The other day my mum walked into my bedroom whilst I was reading.
"Did you finish the other one?" she asked. "Yep," I replied. "Yesterday." "And you're already halfway through that one?" She was both aghast and impressed. "Sixty pages," I corrected, but I was smiling. Mum said she wished she had more time to read, but part of the problem was that she spent so long looking for the right book. Whereas I always have a pile stacked up neatly somewhere in my room, she struggles to get her hands on a new novel. I thought this was surprising, because it's not as if my mum doesn't have particular interests - she just doesn't really know where to look. I know what it's like. You walk into your local bookshop and suddenly there are hundreds, thousands of stories stacked together, screaming and begging to be read. Actually, maybe that's just me. Maybe they're all just sitting there silently, smirking (if books could smirk) and wondering which special human will soon be graced with their wit and insight. It's overwhelming - that's a fact. Though lots of people love the quiet solitude of bookshops and the chance to really browse (an intimate experience, you could say) not all of us have the time or the patience to do so. It's a somewhat leisurely activity. Maybe you're not an avid reader, in which case the idea of turning up at a place where millions of words are floating through the air and the literariest of literary people stalk down the aisles is pretty daunting. As times have changed and the Internet now rules our lives, the way we search for new books has also changed. I thought I'd share five different ways that help me decide my next bookish purchase. 1. Instagram Instagram isn't just cute pics of avocado on toast and friends laughing on a beach, oh no. Instagram is an absolute treasure trove of reviews and recommendations. Though it has a reputation for artificiality, there are so many different communities that you can become a part of - one being the book community. Just following a ton of different profiles has opened my eyes to what's hot and what's not. It's great to see people sharing honest and reflective reviews on different books and starting important conversations. Warning - it's very easy to get sucked in and end up down a rabbit hole for the best part of two hours!
2. Pinterest Pinterest - another form of social media - is hands-down one of my faves. You can find absolutely everything on Pinterest, and organise your ideas and interests in a coherent and creative way. Pinterest is great as it gives you direct links to lots of different websites and blogs, leading you to yet more hidden gems. There are invaluable lists of books organised in different ways, and threads that really help you think about reading as a form of critique and reflection. (It's also great for writers as there are hundreds upon hundreds of posts about the art of writing...and prompts. Lots and lots of prompts. Cue literary epiphany!)
3. Bustle If you haven't heard of Bustle then you've been living under a rock. Bustle is an online magazine targeted at a female audience which positions news and politics alongside articles on entertainment, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, books and health. As you can probably tell, you can read about virtually anything on Bustle - if there's a hot topic, best believe Bustle is covering it. But one section that is truly invaluable is the books section. You've got every list under the sun, from '9 Books About Women's Protests That Will Make You Want To Pick Up A Placard & March' to 'The 9 Books To Buy Your Friends Based On Their Personality Types' to '7 Cosy AF Books To Help Ease You Into Autumn.' Maybe you'll find a book you didn't even know you wanted to read!
4. whatshouldireadnext.com An ingenious idea. This website allows you to enter the name of a book you like into the search bar and then it will give you a list of similar books or books that you will also probably enjoy. Obviously the website doesn't have every single book under the sun, but it's definitely worth a shot if you have a more refined taste.
5. People! I know it sounds really obvious, but talking to people who like reading or have the same interests as you is a foolproof way of getting recommendations. Generally you can trust your friends' opinions, so why not for books, too? Conversation is always the way forward, and you might be surprised. A lot of the time, I think we tend to avoid books that we believe won't appeal to us, but a conversation with someone who has been pleasantly surprised is sometimes enough to get you out of your comfort zone and try something new. I wonder if reading can actually make us realise more about ourselves... So there you have it! Hopefully you won't be spending hours and hours trying to figure out what's worth reading next. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I have a crisis because I know that I'll never be able to read every single book under the sun (I feel like I've absolutely rinsed this phrase in this blog post) and I'll always be missing out on something. But remember: not every book under the sun (lmao, I can't) is worth reading, and life is all about taking those risks. So dive in - you never know what you might discover.