Keeping Up With The Penguins

Reviews For The Would-Be Booklover

How Do You Decide What To Read Next?

Like every other book-lover I know, I have a huge collection of books I’ve never read. My to-be-read list seems like an infinite loop; for every book I read, I seem to accumulate at least three more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hoarding books for vanity’s sake, I really do want to read them! But in the face of such an overwhelming number of options, how do you decide what to read next?

How Do You Decide What To Read Next? - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Random Selection

This is the most truly utilitarian way to decide what to read next: entering all of the contenders into a random selector, or putting them all on slips of paper and drawing them out of the hat. Of course, this takes all of the work out of deciding what to read next, which is a big upside for the (ahem) slightly lazy reader, but you do risk ending up with something you don’t “feel” like reading.

Chronologically by Deadline

If you’re a library user, or a reviewer of new releases, you’re lucky: the books you choose come with built-in deadlines. If you’ve got one book due for return or review in a week, and another due in a month, you can simply pick up the most urgent title. This method comes with a heavy hit of obligation, though, not to mention some gnawing guilt if you don’t quite make it.

A Book Bracket

This is probably the most fun way to decide what to read next! Say you have eight contenders, eight books you just can’t wait to read: put them in to a bracket and play them off against one another, until you find a winner. If it’s, say, Convenience Store Woman up against Daisy Jones And The Six, Convenience Store Woman comes out on top and proceeds to the next round to do battle with the winner of The Handmaid’s Tale and A Man Called Ove. Hey, if it’s good enough for sports tournaments, it’s good enough for bookworms!

Peer Pressure

If you decide to join a book club, participate in a read-along, or agree to a buddy read, there’s no need to decide what to read next – your choice is made for you! Yes, it’s peer pressure, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (despite what your high school health teacher might have taught you). It will lift the weight of decision-making off your shoulders, at least until your choice for book club rolls around…

Bonus: you could go by the calendar to choose what to read next. Pick up books by black authors during Black History Month, a book by a woman for International Women’s Day, queer reads for Pride – it’s a great way to feel connected to what’s going on in the world!

Shaking Things Up

I’m quite partial of deciding what to read next this way: deliberately choosing something completely different to your last read. If I’ve just finished something intensely literary, like Mrs Dalloway, I’m going to turn to something more fun, like The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project. If I’ve just sped through a great memoir, like Me Talk Pretty One Day, I’ll choose something next that I can take my time with, like Crime And Punishment. Choosing what to read next this way ensures you’ll never get bored, and you’ll never end up in a re-reading rut.

Book Flights

Okay, this is pretty much the complete opposite to the last suggestion, so pick whichever works best for you. A book flight involves reading a whole lot of books in a row on a similar topic or theme. So if you were, say, really “feeling” true crime at the moment, you might read The Arsonist, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, In Cold Blood, and Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered back-to-back. This method is probably best suited to the obsessive reader, the ones who love to grab on to an idea and not let it go until they’ve shaken it to death.

Go With “The Vibe”

Alright, this is probably the most popular – and most logical, for normal people – way to decide what to read next. Simply check your gut for what you “feel like” reading, and choose a book based on its vibe. I do this from time to time (granted, I scroll through my highly-organised spreadsheet until a title jumps out at me, it’s not exactly loosey-goosey), and it always seems to work out. If you truly don’t know what you feel like reading, then resort to one of the other ways of choosing what to read next, but if you have a strong instinct, you should go with it. You won’t regret it!

How do YOU choose what to read next? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I think I tend to vary between “shaking things up” and “book flights.” Either I’m done with the subject/mood/author I read about, and want something completely different, or I’m fascinated and want more of the same.

  2. Lol. I really enjoyed reading through this list. I do vacillate between whatever the wind blows and being highly organised. 😂🤣
    I was just thinking yesterday that I want to create some kind of low pressure way to work through my unread Kindle books.

    • ShereeKUWTP

      January 11, 2021 at 1:33 PM

      I’ve seen a few other bloggers doing Kindle clean-out challenges, where they go through everything on their Kindles and assess whether they’re really, honestly, truly going to read each title. That might be a good way to narrow it down, at least? I’m currently stock-taking my physical shelves (because I’m a die-hard paper-and-ink girl) and I’ve made a couple of cuts already 🙂

  3. I have used all of these except for Random Selection. Well, maybe I did that, but I randomly selected until I got a book that sounded nice. So… I don’t know how random that was.
    This was fun to think about!

  4. I find I do pick my books chronologically by deadline but I also like to shake things up. I get so quickly bored by the same genre over and over. I really like the idea of random selection and would love to be able to just grab any book off my shelf and read it but deadlines never seem to allow this.

    • ShereeKUWTP

      January 15, 2021 at 2:30 PM

      Sometimes I find myself reading like a demon, trying to get ahead so I can buy myself some time to go at things randomly 😅

  5. 2021 is definitely going to be a “Go with the Vibe” year for me. After the insanity of last year, I’m letting the {literary} wind take me where it will.

  6. I’m going to have to try the book bracket! Thanks for suggesting such a great method. Random Selection is the method used by the Classics Club in their ‘classics spin’ but landing on those titles you’re not really in the mood is a drag, and probably not doing the book a favour to enter with such a mindset.

    For me, it’s often coming across a book in somebody’s blog or IG feed and thinking, ‘Hey, I’ll have to read that one ASAP.’ And hopefully the wait from the library usually doesn’t take too long. Or else browsing second hand shop shelves for what pops out. Those methods have served me well over time.

    • ShereeKUWTP

      January 15, 2021 at 2:29 PM

      Sounds like a good system, Paula 😉 What do you do when you want to read them ALL though, hahahaha

  7. My heart wants to choose according to The Vibe but so often I end up choosing based on a deadline – book due back to the library, book club choice or something related to a reading event (like Aus reading month).

    I did come across an app you can use to randomly select the next book – I mentioned it in a post I did on this same question last year. I used the generator for all of three weeks but never liked the book it landed on. 🙂
    Here it is for future reference

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