There are a lot of books in the world, and it takes a while to read one, so I’ve come up with these guidelines to whittle down my options. These are my guidelines (not rules) that reflect my personal taste.

  • Go to Borders or Barnes and Noble, if you have good local bookstores go there, but I live in San Diego, so that’s not an option for me. Wander around until a book catches your eye. This is by far the weekest part of my process, since it leads me to read only books with good cover art. I guess it’s nice to have a book collection with good cover art for aesthetics in the home, but I don’t think it leads to reading the best books.
  • Check the length, more important for fiction than non-fiction. I have often said that no story cannot be told better in under 300 pages than over. If you like writers who go into endless detail and frequently get off point, you might want to go for shorter books instead.
  • Is the author a woman? If so put the book down! I don’t do this based on any sort of opinions about the inherent writing ability of men and women, but because years ago I realized my favorite books were all written by men, and furthermore couldn’t think of a book I really like that was written by a women. If I had to throw one out I’d say Harry Potter, and that wouldn’t make my top 100.
  • Ignore the quotes about how good the book is. Every book is recommended by someone, and it doesn’t mean anything one way or the other. Sometimes I’ll see one from an author I like, these can be misleading. Just because someone writes books your into doesn’t mean he reads books you’ll be into. I especially stay clear of comparisons to authors I like. A lot of dudes get compared to Kurt Vonnegut these days, I have yet to read a book were the comparison is apt. The exception to this rule is a book recommended by Oprah, I won’t read those, even though they often look like very good books.
  • Now I’ve decided if I’d like to read the book or not, at this point you can go buy it like a sucker (you probably have a job too, chump). I usually take a picture of the cover with my phone to remember it and then go see if I can get it from the library. If I’m not in need of reading material at the moment I’ll save it on my amazon wish list for future reference.

Now that I’ve got them written down, I’m not sure if I’d really recommend the use of these guidelines by anyone, but there you go.