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What to Read Next?

A few of the "to be read" books on Rebecca Howard's long, long list.
A few of the "to be read" books on Rebecca Howard's long, long list.

Discovering books is rarely a problem for me, as I am surrounded by options (perks of working in a library). Often times, the options are a bit much, as you can see by my current stack of books to check-out—a stack not to be confused with my “books I own that I still need to read” stack. I often visit with people, however, who want to read more or begin reading for fun again and aren’t entirely sure where to find something they will enjoy. Here are a few tried and true resources for finding books you’ll love.

Identify what stories you already enjoy
Think about the last series that you binge watched, movies that captivated your attention and imagination, or podcasts that you can’t stop thinking about. What was it specifically about these narratives that you most enjoyed? Was it the character development, an action-packed plot, or a tone or mood the story evoked? Are you looking for something similar to what you’ve recently enjoyed or do you want something completely different?

Ask what your purpose for reading is
We read for different reasons at different times in our lives. Are you reading for information, entertainment, or escape? Do you want something challenging and thought-provoking or something fanciful, light, and humorous? Your purpose for reading can change from week to week or even day to day. Load up your ereader or keep those stacks of books nearby. Options can be a good thing.

Ask others, but not any other
There’s nothing more exciting than getting a book suggestion from someone who knows and understands what you love to read. Some of my favorite books have been those suggested to me by my reader soulmates. Connect with others who share some, but not all, of your reading preferences. You want to leave room for reading outside of your comfort zone, too. Reading is solitary, but conversations with other readers exponentially enrich your reading life. Book clubs are the perfect way to add to your reading list and discover what kinds of books you love most and why.

Keep a list
Whether it’s in a journal or online, a to-be-read (TBR) list can help keep you motivated and excited about what to read next. Need help generating that TBR list? There are so many avenues for discovering new books. These are just a few of my favorites:

Literary Hub is a rabbit-hole for all types of readers. It features cultural and social commentary, author interviews, podcasts, and reading lists. My absolute favorite feature is Book Marks. Book Marks staff aggregate reviews from hundreds of outlets. If a book is featured in at least three outlets, each review is assigned a rating—Rave, Positive, Mixed, or Pan. These reviews are averaged and readers can see at-a-glance the critical reception of a book in the Book Marks database.

The Millions is a list-lovers dream. I always look forward to their “Most anticipated” lists that come out semi-annually. They are also creating a monthly most-anticipated list, in case you need the reminder. Bonus-they can add titles that they may have missed in the larger, semi-annual version.

NoveList Plus is a librarian’s best friend, but the amazing news is that if you’re a Tulsa City-County Library card holder, you can gain access to this subscription-based database as well! NoveList is perfect whether you’re taking a deep dive into a specific genre, or just want to skim the surface for new and noteworthy titles. It has series information, author and title read-a-likes, curated reading lists and more. I especially love the appeal mixer, where you can input the type of storyline, writing style, characters, or pacing and get recommendations that match.

Get professional help
If you’re looking for a more personalized experience and you’re a Tulsa City-County Library card holder, try Your Next Great Read. This online readers’ advisory survey asks you specific questions about your reading preferences, and a library staff member (no algorithms here) creates a unique reading guide just for you. This service is an excellent way to reengage with reading and jumpstart your summer TBR list.

Rebecca Howard is the regional manager of Tulsa City-County Library. During her 15 years with Tulsa City-County Library, Rebecca launched the readers advisory service Your Next Great Read, and served as TCCL’s county-wide Literacy Coordinator. Rebecca writes Public Radio Tulsa's monthly column Imprint.
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