Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe: Selecting Your Next Leisure Read

Raise your hands, how many of you turn into a kid in a candy store when you walk into a bookstore? Now, how many of you believe the following statement to be true: “Despite the fact that I have a table, shelf, floor, etc., full of books I’ve purchased and have yet to read, I still need more?”

My own hand is way up because I love books (so typical of a librarian, I know). As a matter of fact, I’ve reached the point where if I’m purchasing a book as a gift, I have to repeatedly tell myself, “You’re going in for [insert book title] for [insert recipient] and THAT’S it, no looking around.”

This wasn’t always the case, however. While I was always a fan of reading, after high school, I was at a loss of what to read for leisure.

Sure, growing up my mom would take me to the library and I would grab a picture or small chapter book with the coolest cover; but, as I got older I realized the pretty cover did not always equal a book I would enjoy.

So, now that I no longer had the selection process of my younger self, nor did I have an English or Reading instructor telling me to read a particular title, how was I supposed to know what I should read next?

For a shamefully long while, I went without. I didn’t know where to start and I had plenty of other distractions, so I just let it go. It wasn’t until my older sister stumbled upon a little book about sparkly vampires.

That’s right, people, my first “read for leisure” discovery was none other than Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.

The book had just been released and the fandom was slowly building. We picked up a copy, took turns reading it, and just loved it. Lessons learned? I’m a sucker for Young Adult (YA) with paranormal elements and romance. I had a category to search for now!!


Time goes by, as it’s prone to do, and I’m hired as a Children’s Librarian at the McDonald Public Library (formerly known as Greenwood Public Library), a branch of the Corpus Christi Public Library. While working here, I was approached by a young lady around the age of 14 or 15. It was Spring Break and lo and behold, she was singing my tune.

She enjoyed reading and wanted to read for leisure but had never ventured beyond classroom assigned readings. Her question, “How do I even know where to begin?”

Excitedly, I showed her to our YA title and my questions began with, “What kind of themes do you enjoy?”

Unable to get a concrete answer, I tried again.

“What kind of movies do you like to watch?”

Boom, this is where I got her! She began telling me all about her favorite movies which leaned heavily towards fantasy. I then recommended Graceling by Kristin Cashore, which was a great story with a strong female lead and rich with fantasy.

The young lady checked out the book and went on her merry way. Less than two weeks later, she returned and excitedly told me that Graceling was spot on for her. She then happily ventured to the YA collection, searching for a similar book.

Linking movie preferences with book themes worked for her, but there are of course other ways to identify what to read next.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes tip. I am part of a small team that selects the Popular Reading titles for our collection here at the Bell Library. When I’m looking for popular titles, I have a few go-to resources.

I usually start my browsing with retailers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble to research their list of top books of the month. This allows me to see what titles have been high sellers or rated well. Naturally, I don’t limit my research to one source. I then jump to other sites like Goodreads and Kirkus Reviews to see other ratings and read reviews of the books.

Still, with the wonders of the internet, you have numerous other options.

Included are category reading lists that include topics like: a book based on true events, a book written by an author of color, a book that has a flower on the cover, etc. The Bell Library created a list like this for Winter break reading.

A quick Google search for “what to read next” pulls up a number of resources and websites that will assist you as well. As a matter of fact, there’s one site by Make Use Of (MUO) that has pulled together a list of “what to read next” resources.

So now I have to ask…what are you going to read next?   

Happy Reading!!


Popular Reading Options

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlo Ruiz Zafón

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

 Akira by Katsuhiro Ōtomo

Welcome to Neo-Tokyo, built on the ashes of a Tokyo annihilated by a blast of unknown origin that triggered World War III. The lives of two streetwise teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, change forever when paranormal abilities begin to waken in Tetsuo, making him a target for a shadowy agency that will stop at nothing to prevent another catastrophe like the one that leveled Tokyo. At the core of the agency’s motivation is a raw, all-consuming fear of an unthinkable, monstrous power known only as Akira.

 Jane and the Waterloo Map : Being a Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron

November, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy—dragging several of his brothers down with him. The crisis destroys Henry’s health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying. While she’s there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince’s fabulous London home. But her visit takes a startling turn when Jane  stumbles upon a body—sprawled on the carpet in the Regent’s library. The dying man utters a single failing phrase: “Waterloo map,” sending Jane on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerable cunning.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager. When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie, Jojo’s mother, packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy’s to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, “in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it.” Now it’s the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It’s chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now―her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl―but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed―and has not.

Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told. This is not that fairy tale. There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened. And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell. There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord, who wishes for the boy’s untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed.

The Outsider by Stephen King

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is discovered in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens—Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon have DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad. As the investigation expands and horrifying details begin to emerge, King’s story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.