are or check if your favourite author announced a new book. Book blogs and Booktube are also great – especially recommendations, TBR and book haul posts/videos. This is my preferred way to discover books and also to learn what the people I trust have to say about them so that I can weed out the ones I may not enjoy. If you’re on Twitter, some useful hashtags are – #booktwitter, #bookrecs (general), #diversebookbloggers #bookblogger (if applicable), #diversebooks (if that’s what you’re looking for) and specific genre hashtags like #fantasybooks or #yabooks. Thanks to Neha @ BiblioNyan and Resh @ The Book Satchel for the help! Here is my list of recommendations for beginners as well as those looking to get out of a reading slump.

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5. Participate in a readathon

Readathons are very flexible in the sense that you can pick books based on the reading prompts, which give a sense of direction to your TBR. For a mood reader like me, it gives a structure to my reading as I feel a sense of accountability and forces me to get creative with the prompts so that I can add the books I’m in the mood for to my TBR. There’s also usually a community cheering you on so that you feel more motivated to read, which is always a plus!

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Step 2: Choosing Your Next Read

This can be done in many different ways, so here I am telling a few methods that I think actually work.

1. Figure out your reading pattern

There are a few types of readers that book lovers can be broadly classified as. I myself am a mood reader, so I keep a stack of different kinds of books (also in different formats like e-book and audiobook) handy so I can choose one from among them depending on my mood after I finish my current read. A methodical or organised reader might benefit more from making a monthly or even weekly TBR. Readathons are a great hit with such readers. A seasonal reader would be advised to stock up books depending on the weather outside and pick up books from a pre-determined pile. Of course, it is completely normal to break up the pattern and read something on a whim or try to stick to a TBR if you’re a mood reader, so remember to mix it up once in a while!

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2. Read the synopsis or a chapter

It’s always best to get a feel for what you’re in for before deciding to commit to a book. Reading the synopsis will not only help you decide whether it can be your next read but also make you even more excited for the book. Sometimes, the synopsis might provide too much information, so I prefer to recommend reading a chapter before deciding from a sample of books from your TBR. Pick up one that you’re most excited for and get a taste of the writing, story, characters and atmosphere before jumping in. If it’s not a great fit, just try another until you find the perfect one.

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3. Flip a coin

This was one of the reading challenges for the recent BookTube-A-Thon and it really struck me. Sometimes even the most planned person may have difficulty in making a choice. Perhaps there are so many choices that it’s overwhelming or there are two that equally appeal to you. Leave it to chance and let the universe pick out the book for you! If you can’t narrow it down to two books, try rolling a die or a random number generator.

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4. Do a poll on bookish social media

Like I mentioned before, Book Twitter and Bookstagram are absolutely amazing platforms for an avid reader. The best part is that when you’re stumped and out of your depth, it helps to have an experienced and understanding community which can steer you in the right direction. Here’s a video by one of my favourite BookTubers, Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages, where she goes over her TBR that was picked by her Instagram followers. If you’re looking for ideas on how to ask the community, this would be very helpful.

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5. Join a book club

When the decisions are being made by another person, everything can be so very easy. I actually love being part of book clubs and there are some lovely ones that are being run by my blogging friends – Classics & Christie book club by Simant @ Flipping Through the Pages and Fanna @ Fannatality, Banned Book Club by Shruti @ This is Lit and Crone Book Club by Jenn @ Jenniely. It’s also nice to discuss the book chosen with a community and hear differing opinions on the book club pick.

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Comments
When did you start reading? Do you consider yourself an experienced or novice reader? Do you have any more tips to add to the list? Let me know in the comments section below.

44 thoughts on “Reading 101: How to Decide What to Read Next?

  1. I really started to get into reading at the start of high school (I had a long bus ride to entertain myself with). I generally follow a contemporary (romance) then non-contemporary (fantasy, etc) pattern when I read since I’m a mood reader. But I’m awful at decisions so I have hard time deciding what to read next. So I totally endorsed your Flip a Coin Method! I use a random number generator too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your process! 😊 I’m so glad it’s working for you and that you’ve embraced the mood reader in you. ❀ I’m still struggling a bit but I think I’ll get there soon. I’m trying to keep track of my reading habits (what feels good vs what feels forced) to try and identity what works for me. πŸ™‚
      Yay, I’m so glad I found a person who does this too! I didn’t know if others would find that tip helpful so I’m really grateful to you for telling me and validating my opinions. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how detailed and informative your posts are… this is so wonderful Nandini 😊😊
    I’m a total mood reader too… every day is a struggle to select my next read… these days, I just keep browsing Kindle unlimited and picking up random romance novels just to keep reading something…
    I feel like I have too many books I want to read… but it’s the best kind of struggle πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Sahitya! 😊 I completely empathize with your struggle! I have the weird combination of having a no-DNF rule as well as being a mood reader so I sometimes force myself through books I may not have enjoyed at that moment just because I feel obligated. Ugh, I really need to stop doing that. πŸ™„
      I wish I had so much time to read! I’m so glad you do but I also recognise why it may not always be as rosy as it might seem to others because mood reading can take away from a reading experience immensely. I hope we become better at choosing books or controlling our reading moods in the future! 😊 We may need lots of data and a scientist to figure out a pattern or arrive at an algorithm for that though. πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot! 😊 I love encouraging people to read and providing ideas to help the process along. Not all suggestions will work for everyone, which is why I put a lot of detail in so people can pick and choose from the tips mentioned. πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. OK, that GIF where the lady is doing a split while reading, and turning around while she’s doing that… that kind of hurts to watch it! *lol*

    This is an interesting post, Nandini. I think all readers seem to have different ways of deciding what book to read next. Me, for example – I rely less on mood and more tackling things strategically. I try to rotate between three “categories” of books: a brand new book (a.k.a. a book published that given year), then a book published in a previous year, then a book that’s similar in some way to whatever story I’m working on (or contemplating working on) at that time. This helps me stay up to date with new books (for the most part… I definitely bought more new books than I should have in 2017! Oops) while catching up on older books. And sometimes I’ll borrow a book from my local library to help keep book-buying costs down – but, of course, if I end up liking said book enough, then I’ll get my own copy afterward. πŸ˜‰

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    1. Haha, I wish I were that flexible! That takes some serious skill. 😡
      Yeah, I tried to include a bunch of different methods so people can choose whatever works for them. My process is a mix of many things because everything depends on my mood at the time. πŸ˜…
      I love your process! It’s so balanced and I’m very happy that you can stick to that. I’d probably do it for a week and then discontinue it. πŸ™ˆ I wish I had your resolve and organisation. πŸ˜… As an author, it’s absolutely necessary to read comp books – I think it’s a very important point that you made and a great tip for aspiring writers. πŸ™‚ Thanks a lot for sharing, Sara! As always, I’m fascinated by everything you have to say and learnt a thing or two as well. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Nandini! It works well for me – most of the time. πŸ˜‰ Once in a while I deviate depending on how excited I am to read a particular book. Or, if I’m getting ready to travel, I might leave a bigger book at home and choose a thinner one to bring instead. XD

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  4. This is the perfect post for new bibliophiles as well as long-time ones, I love everything about this. I’m going to bookmark this for future reference or just reference whenever the need arises for it!! πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–

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  5. Wonderful post Nandini! I am mood reader too πŸ˜€ I can hardly stick to my designated TBR unless it is some kind of readathon or blog tour.
    I loved how detailed you have written this post. This is definitely going to benefit many. When it comes to adding more books to TBR, Bookstagram is my top source just because it is easier to het information there. However it is easy to miss information on Twitter for me πŸ™ˆ

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      1. No no, that was quite genuine! ❀ (Was the emoji misleading?) Well, seeing as science still can’t answer some essential questions, I’m sure some things can “defy science”. We’d all be much better off if we listened to our intuition. πŸ˜… I’m glad you do!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I personally am a mood reader, I just pick up a book I’m in the mood for whenever I finish one book, and I have a small pile of unread books so I’m never really confused about which one I should read first because I have so few choices and I’m always excited about all of them.

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  8. I’ve been reading since I was three years old πŸ˜€ Or so my mother says! Personally, I’m a mood reader so setting a TBR is not a habit. However, I am giving it a try this August!

    I picked out different genres so that I have diverse choices, and a few ARCs to keep me on track. I do love the idea of joining a book club πŸ™‚ I’ve always wanted to belong to a classics club because I don’t get to discuss the classics often! Great post, Nandini! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. Ever since i started reading reviews on blogs, that’s my main source of inspiration.
    I have a really cool charity shop in my area that has so many great books, and a ton of newish ones as well. Quite often i even find some stuff i forgot about.

    I have a massive stockpile of books, so it’s not like i’m going to run out of reading material too soon πŸ˜€ I’m also a mood reader, but recently i noticed that i was prioritizing books i got from NetGalley. They all kind of fit into my mood, maybe one or two was sort of “i just pick it up cuz the deadline is coming” – so i stopped requesting stuff. I don’t want to feel pressured when it comes to choosing the next book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay, book blogs are honestly the best resource! People put so much time and energy to make them just right and I usually look for a friend’s review of a book before adding it to my TBR. 😊 That shop sounds amazing! I hope you discover many more such treasures for yourself. ❀
      I can totally relate to the mood reading. I was on an initial high when I joined NetGalley and requested everything in sight. πŸ˜‚ Now that there are new policies regarding international readers and after gaining experience, I request maybe 3 books a month of which I usually get accepted for 1.
      I’ve been getting more direct review requests though and I’m struggling to read them all. I’m definitely feeling the pressure you mentioned! I’ve decided to decline them unless those books are already on my TBR because I really want to read whatever I’m in the mood for instead of trying to fill an obligation. I’m glad that you’ve learnt to say no as well! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you so much for the shoutout to ClassicNChristie! ❀

    Flip a coin is the best option LOL. No, but seriously, sometimes it's the best way to actually decide what to pick up next because there's no way I can read the entire TBR simultaneously, right? Sad!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ClassicsNChristie is the only book club I’m being an active part of, TBH. πŸ™ˆ
      There should definitely be an option to do that! Have you watched Doctor Strange? His soul or something reads as his body is sleeping. I want that superpower! πŸ˜‚

      Like

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  14. This year has been a bit strange, since I’ve read really few book. Time ago I kinda went for what I felt inspired to read, still inside my monthly tbr limit, but also I read kinda want I wanted.
    Not I’m focusing on my current book on the shelves and I’m a bit more limited.- Yet,I think it’s okay because it helps to do not buy many books. At the same time I’m not feeling like reading a lot? I could totally ended wrapped up into some other activity, even if it’s not healthy for me. Reading relax my mind

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely understand what you’re trying to say. Ever since I started my job, my reading has gone down drastically because I’m usually too tired for it. πŸ™ˆ But it really does help me relax. These days I go the audiobook route and it’s worked out well for me so far. ☺️ I really hope reading starts exciting you again, Camilla! β™₯️ But yes, limiting the amount of books you buy is a good sign, at least for those of us who don’t have piles of gold secretly stashed away. πŸ˜‚

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