7 Tips on Finding a Great Book

by Katie Fetting-Schlerf on May 21, 2012


We’ve all been there.  Meekly wandering the aisles of the airport bookstore, wondering which paperback will take our mind off the impending doom of a water landing.  And yet, despite hundreds of options, nothing seems to be remotely interesting.  What’s a tremulous traveler to do?

Below are 7 tips for finding a future favorite.


We all start there – eyes skipping over Dean Koontz thrillers and the latest beach read.  This is a great place to notice literary trends and new books from noted authors, however.  And every once in a while, a really terrific new book (like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle) blows up and can be found here.

Genre / Topic

Particularly when travelling, I think it’s important to consider mood.  Reading James Joyce on a plane is a bit heady.  A simple mystery by Agatha Christie might better fit the bill.  Know what you’re hungry for.

First line

You can tell a lot from a first line.  Does it invite you to continue?  Does it pose an intriguing question?  If I’m on the fence, my opinion of the first line usually helps me make the decision.

Look for Authors You’ve Read Before

Obvious, I know.  But if you liked one novel by the author, you are likely to appreciate the next.  Few authors vary their subject / style extraordinarily from book to book.  You can also look for authors inspired by writers you’re passionate about.  Peer cover blurbs are a great source of this information.


Personally, I never trust a single reviewer, but opinions taken in the aggregate can be helpful.  One person I may disagree with – disagreeing with ten is less likely.

Look to the classics

There’s a reason they’re classics, right?  Obviously, certain periods and writing styles aren’t for everyone—but on the bright side, if you hate it, you can pat yourself on the back for being better-read.


This tried and true method is great for those overwhelmed by options.  Bookstore workers tend to be readers well-versed in all types of literature.  And they, like most of us, love to give their opinions.

Do you have any other tips on finding a great new read?  If so, share them in the comments!

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