Finding Your Next Literary Love
Author: Asandra al'Terra
I have a to-be-read (TBR) pile approximately eight hundred books long, but sometimes, I stare and stare and can’t find quite the right book for my given mood. Sometimes it’s because a book tore me up and spat me back out, and I need a specific antidote; sometimes, it’s because I’m overwhelmed with work, and nothing quite speaks to my state of exhaustion. Reading slumps happen, but sometimes, the cure lies only in finding the right book.
So… how does one find the right book? Here are my methods:
Tried, tested, and true: if I have no idea what I’m doing with my (reading) life, stopping by the library is one of the best things to do. In the Morningside library – a stone’s throw away from where I have Japanese class four times a week – there’s a “new releases” section right by the door, and I’m sure most libraries have something similar. Stepping in there and glancing at the covers hits two birds with one stone: I sometimes find an amazing new read, and I get to satisfy my lust for getting a bunch of new books for my shelves without spending $60, as I would in a bookstore. Sure, I have to give them back eventually, but given the state of my budget… it’s worth it.
As a bonus, from what I gather about librarians, they’re kind of into books… which means they’re probably willing and able to give you suggestions for your next great read.
Yes, Instagram and Facebook are all well and good for sharing baby photos and cat videos, but there’s so much more you can do!
The great thing about this is that you can calibrate your book list to your bookish tastes. Love fantasy? Stick to fantasy publishers. Just want literary magazines? Try your hand at Electric Literature and related publications.
Worried you’re going to clutter up your feed with books instead of babies (or cats, or awkward food photos)? Not a problem. Tag all of your bookish likes with their own name; remove them from your main feed; and just peruse the bookish list when you’re ready for it.
On Instagram, I’ve followed a bunch of book-related people: publishers (like Melville House); the NYPL; local bookstores (like The Strand); and personal pages, like Fully Booked, Triin Books, and Amanda Nelson. I love this medium because you get a bite-size glimpse into the reading lives of others – and often, a quirky cover or a neat description will catch my eye and introduce me to a world I didn’t even know existed. I also get to visually describe my own reading (alongside my cooking and running adventures).
Okay, this may be a dangerous (I know it is for me). But, here’s a key bit of advice: go to bookstores on Tuesdays, because that’s New Book Release Day (a weekly holiday!). You can take a gander at all the new stock that they’ve acquired!
In addition, a lot of bookstores (especially independent bookstores, commonly known as indies) are chock full of Employee Recommendation tabs around the store – and equally stocked with Employees who want to Recommend things to you. Did you read a tab talking about how much Dan loved The City and the City, and then you bought it and loved it too? Ask around for Dan (but, like, not in a creepy way) and see if he’d be willing to throw a couple more recommendations for way. Are you shy? That’s all right – just keep an eye out for his name when you’re looking at the tabs.
The great thing about the internet is that it makes the world so much smaller. Okay, that’s not optimal for that one picture of you from college, involving an ice luge and dog food, but… you get the point. People who love books as much as you do are only a click away.
My favourite place for bookish news is Book Riot, which was started by one of my college profs. They’ve got a bunch of recs for all kinds of readers, and Liberty Hardy sends out an email blast with her favourite selections for New Release Tuesdays, which I highly recommend – she picks books across a variety of genres and author backgrounds.
More of a graphic novel/comic person than a book person? That’s fine too – Book Riot has a sister site, Panels!
The thing I like about both of these sites is that they focus on diversity, which really widens the pool of books/comics that you can hear about.
Do you have any particular way that you find about new books? What methods do you suggest? Let us know in the comments!