“Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. As by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated: by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished, and confirmed.” – Joseph Addison
One of the most thrilling things in life to me is finding a great book. These are the ones that have power, some indescribable connection that pulls and tugs and wears you down to your soul, opens new doors of insight and understanding, and takes you to new places, puts you in impossible situations, and lets you feel the highs and lows along with the characters.
We only have one body, one life to live, but inside the pages of a book, we can take flight through another place, time, and life, and know what it is to live larger. Books introduce a wider worldview, a more flexible mind. And great books have the power to change lives.
There is an interesting divide between a good book and a great one. We all have different reading tastes; we all connect with different stories, places, and characters. But one thing about a great book that remains is that the reader simply can’t stop talking about it. That, to me, is the sign of a great book.
But if you’ve ever looked for a great book, you know how hard great books are to find.
How to Find a Great Book
1) Sign up to receive weekly book recommendations from the team at GreatNewBooks.org.
At GreatNewBooks.org, a site I love and am involved with, we believe in recommending books we love. The only books we recommend, actually, are books we genuinely love and want to share with others to discover, too. At GNB, we only review books we find on our own, read and fall in love with, and then can stop talking about.
The beauty of it? The ten on the team are all writers, bloggers, and readers, and we all read and recommend different types of books. Every Wednesday, there is another book recommendation. It’s a great place to discover great new books. Sign up here.
2) Join Goodreads. Set up a profile and start tracking the books you’ve read, or start joining in the discussions there. It doesn’t take long. I participate in Goodreads via an app on my phone, and keep track of what I read there.
3) Make note of books you want to read by checking Want To Read beside a book on your stack or wish list, or chat with others about books they’ve enjoyed and recommend, either in-person (always the best way to engage about books, right?) or on an organic book recommendation site like Great New Books. Most readers love to hear about books that move other people. Don’t be afraid to share your favorites.
4) Share what you think about the book in a sentence or two, and rate it when you’ve finished reading.
What did you think? It’s as easy as, for example: “I really enjoyed this book because of the characters and the page-turning story. I recommend it to readers who enjoyed Rosamunde Pilcher’s THE SHELL SEEKERS.”
Or if you didn’t connect with the story, don’t be afraid to share that either, for example: “I read about halfway through the story and felt turned off by the main character and the stiff dialogue.” Above all, as with all else in life, be kind. If you don’t love a book, find one you do love and recommend that better one.
In a world ankle-deep with a flood of lackluster books, we need and want to hear about the books that really stand out. Great books help make the world a better place.
The Magic Bonus in 2016
I think you can tell how much I love books. I do. And my favorite authors, to me, are more than rock stars. In 2015, I chose The Lake House by Kate Morton as my favorite book of the year.
Guess what? A couple of weeks ago, I received a note from someone at Atria Books in New York City saying Kate Morton had been in New York recently and signed a copy of The Lake House for me. For me!
It was one of those happy dance moments that lasted weeks for me. I have the signed copy sitting upon my favorites shelf across from me as I type this. Thank you, Kate Morton and Atria Books!
What do you do when you read a great book? Do you have other places you regularly find great books?What book sites do you frequent, and how do you hear about the books you love the most? I’d love to hear your thoughts here.