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How to Pick a Good Book (Without the Help of Heather)

March 24, 2011

If you’re someone who has little time on your hands, chances are your book browsing stops about ten feet into the book store. The “Popular Right Now”, “Staff Picks”, “Hot Reads” and of course, “Heather’s Picks”, sections do have their merit. However, these front sections can’t cater to everyone, and the books in them are often chosen through what can only be described as an arbitrary process. Instead of waiting for Chapters or Indigo to find a book for you, why not try these simple and easy solutions and find a great book for yourself.

Search the Sections

With all the other merchandise coming into the Chapters-Indigo chain in the past few years, the old-fashioned book sections keep getting pushed further and further back into the depths of these huge box stores. That doesn’t mean, however, that they aren’t just as useful as they always were at helping you find a book you love. If there’s a specific topic that’s grabbed your attention lately, or a hobby you’ve always loved and want to learn more about, try browsing that section and see what you can find. If you’re too busy to go to a book store, or just prefer to shop online, go to the Chapters-Indigo or Amazon website and browse by section or filter your search to only come up with books in that particular area or discipline.

Ask A Friend

If someone you know has similar taste in books, or knows a lot about a sport or interest that you enjoy as well, why not let them do the work for you? Ask your friend whether there are any books they can recommend or have enjoyed lately. Not only do they know you well, they also could offer to let you borrow the book which saves you going to the store and buying it. It’s a win-win on all fronts. If your friends aren’t avid readers, why not check out some book blogs or magazines that publish unbiased, helpful reviews.

Stick with an Author

Maybe you’ve read a book by an author that you really enjoyed. Why not see what else they have available? There’s almost always a list of other titles by an author inside all of their books, but if you can’t find one, try visiting the author or publisher’s website for suggestions. You may find that another book has been nominated for, or won an award, or you could simply find a good synopsis of each title that will help you choose which one to visit next. Many websites now come equipped with author interviews and book trailers that can be helpful as well. If all else fails, search for a book club you could join that is dedicated to the author or genre you love.

Support an Independent

Big book stores are great for having volumes of books, but when it comes to certain genres and topics, they often are lacking, or the books get lost in the endless shelves. Independent book stores are great for having content that a bigger store or chain wouldn’t carry, and they’re known for great customer service. They know the material well and they know what their customers like. Try visiting an independent book store for fun and talk to an employee or the owner to see if they can find something just for you!

Go to the Library

If you’d rather not take a chance at spending money on a book you may or may not like, why not try the library. Librarians are famous for knowing their libraries inside out. They can tell you almost anything you want to know about a book, genre, author, or topic, and if they can’t, they’re great at pointing you in the right direction. Libraries allow you to check out books you may not have bought because you felt it was a risk, and are also organized by sections which makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. If you don’t have time to search through the whole library, they often have a section at the front with popular new titles. The difference between this and the popular section in a chain store, is that publishers often pay for the space in the front of the stores, but librarians simply choose the books they feel are most worthy of that space, have won awards, or are written by a reputable and popular author.

Now that you have all the tools, go find a great book that’s perfect just for you!

Related Links:

Ask Amy Book Blog

Top Ten Non-Fiction Reads

Author Profile: Alice Munro

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