Jan 12, 2024

How I Pick What Books to Read

I remembered this tweet from last year.

<a href='' rel='noreferrer' target='_blank'

<img alt='tweet about not knowing what to read next' src='/images/posts/how-i-choose-books.png' /> </a>

I noted down how I choose my next read but never published it. So here it is.

Here are the things I take into account when picking my next book:

  1. When I'm reading fiction, if the book I finished has a sequel or is part of a series, I continue reading the series. For non-fiction, I ask myself, "did I find this book interesting enough to read more about it?" If the answer is yes, I search for book recommendations on the topic. If not, I fallback to my books wishlist.
  2. Speaking of, I keep a wishlist of books I want to buy. Any time I hear a book recommendation and I find the premise interesting, I go to Amazon and add that book to my wishlist. I've been doing this for so long that my Amazon wishlist is almost entirely just books. When I finish a book and I decide not to read more on the same topic, I go through my wishlist and see what sparks my interest. But interests change over time and sometimes we might lose interest in a book that we initially found intriguing. That's totally fine and it happens a lot. In that case, I move on to my to-read list.
  3. Keep a "to-read" list. These are often books I've bought in the past out of impulse or genuine interest but haven't read yet. I apply the "will this be interesting now?" rubric here too. If this step doesn't turn up anything, I move on to the next step.
  4. I think about what I could get better at in my life and/or career. I often choose books this way. Should I build better habits? Become a better engineer? Learn a new programming language? A better writer? Here, Google or ChatGPT is your friend. I search for books on the chosen topic, check GoodReads reviews, articles, etc — anything that'll give me an idea about the quality of the books.
  5. I read books that I've already read. This one is so underrated. I've a set of books that I re-read every so often. This could be because of any number of reasons — I enjoyed reading it the previous time, I've forgotten the lessons, I want to read the sequel but I have the appetite to start from the beginning etc. Here are some of the books I've read multiple times: Dune, The Lord of The Rings, A Guide to the Good Life, Atomic Habits, and The Subtle Art of not Giving a Fuck.

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