If you’re like me, you probably have a bazillion books on your “to read” list, and you have no idea how to choose the next book you read.
Or maybe just 213. (This is a real life screenshot from my Goodreads account.)
What a great problem to have. There are so many awesome books in the world that sometimes I don’t even know where to start.
You’re likely an avid reader, as well. And just in case you have the ongoing struggle of “how do I choose what book to read next?” Take heart, and try out some of these ideas.
1. Have a master list somewhere
You’ll never know what to read next if you don’t have a list! I used to keep my list in Trello, but recently found that I actually really like storing it in Goodreads. It’s easy to sort books by to-read, reading, and read. I can scan the barcode of books I find and it will find them and add them to my list. It’s also a great place to read other people’s reviews and see what other people are reading.
Whether you use Goodreads, Trello, or even old fashioned pen and paper… just make sure you have a list that you can reference when you’re wondering what to read next.
2. Theme your months (or quarters)
One way I’ve found to help me pick out my next book is to set a theme. For example, I might decide that for the next month, I’m going to focus more on reading about how to learn better. That means when I’m looking for a new book to read, I’ll go to my list and look for books about reading faster or improving my memory or something else related to learning.
It takes my potential options from 200+ to maybe less than 10.
Here are some ideas for what your themes could be:
- specific genre
- specific author
- personal development
- career development
Look through your list and think through other ways you could sort your books!
3. Bump up books that you’ve heard mentioned a lot
While I’d like to say there’s a Trello power-up to bump up books on my list, there’s not, and I don’t have a really scientific way of doing this. However, if I feel like I’ve heard a book mentioned a lot lately (whether it’s from friends, people at work, in blog posts I read, or on podcasts I listen to), I’ll read that one sooner than later.
Even if it’s not the next book I read, I put it on my mental radar so that I know when I’m wondering what to read next, I know it’s a good candidate.
I used to have a rule that I wouldn’t add a book to my reading list unless I heard it mentioned at least twice. While I’m not that strict anymore, I am more likely to read a book sooner the more I hear about it.
If you’re wondering what to read next, go through your list and see if any books are ones you’ve heard mentioned a lot. That can be a great place to start!
4. Find something others will read with you
For some people, reading is more fun if you do it with friends. Whether it’s a book club at work, or just reading something at the same time as your spouse, if you can get someone else to read a book with you, you might enjoy it more, and you’ll certainly be more likely to remember it.
Business Insider says a great way to process information is to talk through it with others. So, pick a book that someone else is currently reading, or one that you think you could convince someone to read with you! Your brains might unite… just like this.
5. Think about how much time you have
A little over a year ago, I committed to reading one book a week. I’m pretty excited to say I’ve made that happen every week for the last year and (almost) 4 months! It’s a great feeling, and now that I’ve made it approximately 66 weeks without losing one week, I try really hard not to break that chain.
Sometimes that weekly book goal helps me to decide what to read for the week! If i know that I’m not going to have a ton of time to devote to reading, I’m more likely to look for smaller books that are on my list.
On the flip side, if I’m going on vacation or going to have a little more down time than usual, I’ll pick one of the bigger books on my list.
If you don’t have a goal to read a book in a certain amount of time, maybe this won’t help for you. But I will say… if you feel like you never have time (or make time) to read, I highly recommend trying a strategy of reading a book a week (or every two weeks). I used to struggle to read a book a month, then I decide to commit to a book a week. I know, i know, you’re probably thinking, “THAT’S CRAZY”. It kinda was, but it worked. It forced me to make time for reading and not just put it off til later that month. (You can learn more about why I decided to do that and how it worked out in this blog post.)
6. Think about an area you want to grow in
This is similar to selecting a theme, but it’s more short term. Instead of setting a theme for a period of time like month, ask yourself, “What’s one thing that if I learned more about it now, it would make my life a lot easier?” (Or… it would solve a huge problem in my life, or something else that would be really helpful to you.)
Sometimes if there’s a particular problem I’m focused on at work, I’ll find a book that addresses that and decide to read that next.
Of course this only works with non-fiction books, so if you’re a big fiction reader, this tip might not be as helpful.
7. See where you can find one the cheapest/most accessible
Sometimes the easiest way to decide what to read next is to see what you can get your hands on first! You can get just about any book instantly with Amazon Kindle/Google Play/Apple iBooks. But if you want to save money, then go see what’s at your local library or what you can borrow from friends!
This is a great way to save money while also working your way through your list. I’m trying to incorporate more of this because buying 200+ books would be a worthy investment, but it would be awesome if I didn’t have to buy all of those. 🙂 I’ve been placing books on my list on hold at the library and reading them as they become available.
All the Above!
Ready to pick your next book? If you’re still not sure, try combining a few of the above tips, and you’ll eventually arrive at just the right one. For example…
- Take your list of all books
- Define a theme
And then apply other rules until you get to just one! The likelihood of you having several books in a certain theme, at a certain length, that have been mentioned multiple times by others, and accessible at your local library? Pretty small. 🙂
So… what are you going to be reading next? Feeling more confident about how to choose what book to read next? Comment below with your book and what helped you choose it! Or, comment below if you’re still not sure, and I’ll do 100 burpees and send you a video of it. Yeah. That’s how confident I am that you’ll know your next book if you go through these tips.