How-To Geek

What You Said: How You Find New Books

Earlier this week we asked you to share your tips and tricks for finding fresh books to enjoy. Now we’re back with tips ranging from the old school to the digital.

SJ highlights several of the most popular web-based tools for finding new books: is quick and easy. is fun and helps a lot. But I gotta be honest, Amazon’s suggestions are probably the most useful to me.

TheFu suggests checking out award-winning lists and one rather quirky way to pick a good Sci-Fi book:

For scifi, see Hugo winning books. Life is too short to read bad books. Sometimes that leads to an author with an entire series of books to enjoy. I really enjoy some of the scifi from the 40s and 50s. Wells stuff is always timeless too (and free). I’m less happy with Nebula winners–-different type of writers and not my personal taste.

I also enjoy reading the books that were made into movies (usually bad movies). Someone though that the book was great enough to blow $50M-$300M on it. Sphere really was a great book, but please ignore the movie.

We’ll second his vote to read Sphere and avoid the movie.

While many of our readers relied on digital recommendations, several took a distinctly analog approach. JSilvers writes:

When it comes to books, I am a member of the Lead Pencil society – physical books preferred.

I peruse the contents of Bookmarks magazine to compose a list of BooksToRead, The list is hand written on 3×5 cards and I keep it in my purse. I add to this list with comments from my various book clubs.

Cruising the New Books aisles of the various libraries within 20 miles is my main recreation. I pick books matching my lists and other appealing titles, based on the inside blurbs. I also troll the local independent book stores, and Barnes&Noble. I am fortunate to live in the Phoenix area which allows me to checkout books from the libraries of several adjacent towns, and has several independent book stores selling new and used books.

I end up with a pile of books on my table, sorted by due date, then by contents, so I don’t read two books of the same kind sequentially. Books are added at the bottom and read from the top. I will resort the pile, just so long as I don’t keep a book past its due date. Of course, reading turns up a few duds; I give myself permission not to continue reading them.

Thanks for the opportunity to share.

Giving oneself permission not to finish a bad book is an important literary skill to development–life is too short and good books are too abundant to waste time on a bad book, for sure.

Have a book recommendation tip or trick to share? It’s not too late to join the conversation; sound off in the comments with your book search tips.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/14/12

Comments (7)

  1. Dewald van Deventer

    I am a writer myself, and on the lookout for good authors and good books. Just last week i subscribed to an audiobook and Braille library. They had an online brows site. It’s astonishing to see what people read these days. I almost feel like reading childrens’ books again!
    I got a few books from the library, and i’m afraid that i’ll have to send most of them back without reading them. :(

  2. Smartron

    My wife wanted to finish a book (A Game of Thrones, first book) so she could write a review but it was so bad she unplugged it. Note she doesn’t read books, she listens to them. The main problem is all the great characters kept being killed. In general, if we are watching a movie and the first thing they do is kill the wife we turn it off.

  3. Lauren Harrison

    If your library is like mine there is a section where donated used books are sold — hardbacks for 50 cents paperbacks for 25 cents. I am constantly surprised by the eclectic selection there. After I read the books I take them back to the library so they can sell them again!

  4. Rambaldi


    Completely agree with your wife : I really tried to read the Game of Thrones series, and really disliked the storyline where you spend hundreds of pages to know and like great characters, just to seen them killed midway through the book. Very poor storytelling if you ask me. However, until now I thought I was the only one with this opinion, all my friends love this series. On top of that the French translation is not so good.

    On topic, I also use the Amazon suggestions and readers’ comments.

  5. Mr Tiff

    An amusing read of your replies to start my morning with a smile. A problem with the storyline of Game of Thrones, if you don’t kill off a few characters in a saga like this, you end up not having a story. My main method of selecting books to read is to attend one of the many local libraries in my area, Melbourne Australia and seeing how many books an author has on the shelves. If there are more than five, a go to the catalogue and see which of the authors books have won awards, and then I collect or order the award winning books at the library. If I like it, I read the authors lesser books as well

  6. Antriksh Yadav

    Are used to enjoy going to bookstores. But since I moved to e-books I don’t get to do that anymore. If I really don’t have a book to read, I go to the university bookstore and browse around. Then I go back and buy the book on Kindle.

  7. Don Edwards

    Every so often I’ll go to (or pretty much any other free-ebook site) and pick something interesting-sounding from whatever they list as recently added to the collection.

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