Finding the right book to read this summer

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Photo by Paige Bush
Photo by Paige Bush

School’s out and you’ve done away with textbooks and thrown hundreds of pages of study notes into a bonfire.  You now have time to kick back, relax and enjoy a solid novel. But what to choose out of the thousands of book titles available?

Often, those who work in bookstores are reading a variety of books in order to decide what to sell and can identify several signs of a good read.

In the Kitchener-Waterloo area, local bookstore owners gave their tips for choosing what to read next for the summer.

A common piece of advice that many have heard is “don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, the allure of a book’s cover can be a strong factor that influences a person’s decision regarding what to read.

“When something strikes my eye, that will occasionally pull me in to investigate further to read the introduction and the back cover,” said Scott Hunter, owner of KW Bookstore, which is located in Kitchener.

If shoppers find a cover interesting, they will read the first page to determine whether to read the book. This method can lead a person into buying a book that they may not enjoy.

Mandy Brouse, co-owner of Words Worth Books, brought up a key point as she suggested, “don’t go to the first page, because, on the first page, you are starting the story and you’ll be intrigued with anything.”

Instead, Brouse explained a tip she learned from the previous owner of Words Worth Books.

Brouse said, “she flips to page forty and she’ll read two to three pages. She said that, by page forty, you’ll get a handle on the type of writing the author is using.”

It may not just be the cover art that pulls people in, but also the feel of a book.

Michael Lobert, the owner of used bookstore Old Goats Books in Waterloo, mentions that, when picking out a book, he will choose a book based on how well made the book is. He will check whether it is cloth bound, but also if it has an attractive cover. It may be in one’s best interest to judge a book by its cover.

Looking specifically for labels such as ‘New York Times Best Seller’ on the cover may not be the best strategy when deciding what to add to your reading list. As Brouse said, seeing a label like that “gives you an indication, but it really only has to do with sales, marketing and publicity of the book.”

Books will often have awards displayed on their cover and looking at the number of awards won by an author is also an effective way to help decide which author to read next.

“If you see that someone has won several awards over time then they are probably an author worth checking out,” said Charles Foley, manager at A Second Look Book and Movies.

Sticking to familiar authors is also a method of choosing a book to pick out.

“It’s an easy resource to punch up an author’s name on Google,” Hunter advised.

Using online resources to find other novels written by an author, or even to research authors with similar writing styles, can help to uncover new titles.

The internet has great resources in helping people decide what to read. Blogs can be an effective tool in helping decide what to read next.

“One of my favorite blogs is Bookshelves of Doom and they do teen books and young adult fiction to find out what is really popular, because that genre of publication has so much that they publish each year,” said Brouse.

Social media sites such as YouTube are also a great way to find book reviews. Foley explained that some reviews can actually be quite reputable.

So, rather than watching the latest viral video, perhaps check out a book review the next time you are on YouTube.

With three months left of summer break, it’s not too late to get caught up in the twists and turns of an enthralling novel and actually be intellectually productive.


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