Columns > Published on May 6th, 2022

How (Not) to Find Your Next Favorite Book

How do you find your next favorite book? While wandering into a bookstore and letting the bookshelves speak to you may provide a serendipitous solution, you must first emotionally and spiritually invest in the process. Your life is about to change for the better, and every problem you’ve encountered in your reading life will simply melt away.

Picture your perfect book: imagine tenderly running your fingers over its cover art, the bold lines or minimal personality. Envision what it’ll be like to start reading, seeing yourself more within each passing page: the author didn’t know, but they’ve written this book just for you. It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s sophisticated. It’s got it all.

Not sure how to go about it? Here are 5 fail-safe ways to find your next favorite book — they’ll never disappoint.

1. Put all your trust in blurbs

A blurb is always honest, and its promises never fail to deliver. Whether it tells you the prose “glimmers,” is “urgent,” or “delivers a punch,” trust in those words of wisdom. You don’t really need to know what the book is about, or what the prose is actually like, as long as it’s socially validated!

When assessing blurbs, you can even skip the blurb’s content: just focus on the blurb writer’s name. Reduce those people into types to get a really good idea of which demographic is vouching for this book. Think what the publicist wants you to think, then really inhabit that mental space with all your focus — is the blurb writer a well-known gay author? That’s unequivocal proof that the entire LGBT community approves of this book. Is it blurbed by someone whose political views broadly align with your own? Boy, is it written for you! Perhaps the blurb’s written by a universally-beloved, NYT bestselling author? If the book or its author has this much social leverage in the literary world, you can sit back and relax.

2. Fixate on the author’s bio and photo

Why are you not part of the crowd reading this book? Are you some kind of second-rate human?

Find the ‘About the Author’ section and just let the author’s amazing achievements wash over you, lulling you into a cozy sense of security. They’ve won awards, they’ve judged prizes, they’ve taught creative writing, and they’ve even got eerily similar experiences to the book’s protagonist — find comfort in this knowledge, you can trust that they’re an expert. If you’ve never heard of the places where they’ve published their writing before, don’t worry: those publications are so sophisticated, niche, and edgy, their prestige is derived from obscurity. You’re in good hands.

Then turn to the author’s photo. Don’t worry if they don’t wear glasses, it’s not always a red flag. Just stare deep into their magnetizing gaze, their apathetic expression, the bokeh of nature and bookshelves behind them: “Come with me,” they say, “I write exquisitely without trying very hard.”

Surrender to their siren song, and commit to reading this person’s book — it’s an investment towards becoming extraordinary yourself.

3. View the book cover as an extension of your desired life aesthetic

What is the life you envision for yourself? Is it a Scandi minimalist home with countless plants and natural textures? A maximalist kingdom of quirk, patterned cushions, artsy prints? An industrial-style warehouse-turned-exhibition space, known for its eccentric and cutting-edge tastes?

When you’re weighing up a book, or even glancing at a bookstore’s shelves, focus on the book’s cover design: it will tell you everything you need to know. Consider its organizing principles: messy abstraction, elegant minimalism, rule-breaking asymmetry. Does the book say what you want it to say about you as its reader? Will its spine contribute to the effect you envisioned for your living room display?

Whether you’re a savvy member of the YA, cottagecore, dark academia, or literary fiction crowd, this book needs to uphold every aesthetic you hold dear. If it does, but you don’t feel the rest of your life aesthetic matches this impression, perhaps this cover design can be your jumping off point for a holistic lifestyle makeover — be the change you want to see in the world, etc., etc.

4. Believe what you read on Twitter

Twitter reflects what you tell it you like. If you follow a bunch of authors and publishers, you’re opting in to their new release announcements, cover reveals, awards news, and so on. You’ll also be exposed to every author’s most powerful, silent book marketing tool: retweets of praise.

The first time you see retweeted praise, you won’t think much of it. But every time you read the author’s friends’ acts-of-service tweets, you’ll invest a little bit more interest. With every tweet, your faith in the potential of the book will grow, until you add it to your TBR, or instinctively reach for it in a bookstore. “This one is supposed to be really good,” you’ll boldly claim in front of your friends, with very little evidence, then buy it, without as much as a glance-check of the quality of the writing.

5. Lean into that FOMO feeling

A solidly managed book launch leaves potential readers reeling with FOMO. The phrase “the book everyone’s talking about” is long overused in marketing, but the feeling hasn’t lost its persuasive power. When every book-related website reviews the same title and everyone you follow on social media posts a photo of the cover coupled with a comment on its quality, it’ll dawn on you that you are possibly the only person in the whole world who hasn’t got hold of a copy. Feeling left out yet?

What makes everyone else so special? Why are you not part of the crowd reading this book? Are you some kind of second-rate human? The FOMO voice in your head will compel you like a devil on your shoulder — so listen to it and immediately impulse-buy a copy.

Congratulations, you’ve found your next favorite book! It’s everything you’ve ever wanted: a combination of aesthetically pleasing, critically acclaimed, FOMO-appeasing, trend-riding, and good ol’ book marketing.

About the author

Kleopatra Olympiou is a writer from Cyprus. She writes for the Reedsy blog, and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Durham University.

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