Wondering What Book To Read Next?
Whether you’re an avid reader or someone who would like to read more, deciding what book to read next can be a challenge, particularly when you consider the overwhelming choice of titles available.
Back in 2010, Google Books did a count of the number of books that had been published since the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in 1440. The figure was an astonishing 129,864,880 . And when you consider that, on average, an estimated 2.2 million new book titles are published worldwide each year , that’s a lot of books to choose from!
Where To Begin?
You may already have a favourite literary genre, but an exploration of books outside of your habitual preference can offer up some great new reads. If you’re not a regular reader and are wondering what genres you might like, here are a few of the broader ones, however, these break down into numerous sub-genres, so there really is something for everyone:
- Children’s – it isn’t necessary to be a child to read and enjoy children’s literature – just look at the success of Harry Potter!
- Classic – “Classic literature is a collective term for works of literature that transcend time and culture to have a universal appeal.”  This includes anything from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales from the 14th century to the early 19th century novels of Jane Austen and 20th-century works of authors such as George Orwell, Harper Lee, Maya Angelou, and even Agatha Christie
- Historic – this is typically a novel set at a certain time in history. Examples are Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel about the rise to power of Oliver Cromwell; Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution; Beloved by Toni Morrison, a story of a family of formerly enslaved people and set after the American Civil War.
- Action and adventure – this usually involves the main character going on an epic personal or geographical journey. Examples include The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum.
- Crime and mystery – from anything by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle to Umberto Eco’s The Name of Rose, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl on the Train by Paula Harris.
- Fantasy – this is a genre that has gained popularity over the last few years thanks to the release of film versions of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the TV adaptation of the Game of Thrones books by George RR Martin.
The examples given above don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the wealth of books or even genres available. To decide what your next – or first – choice of book to read might be, whether fact or fiction, consider what interests you in other aspects of your life. For example:
- Are you interested in sports? Perhaps a sportsperson’s biography or autobiography might be worth a look, or maybe a novel based around sports such as Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, or The Horsewoman, by James Patterson and Mike Lupica, released in January 2022.
- Do you enjoy travel? Think about places you have visited and look into books written about them or perhaps written by people from there. It’s a great way to build an understanding of different countries and cultures.
- Is history your thing? Whether you choose to read factual books about history, a piece of classic literature written 200 hundred years ago, or a novel by a modern-day author based on or around a particular time or event in history, the choice is endless.
- Do you love animals? This genre offers up a wealth of titles from scientific books to wildlife photography books; from novels such as White Fang by Jack London to George Orwell’s Animal Farm; and from Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox to Paddington Bear and Winnie the Pooh.
For a more personal touch, some of the best avenues to explore for inspiration, and advice, about what to read include:
- Your local library – libraries are a rich source of information and titles and with knowledgeable staff on hand to offer advice and guidance. Plus, you can borrow books to read without needing to spend a penny.
- Your local bookshop – the people who work in bookshops are usually avid readers and can be incredibly knowledgeable about the latest titles to be published or classics that have been around for decades.
- Book clubs – book clubs, whether online or in person, have grown in popularity over recent years. They are great for encouraging members to read books they might not otherwise consider.
- Ask friends and family – people who read are often happy to share what they have – or haven’t – enjoyed reading.
Online resources can also be useful. In its own words, “Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Our mission is to help people find and share books they love”. Whichbook uses algorithms to help narrow down your search via ‘mood and emotion’, ‘world map’. ‘character and plot’, ‘bestsellers’ and more.
Whatever you decide to read next, bear in mind the words of library science educator Betty Rosenberg: “Never apologise for your reading taste.”
Print or Digital?
The final question to perhaps ask yourself is ‘physical or digital?’. Despite expectations in the early 2010s that e-books would spell the end of printed books, this hasn’t come to pass and the number of people opting for digital books over physical has stabilised at around 20% with the vast majority of readers, including millennials and GenZ, preferring to read their books in print. 
Did you know that as trees grow, they act as a carbon sink and absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) into their biomass? This CO2 is then locked away into the wood fibres and is contained throughout the lifecycle of the product. This means the books on your shelf still contain some of the CO2 captured from the atmosphere. What’s more, as books are long-lasting items and are rarely thrown away/recycled, this results in the CO2 being stored away for a very long time. Even if you do choose to recycle an old book, you can rest assured that paper is one of the most recycled materials in Europe with a recycling rate of 74%.
It’s also important to consider that digital devices have environmental impacts. Businesses and individuals are increasingly using ‘cloud’ services. These mega data centres store almost everything we do online and require large amounts of energy to power. What’s more, the raw materials from digital equipment, servers and power generators are often finite, precious and non-renewable, as well as being notoriously difficult to recycle.