So, you’ve decided what to give your booklover this year: a book. Simple, right? Well, once you get to the bookstore-or browse your favorite book Web site-you’ll realize how difficult it can be to pick out the perfect book. Options abound. How do you narrow down the choices? By following these five suggestions, you’ll become better adept at selecting the best book possible for your bibliophile.
1. Find out which genre they love
Start simple. Think about what kinds of books they like. Are they a political junkie? Or do they love everything sci-fi? Of course, this tip doesn’t narrow down the choices all that much, does it? To narrow your choices further, think about genres within genres. If they love politics, do they love books on globalization or on presidential campaigns? Do they have to own the latest space adventure or do they collect dystopian novels? Narrow down their favorite genre as much as possible until you find the right book.
2. Find out which series (or author) they’re obsessed with
If you know which series or author they adore, you’ll have an easier time. Look up if the latest installment is out in the series or if the author has published anything lately. If there’s nothing recent, be careful. They might already have the book.
If you suspect or know they already have every book in the series, think about what’s unique about that series or author. Find other vampire romance novels for your Twilight-obsessed friend. Locate another best-selling historian that writes on American history for your David McCullough aficionado.
3. Take advantage of book-finding Web sites
Okay, so maybe you know their favorite series, authors, and genres, but you’re having trouble figuring out how to find similar works. You can browse Web sites that are dedicated to giving its users suggestions and ideas. “What Should I Read Next” is one such site. Simply go to the site at http://www.whatshouldireadnext.com/search, and the first screen that appears should have two fields: Title and author. Type in their favorite and hit the button. A list of suggestions will pop up for your perusal.
Another site called, “Shelfari,” (found at http://www.shelfari.com/) is a social networking book site that allows you to create a virtual bookshelf that you can share with friends. It also has an option to “discover new books,” which tells you the top books in each genre. Registration, however, is required.
4. Think about their interests
But what if you’re completely stumped? You don’t know even what to put into a book search engine. You know they like reading but have no clue what their favorite books are.
In this case, think about their hobbies, activities, or favorite television shows and movies. Do they love baseball? Sewing? Cooking? Watching gritty crime shows? Find a book that ties in with their interests.
5. Browse Amazon.com
But how do you know if the book you choose is any good? There’s a ton of mediocre books out there. A trick I use all the time is to go on Amazon. Go to the book department and type in the title you’re thinking about buying. Press enter, click on the correct title, and scroll down to “Customer Reviews.” Click on “1 star” (which should be directly below the “Customer Reviews” heading).
What’s the point? Well, people gush about books all the time. To get more honest evaluations, look at the viewpoints of people who did not like the book. Evaluate them. Throw out reviews like “this book is so boring” and “OMG, i wanna brn ths dmb book my hs techer mde me read it.” Do the reviewers offer cogent points? Do you think the same problems that bothered these reviewers will bother your friend? If so, you may want to pick out another book.
Of course, you can always rely on gift cards. But if you want a more personal gift, these five tips will hopefully help you pick out the right book for your friends or family.