Forget Your TBR List: 4 Fun Ways to Pick Your Next Read

by Janna

If you’re anything like me, you have a huge list of books to read scrawled on a post-it somewhere or documented in your Goodreads account. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing a book off the list, which means I don’t often read something spontaneously.

But as summer approaches, it’s time to let loose a little. So, I’ve put together a list of fun ways to find your next summer read. Sometimes, you need to step back from that TBR list and let yourself go with the flow!

Little Free Library

A Little Free Library in my neighborhood. I found A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini in there!

Little Free Library

Maybe you’ve seen these birdhouse-esque mini libraries on your city’s sidewalks, but if you haven’t, Little Free Libraries are just that – free book exchanges located in neighborhoods and public spaces all over the U.S. Each library is different in size, shape, and color, and I love that you never know what you’ll find in one. I think that’s what makes them so fun.

Keep your eyes peeled for one of these on your next walk or run. Take a look, and if anything catches your eye, bring it home! Even if you don’t find anything you must have, it’s amusing to see what books people are willing to part with. I often imagine how and why a book makes its way to the Little Free Library.

Choose a Book by its Cover

Yah yah yah, I don’t even need to write out this cliche. But sometimes it’s fun, and necessary even, to judge a book by its cover. I willingly admit that many of the books I read from the ages of 12-14 were picked because of the book cover.

Whether you’re wandering the library, perusing the bookshelves at your favorite bookstore, or browsing Amazon or Goodreads, sometimes a book jumps out at you and demands your attention. Go for it!  Last summer, I purchased Kitchens of the Great Midwest at my local bookstore because I loved the illustration on the front. It wasn’t my favorite read ever, but I probably wouldn’t have read it without being captivated by the cover.

Join a Bookclub

I joined two book clubs this year and it has made choosing my books that much easier! This means my reading schedule is super full, but I don’t really mind. Joining a book club has pushed me to read a number of books I would have never picked, up including my potential favorite read of the year, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth. A local book club can also be a great way to meet new friends and talk to other smart ladies (and gents)!

However, you don’t have to limit yourself to a locally run book club. You can join online book clubs, like Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf, which is hosted on Goodreads, or even start one with your friends. The more people you include, the more recommendations you’ll get!


Found at my local bookstore Magers and Quinn.

Ask for Recommendations

We often get recommendations from friends, family members, and the Internet, but some of the best recommendations I’ve ever had came from a librarian or bookstore employee. They see everything that comes in and out of the library or bookstore and are bound to have a recommendation or two. I also love looking at staff-favorites displays, which make it easy to find something quickly without having to search the shelves.

There’s no right or wrong way to pick your next read. Whether you stick to your trusted TBR list or use one of the suggestions above, I wish you happy summer reading!


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Mel June 2, 2016 - 7:11 pm

Here’s a method that I made up and tried once. I need to let go of my desire to read everything on my massive list and try it again. Go to the library, go to a section of fiction shelves, close your eyes, walk down the row running your finger along the spines. Stop. Take out the book. Open your eyes. Read it. You can take a little bit of liberty with it, like if it’s a massive tome then just choose the book closest to it that’s a more desirable length (no one wants to waste ALL of their time on a book that might be terrible)

Sarah's Book Shelves June 4, 2016 - 12:28 pm

Love this article! And another blogger I know works as a bookseller…there is a man that comes into the bookstore every Tuesday and asks the booksellers for a recommendation…goes in totally blind. The bookstore has started keeping a spreadsheet of what they recommend to him.

Kathleen June 5, 2016 - 3:30 pm

I have a Little Free Library and have acquired many serendipitous picks that way! It increases my happiness so much.


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