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What to Read Next: 5 Effective Strategies for the Indecisive Bookworm

by  | April 3
Staring and a pile of books

So many people are coming together (apart) to read virtually, and we love it. Friends are launching remote book clubs. Parents and teachers are becoming read-aloud professionals. Publishers are hosting read-a-thons (be sure to join Simon & Schuster’s read-a-thon on Saturday, April 18 from 10 am – 5 pm). With all these opportunities arising, we bookworms know how vital it is that you choose your next read wisely. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of strategies that have proven successful for picking your next book—because nobody wants to settle in with their coffee and blankie only to realize they have NO DESIRE for an unreliable narrator at this time.

Once you’ve chosen your next book, go ahead and cheer for the winner. Don’t worry about what the neighbors might think—there are no judgments allowed during this time of social distancing.

The Thinker Pose

Sometimes you fall into a certain mood and you just need to find the right book, otherwise you may end up destroying something—or is that just me? Especially during this social distancing era, it seems like I have a new mood almost every hour—oh what a fun roulette of emotions! One moment I just need to curl up and escape from it all, and the next I crave a sweeping historical nonfiction that MUST end happily. When you encounter a mood of particular persistence, it’s essential that you pick the right book, otherwise you might force yourself upon the wrong pages, and end up rage-reading a book that just doesn’t deserve that cruelty. This is the ideal time to strike up the Thinker Pose, and take a good long look at each book upon your shelf to prepare for the long haul. Ask yourself questions like: “Will this read likely sustain me and my moods for the rest of the day?” or “How might I feel after reading it? Will this book leave me in the depths of despair, which will so not be appropriate for my 6 p.m. virtual game night with friends?” 

Success Story: Recently I was in the mood to just cry it out and it needed to be done, but I didn’t have a tear-jerker next up on my TBR list. And so, I maneuvered into Thinker Pose. For hours, I turmoiled between In Five Years, Emma, or Spinning Silver. So many colleagues had recommended In Five Years, advising that it was a tear-jerker, but at the same time, Emma needed to be read before I could watch the new film. Yet Spinning Silver was supposed to be a fun escapist read. After much deliberation, I went with In Five Years, had a cathartic sob, and felt much better.

The Book Bracket

With March Madness canceled this year, we all miss filling out those brackets. Satisfy the bracket craving by making your own competition for what to read next. Tip: this technique can also be used to help you pick out what Netflix show to binge next, which podcast to listen to, etc.

To begin, pick out eight books that you’re most excited to read and put those in the outer brackets. Then, let the games begin and watch your list narrow down as each book competes to become the CHAMPION winner.

Success Story: Here’s an image of a successfully chosen TBR champion.

The Phone a Friend

When has a distressed mind not been soothed after phoning a friend? Let them talk you into your next read and their enthusiasm will carry you through any doubts. And if you don’t have any particularly bookish friends, then let your pet do the deciding for you. They can sniff out the best book and whatever they land on (or chew upon) is your winner.

Success Story: Pippa the cat chose an advance reader copy of Perfect Tunes, and while it took a while to dig the book out from under her fluffy, adorable fur, it made the read that much more enjoyable for me, knowing that it had been chosen by a creature I greatly admire.

The Reading Roulette

When the decision-making is just too hard, let fate decide. Lay out all the books on the floor and throw your deciding object—could be dice or a feather or whatever you desire—at the array. If you can’t even decide on your deciding object then you must be Chidi Anagonye and there’s no help for you. Once you do decide, wherever that object lands on is what you MUST READ next. I recommend this tactic for when you just want to dive into a story, because you know that’ll cut at least a few procrastinating hours from your reading time and avoid setting you up for a stressful reading experience.

The Ask the Internet

When all else fails, you can count on the Internet to have the answers for you. I suggest starting with Get Literary’s ample supply of bookish posts to read. We have TBR lists for fans of You, The Circle, Schitt’s Creek, The Witcher, true crime podcasts, Little Women—and just about everything and anything else you can think of. If you’re a human who consumes content, then we have a bookish list for you somewhere.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve also seen a rise in Twitter recommendation threads. So try combing through some of these lists for a book as well.

Find out more about the books featured below!

Perfect Tunes

Perfect Tunes

by Emily Gould

Perfect Tunes is an intoxicating blend of music, love, and family from one of the essential writers of the internet generation.” —Stephanie Danler

Have you ever wondered what your mother was like before she became your mother, and what she gave up in order to have you?

It’s the early days of the new millennium, and Laura has arrived in New York City’s East Village in the hopes of recording her first album. A songwriter with a one-of-a-kind talent, she’s just beginning to book gigs with her beautiful best friend when she falls hard for a troubled but magnetic musician whose star is on the rise. Their time together is stormy and short-lived—but will reverberate for the rest of Laura’s life.

Fifteen years later, Laura’s teenage daughter, Marie, is asking questions about her father, questions that Laura does not want to answer. Laura has built a stable life in Brooklyn that bears little resemblance to the one she envisioned when she left Ohio all those years ago, and she’s taken pains to close the door on what was and what might have been. But neither her best friend, now a famous musician who relies on Laura’s songwriting skills, nor her depressed and searching daughter will let her give up on her dreams.

Funny, wise, and tenderhearted, Perfect Tunes explores the fault lines in our most important relationships, and asks whether dreams deferred can ever be reclaimed. It is a delightful and poignant tale of music and motherhood, ambition and com­promise—of life, in all its dissonance and harmony.

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Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver

by Naomi Novik

With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. She will face an impossible challenge and, along with two unlikely allies, uncover a secret that threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike.

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Emma

Emma

by Jane Austen

A high-spirited young woman meddles in other peoples' love lives in this classic comedy of errors set in nineteenth-century England.

Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potential.

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In Five Years

In Five Years

by Rebecca Serle

Perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day—a striking, powerful, and moving love story following an ambitious lawyer who experiences an astonishing vision that could change her life forever.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Dannie Kohan lives her life by the numbers.

She is nothing like her lifelong best friend—the wild, whimsical, believes-in-fate Bella. Her meticulous planning seems to have paid off after she nails the most important job interview of her career and accepts her boyfriend’s marriage proposal in one fell swoop, falling asleep completely content.

But when she awakens, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight—but it is one hour she cannot shake. In Five Years is an unforgettable love story, but it is not the one you’re expecting.

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Photo Credit // Emily Lewis

Categories // Bookish Fun

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Emily Lewis is a marketing associate at Simon & Schuster who loves every book genre but has a soft spot for sci-fi/fantasy. She recently moved to NYC from Chicago a month before quarantine and will enjoy crossing things off her NYC bucket list…eventually. For now, she enjoys playing guitar, board games, and chilling with cats. Find her on Instagram at @emlewis22.