The 5 Stages of Deciding What to Read

Imagine this: you’ve just wrapped a long day at your job or school and feel the need to wind down. You mindlessly scroll through Netflix for a crazy amount of time before giving up, Then, an idea strikes. Reading! You hop off your favorite chair or spot on the couch and dash to your book storing location. But where to start? Now you find yourself in a difficult situation. How do you decide what to read? If you’re a reader, you know this challenge well. In the end, all readers go down this same path at some point when choosing a book.

  1. Consult your bookshelf for previously read books

Stage one: we go for the obvious. Do you even remember what books you do have? Maybe there’s a novel you want to reread? A reader’s first stop is always home base. After staring at your selection for a bit, you may find a book to read instantly. Well done! You’ve accomplished a difficult feat and are possibly a unicorn. You go you reading unicorn genius! If you stuck like most readers, it’s time for stage two.

  1. Stare for way too long at your “too read” pile

Time to consult the new books who are clamoring to be read. Do you want that new mystery you’ve been dying to start? Or the tongue-in-cheek autobiography? When they were purchased, you promised to read them right away. Let’s be honest, it’s been at least a week since you mentally filed it into the to-read section of your mind palace. Why not read the back of the books again and again to narrow down your options? It doesn’t matter how many to-read books you have, this inevitably happens. If you choose a book in this step, you deserve a high-five. Congratulations! Hop off this train and enjoy. If you are frustrated at your current disinterest in these books, never fear! That’s when it’s time to improvise. 

  1. Listen to the call of the new books that you need to read

If none of the books you have are calling your name, it’s time to consult your wishlist. If you have it written down or stored online somewhere, consult the list of books you want to read. They are currently not in your possession, which makes them oddly more appealing. After zipping through your list, a book may call your name. If you are blessed with an open library or money to purchase said book, you can answer the call immediately. Mission accomplished! Maybe you hit a roadblock that brings your quest for this new book to a grinding halt. Drat. Time to go back to your bookshelf.

  1. Read the back of some of your books to narrow down your pile…

It doesn’t matter if you did this in stage one and two. Inevitably, the backs of these books will be consulted until you have narrowed down your list to a few books. If you are lucky, this will be the end of the journey for you. You may find a book you love to reread, or remember one that you loved which you were meaning to revisit. You might have found a spark this round for one of your new books. Either way, you did it! No money spent, no book left unread. Sometimes this doesn’t work out. For some reason all the books in your house, in your electronic reader, and anywhere else you keep books don’t hold anything of interest. If you are truly at wits end, you may give up and grab a random book, or give up on the book search entirely. Other times, it’s time to do some quick mental math. You could skip a coffee or a Postmates order to appease your book hunger. You may scour your library’s website for books to rent online. Then, inspiration!

  1. Ignore all the books calling your name and get a new one! 

It’s time to appease the book hunger, and that book you found online won’t stop wiggling its way into your mind. Time to cave and purchase it! If you’re lucky, you can find it for a good price or free in the magical world of the internet. Ignore the disappointed sounds of the books you own and get them a friend to join their ranks. If you prefer the feeling of pages between your fingers, it may be a bit longer before you get your prize to enjoy. Either way, more often than not readers find themselves here. If you are like me, it’s a side effect of your increasing book addiction that drives your parents/you to invest in the glory of a library card. However, my library is closed. I can’t escape this pull to give money to Bezos for some instant gratification at 10 pm. This is a constant conflict for me as a book lover. Sure it’s fun to get a new book, but don’t forget about the ones on your shelf! They want to be read too after all. 

Do you find yourself going through these stages when deciding on a book to read? Or do you have a different strategy? Let me know in the comments below! I love learning about people’s different reading habits. I hope that this made you smile a bit, even if it’s a bit too relatable.  Now it’s time to start this process myself. Hopefully I’ll find a book that brings me as much joy as the below GIF of Matilda being relatable to readers everywhere. Happy reading everyone!