I’ve been reading a lot of books since a few years ago – I estimate on average about a book a week for the past few years. And I get asked a lot by my friends and colleagues who know about my reading habit on how I find these books to read. I thought I’d share my tips on how I find books to read below:
Good books refer to other books (I would estimate about 10% of the books I read are from other books)
In my experience, with the books that I read (mostly non-fiction), I find that authors are often referring or quoting from other books. When that happens, I take note of the other book and while it does not always interest me, I can look back at my notes to figure out what books to read next. But what if you are reading books that do not do that? Take a look at some great books, what I would call ‘index books’ – these include Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors and my future book on Essential Habits where I refer to numerous sources (not just books, courses and videos as well).
Book recommendations from friends (10% of the books I read are from friends)
Although not all of my friends do as much reading as I do, I get book recommendations from those that do read and I find that I am exposed to a lot of different books that I normally would not take a second glance at. For example, one of my friends recommended Educated by Tara Westover and while I haven’t yet picked it up, I do think I’ll take a look at some point in the future based on her recommendation. Don’t have friends that like reading? Join an online reading community and find a few people that have similar likes based on what you’ve liked before and then take a look at the other books that they have read that you may not have heard of.
Book recommendations from trusted sources (40% of the books I read are from trusted sources)
I would say that the majority of the books that I find / read are from trusted sources – these are authors, entrepreneurs or other successful individuals that I have followed for a long time, align with their philosophy and enjoy what they write about. These people include:
- Ryan Holiday – who has a monthly reading list
- Shane Parrish – who writes on the Farnham Street blog about making better decisions, improving your critical thinking and on the principles for success
- Seth Godin – who had summer reading lists but I think has stopped for a while
- Ramit Sethi – who has lots of great books / reading lists
- Derek Sivers – who posts book notes and rates his favourite books
Search of the library’s new books (25% of the books I read are found from the library)
Depending on where you live and what library you are a part of (and if you’re not part of a library, I would highly recommend it as it is a great source for not just books but courses, DVDs, video games and more – well, at least my library is). On my library site, I can see what books have been brought in recently and put them on hold. Then I wait for a bunch of books on hold to be at the library closest to me and then I pick them up all at once. Or sometimes I’ll just browse the local library’s non-fiction section – I mostly look for books in the health, food, business, entrepreneurship, marketing and relationship sections but sometimes other books will catch my eye. For example, on my recent trip to the library, I found the following books that caught my eye:
- The Art of Being Brilliant
- Dream Year
- Kiss that Frog
- The Millionaire Fastlane
- What I learned losing a million dollars
Best seller lists (5% of the books I read are from best seller lists)
I don’t normally like browsing through best seller lists – a lot of the books are ones that I have read previously or are popular in many lists and I like finding those gems that others recommend but not many have read. I do look through best seller lists from time to time, if only to get an idea of the pulse of what some of the most interesting people are reading. Some best seller lists that I browse from time to time:
- Bill Gates reading list
- Warren Buffett’s reading list
- Oprah’s reading list
- Obama’s reading list
Browsing used book sales (10% of the books are from used book stores / sales)
I’ve talked about it before – I really like browsing used books at bookstores or through book sales – it’s a lot of fun finding books that I have seen on best seller lists but never got around to reading or picking up at the library or seeing classic books that have been on best seller lists forever (for example, books by Dale Carnegie or Zig Ziglar) but are hard to pick up at the library. At a recent book sale, I managed to pick up some books by Edward de Bono who is someone that I had learned a lot about when I was younger who taught about lateral thinking and wrote several books with lateral thinking puzzles. As you read and think about different books on your ‘bucket’ list, you’ll be happily surprised when you find them in the used bookstores sitting on the shelf waiting for you.
I’m always looking for good books to read – let me know in the comments of a recent book that you found really interesting or that you think I would enjoy.