• Where/How Do You Find New Books to Read?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 28 comments



    Discussion questions: Where and how do you find new books to read? And what are you reading now? Do you have any new titles to recommend?




    I once lived forty minutes, on a good traffic day, from the nearest bookstore. For some extra salt in that wound, it was a Barnes & Noble. To be able to browse books was a rare, and not terribly fulfilling, event.

    Within a twelve-block radius of WBN HQ are six bookstores, five of them not Barnes & Noble. I can browse books as often as I care to.

    Because of NYC’s lockdowns, for more than a year I was back to being unable to browse books in person. Coincidentally, though perhaps not entirely coincidentally, I had immense trouble reading anyway, so it didn’t affect me much.

    What it did do was make me think about the sources of my book choices, especially when cut off from one of those main sources. And I figured I’d write about it, because it’s a question I get a lot.

    And it’s a question I’m going to turn your way, because I always want to know how you operate:

    Where/How do you find books to read?

    Let me know below.


    Thankfully I’m on a podcast where some pals and I talk almost nothing but books, so that’s kind of a built-in recommendation system. (Catch our latest episode, a group read and discussion of Jane Eyre.) And I’m lucky enough to catch plenty of intriguing titles from other friends, not to mention from all of you fine WriteByNighters in this space and via email and conversation.

    For upcoming releases, I get a lot of promo emails and catalogues from publishers, and plenty of websites (such as The Millions) offer lists of interesting titles coming out in the future.

    For recent releases I may have missed, I’ll scan roundups of newspaper/magazine book reviews and read any that catch my eye or are written by critics I like. BookMarks at LitHub is great for that.

    Bookstore readings and similar events can alert you to more new titles. For example, if you live in Austin and like BookPeople, visit their events page or subscribe to their newsletter. And because so many bookstores are still hosting online-only events, you’re not limited by geography.

    That’s why this week we were able to watch WBNer Bridget Farr (password, including the exclamation point: BridgetFarr2021!) read from her new book, Margie Kelly Breaks the Dress Code, from 1,500+ miles away. (Here’s a clip from that reading where Bridget offers some good advice to aspiring writers.)

    I subscribe to the New York Review of Books and Bookforum, both of which are review publications but also run ad spreads featuring new books, where sometimes I’m pleased to catch a cover I already know, like in the current issue of NYRB, where WBNer Michael Jarvis’s novel The Path of the Tapir caught my eye.

    Those are the methods that come to mind. I find new books from these sources, I look into them a bit, and add them to my list. Then I sit back and watch that list grow out of control.

    Now it’s your turn! Where and how do you find new books to read? And what are you reading now? Do you have any new titles to recommend? Let’s talk about it below!


    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you reach your creative potential. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres. Browse our book coachingmanuscript consultationpublication assistance services, and sign up for your free writing consultation today.

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    WriteByNight writing coach and co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.



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    I am pretty serendipitous in finding books to read. My choices are driven by whatever is inspiring or disturbing me at the moment. So I am not generally concerned with new releases. My potential reads often come from my daily readings of blogs, vlogs, and news sites where books are often cited. Yak Babies discussions are also a good source for me (i.e., “Last Night at the Lobster,” “A Canticle for Leibowitz,” “Jane Eyre,” “Frankenstein”). Currently, I am reading “Jurassic Park,” because Amazon put the 25th anniversary edition on sale. Also, I’m doing a beta reading for a member of… Read more »


    World events are disturbing me now, stifling inspiration. But maybe prompting others in an attempt to cope. Like a recent hike with my son and associations with some nonfiction books that moved me: Wild Company and Fumbling. But getting through Jurassic Park is a bit of a struggle.


    That’s about right. Crichton also spends the first quarter of the book hinting that dinosaurs are alive in the world again. That gets long because dinosaurs alive is the premise of the book. Once it gets going, though, it is a good story. Not deep, though it presages current genetic engineering tech to an extent.

    Stephen Glick

    David, I am a reviewer for whore/murder mystery books through the Wisconsin writers Association I just did my first book the name of the book was all in by JP Morgan Jordan yeah it was good other than that I pretty much cruise the books for sale on eBay it is bought hundreds of books through that system the last book I bought was aDean Koontz book the Funhouse

    david lemke

    I rarely buy new books. From time to time a book get recommended and sounds compelling. It used to be we’d go to a book store to get it, but with Covid, and with us not leaving the house without serious need, I’d hunt for it on Amazon and usually buy a used copy. Before Covid, most of our book purchases were at 1/2 Price Books or at rummage sales, estate sales or library sales. Barn’s & Noble drove, all the local book stores we used to frequent, out of business. I rarely shop B&N. Before Covid, 1/2 Price Books… Read more »

    david lemke

    I tried to add an edit, but it denied me. Consider this a continuation: Back when I worked, I would listen to books on tape or CD. These came from 1/2 Price Books from their sales. A $50 audio book on sale would be $12.50 and if on clearance, a few dollars. What do we read? Patricia Cornwell- Scarpetta series, Preston and Child- Pendergast series, Anthony Bourdain, Allan Dean Foster- Pip and Flinx series, Peter F. Hamilton, Terry Pratchett, to name a few. I read all of David Weber’s Safehold series mostly in audio, but I’m waiting for him to… Read more »

    david lemke

    I’ve read two novels. watched untold “No Reservations” plus the just out movie “Roadrunner”. He writes like he talks, quite entertaining.

    david lemke

    1/2 PB is still in V. Richards Plaza. While I write some articles, my creative writing is very sporadic.

    Barbara Mealer

    I subscribe to several newsletter and Bookbub and I go to stores and look at give aways and what’s on sale. I’m one of those readers who read a lot of different genres. I love to read and get from the best to the worst.

    Barbara Mealer

    I’m reading Christopher Paolini’s “To sleep in a sea of stars”, and James Scott Bell’s MIke Romeo series (Love this character) I started a couple of indie novel and didn’t get past chapter two. Seems like no one told them to go through a get rid of the word ‘as’ or that yelled, spat, growled are not good dialogue tags.

    Elissa Malcohn

    These days I read ebooks almost exclusively, because they’re kinder to my carpal tunnel and my presbyopia. Consequently, my sources for books feature that format. My sources are: 1. The Brooklyn Public Library, where I hold a nonresident card, for which I pay $50/year. I grew up in Bklyn and the annual fee (less than Tampa’s!) gives me access to a formidable collection. 1a. My little county library, which usually does not have what I’m looking for but which sometimes pleasantly surprises me. (Our librarian is wonderful; however, the library must deal with economies of scale.) Overdrive, which lets me borrow ebooks from both libraries,… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    I had opened one PO Box, and for that one box they could warehouse up to 100 cardboard-boxes-fulla-books that I had mailed from Boston. Amazingly, the total fell short of 100, but not by much; the books were a mix of hardbound and paperback. I had spent my last month at my day job collecting empty paper ream boxes from their Duplicating department and gathering more boxes elsewhere; during that month (January) and February, I repeatedly piled our four-wheelie with as much as it would hold and schlepped it to our Boston PO until the snows came. (And came, and came.) Then my partner… Read more »


    It feels like I’m adding to my to-read list no matter what I’m doing, nowadays. I’m especially partial to The Guardian’s “books that made me” column. It seems authentic, as if they’re not really trying to sell me something, so I definitely pick up a lot of books to read from there. Podcasts are another major source of book recommendations, both directly (as in read more here/we used this book as a source) and indirectly, when after the pod’s over I’m googling for more information and find a promising-looking book on the topic. These books, clearly, are new to me… Read more »


    Tana French. I enjoy her writing and admire her popularity, and her recommendations seemed interesting. Actually, I’m kind of hoarding her recommendations, making sure to intersperse them with other books!
    The Guardian obviously interviews a wide range of authors, though, so almost any reader can find recommendations that will be of interest. https://www.theguardian.com/books/series/books-that-made-me


    Some of my reading, lately, has been historical research, and then I just rely on google, try to find reliable web sites and see what books they recommend. Mostly my book choices come from reading some online article that mentions the book. I have been off in my cloistered corners lately reading things about sheep, saints, and farmers, so probably not much of interest there to the group. I joined a church book club and just finished Bryan Massingale’s book on racism and the Catholic church, which was excellent but I am not sure too many people are dying to… Read more »


    replying to myself, but I just remembered that when buying the book for the book club I entered a bookstore for the first time in years, and I found that I did not enjoy browsing. This would be the first time that ever happened to me. Age? Internet overload? Too many books already, probably.


    Thanks, I will remember that title and use it for something. Yes, I read the first three letters, and they are great. I’m going to return this to the library and then buy it. I definitely recommend this book for people who are writing for children or to get in touch with the child inside who first fell in love with reading.


    Thrift shops mostly. I go by subject regardless of price, condition, word count, unless something is recommended to me in which case I may get it from a book-swapping site (site is down right now) and/or Ebay, Amazon, Etc. I also do yard sales, flea markets, antique and book shops.

    Edit: … and from libraries.

    Last edited 2 years ago by Seth

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