General · Reading · Writing

How to Choose Your Next Read.

It’s finally come to the point where I have more than 200 books in my possession that I’ve got to read – 60 physical books and around 15o eBooks. It is extremely daunting, and I often spend time gazing at my overflowing shelves or scrolling through the long list on my reader and wondering how the heck will I find the time to read them all, especially if I want to find time to write and work. Of course it would help if I would stop buying more books, but I have no self-control whatsoever. I’ve shared some pictures of my shelves a while back, but here’s how they look now:

I have no more room. As beautiful as all these books look, I'm also terrified by them. Did I mention that they're right above my bed?
I have no more room. As beautiful as all these books look, I’m also terrified by them. Did I mention that they’re right above my bed?

With so many books comes a great dilemma, the greatest dilemma of them all – which book should I read next? If you’ve come here hoping I would answer that question for you, you might end up being disappointed, because I’m at a loss myself. I mean, I’ve tried a couple of ideas… I could go through the books –

Shelf by shelf: This seemed like a good idea until… “But wait! Does that mean I will have to go through five shelves before getting to that book?!” Some would consider that motivation, but I feel this might cause me to enjoy some books less in my rush to get to that one particular book.

In alphabetical order: This too might put me in the same position as the first solution. A book I might want to read might start with “Z”, and that wait could be agonizing.

By date of purchase: But then what do I do about those books I bought on the same day? And I’d need to actually remember when I bought the books.

By hype/popularity: As in, maybe I should read the books that everyone’s talking about so that I don’t end up falling behind. However, the logic is extremely flawed in this one, because by the time I finish one book, a new book will be released and I will have to start from scratch.

Another idea I’m considering now is simply picking at random. Maybe by writing the names of books on scraps of paper and tossing them in a hat, or maybe by entering the titles in a randomizer and letting technology do the work. It takes away the thrill of choosing but at least gives me some peace where I don’t have to think, “Oh, I could be reading that other book instead.”

Some of you might suggest that I read the book I think I will enjoy the most, but therein lies the dilemma – I think I will enjoy them all and I don’t know which I will enjoy more than the other.

How do you choose your next read? Do you use any of the methods I listed above? Do you pick at random? Maybe you have some tips for me?

My secondary shelves, which - as you can see - are almost entirely full as well.
My secondary shelves, which – as you can see – are almost entirely full as well.

44 thoughts on “How to Choose Your Next Read.

  1. I have the same problem. I find what works best for me is random with an exception for those books I really want to read. You know if there’s a book that makes you go – “But not this one?!?” That book is the one.

    1. You may be onto something there! I have a feeling that if I do end up choosing at random, I might keep re-trying until I get a certain book, haha.

  2. I feel your pain. I have unread books I bought years ago still languishing on my shelves. It’s gotten to the point that I rarely allow myself trips to the bookstore and instead put books on hold at the library. When the books becomes available, then my choice of what to read next is easy–the one the library got in. But if I have no books on hold or none available, then I’m stuck with a dilemma like yours. I usually stare at my shelf or my Kindle and get a feel for what I’m in the mood for. Usually it will come to me, and all is fine, but occasionally I pack up the read after a few chapters and choose something else. Then the poor, ill-chosen book goes back to my to-read shelf, probably angry and hurt… 😉

    1. I always try to tell myself that I won’t go to bookshops, but I cave in… and I come out with no less than four books. It’s a disaster. If it weren’t for books, I’d be a very wealthy girl. I think it’s a good thing we don’t have libraries around here, or I would’ve done the same thing! … but wait, libraries would save me money. Such a dilemma! And I think I know what you mean about angry books; I think a bunch of mine are pretty upset with me!

  3. I usually pick a book depending on my mood. It wouldn’t work for everyone, but it seems to work for me. Like you I have a huge amount of books to choose from. 🙂

  4. I have a similar predicament. I have around 160 books and most are unread. At the rate I’ve been reading, I won’t finish them in the next 2 years, when we move to Canada. I’ll bring the books with me, of course.

    How I’ve decided what to read has been kind of varied. I’ve asked my readers which books I should read and held a poll. That determined my reading order for a year.

    1. I don’t envy you for that! Lugging books from country to country is not fun… though, I love the moment when you open up the boxes and lovingly start to put the books back on their shelves!

      And that seems like a useful method! I might have to try that myself. =D

      1. Funny you say that. I enjoy arranging books on shelves. It’s actually fun. It’s something I need to do soon, because the books I’ve finished reading are all haphazardly placed back on the shelves.

  5. You’re not alone. I have the same problem only not quite as many books. I have about 70 on my Kindle and 10 hardcover and paperbacks sitting by my bed. Recently I decided to start with the oldest and work to the newest purchased. It is hard because some of the newer ones are what I would prefer to read. But I have to do something.

    I’ve also been known to pick 10 from the list (a variety of genre) and play eeny-meenie-miny-moe … And I’ve also tried by length: short. long, short long. Good luck, whatever method you choose.


    1. That’s how I feel about my new books! I mean… when I buy any book, the thrill of reading it is still fresh, but then I let it sit for a month (or three) and the thrill gets directed to some other book, and the cycle continues!

      And you can never go wrong with eeny-meenie-miny-moe. I may have to do that myself if all else fails. 😉

  6. When I go round to my local library, I tend to pick a few books that interest me and then I will always pick one at random. Before I go I get my mum to pick a shelf and book number, so like shelf number 20, three books in. I will take that book.

    Going random can be really fun 😀

      1. I picked up a Matthew Reilly book, ‘The Seven Ancient Wonders’. I’m so glad I did, because I enjoyed it so much I read the entire series and bought them 😀

        1. I just read the synopsis. Sounds pretty interesting, but it’s definitely not something I would’ve picked out deliberately! I guess that just goes to show how useful random choices can be. 🙂

  7. I love bookshelf stalking people so this post was awesome.

    I’m sorry I can’t help you, I struggle with this on a daily basis! A lot of people are getting into the TBR jars, but I’m too contrary for that.

      1. Aha, yes, story of my life! I have a hugeeeee haul post in the making for after I’ve finished my exams. I’ve been too busy to mention all the latest books I have been splurging on and they’ve really stacked up!


        1. I look forward to that post! I bought a load of books during my vacation, so now I’m on a self-imposed ban from bookshops. We’ll see how long that lasts. >.>

          And I just don’t know. ='[

  8. So much of my spare time is spent writing that reading takes a major backseat. I’m currently working through my backlog of e-books. I’ve decided to read one modern book and one classic, thus keeping up on modern things, and also learning from past greats. So far, I’m enjoying it.

    1. I barely have time to write these days and whatever free time I get I use to read. I have such difficulty reading classics though, so kudos to you for attempting that!

  9. My mood decides which book I should read. Although I do like your idea of writing the names of books on scraps of paper and tossing them in a hat! LOL 😀

  10. I choose at random. And I make sure I’m reading from at least two books everyday– one light and frothy, the other, more thought-provoking, literary. I’ve found that it helps to chip away at it every day rather than get overwhelmed by the mountain. 🙂

    1. Doesn’t it get confusing though if you read two books at the same time? I tried that to help myself get through the books at a faster rate, but I felt that it only slowed me down!

  11. For me, mood is the best indicator of what I should read next – not just what I feel like reading, but what I feel like reviewing on my blog. I also take the length and addictiveness into account. For example, I finished ‘A Game of Thrones’ a few weeks ago, and I really want to read ‘A Clash of Kings’ straight away, but if it’s as good as the last one I know I’ll struggle to concentrate on anything else until I finish it. Instead I’m reading a couple of shorter things until I can find a solid week or two when I can afford to immerse myself… I do try to look for things that have been sitting unread on my shelves of kindle for a long time if I can, but sometimes the newer books are just crying out to be read NOW!

    1. Fair enough! I know that when I have read a long book I definitely don’t feel like reading another long one right away. Same with the kind of material; I wouldn’t read two heavy books consecutively!

      Also, how did you like GoT? I’ve been on the fence on this one because I’ve heard it contains a lot of graphic sex & violence.

      1. I loved it! It’s true that sex and violence is a big part of the plot, but I wouldn’t say it’s too graphic in the books. Those particular scenes are pretty brief and apart from the odd beheading it’s pretty much left to the imagination how gruesome those scenes might be.

        I haven’t seen the TV series yet (I bought the DVDs last weekend, but haven’t had time to watch). I’m assuming the sex and violence will have to be a lot more in your face though, and that’s probably where the reputation for gore has come from…

        1. So sorry for the late reply. But yeah, from what I’ve seen from the show, I get the impression that the series is too graphic and that makes me anxious!

        2. I guess it comes down to personal preference. I’m really enjoying the TV series, but I’m glad I read the book first, as it means I know when to look away! There have certainly been some scenes that I didn’t pay much attention to in the books that made me pretty uncomfortable on TV… and I won’t be watching series 2 until I’ve read the next book 🙂

        3. Aha. In that case, I think I may give the books a chance! Indeed, everything is always overly-sexualized when it comes to book adaptations. =/

  12. We’re with you, Zen! I am at a phase right now where I have cut myself off. I even went to Powell’s Books here in Portland, an epic bookstore, and—gasp—did not buy anything! I just HAD to go there, so I rushed through like a crazy woman. I was like a diabetic in a candy store, getting my fix without going OD’ing.

    I’m doing the random selection with my Goodreads list I’m working on now. Also, I refuse to add anything new to my “to-read” list until I whittle it down a bit.

    1. I just looked that place up. Oh my word it looks amazing. It’s dangerous for me to walk into such stores at the moment. D=

      The Goodreads idea is all good and well until you land on a book that you don’t own and you have to spend money to buy a new one!

  13. I love the idea of you reading them in order of shelf space – there’s something wonderfully random in that. But, I agree, that would be frustrating too (but maybe try it for a few books as an experiment?).

  14. Looks like you’ve got some manga up there, how cool! I’m a huge anime fan but want to read more manga…I love having physical books to place on shelves. I just adore marveling at them all! What is some good manga you’ve gotten around to reading? I’m up for suggestions!

    1. I absolutely adore manga! Do you have any favourite genres? It would help me make some suggestions for you. 🙂

      As for good manga I’ve read lately… there was Yotsuba, Kamisama Hajimemashite, Azumanga Daioh, Rurouni Kenshin, Fruits Basket, Tsubasa Chronicles… among others!

  15. Here’s an idea: Let’s start the Book Club of the Traveling Zen! It can work something like this: I have been unemployed for a while and can’t afford to buy books, so you send me one, I’ll read it, then I’ll send it back to you with a little review and I’ll let you know whether it’s worth your time. You will get through your collection faster this way by being able to skip over those books that are not worth the effort. What do you think?

    1. I’m afraid that wouldn’t be possible! I assume you live somewhere in the States maybe? I’m on the opposite side of the world. Shipping books to you would cost me doubt the cost of any books!

      As for not affording books, you can always find good deals on Amazon or even Smashwords!

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