How I Choose Books to Read

I’m a big reader, having read 40 books in 2014 as I revealed in a previous post. But how do I choose books to read, you may wonder.

I don’t really have a secret, but I do have several sources of great books to include in my reading list. Here’s how I choose the books that goes into my reading list.

img credit: CCAC North Library


Books exploring skills I want to acquire and topics (or genre for fiction) I’m interested in.

If I want to develop specific skills such as Mind mapping, Outlining, some people skills, my default mode of learning is to grab a book, read, read, read, and then look for actionable items.

Currently, my taste in fiction is in the area of post-apocalyptic works and Young Adult fiction. That’s why I enjoyed the Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins; Steelheart and Firefight, both from the Reckoners Series of Brandon Sanderson, and of course, I also read the first Percy Jackson series last year.

Since reading the Lord of the Rings Trilogy back in College, (thanks in no small part to my friend Butch!), I am pretty sure that I’ll be reading Fantasy and Science Fiction for the rest of my life.

Books mentioned and referenced by books I’ve already read.

If I want to learn more deeply about any topic, then I’d look at the reference section of the book I’m reading and I will consult those books, too. For example, I discovered the 10,000 Hours rule of becoming an expert in the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Since I was so enamored with the topic, I also read Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, and it also led me to read books related to Mental toughness and psychological training.

Books mentioned by my favorite podcasts and blogs.

In addition to books, I rely on podcasts for those times that I have to wait for 5 minutes and more. Some podcasts are no more than 8 minutes while others explore topics deeply and could go from 30 to 90 minutes at a time. They are also the perfect companion for a long drive or a long bus ride. For podcasts I recommend, click here.

Every now and then, the podcasts I listen to mention books that get me intrigued. So I end up going to Amazon to check out the book, read some reviews and before I knew it, I bought it!

The Bryan Callen Show guested Howard G. Buffet & Howard W. Buffet, son and grandson of billionaire Warren Buffet, respectively. I got intrigued about their quest to fight hunger all over the world. I ended up buying 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World.

Tim Ferriss had Peter Diamandis as a guest on his podcast and after listening to the show, I subscribed to Mr. Diamandis’s blog, and bought his two books: Abundance: the Future is Better than You Think plus I also got a copy of his recently launched book “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World“.

Bottom line is, if I trust a blog or a podcast, I also trust the recommendations they make in terms of books and other resources to consume.

Popular, well-reviewed books at Goodreads and Amazon.

Sometimes, I also check titles that are related to the books I loved. Amazon does this well. It shows similar titles and works that other readers have found and liked, too. If I spot a title that has great reviews and the description fits my interest at the moment, I could get that book. But before buying it, I try to look for it in a library, or if it is available somewhere else (reading books could be an expensive hobby, you know).

Just because… (or the power of serendipity)

If you haven’t noticed it yet, most of the books I buy these days are ebooks and it’s usually through Amazon. I still love print books, mind you. Before installing the Kindle app on my phone, and long before I bought my Kindle Fire Tablet, I’m a frequent visitor of Booksale, National Bookstore, Powerbooks, and other top bookstores in Metro Manila.

But after becoming familiar with my favorite e-readers, I made the switch and read e-books about 80% of the time. I probably buy 1 print book for every 8 ebooks I buy.

That means that most of the print books I buy are based on chance and serendipity. I spot a good title or a good cover in a bookstore and after reading the description, I just might get it. Or not. Depending on my mood, and my book budget at the moment.

So that’s how I choose books. How about you? Do you intentionally read books? What’s your usual criteria?

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