For Beginners: Where to Start

23 Mar

Not only is this a book blog for staunch book lovers, but also for those just getting into the world of reading.  Maybe you’ve made some new year’s resolutions to read more, but are already starting to slump and your enthusiasm is quickly withering.

trail of books

So you want to read, but where should you start?  The question is, what makes you tick in other areas of your life?  What movies do you like to watch?  What hobbies do you enjoy?  What was your favorite subject in school?  What music do you like to listen to?  These can give you some clues as to what sorts of books might interest you, but I am going to just go with the subject of movies as an example, since it’s something almost everyone enjoys.

Make a list of your favorite movies.  How did they make you feel?  Why do you like those movies?  Was it the setting, the props, the characters, the plot, the genre?  Was it the suspense you were drawn to, the romantic triangle, or maybe you felt you identified with the people in the film.  Perhaps you liked the historical aspects of it, and found yourself studying the costumes and set design.

Favorite books to film: Cranford (based on short stories as well as the novel Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell)

(My favorite book-to-film.)

Once you’ve noticed a pattern in your likes and dislikes, look for those subjects online or at your library.  In the fiction section, most libraries will label the different genres with stickers, or categorize them into sections all their own.

Another good place to learn of good books is through book blogs, like this one.  You can get lots of good ideas once you’ve found a book reviewer who has similar tastes.  Looking up your new fav on Amazon will also bring a list of similar books that others are interested in.

Although I have never done this, many publishers have a sort of blogging for books deal, where you are sent a free book with the condition you review it online.  It could be a great way of sampling all different kinds of genres to see what you like, for free.

Pinned Image

Once I’ve discovered an author I like, I look up a complete list of their works online (Wikipedia is a good place to do this).  It’s a good idea to start with their best known works, as their lesser known books are usually lesser known for a reason.  This in no wise means you shouldn’t read them, but to start out with you would get a truer feel for the writer and your attention would probably be held better with one of their best.

However, I don’t recommend reading a whole bunch of books by the same author or genre all at once.  It can be easy to get stuck in a comfortable rut, but this quickly leads to boredom.  It’s important to grow and discover new kinds of interests.  Once you’ve identified a favorite kind of book, try a sister genre.  For example, people who like romance often like historical fiction.  Mystery lovers could move on to court room dramas, and then to espionage thrillers.  Did you like the old-fashioned classics?  Stretch yourself to try a modern classic.  Or if you indulge in adventure, trying a true-life non-fiction adventure could be your next cup of tea.  And for fantasy lovers, there’s sci-fi to try.  Don’t be inhibited exploring the children’s fiction for your favorite genres, either.

Going back to the movies: do some research and see if the film you liked was based on a book.  (Wishbone and I go back a long way…)

Series No.: S11  Title: LITERARY TASTE - How to form it, with detailed instructions for collecting a complete library of English Literature  Author: Arnold Bennett Edited: and with additional lists by Frank Swinnerton Date Published: 11 November 1938  Pages: 192.  Printer: Purnell and Sons Ltd  Price: 6d  A Pelican Special

A fun book to look into is “Literary Taste and How to Form It,” by Arnold Bennett

Don’t feel you have to start out with something really impressive and heavy, like “Les Miserables” or “Quo Vadis.”  And contrary to the librarian’s advice, you don’t have to start with “Treasure Island” (unless you want to).  It’s important not to overwhelm yourself at the start.

You don’t have to like every book, and that isn’t necessarily the point.  “Wuthering Heights,” just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I tried it.  Stretch yourself.  Sometimes I’ll finish a book I hate just to find out what it’s all about.  But it’s ok to give yourself permission to stop reading a book because you’re not clicking with it.  Better that than have your enthusiasm for reading wane because you’re forcing yourself to do something you don’t like.  Otherwise you’ll soon learn to dread your reading time.  Believe me, nothing kills the joy of reading quicker.  Don’t tie yourself to deadlines, but it may be helpful to set aside a time or minimum certain amount to read each day to keep yourself moving toward your goal: finishing the book!

And remember, reading should be enjoyable!  This blog is meant to provide lots of other ideas to have fun reading, so I hope you’ll visit again soon!

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Posted by on March 23, 2013 in For Beginners


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