Shannon T.L. Kearns
Shannon T.L. Kearns
How I Decide What To Read Next
Shannon T.L. Kearns > How I Decide What To Read Next
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There’s that jolt of excitement, a rush of uncertainty, a bit of anxiety. 

I’m not talking about falling in love or starting a new job, nope, I’m talking about deciding what book to read next.

If you’re anything like me your list of books “to be read” is a little out of control. I’ve got at least 300 books on mine and I seem to add more all the time.

I have three or four books going at a time. Three for sure because they are part of my daily studying routine. 20 minutes each in three categories: One fiction, one non-fiction, and one on creativity/writing (though that category is pretty broad as it encompasses not just books on craft but also books by and about writers and artists). Then I usually have a fourth book going that is whatever I want it to be.

I love finishing a book and the anticipation that comes before I start a new book. But sometimes in that between time I can feel a little out of my depth.

What if the next book I pick sucks? What if it takes forever to get into? What if it takes me a really long time to read? What if something better comes along? 

Or there are three or four books that I really want to read but I can’t seem to decide between them.

How do I make the call?

Here are some of the guiding questions:

  • What category is it in? This automatically narrows down my search. If the book I finished was the non-fiction one, then a non-fiction one replaces it to keep my studying routine up.
  • Is there a particular topic that has been on my mind a lot lately? One that I’ve had come up over and over again in different settings? Choose a book about that.
  • Is there a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a while and keep putting off?
  • Is there a genre I haven’t read in a while? Maybe I’ve been reading a ton of theology and it’s time for a memoir. Maybe I’ve been reading lots of creativity books and it’s time for a murder mystery. I try to keep shaking things up so I don’t get into a rut.

Sometimes if there are two books I am having a hard time deciding between I will choose based on length. I’ll read the shorter one first knowing that I can then dive into the other book sooner.

The key thing for me is to make the decision and commit. If I am having a particularly indecisive day I will sometimes allow myself to read the first couple pages of several books to see which one hooks but, but I don’t let myself spend more than one evening deciding. Instead I’d rather commit and dive in. Allow myself to get immersed in a new book and learn something new along the way.

How do you make the decision of what to read next? Do you keep a list in order and work your way down it? Do you just go on a whim? I’d love to hear your decision making process in the comments.

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