In the July 2020 Newsletter I asked our readers how they decide what book or book series to read next.

Here are their responses:

Ayesha: I decide what to read in the usual boring way: next in the series, by an author I admire or (for fiction) something from a certain sub category etc that I’m currently interested in. I don’t read non fiction all that much, but if I’ve found something intriguing and see another book on the same subject I’ve gotta check it out..

On the question of what to read next :

I do not read books in the same series or even by the same author back to back. I try to jump around in order to keep the memory of the last book separate. I also like variety so I may read a Michael Connelley book and then a Science Fiction book, then a Stuart Woods book and then a Daniel Silva book next just to move into a whole new world each time. It also provides a certain level of comfort when you return to a favorite author or series and get back into the authors mindset.

Good question though, it’s always fun to stand in front of a shelf of unread books deciding what’s next.

Linnea: I also have lists. I only have a few Lisa Scottolini’s still to listen to (I do most of my reading with audio books). I also read reviews in magazines and, of course, your suggestions. If they are being printed in the future, I get on a waiting list either at Amazon or my library ASAP. I have followed many of your reviews, and they never disappoint. I look forward to each of your newsletters. Last book read, “The Ghosts of Harvard”. Loved, loved, loved it.

Natalie: I choose books to read by an author, a genre, or a narrator that I like. I listen to about 85% of the books I read so the narrator is very important to me. My favorite narrators are Scott Brick, Kathleen McInerney, Michael Beck, Michael Prichard, and Davina Porter. I like to read books in a series, but I like to read something else in between. For example, I love to read Clive Cussler books, but before I go to the next in the series I will read a mystery or a modern fiction or romance book. For me, when I come back to the series after a short break, I enjoy it more.

Shelia: I go on word of mouth and reviews, just like your mention of Lucy Foley The Guest List ! I had read The Hunting Party and liked it very much but i was not aware of her new book ( do not know how I missed it) so thank you very much

Vicki: How do you plan what to read next?

I tend to plan two or three books ahead, switching between what is on my book pile and what I’ve borrowed from the Library. But that’s flexible. I stop to read my monthly Book Club book. (This month it’s Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead) If a new book from a favorite author arrives on my doorstep, I’ll probably pick it up next. I try to read series in order, but not one right after another.

Real answer? It depends…

Future question for members:

Susan: Hi choosing the next book to read can be a dilemma ! If I’m reading a series I alternate at the moment I’m reading Peter Robinson Banks series so I’ll read a Banks book then a completely different genre then to to my series

Kat: when i used to be able to get books from the library, i had a long list. some were favorite authors and like you, the next in the series. as soon as one came, i would request the next in the series (we were able to go on line and request any book we wanted and they would email us when the book arrived, the ONE perk from work i enjoyed that i no longer have). i also would add books of interest from goodreads.

since i cant go to the library anymore im just re reading old books in my book case and donating the ones i dont like anymore

Ginny: Since almost all the books I read are library books, I do a lot of picking what to read next by due date. But of course, there’s always the renewal option, so that helps. At the library, I request books that have been recommended by you at order of books, or by my friends who read, or by what my friends who belong to book clubs are reading. And I have a crew of authors that I always read: primarily Michael Lewis and a bunch of different mystery writers. I also have a stack of books that I have picked up from used book stores that I can choose from. It’s always easy to just try a few pages of a book to see if it grabs me enough to be the next read.

But out of all that, how do I pick the next one? I don’t like to read too many mysteries in a row, so I rotate mysteries and YA books with more serious fiction and non-fiction. When I get bogged down in a slow book or a non-fiction book, I take a break and do a quick one-day read of a mystery or YA book, then return to the bogged-down book. If I get seriously bogged down but I still think the book might be good, I park it in the bathroom and read bits of it until it gets better, or until it’s due, or until I decide it’s just not worth it. (Seriously, that’s how I got through The Red Badge of Courage.)

Nancy: First of all, I want to tell you that I really enjoy your newsletter. It is packed with information.

In choosing my next book, I am usually following a few series and will see what is available through the digital library. I also like to try a new author (new to me) recommended through your newsletter. If one of my adult children or their significant other is excited about a book, I always try to read that book for the sake of an engaging conversation. (Currently I’m reading “Lord of the Rings” and just finished “the Hobbit” which never appealed to me before.) Finally, if I see a movie advertised which looks interesting, I try to get ahold of the book first. Usually I think the book was better, but occasionally I like the movie more.

Janet: It depends, is the answer to what I read next.. The mood I am in when I finish one book sometimes will steer me in the direction of the next one. After reading one of Patricia Cromwell’s older books I need something light and fluffy. Once in a while I will go back and reread an earlier book in a series I am reading when the book I just finished references it often. Sometimes it’s a case of random selection, I will take a stack of books and turn the spines away from me and just pull one out of the stack. A few times a year it is because someone recommended it or loaned it to me. Once is a while, I will see the cover of a book at the library by an author I don’t know, the cover is so interesting I just have to read it. Like the new movie trailers that show you one minute of a two-hour movie and you just have to see the movie.

Best to you, I laughed at your description of your kids and satellite TV.

Sue: I read on a Kindle, so I get a daily list of books on sale, suggested books, books inspired by my reading. I also get notices from other sites. Being on a fixed income, good bargains attract me. I also pre-order any books by authors that I follow. OoB lets me check out additional books by these authors. I frequently choose books after reading a sample. Hubs reads out of my library, and OoB helps me load his books in order when loading from the library.
OoB is on my favorites screen on both my Kindles, and I recommend it whenever I get the chance.

I have all my ebooks listed in Excel spreadsheets. Some authors have own tab due to number of books, others all listed alphabetically.

I use Goodreads to track some i wish to read next.

But like you said, i can just pick something randomly.

I even try to split up series even when several are in a single book/file.

Do you read them all at once or split them up?

Barbara: EXACTLY like you! However I usually don’t use other people’s recommendations. If I do I am usually disappointed, so I stopped listening to other people. I have also tried the bestseller lists. Again disappointment! They are not usually my style. I like mystery, suspense, thriller, and not knowing how it ends until the last page. I like trying to figure out who done it along the way. I also like being surprised at the end because the author has a twist. And I hate reading spoilers for those books so I find an author I like and stick with them until the end.

Maria: how do i decide what to read next?….intuition, take a series from the beginning if an
accidental find somewhere in the series captures interest….sometimes it’s just fun
to go ahead in a series and go backwards to see the evolution….but it’s always
about the writer and writing….the evolution of that as well…

Lori: I think my choices are often impulsive. But if I’m waiting for certain new books to come out by my favorite authors, I will frequently read a new (to me) author’s book #1 of a random series.
If I enjoy the style of writing or call for a character or clan whatever the case may be, I will then track down all the books written by that author. No matter if they are series or stand alone.

That said, I’ve heard some very disturbing news that I am hoping is a false rumor. I was told schools are pulling the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and Mark Twain, among others due to the portrayal of African Americans as slaves or servants.

I loved the “Little House on the Prairie” series telling how people struggled and overcame adversity back in those days. I read these books to my children and my daughter followed suit with my grandchildren. I don’t think there are any derogatory comments made singling out any culture in these books. I truly believe in the future generations hearing about the difficulties faced by all of our ancestors and our future generations should also hear of atrocities that were committed by some.

Off my high horse now.

Sue S: I enjoy reading your monthly newsletter and was steered toward my next book to read from your suggestion.

I have boxes of book sale books but chose to read “Replay.” It was good and glad I read it next.

Now I have “series” that I haven’t finished and a bookclub book to read but was intrigued by the premise of “Replay.”

Thanks for recommending!

Laurie: That’s a hard question. But first, if I have a library book, I read that because I only have it for so long.
If no library books I go to the “get this free for a review” category. If I’m caught up on that, I find something on my kindle that I’m in the mood for. Sometimes it’s a light fast read, other times, a horror book or thriller.
Mary Ann: I check out the library site for ideas. Sometimes a cover will catch my eye. Usually I will read a couple or three books at once. It can be so hard to choose! Mysteries and historical fiction are some of my favorites. Although I like biographies and memoirs also.
So many books to read and not nearly enough time.

Sue: i thought i was the only one that read books at random, so glad i am not alone thank you again

Jenny: Any book that peaks my interest, comes next in a series, or is recommended by a friend, I order from the library and keep in a stack by my bed. I seldom read a series straight through but usually break it up with a stand alone or the next book in another series. When I finished a book I go to my stack of unread books and pick out three or so that look interesting at that moment. My plan is always to read the first few pages of each and make a choice. Sometimes though, I start reading the first few pages of a book and just can’t put it down until it is finished.

Shelly: I, too, love to read series books, but wind up not getting to the next book because of something recommended or something I see in my book reviews or other media book recommendations online. My all time favorites are Gamache, Anne Perry (Monk, Thomas Pitt ), Charles Todd w his Ian Rutledge series, CS Harris (Sebastian St Cyr), Catherine Coulter w FBI series), Anna Lee Huber, Iris Johansen w Eve Duncan, Lisa Kleypass (aka Amanda Quick).

Rose: I belong to several book clubs which have had to meet virtually, so those books are suggested and voted on by the members. I am also in a books and conversation group through our library where everyone discusses a book that they have read, so I have received some suggestions from those discussions. I am also in several Facebook groups that discuss books and I have received many great suggestions from those sites. Additionally, I try to get ARCs from Goodreads, NetGalley, and author sites. I place many books on hold at the library and when they come in, I scan through the library books and the ARCs and choose one at random. I may be swayed to prioritize a book by all the hype surrounding it, or if it is by a favorite author. I favor psychological thrillers, but once in a while to break up the tension, I will read a romance or a contemporary or historical fiction novel. Sometimes I will also pick up a nonfiction book. It just depends on my mood. For me, having anything to read is a positive!

Sandi: I usually read a book all the way through, unless a new Michael Connelly ( Harry Bosch) or John Sandford (Lucas Davenport or Virgil Flowers) book comes out. Then everything stops!!! My favorite authors always take priority.

John: Good question. I have a list of authors that I read and mark off the books as I read them and upload new book the write. I tend to stay with the same authors and series so I am following from one book and it’s happens to the next. Bad to jump ahead and find out someone got killed and you then have 3 books to read when they are alive. I read J.J.Jance, Cathern Coulter, Clive Cussler and take a bread now and then for J. A. Johnson & William W. Johnstone for westerns. I have all of the books that Louis L’amour has written and extras. (bought 4 boxes at a garage sale for .25 each.)

Vince: I find suggestions as to what to read just about everywhere. When somebody mentions a book that sounds interesting, I’ll look up its description on Amazon, and if I’m still interested, I’ll add it to my Wish List.
One great place I get suggestions as to what to read is your website. As an example, several newsletters back you talked about the books of Joe Abercrombie. I had never heard of him before but based on your recommendation I read one. I’m now on my 7th book of his with 4 more on order.

Ronald: As you do, i have a “want” list of hundreds of books – so “next” is always iffy. But more disconcerting, I have a stash (currently three large cartons) of cloth and paper books i have bought new and used but not yet read – in addition to what is on the Kindle and NOOK (yes, I have both).

MY master plan is to read the physical books first in order to get closed to my eay chair

The fact is, however, that if i finish something i really like and know there is another in that series or something new by that authors, I (again) skip the physical book and read on the devise,

Terrible!

Caroline: For the most part, I too, am an impulsive reader with absolutely no sense of loyalty if I find a new book by an author I’ve not read before and the synopsis shouts “read me now!” I do have favorite authors (Louise Penny) and series “Gabriel Allon” but sometimes their books are so intense, that I need a break from all that emotion and read something that is lighthearted or just down right funny. Right now I’m reading “French Like Moi, A Midwesterner in Paris” by Scott Dominic Carpenter. This book is a laugh riot! I have lived in the Midwest (actually Missouri, in the middle of nowhere) for the past twenty years and have visited Paris twice, so I found it particularly appealing and very, very funny. Thanks for asking that question as I’ve never really given a lot of thought to my order of books and will be interested to hear about responses from other readers.

Marie: Love your newsletters because you get me out of “reading ruts”. I tend to get into “genre” reading and you have so much good info on books, I find myself reaching out to other avenues. It has expanded my reading world

Renni: Graeme,

I have a love/hate relationship with this newsletter. I am never, and I mean that quite literally, without at least 2 books going, listening to one in the car or while out walking and one on my kindle. I already have enough books backed up to last several years, but everytime I read your newsletter I add a few more!!

I don’t remember seeing the Genevieve Lenard series by Estelle Ryan listed, perhaps in the past and I just don’t remember. I think this is a really great series (and believe it should be read in order to understand the characters better). It’s about an autistic art insurance investigator and the characters she gets initially gets involved who become an important part of her daily life. For me, these books are page turners, once I’ve started one, I don’t want to put it down.

Was Robert Parker on a previous list, with Spenser? When Robert Parker died I grieved, I felt like I’d lost a friend (and when Mr. Parker died as far as I am concerned Spenser died). I have just started rereading that series, another author whose books I don’t want to put down once I’ve started.

I never read a series that I really like all at once, for a couple of reasons; the most important being I don’t want the series to end and then have to wait for the next book to come out so I spread them out.

I actually have a spreadsheet with all of my kindle books listed (color coded as to what has been read, what’s new and what’s in the series) because it’s difficult to remember all the books I’ve read when they are on Kindle and
not filed in my bookcase. I read alphabetically by author, so I will read a book by Rachel Abbot and the next book will be a David Baldacci book and so on until I reach the end of my list, then I start over again.

Well, I could “book” talk for hours and go in a dozen different directions. I primarily wanted to mention the Estelle Ryan books and make sure that you and your readers knew about them.

Kathleen: Like you I have an enormous TBR list. I just finished the A Marjorie Trumaine series that you recommended, I loved it, I wrote the author and told him to hurry up and write the fourth one. I have been ruminating when I go to bed about all the terrible things people have done to me in my life and then I can’t sleep. I know I had read two books about forgiveness over 10 years ago that were excellent, so I searched the library and found them and started reading one right away. I then started the 2nd book by this author and I am half way through. I have so many books I want to read that I am just going to peruse them and grab the one that appeals to me the most. I like non-fiction, historical-fiction, mystery. My favorite book last year was The Water Dancer, which was a shock to me because I normally wouldn’t pick something like that – magical realism. My 2nd and 3rd were non-fiction .So I would say I’m an impulsive reader normally, too. Thank you for your book blog, it is very helpful. I am going to put The Tin Man on my soon to read list – I won it in a Good reads giveaway.

Craig: There have been a variety of ways I’ve chosen my next book. If it’s a brand new author to me that I’ve seen recommended on Amazon, I likely will see if the library has it and get it there. That way if I’m disappointed in it, I haven’t spent a lot of money. I have found authors from your posts (thank you for Mick Herron and the Slough House books!). If it’s an author whose work I’ve previously read, then I frequently pre-order those and just wait for the book to arrive.

Chris: The way I choose the next book to read is usually by how I feel. If I’m feeling a bit down, I pick more upbeat books. If I’m feeling pretty secure and happy, I go for books that are a little edgier–books about murders, big city crime, etc. If I’m feeling philosophical, I go for books that have time travel in them. Those kinds of stories make me think about other worlds and other possibilities. I’m always alert to books that several people have highly recommended–such as “Replay” by Ken Grimwood. I just finished that book and, as is usual with the really interesting books, it’s stayed with me. Thanks for the heads up about that one, Graeme!

Rhea: If I have the next book in a series by a favorite author, that’s where I go next. If I don’t, sometimes Amazon helps by having sales on the first books in series to introduce you to new ones. I also go by the recommendations of favorite authors and reading blogs.

Kenicia: As a rule, my choice for the next book to read depends entirely on my mood. Sometimes I want a classic, sometimes a non-fiction book, and often historical fiction. The only time my choice is different is when a favorite author finally releases a new book. All other books are then put on hold!

Liz: I have 4 series going right now-Mitch Rapp, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, Stone Barrington, and Amos Decker. I am able to have 10 books on hold at the library so I never know what book from a series will become available. When one of the books from my series becomes available, I put the next book of that series on hold. It might take some time to get a book but that is when I read books from friends’ recommendations and, of course, recommendations from order of books, There are still some series I want to read. Once one series is finished, I will go to a new series.

Shanna: How I choose what to read next:
If a book that I have on hold at the library becomes available, that is my next read. Otherwise, I randomly select from my to-read supply. Currently I am focusing on my physical book collection, but will intersperse with Kindle books here and there. I choose books based on my current mood- whichever one I feel like reading in that moment. Usually I try to pick a book that is a different genre from what I just finished.

Judi: To answer your question how do I determine what to read next, the answer is, it depends. That was helpful, wasn’t it? Sometimes I think I know what will be the next book and then something in the book I am reading will make me think about something else. For instance, recently I read and loved Death on Tuckernuck by Francine Mathews. What a great book that was and more of a thriller than I had been expecting! But the storm and boats in the book made me think about The Perfect Storm so I decided to read that again. And if that wasn’t enough I watched the movie again (book was better!). But there is a great feature included with the DVD that is commentary by Sebastian Junger, who wrote the book. Watching and listening to him talk about what was going on and how he researched and interviewed was like having the author sit next to me as we watched the movie.

Sometimes after I read a long book I want to go for something shorter and lighter. luckily for me I have lots of books in my TBR pile to choose from.

Something interesting has been happening I’ve noticed lately. No matter what I read next there is usually some sort of connection to the book I just read. It might be the name of a character or a place or even a hobby. Not a big overwhelming coincidence by any means and I don’t go looking for the connection. Of course if you are binge reading a series you will get that but I’m talking about two very different books and yet there is at least one thing in common (besides me the reader!) Have you noticed that at all.

Keep up the good work!

Janis: I keep a list on my Kindle : “To Read-Fiction”, “To Read- Nonfiction”, “To Read-Sci-Fi” and To-Murder Mystery”. Every book I download goes into one of those 4 categories, so when I’m deciding my next book, I go with my gut… and my unread books are organized. Warning – I have a LOT of books on Kindle that I move from the “To Read” list to my “Read” list. I’m also a Virgo… can you tell?!! It’s all good!

I so look forward to your newsletter. I’m a real fan – thank you! This is one of the most useful sites I’ve come across!

Ande: I’m happy to hear you and your family are well. To answer your monthly question, you play a big part in how I choose my next book. I keep a list of your recommendations, the ones that are in genres I enjoy. I choose my next book based on how busy I am. If I’m spending long days writing, I want a book that has a good fast pace because my brain is fried and plowing through slower prose just isn’t going to happen. If I have some time off, I’ll indulge in a slower paced book, more literary. When I happen upon a series I really like, I read every book in the series before moving on to a standalone or starting another series.

You’ve introduced me to many new series. Thanks for that!!

AJ:: When I find a new author who has written a series, I generally read the whole series in a row, but will interrupt for favorite authors. Once I finish a series I go back and read any new books that were released from my authors while I was reading the series. To find a new series I like to buy collections that feature a bunch of new authors, either full length novels or short stories, then choose one of those authors to read all of their books. Also sometimes use Kindle to locate first in series books to try.

June: Graeme..you are asking how we decide what to read. I have to give some credit to your site as you introduced me to Mitch Rapp and also the Memory Man series. I also get recommendations from my Rakuten Kobo site as they track my reading habits and give me suggestions. Kobo also offers a few books every month at a discount and if I find them interesting I will buy and read later. I also have my favourite authors and I keep my eye out for their new releases and put holds on at the library and hope I am not too far down the wait list. If I cannot wait that long I will bite the bullet and buy from KOBO. I also participate right now during the pandemic with a Zoom book club meeting with my local library every Friday and lots of recommendations and discussions are to be had. I recently got hooked up with Glose by Simon and Schuster as they offered a free ebook as part of a book I was reading. They now send me discounted books to chose from or pass if nothing appeals to me. I also like to print off my authors from your site with their order of books and tick them off as I read them as I will forget what I have read. Enjoy the cottage!

Penny: To be honest, I have a hard time choosing what to read next! I have a few series I’m reading: Women’s Murder Club, Alex Cross, and of course Harry Bosch! But because those are really intense I try to read a “light” mystery in between. But sometimes they turn out to be intense too! Oh well, that is what happens when you read mysteries!! I go over my TBR lists until something jumps out at me or go over my series lists and try to get the next one either at the library or Kindle unlimited!

Tom: Hello Graeme. I have been wanting to read more books in the Bosch series…so thanks for the list. As far as picking what books to read, I have no special method. If it sounds or appears to be something I might be interested in, then I will consider reading it. I do have a few favorite authors, but I also don’t like to be too mainstream or predictable. I guess I use intuitive-reckoning (my own invention, I think) to make many decisions…even in other aspects of life. It’s much more fun to be different and apart from the maddening crowd. I thank the heavens that I am not hooked on watching TV and that I can make up my own mind about the crazy world.

Linda: Just finished the last Reacher book and really liked it, so much better than the last one I read. How do I decide what to read next? Yes, if reading a series, I finish the series. I do a lot of reading old series that I missed out on when they first started. I like to read like that. Now if I am not in a series, my next book pick is random, too. Sometimes I have seen a recommendation or I just read a review and it sounds good and I read that. I purchased “Replay” only to find out I had read it when it first came out. I looked back on my list and sure enough I wrote very good, quite interesting. So, I did not read again. I do like the recommendations that you list and your readers list. I am still getting a lot of first time author books on my Kindle and some are quite good. Others not so good. Right now I am in my mild reading mode and reading a Guidepost mystery series called “The Mysteries of Lancaster County”. Good, easy reading. They are sort of like the Cozy mysteries. Not into thrilling right now after finishing the Reacher book, need some quiet reading. Thank you again for a great newsletter. Happy reading to all.

Barb: I am in the middle of THREE series right now–nice long ones! When I finish a series I look for a new one ASAP. I read a little of everything so I don’t HAVE to read a series, but series books are my soap operas and I waited with bated breath for the NEXT of a series. I am currently reading Smoke Bitten, the latest Mercy Thompson book., later there is an new Mrs Murphy mystery and a new Dresden files! Series never end (or at least not for a long time) so if you read enough of them, there is USUALLY something else coming all the time.

Maureen: I have a Kindle Paperwhite but very occasionally borrow from our local Library if the cost to buy an ebook copy is too high. I am a prolific reader so try to keep the cost down. I never knew what book to read and would end up reading the next on the Kindle which was usually one I had bought fairly recently. I ended up putting all my books to be read on a spreadsheet and listed them in the order I wanted to read them. I prefer series and like to read them all one after the other so I mixed series in with a standalone on my spreadsheet. I do have my favourite authors and if they have a new release, they go to the top of the list. I belong to a few Facebook groups so get heaps of recommendations from there as well as from this newsletter so my to be read pile just keeps growing. Every now and then I will have an urge to read someone down the list so I just move them up. I do listen to audiobooks as well, mainly when I do my walk of a morning or when we are on a road trip, which we are at the moment. Just finished Jane Harper’s The Dry which I had also read as an ebook but my hubby hadn’t. It was terrific. (Our restrictions have eased here in Queensland, Australia, so we have come on a road trip to North Queensland.)

Star Marie: How do I decide what to read next?

I moved over 90 boxes of books, thus my home library is alive and well. Have found some forgotten gems in my library, “The Cry of the Hawk” by Johnston, great historical novel on the wars against the Indians in KS, CO, SD and MO.
“The Hope” by Herman Wouk, great read about the battles in Israel, and refreshed some of my Yiddish and Hebrew along the way.
“The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” a slow going long read of over 1000 pages.
Found history to be wonderful to read on these long days.

I always toss in a Martin Cruz Smith or Tom Clancy when a fast easy read is needed.

Thankful for my books at this time,

Liana: Even though I have thousands of ebooks at my fingertips, I primarily like to listen to audiobooks: I would start with titles from my favourite genres (and subgenres).
From there, I would see what’s available to borrow from my public library’s online catalogue or choose from my Audible library.

The narrator’s voice is super important, so if I can tolerate it, then I’ll give the series a chance if I like the blurb. I prefer series to standalones too.

From this criteria, it’s just a matter of what I’m in the mood for. Sometimes I’ll binge one series, and then take a break from it midway, only to start another series. In my experience, it’s common for a series to stagnate after several books. Some series don’t have all of the books in audio format, and it can take years to publish them. Hence why I’m constantly on the lookout for a good read.

Dave: Just finished “Masked Prey” by John Sandford and in the book Lucas Davenport picked up a book to read by Martha Grimes.

After checking her out on OrderOf Books started with her first from1982 and am now on the third. Her books are definitely not my usual

Cup of tea but these cozy novels are entertaining well written and a relief from the violence and insanity surrounding us today.

When I start a new series I’ll fit them in with the books reserved from our library. These days that is a combination of e-books audio and hard cover.

Since we are house bound a lot that is about ten per month.

Jane: Basically, I read by feel. What appeals to me right now? Although my all-time favorite genre is mystery, I have a hard time with a lot of violence, so I do have to parcel out books like Lee Childs’. Michael Connelly, the same. Also, I stay away from novels about truly heinous killers. These stay with me too long. Sometimes I need a foray into something gentler, and I have enjoyed everything I’ve read of Nicholas Sparks. I also try to read a certain number of new standalone novels (e.g. The Great Alone, This Tender Land, The Girl on the Train) as they come into the library.

Janice: Great question, as it made me stop and think about what has most often seemed to be an intuitive move. I realize my conscious choices are actually decisions about which books I surround myself with, either by purchase or reserving at my local library or signing up to review or discuss online a free copy.

Within this TBR universe, I tend to wander among several criss-crossing reading paths:
1) current topics of personal interest that I am exploring, mostly but not exclusively through fiction… whichever reading “territory” is most compelling or relevant at that moment, based on what’s happening in my life or in the news.
2) deadlines for reviewing a new book, or for discussing with a group, or for returning a library book that isn’t renewable.
3) need for “relaxed reading” by following a series in order, which is what brought me to bookmark Order of Books some years ago. This path involves many delays, as often I must wait for the next book in a current series to be published, or for an older one to arrive in the mail, for instance. Mostly mystery series, but also fantasy, and various series of social novels focused on a particular character, place and time (such as Trollope, Miss Read, Patrick Taylor). Or a new (stand-alone) title by any novelist I enjoy.
4) random magnetism of an especially arresting book jacket.

I have never been at a loss, wondering what to read next! And sometimes I am reading a couple of books at the same time. I might slip a skinny book into my bag when I have to be on the road a lot, saving the heavyweight novel for at home.

Pamela: Hi Graeme –

I too have been reading the Bosch series. I inserted The Late Show to stay chronological then read Dark Sacred Night. I think I’m done as I really don’t like the Rene Ballard character. She just does whatever she wants and is very selfish about her relationships – dog, grandmother, friends and coworkers. It seems a bit far fetched to have her living in her van and tent on the beach then when she needs a place to stay she picks a luxury hotel. Guess she has the money but the logistics of the whole thing don’t make sense. So sadly I think I’m done with the whole thing. But I’m looking forward to the next Bosch season on Amazon – if they’re every able to make it. Love Titus Welliver.

One of my favorite authors is J.A. Jance. She’s written 3 great series but I haven’t been able to find them on your site. Tried different combinations but no luck. She’s been around for 20+ years so I’d be shocked if you haven’t added her.

Oh – the Coben tv shows are great. I think they’ve done 2. I haven’t read the books but I need to. Also enjoy the DI Banks shows but not as much as the books. I’ve read the entire series twice and can’t wait for the next one.

Anyway, thanks for your fantastic website – it’s so handy. And I enjoy your newsletter. I too have a huge list of books to read but always like to hear about other books – new or undiscovered to me. A pet peeve of mine is book clubs where they pick what everyone is reading (NY Times bestsellers, Oprah, whatever). I like it when a someone tells me about a book I never would have found on my own. My cousin and I have a 2 person book club where we do just that.

Stephanie: Hi Graeme, I like reading series, and in fact, if I don’t have something new to read, I will re-read my favorites So, deciding what to
read next isn’t a problem for me. I do occasionally read stand alone fiction, in fact, recently finished “This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger.
It’s a great book and after finishing, I was curious what else Krueger has written. Finding that he has a series ‘under his belt’ was a
nice surprise and so I’ve begun his “Cork O’Connor” books. I’m 4 books in and enjoying them so far. I particularly like that the main character,
O’Conner is part Indian and Krueger brings interesting Indian-lore and spirituality into each of his books. Krueger is a good writer with
an ability to add detail without being boring or detracting from the story line.

I’m an avid series reader, but usually don’t read more than 1-2 in a particular series before I take a break and read something else. For example, the Jack Reacher series. Started this a little more than a year ago and I’m up to number 16, The Affair. Once I’ve finished all available books in a series, of course it’s all about when the next one comes out. I have a few authors whose books I’m willing to buy at full hardback price the minute they hit Amazon: Elizabeth George, Charles Todd, Nick Petrie (although didn’t love his last), Robert Galbraith, Ann Cleeves, Martha Grimes, and Sue Grafton when she was alive. I’m also a re-reader. No telling how many times I’ve read Agatha Christie’s books (with a few exceptions); have also read the Hornblower series twice and the Richard Sharpe series twice. The re-reading is mostly when I want something soothing and comfortable, and is about visiting old friends, and sinking into a known, and well-loved time/place.

I usually have 2-3 books in process at a time: the one I’m reading at home (primary), an audio book in my car (which may take a while to read, especially at the moment), and since I work in a small library where I often have quiet times to fill, a book or author I’m sampling (right now I’m trying to love Sara Paretsky, but finding it slow).

Thanks again for your newsletter and your website. Both wonderful resources!

Patp: Actually not real sure I have a system for choosing my next read. I rely on your recommendations some but mostly I check through Overdrive (I actually have two libraries on Overdrive and considering a 3rd), Hoopla (although I don’t use it much as I can’t download the books and must be hooked up to a wifi to read wbich is most inconvenient if I’m in the car), Audible for new books. When something hits my fancy that’s my next book. The exception is a couple of series I’m following-J.D. Robb In Death series, James Patterson Women’s Murder Club series and the Renee Ballard/Harry Bosch series by James Patterson. As you can see no real system.

kat: i had the same problem with the bosch series, i emailed them and they sent me a list in order. totally confusing….dont know why they did it like that…

ive been weeding out my bookcase of my old favorites from the 1970’s on to now and have my interests changed! i dont remember reading them and for the life of me cant figure out why i liked them enough to keep! its nice to read them (or skim thru) one more time, add to my goodreads list and then donate. hope none of them are valuable!

Deb: Hello!
I am going to answer the question from this Newsletter, but first let me say that I started the Michael Connelly book “The Late Show” probably about the same time you did Graeme, and wanted to say that I agree with you. I actually read about 65 pages and stopped reading it. I need to get invested in a character, and Renee Ballard kind of got on my nerves a little, with her doing whatever she wants even though she’s told not to do it. I tried, but I guess I just wasn’t in the mood at the time. I’d just finished a couple of David Baldacci books and a Jack Reacher book and thought maybe it was too much of the same type of genre one right after the other. So I will try another time to read The Late Show, but could not get into it right now.
So I have different methods ( I guess you’d call it that) for picking which book to read. It does have a lot to do with mood, or what I feel like reading at the time. If I’m busy with a lot of different things going on, I’ll choose something light and funny that is a fast, easy ready with not a lot of thinking. Pure entertainment, just for a break from the busyness. I love creepy paranormal type books, so I tend to buy a lot of those and save them for when I can curl up and read for long stretches of time without interruption.
As soon as I finish a book a take stock and think, ok what am I feeling like reading now? I go into my “book room” and search through the shelves until an author or particular title catches my eye. I’ll read the book jacket and then decide if that’s the next one or if I should move on. So, it is a combination of my mood and what is going on in my life at the time. There are also several authors that I will stop reading a current book for, in order to read a new one by one of my favorites. Those are usually Koontz, King, Konrath, Evanovich, Weiner, to name a few.

Elizabeth: Hi
Since I get almost all books from our public library, I read what’s available. I try to request new books when they are first listed in the catalog. Since new books are popular and can’t be renewu, I read them first.
Since covid cases are jumping in Georgia, I’m worried our library will cease circulation again, I’ve requested a bunch of slightly older ones that I can keep for longer. I used to get the bookpage magazine from the library to see what’s new, but they are only doing curbside service now and don’t have it available.
I still get lots of book emails about upcoming reads. I also get reckons from friends and usually read the books our book club has selected, but we haven’t met since February.

Also the Bosch series on Amazon Prime is worthwhile as Connelly is co-producer and combines a new novel with an older one for each year.

Good TV for Connelly fans.

Thank for your reading support,

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: How You Decide What Book To Read Next