How do you find the next book you’ll read, especially when you need a new book every one to four days? I gather suggestions from many places, adding titles to my to-read list faster than I can read them (even picture books!). Here are some of my best resources for finding books:
- Recommendations from friends and colleagues: True, a lot of my friends are librarians, or teachers, or simply bookworms. After years of trading recommendations, we’ve learned each other’s tastes, so we have a good idea who will love a certain book (or not) and why. I also add to my to-read list monthly(ish) during my Adults Who Read Children’s Books Club meeting; it’s a group of school and public librarians, and their recommendations are incredible.
- Reviews in trade publications: School Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus are my go-to sources. Even if you don’t have access to these, most public library online catalogs have at least one or two review sources built into them, so if you look up a book, you can see a review (or two or three).
- Other reviews: Larger public libraries often have free-to-the-public copies of BookPage, and there are a handful of sites I check in on occasionally, like BookRiot.
- Wowbrary: Some public libraries use this service; I get a weekly e-mail from mine with a list of new books in different categories.
- Book Twitter: I joined Twitter when I was in library school, and I mainly follow authors (and illustrators), bookstores, libraries, publishers, agents, editors, and other bookish accounts. It’s the one social media app I have on my phone, and often enough I’ll see book news there before anywhere else.
- Publisher newsletters: What with one thing and another, I’ve ended up on a lot of publishers’ newsletters: I get notices from Candlewick, HarperCollins, Little Brown Young Readers, Penguin Random House, Chronicle, and more. These tend to promote upcoming titles or those that are topical in some way (e.g. for Hispanic Heritage Month or Black History Month).
- Publishers Lunch: An industry newsletter I started getting in 2007 when I began working at a literary agency and never unsubscribed from. I no longer read it every day, but often find something good when I do.
- Edelweiss and NetGalley: These two sites offer digital Advance Reader’s Copies (ARCs, or galleys) to librarians; they’re a good place to browse for upcoming titles and get an early look.
- LibraryThing Early Reviewers: As an active LT user, I browse these offerings monthly and often request (and receive!) an ARC of a book I’m excited about.
- Library Link of the Day: This is more for library news than specific book recommendations – and lately, sadly, a majority of the links have been about attempted challenges or bans at schools and public libraries throughout the country. (Then again, these are recommendations, in a way, since I’m definitely the kind of person who will seek out a book others are trying to limit access to.)
- Library patrons: Working in a library, I’m not only surrounded by books, I’m surrounded by readers! Readers are happy to tell you when they think that you, too, would enjoy their most recent favorite book. And isn’t it my professional responsibility to see what all the fuss is about?
- End-of-year lists: For #kidlit people, Betsy Bird’s “31 Days, 31 Lists” is a treasure trove; I think at least three-quarters of the books on my kitchen table right now are because of her. I also enjoy NPR’s Book Concierge, which has been renamed Books We Love; there are lots of filters to play with along the left side, so you can narrow down the many recommendations, or search past years (it goes back to 2013). Of course, every trade and popular publication does its own end-of-year list(s) as well.
Where do you get your book recommendations? Is there a fantastic source I could add to my list?
Edited 1/8/2022: Bookshops! I can’t believe I left them off my original list, but I’ve discovered many, many wonderful books through in-person browsing and recommendations from booksellers (especially at the Carle Museum shop) and bookstore e-mail newsletters. If you haven’t already, sign up for your favorite local bookstore’s newsletter.