Choosing Out of the Best Books

I remember several years ago a friend of mine said that she wanted to get more into reading.  Then she was like, "How do you find the books to read?  I don't even know where to start!"

I have always loved reading.  Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley Twins were the books I devoured growing up!  Anne of Green Gables probably came next.  Even now I think of some books that made some sort of impression on me:  Milly Molly Mandy, 100 Dresses, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Littles, and others.  I never loved the books we were supposed to read for school.  Looking back it might have just been because I didn't recognize the value in them.  Books such as The Crucible, Cry the Beloved Country, The Scarlett Letter, and Cantebury Tales
Things changed when I hit college. I didn't know how I could possibly fit in time to read amidst classes, a job, homework, and dating (of course!).  I had a roommate who was always found reading a book, from her bedroom to the bathtub, and I marvelled at how she did it! 

So, when college ended and I was now "only" a stay-at-home mom (ha! ha!) I went crazy over reading and read 13 books in 2 months!  I was just so eager to read, read, read.  I found that as I started to read one book, it would lead to another book and another and another.  It has gotten to the point now where I have a fat file folder full of book lists.  So, it's no longer, "What do I read?" but rather, "How do I choose 'out of the best books.'?

How to Choose the BEST Books

**  CLASSICS.  What consititutes a classic?  A common response when I tell people I love to read classics they kind of wrinkle their nose and say, "I like some of those."  When people think classics they think only Dickens, Defoe, Hemingway, etc.  All of these are great authors, but not the only classic authors to choose from.  There are modern day classics as well.  A classic for me is one that I can read over and over, recommend every time someone asks if I have a book for them to read, or one that enhances my learning and language  (see The Necessity of Classics).  C.S. Lewis said something to the effect that if it's not good enough to read twice, it's not good enough to read.
**  SET GOALS FOR YOURSELF.  One of my lifelong goals is to read ALL of the books on the Newberry Award Winning list.  I may not get to all of the honors books, but I'd at least like to read all of the winners.  Another goal I've set is to read 10 Classic books in each subject (science, math, literature, history, etc.).  A great resource for that is The Well-Educated Mind by Bauer.

**  GOODREADS.  This website has made choosing books easier...and also much more daunting.  I think GoodReads has popularized reading, making it "the thing to do."  My friends on GoodReads usually have great suggestions for I know where to go when I'm in a slump.

** READ MANY GENRES.  I tend to get bored reading the same type of book all the time.  I like to change it up by asking myself, "What genre haven't I read in awhile?" Or thinking about a topic I want to learn more about.


  1. Great tips! I am glad you are my Goodreads friend. Nothing wrong with reading good books! =)


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