Not sure what to read? Here are 7 ways to pick your next book.

We all know that feeling that comes when you’ve just finished reading a really great book. Satisfaction that you’ve finally finished it and know what happens, sadness that it’s over, a sense of loss that the characters you just took many hours learning to know are now gone in the blink of an eye, and excitement for the next great book that is waiting for you to pick up next. The only problem is if you don’t have a to-read list, that last feeling of excitement can easily be replaced by a “lost” feeling if there’s nothing lined up to start reading. Deciding what to read can be difficult if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. Here are 7 ways to hopefully make that process of finding your next book a little easier.

How to Decide What to Read

Figure out what genre of fiction you like

There are a million genres and subgenres of fiction out there, or so it seems. Realistic fiction, sci-fi, westerns, romance novels, historical novels, mysteries, and suspense are just some I can think of off the top of my head. If you don’t already know what genres you want to read, a good starting point is to think of what kind of movies you like. Find a book in the same genre as your favorite flick, and chances are you will enjoy it. Even if you don’t, at least now you are getting a better idea of what books were written for you!

Look at your library’s book displays

Libraries have rotating displays of books, usually in multiple spots throughout the building. Maybe you’ve never noticed, but these are excellent places to find a book to pique your interest. There is usually a theme for which the items on display adhere to. Even if the theme is a topic you’re not necessarily interested in, you should still take a gander and maybe you’ll get ideas for other books or authors that you haven’t read yet. In addition, there is usually a “New” section of books that have recently been acquired by the library. If you find something good, you might be the first person to open and read that brand-new copy… what an honor!

Ask the librarian

If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you know I am a big proponent of asking your librarian about any and all questions you have. Many public libraries have a librarian dedicated to reader’s advisory. They are there to help you find what book to read next. There’s not much work involved for you, and you get a suggestion specifically tailored to what you are looking for… this is a no-brainer. Keep in mind however, that they have not read all of the books in the library (and if they have then that is incredibly impressive, dang). Cut them some slack if you end up not liking what they recommended. But, if you ask for another recommendation make sure to tell them how the first one went. This way they can better tailor their suggestions to what you want. Your librarians are knowledgeable in different genres, authors, series, etc., and if they don’t know off the top of their heads, they will at least know what tools to use to get the recommendation you are looking for. null


This is a great option to use if you are too nervous to ask your librarian or if you are looking up books at home. On Goodreads, you can type in a book title or author that you’ve read and enjoyed, and it will give you suggestions of books that are similar. In addition, if you make an account, you can keep a running list of what books you have read. If you end up becoming a seriously dedicated book worm, this can be very helpful as it can get hard to remember all the titles you’ve read throughout the year.

Join a book club

If your library has a book club, joining is an easy way to pick out what books to read… they’re already picked out for you! All you have to do is get a list of what books are going to be read and read them month by month. Book groups meet to discuss what they’ve read together, so there’s a good chance that these books are either controversial or thought-provoking in some way. Even if you don’t want to attend the group, you can still ask for the list for reading suggestions.

Use the Dewey Decimal System to your advantage

Not into fiction? Not a problem. Thankfully public libraries arrange their non-fiction books using the Dewey Decimal System. This means the books are arranged by subject, unlike in the fiction section where they are usually alphabetized by author last name. This makes it incredibly easy to find books on similar topics. Read this guide on the Dewey Decimal System to learn what topics correspond with what numbers. With this method, you can pick a topic you know you already like reading about, or pick a topic you know nothing of and are curious to learn more about. The possibilities really are endless.

The New York Times Bestsellers List

If you’re looking to read popular books, this is definitely the place to look. Many libraries have this list posted weekly near the new books or by the catalog computer. There is a list for both fiction and non-fiction updated by the New York Times every week. While this may not be the list to find the most well-written or thought-provoking books, they are still on the bestseller list for a reason! Authors like James Patterson, Dan Brown, Jodi Picoult, Nora Roberts, and John Grisham practically live on this list every time they release a book. Suspense, love, and mystery sell big, so if those sound like interesting story lines to you, this could be the route to go to find your next page-turner.

Last but not least, if these don’t work and all else fails, just pick a random book off the shelf and start reading…there’s no shame in that!

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