Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


Favorite books, giveaway, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien


In the US alone, more than three hundred thousand books were published in 2013, according to Wikipedia.

Back in 2010, Google estimated that at least 129 million books had been published worldwide.

So, obviously, finding the one you will really love isn’t easy, is it?

In recent years, Amazon and Book Bub and social media have helped a lot. Amazon, particularly, has grown eerily accurate about its “featured recommendations” based on my browsing/buying history.

They  recently suggested that a woman who reads as many mysteries as I do might like The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery, by Alan Bradley. I sampled it, bought it, and wow. I really, really do. 🙂

But I still find a lot of my favorite books the old fashioned ways, the ways I used back before the great I(nternet) in the Sky began reading over my shoulder. Here are my favorite ways:


  • Recommendations from friends. I have lots of reader/writer friends, but there are a select few whose advice I trust absolutely. We’re not clones, of course, and we’ll occasionally disagree. But they know me well enough to know when a book is right for me, and when it’s not. My favorite recent find this way: Where Have You Gone, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple, which was suggested by my writer friend Susan Blexrud.
  • Browsing bookstores. Nothing is more exciting than pulling out a book you’ve never heard of, leafing through it, and then deciding to take a chance and spend your precious gift certificate on it. When I was seventeen, I stumbled on Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence that way, and what a life-changer that was! To this day I sort of feel maternal toward this early-Twentieth Century author, as if I single-handedly discovered her. My favorite find this way: Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, which I found in a Tallahassee Barnes & Noble one weekend when I was visiting Girlchild at college. The next year of my life was consumed by reading the entire, difficult, marvelous series.


  • Listening to the radio. I love when NPR interviews authors and I adore their Morning Edition book club, where smart people hash over books chosen by well-known authors. My favorite recent find this way: Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness and Family Secrets. I may never look at my doctor the same way, but it was absolutely fascinating!
  • Stumbling on a lead while I do research for my own books. Writers spend a lot of time scrambling down rabbit holes on the Internet, checking out a particular character’s career, or location, home, hobby, or neurosis. One site leads to another, and sometimes, when we’re lucky, we’ll encounter something we want explore further. My favorite recent find this way: Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. (Cool fringe benefit…to double-check the title, I Googled the book tonight, and I discovered that a movie version is in the works! Can’t wait!)

Dry rose on an old book/ Vintage Books and Roses


So how do you decide which of those 129 million books to read?  I’d love to hear what works for you.  I’ll be giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen poster today, so if you share your favorite methods you might end up being able to chip away at that Wish List! 😉





57 thoughts on “Books, Books Everywhere….But Which One Should I Read?

  1. Amy says:

    I chose the book I am currently reading because there was a blurb that mentioned if you like the three authors listed, you would like this author. I liked every single one of the three listed and am enjoying the new book as well. I also get book ideas from the book podcasts I listen to.

    1. Book podcasts are definitely on my list of new avenues to explore. I’ve just begun to acquire the podcast habit, but I can tell it’s going to be an addiction! 🙂 And yes, I know what you mean about books that are grouped together as “similar.” If I see a review blurb on the dust jacket of a book, and it’s by another author I love, I’m always more likely to buy.

      1. Amy says:

        Yes, beware, Kathleen. Podcasts are addictive. I subscribe to 10 and would love to listen to more.

  2. Kathleen Rex-Infelice says:

    The way I have found the glorious reads that I have read is 1. from joining a readers group here on Facebook 2. recommendations from friends. 3 finding it myself in a bookstore and 4. winning a ARC from an author from a contest.

    1. I didn’t even realize there were reading groups on Facebook, Kathleen. What wonderful news! Must explore this…thanks for letting me know!

  3. Susan Gorman says:

    I rely on recommendations from friends, book bub and reviews when selecting a new book.

    I tend to read authors who write series ( Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation and Grace Burrowes The Windhams) and authors who write fast paced novels with great characters and lots of humor ( Shana Galen, Kristan Higgins and Samamtha Chase).

    Book bub is amazing– great authors and great prices! Recently, I saw a book by an author that I adored. Her last few books weren’t for me and I stopped reading her. Book bub offered her latest novel for $1.99 and I bought it, read it and loved it!

    Friend reccomendafions are important especially when I want to read a new genre or author. I read reviews on Amazon as well.

    1. I think that’s absolutely terrific, Susan, that you returned to an author you’d given up on because of a Book Bub ad! I know what you mean about an author whose style seems to have followed a new path, taking her away from what you loved. Often, that’s the end for me, but I can imagine how happy I’d feel to find my way back–or, maybe I should say to have the author find their way back to me! 🙂

  4. Dawn A says:

    I like to book browse and recommendations are always helpful.

    1. Book browsing is my idea of heaven. I could spend all day every day in a really good bookstore and never complain!

  5. Anna Adams says:

    First, I just bought Empty Mansions–so thank you! 🙂 I browse, and I obviously can’t resist an excellent recommendation! We’ve moved a lot, and the first thing I always do when we reach a new town is get a library card. My best find ever, was when we moved to Maryland, and I’d been in hotels for a month with a toddler and a husband who went off to work every day and came home (to the hotel) with work to do, so when we finally landed, I just wanted a good book to read. A fat book, with lots of print! The more words, the better! I stumbled across Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L. Sayers and discovered Peter Wimsey. Ahhhhhhhhhh. The series came to Kindle just as my elderly paperbacks were starting to fall apart!

    1. Oh, the absolute delight of Peter Wimsey! I was half in love with the guy when I was in my twenties. I bet he was the most comforting buddy ever during a difficult time like that. I’m especially fond of the Harriet Vane ones…and I have loved the BBC series, too. The old Peter (Ian Carmichael) is my favorite, but I adore Harriet Walter as the newer HV. The short stories are great, too. Argh…now I must go reread! 🙂 Hope you like Empty Mansions. It’s odd but, to me, endlessly fascinating. I went through an obsessive period with a short violin piece mentioned in the book…that’s how obsessed I was with every detail. LOL…now you’ll really learn how strange I am!

  6. Kate Sparks says:

    I find my reading material from authors that I’ve already enjoyed. They either recommend an author or a book.. but I will also say that if I’m a couple of chapters in and not enjoying it… I quit it. Life is too short and there’s too many good books out there.

    1. Kate, I’m the same way now. I used to force myself to finish everything, but then I looked at the universe of books I’m eager to read…and that’s just the ones already published!…and I realized that, as you said, life is toooo short!!!

  7. Linda May says:

    I chose Sunset n Central Park, by Sarah Morgan, I do reviews for her books, otherwise I look at my stash of books & I see what I should read next. Thanks for this very generous giveaway.

    1. What fun it must be, Linda, to review the books of a favorite author! I have a few authors whose releases are always cause for a party! 🙂

  8. Annette Naish says:

    I read a HUGE number of book blogs. (this explains why I have dust on my furniture) I am part of a couple of book groups online. I receive Book Bub and a couple of other emails which give me suggestions for books. Every time I open up Amazon, they tell me what I want, whether I know it or not. I listen to friends when they talk about books. I just realized, I need to get out more.

    1. Sounds as if you have a really healthy source for great recommendations, Annette! And I am convinced that a dust-free home means not enough time is spent reading! 🙂

  9. Kathleen, choosing the next book to read is one of my favorite dilemmas. 🙂 I read the Smart Bitches blog and get a lot of romance recommendations that way and through readers & authors on Twitter. For other genres, I grab an issue of BookPage at my library every month and always find something that looks interesting.

    1. You’re so right, Theresa! If only all my dilemmas were that much fun!!

  10. Laney4 says:

    Blogs, newsletters, and web sites.

    1. Those are great, reliable sources, Laney! I love author newsletters! I love the glimpse into their personal lives, and I adore getting a heads up that a new book is coming.

  11. Charlotte says:

    I usually pick books from which I read a good review. The story appeals to me and I want to give it a go 🙂

    1. Reviews are super useful, aren’t they, Charlotte? I even buy books that have negative reviews sometimes, because sometimes I can tell that the issues that bothered the reviewer wouldn’t really bother me. It’s an art! 🙂

  12. My TBR pile is always a mile and a half high. I read what resonates with me at the moment. Occasionally, I’ll start a book that just doesn’t move me. I’ll put it down and pick it up later and love it.

    1. And wouldn’t we be insecure if we ever *finished* our TBR piles!? I have had that same experience, of not being able to get into a book one day, only to love it later. Really shows how our own lives affect our reactions doesn’t it?

  13. Kathleen O says:

    I am in many book club chats and author blogs as well as Facebook and Goodreads. And of course browsing in the bookstore pysically and on line gets me some great books.

    1. I agree, Kathleen! I hope there’s never a day when physical bookstores are gone, because I love spending time there. I love to buy online, but I love to buy in brick-and-mortar stores, too.

  14. bn100 says:

    whatever sounds interesting

    1. :), bn100! That’s keeping it clean and simple! 🙂

  15. I tend to buy both authors I love & those storylines that apoeal to me. Have a weakness for best friends & beauty and the beast books. Also love stories with strong family bonds.

    1. Ooh, I love Beauty and the Beast stories, too, Jo’s Daughter. Just love seeing kindness and understanding tame a wild heart. 🙂

  16. Kirsten says:

    I pick books that others have said to love and that get lots of stars. But I also enjoy trying out new to me authors to find new favorite writers. So it’s not one pattern for me.

    1. You sound like a true book-lover, Kirsten! The joy of discovering an author all on your own is really special. But it is nice, too, to get a recommendation and find that you and a friend can share your delight in a book.

  17. sharon says:

    Blogs are very helpful.

    1. They really are, Sharon! I love prowling the internet and just stumbling on great recommendations. Isn’t it lovely that there’s such a robust reading community online?

  18. elaina says:

    Sites with reviews give me a great deal of choice.

    1. Definitely true, Elaina! I especially love sites that have reviewers I can get to know, so that I can gauge how similar our tastes really are.

  19. Silvia says:

    Tend to go for books that get a good review. Reading a bit of the story gives me aswell a good idea what to expect.

    1. OH, Silvia, if you saw how many free samples I have on my Kindle you’d laugh! I absolutely count on being able to read a few pages before I buy, so I can be sure I like the writer’s style.

  20. Anne says:

    I enjoy perusing bookstore shelves which is enjoyable and different from online searches.

    1. Me, too, Anne! There’s nothing quite like it. Girlchild and I consider the perfect outing to be an afternoon at the bookstore. Even if we don’t buy anything, we just love browsing and chatting and getting to know new authors.

  21. ellie says:

    Library selections, recommendations, newsletters and reviews.

    1. I love seeing what the library is featuring, too, Ellie. It has introduced me many times to great new authors I probably wouldn’t have found on my own. Libraries are an awesome institution!

  22. girlfromwva says:

    bookshelves in store, recommendations from other authors/friends, newsletters from authors, book blogs, updates from amazon & goodreads.

    1. Yep, that is a great selection of sources! You probably don’t miss much worth reading if you cover all those fronts! 🙂 I have to admit that bookshelves and blogs are among my favorites.

  23. LSUReader says:

    I keep a list of books I want to read, arranged by publication month, with an 8-12 month outlook. How do books make it on my list? I get information on books from favorite authors and on new (to me) authors, series and books. I use multiple blogs, my library, author newsletters, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble as sources. When I can, I get books from my library, in electronic and paper formats, so that greatly influences what I read “right now.” I place items on hold when they are ordered by the library. If something I really want to read isn’t available at the library, I’ll usually buy a Kindle version on Amazon. Happy reading!

    1. I’m so envious that you’re so organized! That sounds like a fabulous system, and I think I’m going to give it a try! I hate realizing that I’ve overlooked a release I was excited about.

  24. Julie-ann Ford says:

    First of all I look for authors that I love. I find new authors through social media and contests. My favorite is, every time I go shopping I always stop by the book section and just check out all the books they have until I find one that sounds really good.

    1. Sounds like a wonderful tradition, Julie-ann! I, too, always stop by the book section of any store that has one, even the grocery store! I love to see what is so popular it shows up even there. 🙂 I also love looking at the airport bookstores. You can be pretty sure those are the riveting reads that will take your mind off the boredom of flying!

  25. Eileen A-W says:

    Pretty much the same way you do. Friend and author recommendations are the top way though. I’ve found that a lot of books are only ebooks and not printed, so I don’t find everything I want to read at brick & mortar book stores.

    1. You’re so right, Eileen! It’s becoming more and more true, too. I still do like the bookstores, I must admit. There’s something about a library or a bookstore, where the whole place is devoted to the love of words. 🙂

  26. Karlotta says:

    There are so many authors that are autobuy, but I get my ideas for different books from blogs and recommendation at Amazon.

    1. Amazon is really good at predicting what you’ll like, isn’t it, Karlotta? I have found so many great reads that way!

  27. Michelle F. says:

    Mostly I read mysteries. I find out about new ones by entering giveaways and browsing on Amazon.

    1. I’m a big mystery reader, too, Michelle! There are so many terrific ones it’s hard to keep up. And Amazon is a great place to find new (to me) mystery authors!

  28. Barbara Elness says:

    I read book blogs and follow quite a few authors on Facebook, as well as browse Amazon. When people are talking about a book, I usually check it out. I recently discovered a Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet that way and recommended it to my sister who loved it too.

    1. Ooh, Barbara, now there’s another name on my “check it out” list! 🙂 And I absolutely agree that when the buzz on a book gets loud and interesting, I always check it out.

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