Take it from an avid reader and member of two book clubs, there are a lot of great books out there. When I turn the last page and read the last words of a really good book, I am always sad that the experience is over. On the flip side, it is really disappointing to commit your time to a book that drones on—a book that by page 50 makes you wonder, “Why am I reading this? Will it get any better?”
So how do you choose a great book? Well, it’s easier than you think, but don’t just rely on best sellers lists and book reviews. Here are some ideas for finding literary magic:
– Visit small, independent bookstores and talk to the employees about their favorite books. Like the small corner hardware store, employees at the little neighborhood bookshop know a lot about their merchandise. Talk to them about your own literary taste, and by all means, ask for their recommendations.
– Talk to librarians. Librarians not only know good books, they also know which books are popular with patrons. Librarians can also fill you in on new titles, award winners, classics worth going back to, and a whole lot more.
– Find out what book clubs are reading. If you like to read and have the time, I recommend joining a book club. Being able to discuss books with people you enjoy adds to the satisfaction of reading. But if you don’t have the time, find out what book clubs are reading. Many libraries and bookstores like Barnes and Noble sponsor book clubs and publicize their titles. Ask friends who are book club members and search online.
– Word of mouth. While I have certainly learned about new, interesting books from reading reviews in newspapers, I think the best book reviews are the ones your friends and family give you. So, ask other people what they are reading and find out why they can’t stop turning the pages.
### Erika teaches writing, journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.