Falling in book-love is the greatest feeling the world. Sometimes it hits you full-on from the first page. Other times, it's a gradually building love as you read on and go deeper into the book. We readers are always longing for finding the next book to read, to wrap us up in its arms, to sweep us away, to make us feel something we've never felt before.
And once a book hits that special place, it becomes one of your books. It greets you like an old friend every time you see its cover or hear its title come up in conversation. (Anyone who knows me knows that I'm very guilty of letting out involuntary squeals any time I hear one of my favorite books mentioned.) Plus you can always count on a book to stay by your side forever.
It's my job (and my passion) to match people with their next favorite read. As a professional book nerd, I'm constantly on the prowl for great reads. Everyone has different criteria for what makes a book their favorite. Sometimes your favorite books are the ones that surprise you, sometimes they're the ones that are exactly what you know you love. No matter how you define what makes a book your favorite, there are tons of ways to get there. So here are they are, some of my tricks of the trade for how to find your way to your next favorite read.
1. Creep On Your Favorite Authors' Bookshelves
To be a good writer, you have to be a good reader, and odds are, your favorite author is reading stuff that you'll go nuts for. If your fave is a member of Goodreads, you can follow them and see what they've been rating and reviewing. You can also scan their interviews — authors love to drop titles when they're talking about their writing. here at Bustle, we've even compiled some for you, including John Green, Margaret Atwood, and Rainbow Rowell.
2. Head to Your Local Indie Bookstore
Most indie bookstores will have a wall of books that their booksellers recommend, complete with (often handwritten) reviews. Booksellers are some of the most well-read people on the planet, so you can find some real gems on these walls. Plus, this is a great way to discover new and local authors.
3. Ask a Friend
Check in with your BFF and find out what they've been reading. Or better, yet, start a book club or a weekly book exchange. Read things together. Talk about what you're reading. Have fun with it!
4. Try Something You Wouldn't Normally Read
Sometimes, all your reading life needs is to be shaken up a little bit. Are you normally a fantasy reader? Give a western a spin. Do you read mostly realistic fiction? Try out a sci-fi. Dip your toes into YA. Not only is it fun to try new things, but your imagination will love the new connections it can make.
5. For a Taste Test, Read Some Short Stories
Before you commit to a whole book, shop around for an author you may like by reading some short stories. Try out a collection with multiple authors (maybe look out for one that features an author you already like, and see what editors are pairing with them!). Plus, a lot of online fiction magazines/publishers publish free stories and excerpts by authors who also have books coming out. For instance, check out Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, or Catapult, or Longreads. Once you find a voice you like, do some Googling and see what longer works they have out.
6. Attend a Local Reading or Book Festival
Not only is supporting local authors a really great thing to do, but you can find some fresh new voices immediately when you attend readings. And the good news is, most of the time they're free! Check out your local bookstore for what the reading schedule is, and look up when your area's next book festival is. A lot of times, events pair authors that go well together, so look out for events your favorite authors may be doing, and see who else is going to be reading/in conversation with them. (Not to mention, readings are endless fun!)
7. Give Those Award Lists Some Love
Books win awards because they're really good. Duh. But in recent years, literary awards have even begun releasing their long lists and short lists of potential winners, and they're always stacked with some great reads. Scan through the books that are getting selected and see what the hype is all about. Top awards to look out for are the Man Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Goodreads Choice Awards.
8. Goodreads, Goodreads, Goodreads!
I'm a huge fan of Goodreads (as evidenced by the amount of times I've mentioned it already in this article). If you haven't joined it yet, go, do it now. A social media platform for book lovers, you can keep track of everything you've read, are reading, and want to read. You can see what your friends are reading and what they think of books. You can get recommendations from Goodreads itself based on your tastes (just like Netflix does). You can enter into drawings for free books. You can look through user-created lists of books that go together. It's an amazing tool, and it basically powers my life.
9. (Obviously) Keep an Eye on the Bustle Books Section
Hey, we've got your back. Read on and prosper.