How To Find A Good Book To Read

Growing up we had limited choices—one kind of bread, one kind of cereal, one children’s program on television per day—and life was a lot simpler. In these days of plenty, ‘too much choice‘ is a recurring problem and when paired with the modern ‘time is money’ dilemma, it results in continual decision-making stress.

To escape from stress (and housework and responsibilities) I have turned to books my entire life. Open up the pages of a book, new or old, and I am guaranteed several hours of happy absorption and oblivion. However, this aspect of my life has not escaped the ‘too much choice‘ phenomena and resulting selection stress. The books I am drawn to read these days are by South Asian authors and the sheer range and assortment of books being published is mind-boggling. Gone are the days when a few select South Asian elite authors held sway over the English writing market. Nowadays there is something for everyone and it almost seems like everyone has a book out there.

The problem then becomes which book to read? As much as I would like to, I can’t read everything out there, and in more cases than I would like, I wouldn’t want to read many of the books on offer.

After a great many cases of hit and miss I have finally perfected a three-point system that I am going to share since it might work for you as well. First off, I read the blurb of the book. A typo or a grammatical mistake here—and believe it or not a good eighty percent of books from the region mess up this critical element—ensures that no matter how good the story sounds, I will not go forward with the book. Call me elitist or over-critical, but if the author and/or publisher couldn’t be bothered to craft a good blurb, one of first points of reference for a reader and a primary marketing tool, what are the chances that the book was given the editing and attention it deserves?

If the blurb is well written and the story seems engaging, my next point of reference is to head off to Goodreads and check out a couple of reviews. I specifically go to Goodreads and not to Amazon since I find the reviews there to be much more balanced and more authentic. My strategy with reviews is to find a couple of longer ones, which generally tend to be written by thoughtful and articulate people. If you find a few of these and they seem favorable, there is a good chance that the book merits the review. My final step is to now move to Amazon and check out the preview of the book, such a wonderful feature and completely free. If the first chapter intrigues me, I happily add the book to my cart and proceed to checkout. If not, well, move onto option two.

While the process isn’t foolproof, it generally results in a good read and since I am planning to spend both my time and money into the book, I for one am happy to make the investment. Thank you Goodreads and Amazon!


Books Everywhere, Which One to Read?

In today’s world there is no shortage of books and writers, both of the published and self-published variety. With this deluge of books, how does a person decide what book to buy and read?

I have various strategies, depending on what I am looking for and the mood I am in.

When I am looking for a good read, I usually follow the tried and tested author path. If I like an author’s book, I generally buy everything that author writes—whether the second book lives up to the first or not. If I’ve liked the first book, I will generally like the second, and the third and fourth.

The other strategy I adopt is when I am out looking for a new experience. That means looking to read the back of the book blurb, reading a few reviews and dipping into the book to see if I like the author’s style of writing. Bookstores are a great place to browse and do this, and so are e-book retailers.

Finally, there are times when I just want the universe to literally hand me a good book. That’s when I look around briefly and pick up the book—any book that catches my eye—and purchase it. I have found some of the best books I have ever read that way.

What strategy do you follow when looking for something to read?


The First Book I Fell in Love With

I think I was four years old when I started reading. Peter sat down, Jane sat down. Peter went to the park, and Jane, of course had to go to the park too. This was the seventies and a blond Peter and a dark-haired Jane were glued together in perpetuity. I have no idea why these books were so fascinating; I think it was the unfamiliar pictures of a green English countryside that did the trick.

And then, when I was six years old, my teacher started to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to us. And just like that, I fell in love with words and books and reading. Mr. Wonka’s amazing factory run by tiny Oompa Loompas with a wicked sense of humor started me off on a journey that continues till today.

Did that happen to you? Was there a book, or a person who inspired you to become a reader and dream of perhaps, one day, becoming a writer? What story or person motivated your love of books?