"What book should I read next?" This is a question I am forever being asked by my friends. I always help as best I can, but I find myself repeating the same advice over and over.
In order to save time, I have collected the most popular book-selection methods and am presenting them here. Some of these methods are mutually exclusive with other methods, some work well when combined with other methods. Experiment, mix, match. I hope you find them useful.
Caveat emptor: The methods of choosing a book may involve significant bodily damage and some amount of morte del libro. Use at your and your books' own risk.
Theory: The publisher would never have given such a great cover to a book that didn't deserve it.
Theory: The publisher would never have given such an awful cover to a book unless the book was so good that it could support its skin-deep putridness.
When you're ready to start a new book, get several from each shelf until you have a big armload of books. Carry this armload to the top of a stairway and then throw them all down the stairs. The book which travels the least distance down the stairs is the one to read.
Theory: That book is the one that most wants to be by your side and so it deserves to be read first.
When you're ready to start a new book, get several from each shelf until you have a big armload of books. Carry this armload to the top of a stairway and then throw them all down the stairs. The book which travels the most distance down the stairs is the one to read.
Theory: That book is far too eager to get away from you and you'd better subdue it and read it now before it escapes.
When you're ready to start a new book, turn on the ceiling fan to a medium speed and get a big armload of books. Carry this armload underneath the ceiling fan and sit on the floor. One at a time, throw the books upwards with enough force that they can pass above the fan. Continue to do this until a book passes between the fan blades without touching the fan going up or coming down. That is the book you will read.
Theory: Only an agile and dextrous book -- a book which is worthy of your agile and dextrous mind -- will be able to avoid the blades of death twice in such a short period of time.
Additional Benefit: This method helps weed out the plodding, slow, dull books from your to-be-read pile. These slow-moving books will be slapped around by the fan time after time, until they are destroyed. You may discard them without qualms, knowing you have rid the world of an undeserving book.
Warning: You might want to wear a protective helmet when using this selection method.
Theory: A publisher would never have allowed an author to use so many pages unless the book was really good. Every paragraph, every sentence, every word is guaranteed to be of highest quality and essential to the book.
Additional Benefit: Big books make the mindless masses think you're smart. Consequently, they often give you their money out of gratitude for all the wondrous things you're undoubtedly doing to make the world a better place.
Warning: Watch out for hernias.
Theory: The author must be an incredible writer in order to write a book in such a limited amount of space.
Additional Benefit: Since the only measure that really matters is the number of books read in a year, this helps keep your count high.
Calculate the ADQ (Archimedean Dousing Quotient). This is found by: ADQ = (W2 - W1) + Dpl
The book with the highest ADQ is the next book to read.
Theory: The ADQ calculates book density and water retention. The higher a book's density, the more ideas it holds. The higher a book's water retention, the more its ideas can hold water. Also, higher quality materials allow for higher water and idea retention, so a higher ADQ also indicates a greater degree of craftsmanship in the creation of the physical book.
Theory: Expensive books are obviously better than cheap books.
Theory: If the unusual name is truly the author's name, they have a much richer life having had to deal with that name than the author with a common, every-day name. If the unusual name is not the author's name, then it's clear that author has a better imagination than the author with a common, every-day name. In either case, here two names that prove this theory: J.R.R. Tolkien and Dan Brown.
Theory: Since no reader pays any attention to recommendations and review quotes that are printed on the book itself, the publisher is clearly trying to hide something by including such things. Whether the page count is being bulked up to make the book look thicker, whether the quotes are trying to give a faux legitimacy to the book, you know that something isn't quite right. Quotes from other authors count double because you know they're only giving these comments as part of a contractual obligation or are merely trading quotes amongst themselves.
Theory: The more people the author thanks has a direct relation to how new they are to the field. Why waste your time on books by inexperienced writers?
Theory: The fewer people the author thanks has an inverse relation to the author's arrogance and marketpower. The more arrogant and marketpowerful a writer, the less a book gets the essential editing it needs to make it a high-quality book. Why waste your time on poorly edited books by arrogant writers?
Theory: There is no reason to waste money on editing, paper, production costs, and shipping fees on preview chapters unless the publisher has something to hide. The most likely problem a preview chapter is masking is a book that is too small to otherwise justify publication.
The Ludlum Triumvirate is the method of giving a title to a book. It consists of the following rules:
Theory: This is a tried-and-true method of naming books. A very high
proportion of books named according to The Ludlum Triumvirate have sold very
well. If a book sells well, then it is guaranteed to be a good book.