“Hey John, how do you decide what books to read?”

I was asked this recently. I draw from:

  • The NYTimes Sunday Book Reviews. I especially enjoy the “By The Book” column, in which a living author talks about what they have read and are reading. Always some things off the beaten path there.
  • The LA Times book reviews are useful as well.
  • Various prize lists — Hugo, Nebula, Man Booker, Pulitzer, Nobel, Edgar. Tho I have found the Nobel prize winners to be rough rough going.
  • Goodreads reviews and Amazon reviews. If a book doesn’t get great consensus reviews (or at least a strong positive rating from a subset of readers), I probably won’t read.
  • I have a couple coworkers/friends who are big readers and I listen to their recos, and my college roommate is a voracious and critical reader, and I listen to him. And then anything that a family member recommends, I will consider.

I will read just about any genre with a couple limitations. I find most popular business books to be horrible — 1 or 2 good ideas that are worthy of an article, but nothing worthy of a book. And I do not enjoy farce in any genre, just not my thing.