How to Pick a Great Book
It's not news that we spend more time than ever texting and online. But did you know that we also spend more time reading? Yep, that's right: a 2010 study shows that more teens are reading good old-fashioned, ink-on-paper books.
Reading is a good way to discover the next big thing and to learn a little more about yourself while you're at it. But while you may know how to find the best app for your phone, do you know how to pick a book you'll really like? Here are some tips.
Start With Your Interests
Reading on your own isn't like reading for school (although chances are, you'll end up loving some of the books you read for school and want to read more by those authors). You can pick something that's all about your interests, whether it's ancient martial arts, computers, or fashion design. You name it, there are bound to be books about it.
What's Your "Type"?
Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction (or both)?
Fiction books like novels or short-story collections can transport you to another world or help you imagine something beyond your own experience. Not all fiction is the same — maybe you like the classics, or sci-fi, mystery novels, or ghost stories. Maybe historical fiction is more your thing. Try a range of types of fiction and see what you prefer.
Nonfiction books give you the who, what, when, and why of something. They tell stories using facts —but that doesn't mean they're dull. Nonfiction books can bring to life the eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington or help you see inside a Chinese dynasty. Many of them read like novels from start to finish.
Take a Hybrid out for a Spin
Maybe you want to try a "graphic book," which can be either fact or fiction, and is written with text and images, similar to a comic. There are a lot of great graphic novels, from Maus to Persepolis.
Read the "Blurbs"
The reviews and quotes on the back and inside covers of many books are called "blurbs." They give you an idea of what the book is about, but can also help you pick future books too. If you find a book you really like, take a minute to read the quotes (if there are any) and see which authors praised the book. Often, they'll have similar styles and you might find you like books by those authors too.
Find a Family Favorite
What was your mother's favorite book when she was your age or your dad's? How about a sibling's? Find out and give it a read — then you can share your thoughts about the book. After all, what better way to connect with that cousin you only see in the summer than trading reading recommendations and discussing your reactions?
Join the Club — Online or In Person
Get your friends together and swap recommendations of authors, prose styles, and story types. Most social networking sites also have book-club sections. Join a group with your friends and people you trust (avoiding sharing personal information with people you don't know, of course).
Ask an Expert
Your local library can hook you up with a whole lot of great book ideas. Explain your interests — rock stars, sports teams, historical events, humor, whatever you're into — and any writers you like, and your librarian can point you toward books that you'll love.
Finally, you'll probably enjoy what you're reading a lot more if you find a quiet place and make time for the book. We all multitask, but most reading is best enjoyed when you can concentrate and focus on it. You can put on some good music (ideally without lyrics), get yourself some tea and a comfy spot, and let yourself be carried away by the book.
You'll see that time does fly when you're reading something you love!
Reviewed by: Eric J. Gabor, JD
Date reviewed: February 2010
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