Finding good books to read can at times appear to be a troublesome prospect. However, in this age of global Internet communities and online sharing, you’re never far away from an incredible find. Courtesy of the Internet, and traditional means, here is a list of ways to find yourself an incredible new author. Outstanding? Indeed, sir/madam.
1. The Book Seer
Ask the Book Seer what to read next, and based on your preferences, he’ll kindly suggest a similar author and book.
Goodreads is a nifty community website which allows you to connect with literature fans around the world. Millions of books are rated on Goodreads; sign up, read the reviews, see the high scores, and find good books within minutes.
3. Head for Nobel Prize Winners
Anyone who’s won a Nobel Prize in Literature knows what they’re doing. Think Jean-Paul Sartre (pictured above with Simone de Beauvoir and Che Guevara in 1960), Albert Camus, Pearl S. Buck, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and many other luminaries. Here’s the official list.
4. Take a Look at Best Books Ever Lists
There are plenty of them, but this Top 100 Books of all Time list was voted for by writers from around the world. You can find the list here–100 books is sure to keep anyone busy for a considerable amount of time.
Another impressive online resource, WhichBook “enables millions of combinations of factors and then suggests books which most closely match your needs.” Handy.
6. Avoid Best Sellers
This may sound like odd advice, but the books you see at the top of the charts may not exactly be riveting reads. Books can succeed merely on an authors name, or through a massive advertising campaign. If you really want to read a best seller, check out a few reliable reviews beforehand (from critics and readers); otherwise, give lesser known authors a try.
7. Penguin Classics
The Penguin’s Classics selection is very impressive indeed and can easily fill a bookshelf with great novels. What’s just as good are the suggestion lists you’ll find at the back of Penguin books which offer new titles for you.
8. Head to Bookstores
Commercial and independent bookstores often have well received old and new texts placed around the store, so have a read of their synopses and see if any of them are for you. You can also try reading several random pages as this can be a good indication of the quality of writing.
9. Talk to Staff
Staff do tend to be big literature fans, so if you’re after something on a whim, talk to them for their recommendations. They should well versed on the quality of recently released books, so ask for guidance on new or old authors.
10. Ask Friends and Family
Chances are, someone in your family or circle of friends is a literature fan–ask them for any books which are must-reads. They’ll probably even lend you some for free.
11. Study Literature
Take up a free online literature course and you’ll soon have canonical literature to read and deconstruct for essays. It’s a great way to come across new authors and texts, as well as allowing you to achieve something. Sites such as Learn Out Loud have free courses, whilst Bibliomania offers free study guides.
12. The Library
The benefits of a library are much like those of bookstores, except everything’s free. Talk to staff for ideas on what to check out, or simply pick an interesting-looking book at random. The joy of libraries is the ability to be able to sit down and read a large portion of the book in the building. There’s no sales pressure as with book stores, and if you enjoy the text, you can rent it.
13. Head for obvious Classics
You may have heard of 1984, The Old Man and the Sea, Crime and Punishment, and Mrs. Dalloway, but have you read them? Think of all the canonical literary classics you can and head out to read them–your local library will more than likely have them in stock.
14. Go to Book Fairs
There are plenty of them in local areas, as well as national events. You can go along to these literature conventions and meet authors and talk to them directly about their book(s). Head straight to the source to see if you’d like to read a new book. The Publishers Association book fair list is a good place to start, but there will be more localized events if you do a community search.
15. Watch Films
Although it’s frowned upon by some literature fans, watching films is a great way to discover excellent books. A large proportion of the movies you see will be adapted from a literary text. Hunt down the book and read it beforehand (or after seeing the film) to offer a new perspective on the story. Ken Kesey’s brilliant One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is a perfect example–you’d be surprised how much the text differs from the film.
16. Join a Book Club
Check your local community for book group meetings. You’ll meet with fellow literature fans, pick a novel to read, and then report back after a few weeks. This is also a good way to meet like-minded people who can share their favorite books with you.
17. Write Your Own
Everyone has a novel in them, and a book will mean a great deal more to you if you’ve written it yourself. It doesn’t have to be a full scale novel of 70,000 words; novellas can be 20,000, and short stories can be even less. There are regular, online community-supported writing projects, such as National Novel Writing Month, where you can gauge your progress and have local meetups with fellow writers for a moral boost.