It’s a toss-up for whether my Netflix queue or my Next Reads stack is larger. My husband recently said, “I could have three lifetimes, and never get through all the books I want to read.” I agree: There simply isn’t enough time to devour all the books I want to read.
Since I can’t get to everything, what causes a book to land in my three-foot tall stack of Next Reads? For me, here are some criteria:
Book Club Choice. I’ve been in a book club for years, and if we choose a book, I try VERY hard to read it. Every now and then, I have been caught at a meeting having no idea why Charlise chose to leave Steve for the plumber and become a missionary in remote Africa, since I don’t even know who Charlise is. But, for the most part, Book Club books get moved to the top of the stack. There is, after all, some accountability for whether I’ve read the selection.
Reading with My Kids. I have participated in programs with my kids for which I needed to read middle grade or young adult books at the same time they did. This is also accountability because they know if I’ve read the book, and once I read it, I know if they’ve read the book! I have truly read a lot of fabulous novels this way.
Next in the Series. If I’ve started a series that I like but haven’t made it through or the author recently published another one (keep writing, Rhys Bowen), the next one goes in the stack. I definitely read novels sequentially and want to know the whole story of characters I fall in love with.
Recommendation. If a friend with similar taste highly recommends a book (or loans it to me), I usually get to reading. This word-of-mouth advertising is what authors rely on! I’m far more likely to grab a book suggested by a close Facebook friend than a New York Times book review.
Authors I Like. If I loved your last book, I’ll probably like the next one. It’s not always true. For instance, I love Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden series, but I honestly don’t enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Still, it’s as good a bet as any. And just like we order the same menu item in our favorite restaurant over and over, people like the certainty of reading an author they are almost certain they will like.
Classics. I admit to feeling internal pressure to read the greatest literature of all time. I have made it through works by Tolstoy, Austen, Hardy, Dickens, Steinbeck, Brontës 1, 2, and 3, and many more. However, I still haven’t read Willa Cather, William Faulkner, Victor Hugo, and others. Somehow, I feel that I must make it through a good number of the classics before I leave this world.
Authors with a Personal Connection. There is a mystery author in my hometown, and I happily picked up her books (Leann Sweeney, author of Yellow Rose and Cat in Trouble mysteries). I have also become acquainted through conferences, groups, and social media with other authors who make it far more likely that I will read their tomes (e.g., We Are Not Alone by Kristen Lamb and Making Waves by Tawna Fenske). I could mention quite a few that fall into this group. And they keep publishing more! Which will keep me on my toes.
Catches My Eye. This is the least likely way to get on my list, but it is often what authors are hoping for. Sometimes, I do browse bookstores or libraries and find an interesting title, an eye-catching cover, and a book jacket description that makes me want to read the contents. Once again, I have come upon some wonderful reads this way (e.g., A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson). However, it is a crap shoot.
So what are your methods for deciding which books to read? How big is your Next Reads stack? Do you want your book to make it into my stack? Let me know the title!