How do you find and choose good books to read?

There are many outstanding books out there! My toughest question isn’t only to identify which ones I want to read, but also when and in which order to read them. If I have more time, that’s easy. But if I have a crazy schedule, it takes some negotiating with myself. Regardless of how busy my day gets, my goal is to always schedule in an hour in the evening (at least) or else during an afternoon break to get away and spend some time by myself.

Now for the selection process. Here are a few guidelines I use to select which books to read:

  • Getting recommendations from a friend who is a published writer and has an excellent reading track record. This means years of serious reading, discovering interesting writers from all over the world, and going in depth with those whose writing style commands respect and a unique perspective on life and the human psyche.
  • Picks from GoodreadsWhat a great app for reviews, summaries, and keeping track of what you’re reading and want to read! I’ve found that skimming the reviews gives me a good idea of what to expect, especially when the review comes from someone who takes the time to explain the book in detail.
  • Going by mood and geography: I’ve noticed that I sometimes have a pattern in picking one continent, then zooming into one specific region. For example:
    • Africa: Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana
    • Europe: Italy, France, Czech Republic, Norway, Sweden
    • Asia: India, Japan
  • Letting one good book lead the way: discovering one author, then getting everything they’ve written: for example, this happened when I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s  AmericanahI had to immediately get Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, even the tiny and less known We Should All Be Feminists.
  • Going deep into the brilliant mind of one particular author: because of the way they describe how human beings think and feel and because of their unwavering love for one country. I have tremendous respect for these two writers whose books and inner worlds just blow my mind:
  • Reading Nobel Prize winners: For the timeless quality of writing. Recently from the contemporaries it’s been:
  • Going back to the classics: because in their work there is something that applies to all of us, even to this day. I am amazed how well many of them portrayed the human spirit, our struggles, our passions, and the thoughts that keep us up at night. It’s a diverse range of what I consider the classics; this group might include:
    • the Sufi mystic poet Rumi
    • the Stoic philosopher Seneca
  • Picking non-fiction books based on my personal interests: lately I’ve been exploring in depth the topics of mastery, mindset, and the hero’s journey:
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