Choosing Books To Read – How Do You Go About Doing It?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, A Quick Change of Pace, I spoke about how I was going to change things up a bit and read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice after I completed Karl Marx’s Capital, Volume I.  I won’t go into too much detail from yesterday’s post, but mainly it’s to give me a break from some economic theory.

That got me to thinking how I go about choosing my books to read, when to read them, etc.  Generally speaking, I don’t have any set method on choosing which books to read.  Usually, especially if we’re talking about the classics, I’ll take a look at the suggested readings listed in the back of the book.  Barnes and Noble’s publications of the classics is usually the best source for me.  Plus, they also have a list of the classics they’ve published in the back of the book as well.

Sometimes, though, it’s just me either wandering the aisles of the bookstore and/or the library to see what grabs my fancy.  I’ve picked up several books using this method.  Sometimes I’ve been lucky, other times, not so lucky.  Another method I have used is doing a search on either Amazon or Barnes and Noble’s websites and take a look at what other people have bought that have bought any particular book.  Especially on Amazon, that turns up some quite interesting results.

Recently, I’ve been getting some pretty good ideas from some fellow book bloggers.  They have also been great at providing recommendations about what to read.  So there’s definitely a plethora of information out there on finding new books.

This year is actually the first year I’ve put together a comprehensive list of books that I want to tackle in the year.  Sure, I’ve put together summer reading lists, like I did for the Summer of 2009, before I started this blog, but really hadn’t really put together a list since then.  I just really wanted to see where my reading took me.  Which, by the way, if you haven’t seen my list, you can view my post of 2011 Goals and my page on the remaining books I’ve chosen to read for 2011 here.

I also don’t have any rhyme or reason the order in which I choose to read my books.  Usually it just really depends on how I’m feeling.  This year, though, while I’m following that method, I’m also keenly aware of the box I’ve put myself in for the year.  While I want to complete the books in my goals for this year, there is sometimes a part of me that wants to veer off course.  I saw a couple of books at the library a few weeks ago that I wouldn’t mind reading, but told myself, after I complete the books I’ve chosen.

Once I reach the half-way point of the current book I’m reading, that’s when I start to think about what I’m going to read next.  That’s what happened here when I decided I was going to read Pride and Prejudice next.  Ordinarily, I would just go ahead and grab the next volume of Capital and keep on going, but this time chose to take a quick break.  Unless it’s a series that I’m reading, and the next book isn’t available, I usually will just keep on reading the series until I’ve completed it.  If I’m not reading a series, I’ll usually read a different author, sometimes even a different genre.

I definitely like the approach I have taken this year, it keeps my book costs at a minimum, and it has allowed me to set a goal for the year and feel like I’m accomplishing something this reading year, and stretching my reading limits.  If I’m fortunate enough to complete my reading goals before the end of the year, I have plenty of works to choose from, that’s for sure!

How do you go about choosing what to read?  Do you have a reliable method?  Let me know in the comments section!


About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

5 Responses to “Choosing Books To Read – How Do You Go About Doing It?”

  1. Random, like yours. And now, I have so many unread books on my shelves that usually I just pick something that’s there. Plus, I’ve been getting more books sent to me to review. Too many books, not enough time.

    Tossing It Out

    • I’m in a similar situation, Lee. I have way too many books on my bookshelf that I haven’t read yet. Not sure if I’ll ever get to all of them!

  2. I get most of my ideas for what to read from other bloggers, Goodreads, the ‘recommended’ lists in the backs of classics, and literary discussion books. (Many novels/authors are discussed in the latter.)

    I started 2011 with a list of 54 books I wanted to read this year (ordered by month!) I joined a lot of reading challenges — and by February felt confined. Reading was becoming a to-do list.

    I quit all the challenges and deleted my schedule, and now I read on a whim. I’m making less progress but getting more out of it. Ultimately, I’d rather read slowly and remember the journey with a smile, than read fast and only remember that I succeeded.

    We’ll never get to every book anyway, right? 🙂

    • So true, Jillian! Sometimes you can feel confined when you set yourself up with a selection of books to read and a schedule. I haven’t really felt that yet, but this year may very well be the last that I set myself up with a schedule of books to read as I have.

      I have gotten some great ideas off other bloggers, you in particular! You’re reading some fantastic stuff!

      I’ve also been turning to Goodreads more and am seeing all kinds of different stuff there as well.

      I think organized challenges can sometimes take the fun out of reading. That’s probably why I haven’t participated in one. My ‘Marx’ Reading Challenge is really me using the phrase tongue-in-cheek!

      But you’re definitely right, that each book needs to be cherished and not just something to check off the list. And as much as it pains me to say it, it’s true, we won’t ever get to every book. 🙂

  3. I’m involved with a few reading challenges: Agatha Christie, Huruki Murakami, Sherlock Holmes, but mostly I choose at random from a stack of unread books behind me in my office (where I’m typing this now: at the computer at my desk) or from the library. I’m trying to limit myself to two books from the library at a time: usually one fiction and one nonfiction and that has seemed to work so far. I also have been trying to take one book off the stack of books behind me per week. That has sort of worked too and I’ll probably continue these methods for choosing the next books I read, but beyond those three authors (of whom I haven’t read any Agatha Christie yet this year), I’m keeping myself fairly open.

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