Are you bored with what you’re reading? Do you secretly long for something new, fresh, and exciting? This happens to the most avid of readers. Yet some of us are gun-shy about finding someone new to read. After all, there’s a lot to choose from, and not all of it is good. How do you go about finding a writer that you’ll enjoy?
- Use Amazon. Amazon loves to suggest titles to you based on your viewing history. For example, when I look up Dry by Augusten Burroughs, Amazon immediately brings up a list at the bottom of other books that other customers bought after viewing this item. Sure, they’re all by Burroughs, but if you click on “See Similar Items,” you’ll get a wider selection of titles. Look! There’s The Fried Twinkie Manifesto by Ryan Moehring! Will I like it? I can get an idea by using the “Look Inside” feature. Thank you, Amazon.
- Visit the websites of authors you like. This can be helpful for two reasons: First, many authors will list writers they love or were influenced by, which may give you an inkling of writers you might enjoy. (Then go to Amazon and use the “Look Inside” feature again.) Second, take a moment to read the blurbs of praise your preferred author is getting. Book blurbs will often make comparisons to other writers. For instance, I am probably most often compared to Jeff Strand, which is flattering as all get-out, I’ll admit. If you visit my website (www.staceylongo.com), you’ll see a page titled “My Favorite Things,” and lo and behold, there’s a link to Jeff (and several other authors I enjoy). If you adore all my books (and who wouldn’t?) then yes, you’ll most likely enjoy Jeff.
- Go to the library. You know who probably loves books as much as you do? Your local librarian. Or the volunteers at the library. Or the lady sitting in the comfortable chair at the library. It’s perfectly okay to ask the librarian, “Gee, I just adore Larry McMurtry. Are there any books by similar authors you could recommend?” Then you can check out the recommended selections without making a monetary investment.
- Ask your friends and family. Who is your sister reading? Amy Tan? Do you trust your sister’s opinion? Then ask to borrow the book when she’s done.
I should emphasize here that you should ask friends and family whose opinions you trust. My sister and I often agree, but once in a while, she’ll recommend something I truly hate. So now I ask that all-important follow-up question: “Remember when I didn’t speak to you for a month after reading Atonement on your recommendation? With that in mind, do you think I’ll like the book you’re suggesting now?”
- Check the New York Times Bestseller List. Of course I could give you a list of a hundred books that appeared on this list and were about as interesting as dryer lint. But sometimes, you can find a pearl among the oyster goo. As I type this, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is the top young adult bestseller on the list. That’s a good book.
The list also breaks down the bestsellers into helpful categories. Like science? The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Sloot is number two in the science bestseller category. Another good choice.
Where do you go when you’re looking to spice up your bookshelf? Leave a comment below!
Stacey Longo is the author of Ordinary Boy (nominated for a Pushcart Prize) and Secret Things: Twelve Tales to Terrify. Her YA horror novel My Sister the Zombie is due out in 2016. Her stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, including Shroud, Shock Totem, and the Litchfield Literary Review.
She is a past Hiram Award winner, and was a featured author on the 2014 Connecticut Authors Trail. A former humor columnist for the Block Island Times, she maintains a weekly humor blog at www.staceylongo.com.