Last week I wrote an article with tips on how to find more time to read. In the comments, Xandra from Fashionably Light asked an interesting question about how I find good books to read; the kind of books that have you reading on into the night, unable to close the pages.
It’s a tough question, and something I’ve struggled with myself over the years. Just because a book has an interesting or exciting blurb, or is getting lots of publicity, doesn’t mean you’ll find the story compelling.
Here are a few ways I hunt out new books that I’m likely to enjoy:
1. Read negative reviews
If I have my eye on a particular book, one of the first things I do is look it up on Amazon to see what rating it has received from reviewers and what comments they’ve made about it. Goodreads is another place to check.
But I don’t go straight for the five star reviews; I look at the negative ones, the one and two star reviews. There are usually less of these to work with, but they throw up some interesting things to think about. If someone has reviewed a book negatively and identified a particular problem with it, such as slow pacing or a lack of plot, I know there’s a good chance I won’t enjoy it, because these are the things that put me off.
Whatever things you hate in a novel, watch out for them in negative reviews and avoid the book if they appear.
2. Scan lists of new releases
With so many books published every week, it can be easy to overlook the latest work by an author you’ve enjoyed in the past or the next big thing.
Whether online or in the newspaper, check out the latest releases to see if anything catches your eye. The Guardian has a good book supplement in their Saturday paper in the UK, or Book Riot updates their blog regularly with lists and mini-reviews of new books.
Of course, the reverse of the above applies too. If you see a review and a book sounds like something you would enjoy, go for it.
3. Ask for recommendations
Blanket recommendations for a book don’t always give you the full picture, but it’s worth asking trusted friends for the names of the books they’ve enjoyed recently, especially if you have similar tastes.
Also, librarians and staff in book stores can be a great source of book recommendations, and they’re familiar with the new releases arriving in store.
4. Find a favourite book blogger
There are tons of book blogs online now and they often review similar books, as publishers will push their main titles, looking for as many reviews and features as possible. But if you can find a blog reviewing books that are just to your taste and one with similar views to your own, stick with them.
And don’t be afraid to get in touch with them and ask for their thoughts on great new reads!
5. Download a sample
Many Kindle books now give you the option to download a free sample before you purchase the book, usually the first chapter or two. If you’re not sure about a book, it’s worth checking a few pages out first before you commit to the purchase.
6. Check out the deals
Whether it’s the Kindle Daily Deal on Amazon or a buy one get one half price in WH Smith, the books in the special section are often popular at that moment in time. It is possible to find some more offbeat titles this way, usually with ebooks.
7. Don’t forget Twitter
When it comes to special deals, I’ve found a few great reads via Twitter. These are generally shared by the writers or publishers themselves, but you can find reader recommendations floating around there too.
So these tips might not guarantee you a fantastic read, but they could help weed out a few of the titles that aren’t for you.
If you have any tips for finding hidden gems I’d love to hear them in the comments or on Facebook!