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Finding the Perfect Book

Wandering aimlessly through the stacks, unsure of what you want, can be intimidating.

Alfons Morles, Unsplash

If you spend any amount of time in your local library or bookstore, you have probably realized that there are hundreds and hundreds of books to choose from. Unless you are one of the lucky few who enters one of these establishments with a particular title in mind, you may find yourself wandering down aisle after aisle, staring at shelf after shelf trying to find your next read. Well, here are a few questions that might help you the next time you find yourself wandering aimlessly through the stacks.

Should you go with what you know or try something new?

Before you can make any sort of decision about specific titles or genres, you need to figure out if you want to stick with what you are comfortable reading or if you want to branch out and try something new. It is important to make sure that you feel comfortable with your decision because nobody knows your interests in books better than you do. You know that you're a sucker for a good murder mystery, but maybe, if you're in the mood, you should try that romance novel you’ve always had your eye on? You know what your interests are and you need to decide what you're in the mood for.

Are you in the mood for fiction or nonfiction?

Perhaps one of the most crucial choices you have to make when it comes to picking a book can also seem like one of the easiest questions to answer. What is it you’d like to read? Are you looking for the next great sci-fi adventure or are you interested in learning more about how to release your inhibitions and live your most authentic life? Deciding between fiction or nonfiction will open up another universe of choices, but before you can even think about sub-genres, you need to decide if you looking for something rooted in truth or something more in the realm of imagination. If you truly can't decide, maybe you'll just have to get more than one book.

How do you feel about asking for help?

Whether it's the library or the bookstore, odds are there are plenty of people wandering around who would be more than happy to help you find whatever it is you are looking for. If you find yourself struggling to pick something out, why don’t you ask someone for a suggestion? Granted, they don’t really know your exact interests when it comes to books, but these people spend large portions of their day around books and they have come to know the ones that stand out and the ones that don’t. It may seem weird at first to ask a complete stranger for a book suggestion, but they will be able to help you. If you don't feel like reaching out to a person, you could always poll your friends online or even scroll through sites like Goodreads to see what titles are getting the most buzz.

A test drive won't hurt, right?

Nine times out of ten, wherever you are looking for books will have a little nook, possibly even a few, that have some comfortable looking chairs and adequate lighting. If you find something that you think might be interesting, sit down and read the first chapter. You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, so why would you buy a book without a test read? If you’ve read the reviews or the synopsis printed on the inside cover or the back, or you are familiar with the author but not the title, take a seat, kick back, and give it a quick skim. If it still has you interested, odds are that it will probably be a book worth reading.

Will I be stuck with this forever?

No. Buying a book is not a binding legal contract. Let’s say you decided what genre you wanted, you found a promising title, and you even sat down to read a chapter and, feeling confident, you left with the book in hand and made your way home. Now here you are, 50 pages in, and you wind up hating the book and want nothing more than to put it down. There is no rule that says you have to finish reading it. It is okay to put a book down if you aren’t interested. But, the most important thing you can do in a situation like this is try to make a list of why you weren’t interested. What was it that turned you away? This information will come in handy when you find yourself back on the hunt for a book.

Although there is no tried and true method that will result in the perfect book every time, there are plenty of things that you can do to make sure that the odds are in your favor when it comes to picking out a book. Although it can be intimidating to read outside of your comfort zone, try something new, expand your literary horizons in the hopes that you might discover something that you truly love.

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