The agony and the ecstasy of finishing a great book leads to the ultimate dilemma for a bookworm. What to read next? There are many opinions on how to approach your next read. So, let’s dive in!
The Rebound Book
Some book nerds find their next read just like you would treat finding your next date after coming out of a passionate but now defunct relationship. Two words. Rebound book.
What do I mean? A book that is not at all like the book you just finished. It’s opposite genre, for instance. An example might help. Let’s say that you just finished a steamy romance novel and it hit all the marks with a luscious setting, hunky hero, smart and sassy heroine and the happily ever after. Nothing will even come close to it if you try to continue in the romance genre.
My recommendation is to go in another direction and read something non-fiction. For instance, Upstairs at the White House by J.B. West. This isn’t just any non-fiction. This is a memoir from the chief usher of the most famous house in the U.S.!
It’s a really great transition book because there is drama and a pretty extravagant setting in the real-life stories of significant figures in politics. You can’t go wrong. You’ll be thoroughly entertained by the behind-the-scenes anecdotes and before you know it, you’re ready to head back to romance after this brief detour off your usual route.
A Series or Collection by a Prolific Author
Nothing comforts me more after mourning the loss of my last read than knowing that once I commit to my next book (or author), we’re going to spend a lot of time together. Let’s face it. When you start a new book, you’re investing your time and energy into characters, a story or world and even the author’s style. It would be nice to know that your investment was going to pay off in dividends.
I have actually scouted out several series that I can start and stay in for quite a while before having to pick a new book. (Wait. Maybe this is just another way that I procrastinate.) Either way, a series or collection of non-related works by an author can be the way to go when you don’t want to think about what to read next for a few, good months!
Look at the prolific work of Octavia Butler. Butler has written works that are hard to categorize given her well-crafted weaving of science fiction, fantasy and literature. One could read Parable of a Sower and then go right on to the sequel. Then, relish in all the other works that Butler produced. Not only are you on automatic pilot for a while but you get exquisite storytelling from an author who eerily predicted the ways that climate change and social injustice will affect mankind.
There’s No School Like the Old School
Too overwhelmed to research a series? Don’t even have the energy to wade through all the bestseller lists? Go old school. Go classic. Grab an old tome that has stood the test of time and dig in. I mean, classics are still around for a reason! Classics are readily available, too. They often don’t require adding your name to a waiting list at the library and some are free to download on an e-reader. But don’t let their easy access and low-price tag scare you. Like I said, they have staying power and that power usually tends to revolve around very universal life themes!
Related: 10 Most Popular Books of All Time
I know what you’re thinking. “I don’t want to go back to those books I was forced to read about in CliffsNotes (or SparkNotes) in high school.” I see you. Good news! You don’t have to stick with the stuffy, traditional classics. You can kick it old school with classics from around the world.
Bet you’ve never heard of Monkey by Wu Ch'êng-ên? Right? Written in the 1500s (yes, those 1500s), this ancient Asian work follows a naughty monkey on his adventures where he meets a plethora of mythological creatures. See? Classics don’t have to be boring. This one might just make you laugh out loud. So, check out some new-to-you classics and you’ll have the most impressive topics for small talk at your next party!
As Seen on TV
Many of us are highly suggestible, which means that we are easily influenced by the events, people and messaging around us. This influence may even come from a bingeworthy series released on a Netflix. (The Queen's Gambit, anyone?)
Anyway, you may have noticed that Emily Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend quartet has been adapted as a series. Getting to know the luscious Italian vistas and fierce friendship of the main characters makes it difficult to say goodbye when you’ve finished the last episode. But it doesn’t have to end there! Think of all the details that are in the books that couldn’t be included in the series. Reading My Brilliant Friend is a chance to re-connect with old friends while getting to know them on a deeper level.
Indeed, it would seem that without books, we wouldn’t have anything to watch on the big or small screen given the number of adaptations there are to choose from.
Plus, if you don’t want to read the “based on the book” itself, you can still use what you are drawn to watching as a guide for what your next book should be about. Moody teens living at the beach on the East Coast, high society in Britain, or regular people trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. Think of the screen as filtering out the subgenre you should read next!
The Mood Ring Technique
Now, if you’re like me, you actually have plenty of books to choose from at any given moment. You know the books that you couldn’t walk out of the bookstore without because of all the buzz they were getting, but haven’t gotten around to yet because you weren’t in the right mood for them? You know what I mean! You can’t very well grab a somber book about a man picking up the pieces of his life after losing his family in a plane crash when you’re going to the beach for the weekend. Just doesn’t feel right.
This takes a little reflection, so give yourself a minute. Feel the mood you’re in. A little blue, perhaps? Do you want to wallow in it or turn it around? Feeling festive? Is there a holiday or event, like a friend’s destination wedding, that can set the tone? These answers can usually point you in the right direction.
But, if you just can’t pin down your mood, you may want to pick a book with a main character who is trying to understand themselves or something about this thing we call life. (Tip of the hat to Prince.)
Why? Because this type of narrative tends to have all the feels. This could be fiction or non-fiction. Take for instance, Sound by Bella Bathurst. Here is the true story of a woman who lost her hearing and learned to live without it. Later, she was able to recover her hearing but not without having learned many great lessons while navigating relationships and the world without sound. She breaks down both the science and the emotional upheaval of losing something that we all pretty much take for granted. See? Something for every mood: despair, loss, hope, elation, thirst for knowledge, etc.
So, don’t fret after you finish the last page of the novel that you think can never be outdone by any other book on earth! There is always a way to move forward with what to read next. You just have to grab a book and start reading.
Related: To Re-Read or Not to Re-Read?
Featured photo: Attentie Attentie / Unsplash