How I pick which book to read next

Photo by Prasanna Kumar on Unsplash

I’ve always wondered how people pick their next book to read, how they decide which book deserves their attention next, especially when they rely on the library as much as I do. I haven’t bought a book in ages (other than as a gift for other people, when there was a book that I really loved). I have gotten so used to reading on my AmazonFire (which conveniently syncs to my Kindle App on my phone), that I have solely relied on the eLibrary (and occasionally on a selection of books I already own) for the last few years. Part of me would love to read more physical books (and I have fond memories of spending time at the library), but it’s just so convenient not having to actually go to the library to pick up or drop off books, and to have my current book at my finger tips wherever I go just by having my phone in my pocket.

Ah, the conveniences of technology. But I digress, back to the actual book picking process.

I usually find books a few different ways.

+ Blog posts: I love “What I read” posts and and draw a lot of inspiration for my reading list from books my blog friends have recommended.
+ Goodreads Updates: I look forward to the Goodreads “Updates” emails  (or often browse the home tab on the app) to see what other people have recently bookmarked, rated, or reviewed).
+ OverDrive: I browse the front page of my library for inspiration, because they always post recently newly added books and popular reads by genre.
NPR: I listen to NPR regularly when I am in the car and often catch a book recommendation or two. I also sometimes browse their book website (when I think of it!). 

I really try hard to read the synopsis of a book first to see if it evokes a reaction in me. If I am intrigued, the book receives consideration. Ratings and reviews do influence me to some extent, but I also know – and have confirmed repeatedly – that just because other people liked a book doesn’t mean that I will like it, too. It depends on so many factors: genre, plot, writing style, and current my mood (to name a few). Also, this might sounds strange, but I sometimes like to pick books specifically because none of my friends on Goodreads have read them yet, just so I can read more freely and get first dibs on the reviews and recommend (or not recommend) books to them.

I use two tools/apps to keep track of my book lists: Goodreads and OverDrive*.

I keep a running “TBR list” on Goodreads (bookmarked books that I’d be interested to read sometime). It’s fairly long, I admit, and I will occasionally go through it and delete a bunch of books that don’t appeal to me anymore or that were given a low rating by other friends with similar taste.

Of these books, I keep two lists in my OverDrive library account: 1) The Wishlist: a longer list of books that I have checked to be available as ebooks and that I deem soon-to-be must-reads and 2) Holds: an “on hold” list of books that I have already requested and am waiting to borrow. I tend to keep that list very short, usually just up to 5 books, and I do use the ‘suspend hold’ feature, so I will still move up the queue but I have a bit more control when the book becomes available to me.

I know other people plan out a reading lists for the month or follow their “TBR list” from top to bottom, but this doesn’t work for me as I rely on what is digitally available at the library at any given time. 

When I finish a book, I usually check if one of my holds is available, if not, I start scrolling through my ‘wishlist’ on my library account to see which books are available to borrow right now. If none of the ones available strike my fancy, I go through recent Goodreads adds and then check if the library has them (and/or if they’re available). 

As you can see, there is not much rhyme or reason to my book picking process other than deciding at the spur of the moment which one of the available books I am in the mood for. What I like about this process is that I never know in advance what I am going to read next and I like the semi-surprise factor of it. 

There are things I will take into consideration, like not reading two books of the same general topic back to back. I will occasionally enjoy a YA novel, but reading two or more in a row will kill my reading mojo for sure. I also try to mix ‘heavier’ books with lighter ones and nonfiction with fiction.  This is my personal preference to keep me engaged and interested, while you might be someone who likes to stick to one genre for a while.

And yes, sometimes there are ‘hot’ books that I am dying to read and I will put a hold on them immediately so that I can read them as soon as they become available, but most of the time, I am totally okay with picking and choosing books on a whim.

How do you pick which book to read next? Do you pay attention to ratings and reviews your friends have given?

*If you’re wondering why I am still using OverDrive and haven’t switched to Libby, it’s because my wishlist, as of yet, won’t sync to Libby. I have downloaded the app, but also prefer to read through my Kindle App, so I haven’t made full use of it (yet).

  1. I have SO many unread books on my shelf so I usually grab one of those in a pinch. Otherwise I peruse Goodreads, ask my friends, and rely on blogs. I also follow the TLC Book Tours page ( because they have so many good books I’ve discovered but also really great book blogs, too. (I’m on there!)

  2. I love holding a good book. There is something so relaxing about it. Although, I don’t read as much as I would like, when I am looking for a book I check out Buzzfeed. They often have articles that their readers have suggested their picks in particular genres. Not everyone’s first thought when looking for a recommendation, but a really good one!

  3. I have a list of books I want to read, and I’ll add after recommendations from friends, blogs, or the media (NPR, The New York Times, Die Zeit, and others). Also, if I enjoyed an author’s books in the past, chances are, I’ll enjoy new books by them too, so I’ll check if any of those authors have new books out and order them from the library. Can I ask you if you ever read German books? Just curious! I read books in both languages and don’t really have a preference, it just depends on the book.

  4. I use a few methods: blog posts and Goodreads are brilliant! Then I’ve got my favourite authors so if a new book arrives I HAVE to read it – reviews don’t matter in this case. Lastly sometimes I just browse and a book will stand out to me.

  5. I use Goodreads a lot to help pick my books and sometimes blog posts too. I also sometimes will just go to the library and see what jumps out!

  6. I find books in a mix of ways – I get review books, or I have tons of books on my shelves that I just need to make time for read, I have a book club book from the library every month, I read a lot of e-books via the library (and for review) and I sometimes browse physical books at the library. I don’t really have a set TBR each month, but I tend to have a few that I’d LIKE to get to if I have the time. I love getting ideas from other bloggers and Goodreads on what to read in the future though. I have a To-Read list on Goodreads that’s just a huge, huge list of books I’d like to read.


  7. That is annoying that Libby won’t sync with your wish list. I can see why you don’t use it. I use Libby but I don’t use the wish list feature so it hasn’t been an issue for me. I also primarily use the library although I tend to check out more physical books that ebooks because the wait is shorter for the ebook.

    What I read next is kind of a convoluted process… I consider what my book club is reading and what’s available at the library. I also pause all of my holds so I can control what becomes available when. I get a lot of book ideas from several book podcasts with hosts that have similar tastes, and I also get recommendations from friends. Besides that I also look at the NPR book page as well as Each month they post a list of new releases that indie bookstore employees recommend. I track my reading/books to read in Goodreads and use that to figure out what to request from the library.

  8. I’m one of those people who sticks to a list when considering what I’m reading next. I usually have a list of at least 5 books of what’s next for me to read, and I compile those 5 books from a number of different TBR lists I have set up. It’s a complicated process, haha, but I love it!

  9. I tend to pick books the same way you do—book recommendations from friends and bloggers, and Goodreads (thank goodness I have a centralized location where I can keep everything). I like visiting the local library but I tend to run in and out. But it’s fun to see what books are trending and what local events are happening there if time allows 😊

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