Saturday, 12 September 2015

How to Choose a Great Book

The bookstore is my happy place.  If I need to unwind, you will likely find me wandering the aisles of my nearest Chapters, Starbucks in hand.  I find it calming, but it can be overwhelming if I am on a mission to find a great book for either myself or for students.  There are so many books out there that it can be hard to know where to start.

I came across this image on Pinterest that illustrates some important points when helping a student to select a new book:

(Image credit:

But how about when you're wondering if you or someone else will like the content of the book itself?  These are the questions that I ask to help make a successful choice:

  • What genre(s) do you like/not like?  For example, I am not a fan of fantasy or science-fiction novels.  It doesn't matter how good you tel me they are, I just can't get into them.  

  • Do you have a favourite author?  Go see if he or she has any other books.  I did this after reading The Fault in Our Stars and Gone Girl - I immediately devoured all of John Green and Gillian Flynn's novels.  I also used this trick with my son.  He loves Robert Munsch, so I told him to tell this to his school librarian.  She has helped him to find Robert Munsch in the library, and she has also been able to introduce him to new, similar authors.

  • Ask someone you trust for a good recommendation.  Most of my friends and family are non-readers, so I don't have many people to go to when I need something new to read.  I like to talk to book store employees.  I ask them what people are buying and what they themselves are loving.  I have had a ton of great recommendations that I would never have picked up this way.  If I need to help guide their recommendation, I might tell them my thoughts about different genres or popular authors so that they can guide me well.  Book store employees tend to be voracious readers who take advantage of their staff discounts.  They want to lead you toward your new favourite book.  

  • Check out Amazon reviews, GoodReads suggestions, or book blogs.  I often check the best sellers on Amazon to see what people are purchasing.  If something really piques my interest, I'll head over to GoodReads or Google to find a few book reviews.  I find that this will give me the honest thoughts of people who have actually read the book.  If you cared enough to post a review, I want to read what you have to say.  I absolutely love when Amazon and GoodReads release their annual "best of" lists.  It's fun to see if I agree with their decisions, and I always find a few gems that were missed along the way.
Food for thought... how have you found some of your favourites?  Is there an amazing book that you almost missed out on?

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