Finding a good book for your next vacation or business trip is simple. Wander the aisles of your local bookstore until a catchy title or alluring book jacket grabs your attention, right? Ah, but hours later, settled into your coach airplane seat, wedged between a chatty grandmother and a snoring co-worker, your hope for distraction wanes quickly in the first few pages. Wearied by inane dialogue, impossible plot twists, and clunky writing, you’re scanning the Sky Mall catalog before the wheels come up.
Here are five tried and true methods to find your next good book:
- Prize winners. Not everyone will agree, but prize winners are well-written. They have interesting or well-developed characters and a strong plot, or present an idea from a new perspective. Try Pulitzer, Man Booker, National Book Award, and the National Book Critics to start.
- Book club lists. These books are often newer releases. Some book clubs discuss classic literature and prize winners, but tell an engaging story. Some books are printed exclusively for clubs, so there are discussion guides in the back of the book. Check your local library or bookstore for book club lists, or try Nashville Book Readers or an online community like Litlovers.
- Bestseller lists. Again, these are more likely to be new releases, although there may be an occasional reprint of a classic that has been re-released for a movie version. Whether a best seller is a book for you depends on your own taste-just because a lot of other people bought it, doesn’t mean you’ll like it. If you’re not into vampire lit, you won’t like New Moon no matter how many other people did. The New York Times is probably one of the best known bestseller lists, but check out the local bestsellers at Davis-Kidd, too.
- School reading lists. That’s right–books that are recommended by your 11th grade English teacher are still classics. You didn’t read them then, so why not read them now? You’ll be surprised how good they are.
- Recommendations by others. Read blogs, look at customer reviews on online bookstore websites, ask what your local bookstore staff recommends, or ask your librarian for recommendations based on books you’ve liked in the past. Try The Nashville Great Books Discussion Group blog or Catsandabook for local reviews.
With the right choice of reading material and a package of peanuts, your three-hour flight will pass quickly and you’ll find yourself looking forward to the flight home.
If you enjoyed this article, click Subscribe to receive alerts when a new Friday Five article is available.