It’s a very proud week here for me as a writer. I’m pretty pleased with how Reading Week has gone, and maybe it’s just because I’m happy I stuck with a topic for 5 days straight. It’s the little things… Anyway, we’ve covered losing the desire to read, as well as getting back into it. We’ve talked about finding an outlet for your reading to keep you going, and when to get some reading done. Now, we’re wrapping up with ideas for stuff to read!
So you know you want to do more reading. You’ve figured out where can carve out a little bit of time every day to do it – good for you! That’s the first step towards healing. But if you sit down and go, “Okay… READING” without a book in your hand, you’re kinda stuck.
And if you’re new to the literary scene, you might get overwhelmed on what books to start with: do you pick something from the classics, or something more contemporary? Do you go with nonfiction or do you dive into fiction?
You can really pick whatever you want, but if you’re new at picking books, you might not know how to browse for one.
Here are a few ideas:
This is probably my least favorite of the ideas, but it’s one that can help anybody get into reading for the first time: go with the trends. In the past decade or so, we’ve seen people and media talking about books. It’s actually pretty incredible – for a society that doesn’t place much value on being literary anymore, it’s cool to see average Joes and Janes getting excited over something other than whether or not musicians are in dysfunctional relationships. These include stuff like Harry Potter, Twilight, and 50 Shades of Grey, among others.
Pro: It’s easy. You’ll get new ideas quickly, and generally the books are not intellectually challenging. You’ll “get” them right away.
Con: The quality can vary. While I’ve heard plenty of people say that the Harry Potter books are very well-written, I’ve met few (outside of the crazies who will defend it with their lives for some reason) who actually claim that Twilight and 50 Shades are literary masterpieces. So you might run the risk of picking up a book that is just awful, unless you’re into the story that much.
Head to the movies
Here’s an interesting one: try to find the book version of a movie you like. A lot of great movies are based on novels, and you could find yourself reading some pretty cool stuff, like The Bourne Identity or The Green Mile. Just be sure you aren’t going in reverse: reading books based on movies. Those are almost always terrible.
Pro: The books are almost universally better than the movies. With novels, characters and situations can breathe, and minor plot points can be included. Many movies cut a lot out of the book versions to make a good script, so there’s a lot of material left over that you can enjoy.
Con: This might be a limited way to get started. However, it can inspire you to find a genre you like and explore it further.
Let somebody else tell you what to read
My reading list is almost entirely built off of this: blog post lists. I’m sure I’ll make one in the future, but plenty of other people have done it for me. Just go to Google and type in “books you have to read” and you’ll get page after page of lists. I went with the manly route, grabbing book ideas from this list and this one. But you can get creative: “books writers should read”, “books women should read”, “books Christians should read”, “books bricklayers should read”, and so on.
Pro: These lists tend to be comprehensive – often including anywhere from 20-100 books (one even has 1000!). And the quality also is usually pretty good. These are almost always great books.
Con: You have to share the views of the person making the list. If you want a book idea and you’re a woman, a list dedicated to men probably won’t entice you much. Make sure you’ve got the right list (or two).
Go online, son
This sounds like the same thing, but it’s a little variation: there are a few good sites out there that focus on making the book browsing experience a pleasant one. Amazon is one of the best and most comprehensive – plus it will suggest books to you based on what you’ve read. Goodreads is another popular solution, and one that I keep thinking about going back to. Another smaller site is iDreamBooks, which is like the Rotten Tomatoes of books.
Pro: Heavily-trafficked sites mean you get to look at a lot of reviews. Algorithms are pretty good at matching you up with different books.
Con: Some game the system, and others don’t get it at all. For example, Tim Ferriss recently released the book The Four-Hour Chef, which is his third book. So on the day it was released, a bunch of 5-star ratings went up, which led many to think that his comrades just posted 5-star ratings to help him out and make the book look good. I have his first two books, so I am positive that his new book is very detailed, well-researched, and controversial. But I’m not a fan of review-stuffing. On the other side, a handful of people gave the book a one-star review just because they didn’t like the people giving 5-star reviews, despite the fact that they are doing exactly what they are complaining about: reviewing a book without reading it. So you have to look a little deeper at some of the reviews when checking out a new book on these places, but it can be well worth it.
Find a good, old fashioned bookstore
I love me some Barnes and Noble. Even though I’m almost purely a Kindle reader, I enjoy strolling through a brick-and-mortar bookstore. I love the atmosphere. I love sifting through the stacks and finding new books. It’s a different world in there, and it’s really open to people of all ages and levels.
Pro: It’s old fashioned, and I like stuff that’s old fashioned (new post series coming about that). You can find great variety: there are usually displays for staff picks, best sellers, different genres, new arrivals, etc. It’s a positive experience, instead of just clicking a mouse, which I like.
Con: You have to, like, go there. I just moved and now a halfway decent bookstore is over 20 minutes away. And it’s in a mall, which is probably the number one thing I hate in the world.
So you get the idea. Is there something I missed though? Where do you find inspiration to read a new book? Share in the comments!