Finding Your Next “It” Book
Finishing a beloved book or series is difficult, but not nearly as difficult as moving on. We all know the feeling an especially good read can give – how that book was it, how nothing else can top it, and how nothing will ever be the same. And what do you even do with yourself after you’re done? After wallowing for a while, perhaps eating away our feelings, whether they be happy or sad ones, we do what we do best – we have to keep reading.
But where do you even begin? Usually, you have to figure out what you want first. For me, this is always determined by what I just finished. If it was a sad book, usually I’ll want a more light-hearted pick-me-up to get me through the next few days. If I just blew through a gossipy yet entertaining guilty-pleasure kind of series, I’ll look for a more cerebral, emotional book next. I recently read Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier, which provided a fun couple of hours, and for a change of pace went for Life of Pi by Yann Martel afterward. One book will lead you to the next, in its own subtle way – follow the path the first lays down for you.
Once you know what you’re looking for, you need to figure out where to look. I usually begin with authors I like. I trust their writing already, and it’s nice to explore what else they have out there. Often, , this may not work if you’re looking for something different from what you last read – though many authors are versatile, others tend to specialize in certain genres and themes. However, I still like to give an author more of my time if I liked their previous works. For instance, I finally gave The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater a chance this summer, so I immediately launched into her 2012 Printz Honor winning standalone novel, The Scorpio Races, the next chance I got.
Failing my own judgment, I seek outside consultation, though usually not from the Internet. Goodreads.com and other review websites are really great for helping you find things similar to what you’ve read already, which is nice for the comfort zone, but not for the expansion of your literary palate. Often my Goodreads account suggests books that I had actually forgotten I’d already read, so they just get added to my shelves while I search for more. No luck there.
This is where the librarians and friends (often they are one and the same) come in. If you’re anything like me, you have at least one or two friends who are just as avid of readers as you are. Luckily, my reading friends have very different tastes from mine, so when I find myself in literary stagnation, they can always offer something to lift me out of it. For instance, I usually stick to fantasy or science fiction novels, but this summer my friend convinced me to read The Shining by Stephen King. Never before had I read anything that could classify as a horror novel, but I found it engrossing – so once I’ve distanced myself enough from the book, I’ll find something like it again.
My advice is to respect the previous series, and don’t look to replace it. Find something different to enjoy, because reading the same thing all the time can make you bored, and it might make you assume that reading itself has simply become boring to you. It hasn’t. You just need a little variety.
-Annie N., currently reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel