In the immortal words of Frank Zappa: “So many books, so little time.”
Few things in my book life frustrate me more than investing time (and money!) in a book that I hate! There are too many good books to waste time with bad ones.
I’ve come up with a few tricks over the years to sort through all the possibilities to find the ones I know I’ll love. My track record is pretty good–I’ve read very few stinkers the last few years! I bet you’ll find value in my process too.
Here are One Man Book Club’s 6 tips to picking the books you’ll love (instead of getting stuck reading the books you hate).
Tip 1: Make book friends!
Surround yourself with book friends you trust. The word of a trusted friend is more valuable than an amazing book cover or a clever blurb. Goodreads (www.Goodreads.com) is a great place for connecting with people with similar tastes in books. Head over there, find people who also liked books you liked, and become friends with them. Not only can you engage in a Facebook-like environment, you can see what they thought of books you might want to read!
Tip 2: Goodreads Ratings Win!
Even you and your best book friends will occasionally disagree. That’s why I never rely exclusively on the well-intentioned recommendation of a friend.
Pay attention to the star ratings on Goodreads! I find the folks rating books on Goodreads to be more thoughtful in their ratings and reviews than those who leave reviews on Amazon. I’ll always give more weight to the Goodreads rating than the Amazon rating.
I’ve picked a couple books to use as examples. Divergent, which I didn’t like, and Fablehaven, which I loved:
Here are how readers rated the two titles on Amazon v Goodreads:
Divergent: 4.6 v 4.2
Fablehaven: 4.7 v 4.1
Wow! Those are significant! You’ll find this disparity is consistent. Amazon reviewers are much nicer than Goodreads reviewers! Don’t believe me? Find a book that proves me wrong!
So as a general rule, I’ll only consider reading a book if it scores at least a 3.7 on Goodreads. Exceptions happen, but I’ve found 3.7 to be the magic number in nearly every instance.
Bonus tip: If you use handy this Chrome plug in, you can see the Goodreads rating right under the Amazon rating when looking at book page on Amazon, and it even links directly to the book page on Goodreads for further research! Super cool and super helpful!
This is what it looks like:
Tip 3: Embrace the negative!
Embrace the negative comments, that is.
If you’ve zeroed in on a book that has a 3.7 rating or higher, your going to find most reviewers leave very positive comments. You should read some positive comments to find out why people liked the book, but the most valuable information that will help you decide if the book is for you will be in the NEGATIVE comments. Make sure you read several of them. Find out what was there that people didn’t love. You’ll start seeing patterns, and if that pattern points to something you know will drive you crazy, than you can be certain it’s not a book your going to love!
Tip 4: Check the sequels!
Think about it: Only the fans of the first book will move on to the second book, and only fans of the second book will move onto the third. What does it tell you if the fans of the first book like the sequels LESS? It means the fans aren’t as satisfied! Something they loved about book 1 was missing from book 2. And if the series finale has a lower rating than the previous books? That’s a major watchout! You could be in for a major disappointment.
Let’s look at our examples again.
You can see the Divergent trilogy starts off strong, but the rating drops with each successive installment. This is a strong indicator that no matter how much you like book one, if you invent time in the rest of the series your going to be disappointed in the end.
Contrast that with the 5 books of the Fablehaven series, which show solid positive growth in the ratings as the series goes on. These are some satisfied fans!
Looking for increasing ratings in a series will be another strong indicator of how satisfied you will be with your book choice. I would stay away from a series like Divergent, and opt instead for a series like Fablehaven.
Of course, I didn’t listen to myself and read the Divergent series…wrong move. It was awful and a waste of my time!
Tip 5: Buy cheap books!
The library is a magical place, and I’m a huge supporter. But I also like to own my books–and I don’t like to spend a lot of money on them. If I’m going to invest money into a book collection, I want to make sure I’m not adding books to my library I’m going to hate! To mitigate the risk involved in buying books, I wait to buy them until they are at a price I’m comfortable paying. I use http://www.ereaderiq.com to help me with this.
If you sign up for their FREE service, they will email you whenever the books you are tracking drop below the price threshold you set. They also have a helpful Chrome add-on that shows you the price history of the book your looking at right on it’s Amazon page and allows you to easily track it. It’s super helpful!
This is what it looks like:
I also sign up for 2 mailing lists.
First is Amazon’s “Kindle Daily Deals” subscription. Go here and search for “Kindle Daily Deals” to have the best deals on ebooks sent you every day.
Second is BookBub’s daily deals email. You tell them your book preferences, and they’ll send you a daily list of the book deals that match. I’ve found great deals with BookBub! Subscribe here.
Tip 6: Put it down!
No matter how much prep work you do ahead of time, you’re inevitably going to come across a book that just doesn’t work for you. Maybe it’s not holding your attention now but it will later, maybe it has content you didn’t expect and don’t want to read, or maybe you ignored One Man Book Club’s advice but wish you had because the book just plain stinks! No matter the reason, remember this:
You have no obligation to that book. You aren’t going to hurt it’s feelings. If you don’t want to read it, put it down. There are too many amazing stories out there to waste your time on a book that doesn’t make you happy. So don’t.
You have permission to not finish a book!
Realizing this has been empowering for me, and I hope by reading it now you’ll find it helps you, too. Reading is supposed to be a positive experience! If it’s not, walk away.
There you have it! 6 tips to picking books that will lift you up, leave you satisfied, and excited for the next one. Follow my advice, and you’ll soon find yourself reaching ever higher levels of reading satisfaction! Guaranteed!
Happy Reading friends!