Inky, Pinky, Ponky and Other Methods of Choosing a Book

Which book to read next?

July 25, 2019

Buying books and reading books are two different hobbies, ask any bibliophile. Some of us struggle with abibliophobia which is the fear of running out of reading material. And, that is every bit as frightening as it sounds. That’s why we visit book stores, reserve books at the library, borrow from friends, and hit books sales regularly – to prevent abibliophobia from setting in. All of this book buying and borrowing leads to T.B.R. piles on bedside tables, crammed onto shelves, and listed in Goodreads. But, that creates a different problem; deciding what to read!

So, how do readers choose a book to read? Some booklovers say that the book chooses you, like in The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. I have experienced that myself. My mother-in-law had just passed away and I needed a book to see me through, help me keep going, and soldier on for my husband and children. That was when I found North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell which suited my needs at the time. Other readers have log books with a coded system and a rotation routine, others rely on recommendations, again, others use “Eenie, meenie, miney, mo”, and still others just grab one off the shelf randomly, occasionally with their eyes closed, . We are a diverse group and we have a diverse set of strategies for selecting our next read.

How I Choose a Book

1. Recommendations: If a friend or family member cares enough to recommend a book that they think I will enjoy, there really isn’t a choice. That is my next read. My sister-in-law and I exchanged a list of 10 of our favourite books that we thought the other should read. So far, her recommendations are spot on.

2. Book Club: One thing I love about my library book club is that we are free to give suggestions but our leader, who works at the library, curates a list that responds to our likes as a group, respects our dislikes, but still pushes each of us out of our comfort zone. Having the list ahead of time means that one read per month is predetermined.

3. Mood: There is no doubt that mood and mental health can affect our reading habits. For instance, I had just finished enjoying Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and The Nightingale by Kirstin Hannah earlier this month. After those two intense reads, I needed something light and funny, enter The Princess Bride by William Goldman. The perfect book for the mood I was in.

4. Book Lists: Book lists are everywhere. There is the Giller Prize List, the Booker Prize Lists, Top 10 lists, and Best Books for – well, you name it. There is a book list for just about everything. My favourite one is the Gilmore Girl’s Book List which I found compiled on Black, White and Read Books’ website. It lists every book referenced on the show by episode. I am a devoted fan of Gilmore Girls but that isn’t the only reason I use their book list. Rory talked about reading a selection of books from every genre and sub-genre in the Yale Library. That is what she would call a well-read person. I asked myself, am I well read person? No. I read a lot of books of a similar nature. I definitely had a comfort zone. Following this list pushed me as a reader to try Stephen King, memoirs, and Sylvia Plath. I am grateful for the challenge that list represents and I am glad to be developing into a more well-rounded reader.

5. Book Challenges: Book Challenges are designed to get people reading books they would not normally choose and add variety to their reading life. I set my own reading challenge a year or two ago when I decided to read every book mentioned in the Gilmore Girls. With the advent of A Year in the Life of the Gilmore Girls, there are even more to read! Certainly, this is a long term project but I’m going to be pretty proud when I get it done.

Just for Fun

Reading challenges are another great way to choose a book that is random and maybe even a little out of your comfort zone.