The secret method for finding the best books: 4 steps to never have a bad reading experience again

Image 1. Book store (Accetturo, 2016).

Did you ever have a bad reading experience because of an impulsive purchase at a book store or market? So did I. As an Italian who was born and raised in Germany I had little contact with English books, so when I was 18 and went to Canada I eventually found myself in a book store and bought my first book in English language. I cannot even remember the title but I remember that I stopped reading it halfway. What a waste of money and time. It took me a couple of years to learn about the wisdom of the crowds (Prediction, n.d.). What it is? Take the average of all the entries in a guess and you will have an amazingly accurate result of the real answer. This means that the average judgement converges on the right solution (Wisdom of the crowd: The myths and realities, n.d.). By using the wisdom of the crowds, I found a secret method to find the best books in any category to never have a bad reading experience again. Follow the next four steps and forget the days of having an unsatisfied reading experience.

1. Know yourself and your reading interests

It does not make sense to read about the secret when you do not know yourself. What do you like to read about? Personally, I am broadly interested but I am especially enthusiastic about business, literature, philosophy, psychology, relationships, and spirituality (buddhism, meditation, et cetera). However, that does not mean that I would like to work as a philosopher, psychologist, or engage in spiritual work. Those are the subject I find interesting and consider reading about. I researched on Amazon and Wikipedia all the available subject categories and marked the ones I found most interesting for further research. It took me a lot of time but finally it increased my confidence of what I am interested in and in what not. However, be aware that your interests will change as time passes. People change and develop according to their different life stages; in each stage people consume different information. By listening to your intuition you will figure out what interests you right now.

2. Search the best book in your category

After you know the categories you are most interested in, use Amazon or Goodreads to find the best books, which in my opinion are books with the highest ranking and best user reviews. Remember, the profile of people who review is highly sophisticated, following their judgement does not sound like a bad idea to me. After you spotted the best books, use your intuition to select one that fits best to your interest. For example, my choice in the business & money category on Amazon is Stephen R. Covey’s book „The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“. It currently has 4.500 user reviews with 84 percent of users giving a four or five star rating.

3. Use Amazon and Goodreads to find related books

Once you made your choice go to Amazon and down to the section where you see what other customers bought: the access point to the wisdom of the crowd. Other people who read your selected book read other books similar to the one you selected. Since I chose Stephen R. Covey’s book, Amazon showed me that other people bought and read Dale Carnegie’s book „How to Win Friends & Influence People“, Napoleon Hill’s book „Think and Grow Rich“, and more similar highly ranked books in the same category. Additionally, I checked Stephen R. Covey’s book on Goodreads and researched most of the lists in which the book is included (Covey, n.d.)

Soon you will gain a deep and broad overview over the best books in your selected category. Buy any of these books and you will have a very high chance of finding it as valuable and readable as the hundreds of thousands of people who had the same experience. Furthermore, you will become enormously fast an expert. By consuming the best information in your field of interest, you will pick up the used industry jargon and learn to speak and think in the same language as experts do – often a perquisite for participating at round-table discussions.

This secret method even works in the category of literature. I had a discussion with a literature student while being in Amsterdam and he was impressed that I, being a business enthusiast, knew about Albert Camus, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, or Oscar Wilde. Well, thanks to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and Otis Chandler, founder of Goodreads. Nevertheless, be warned that it takes a lot of time and skills to understand the interrelatedness between the many rankings, reviews, and book lists.

4. Create an account with Goodreads and stay up to date

Lastly, sign up on Goodreads and keep an eye on what is trending, you do not want to miss the next best-seller in your favorite category. Since using the combination of Amazon and Goodreads I came across hundreds of great books and created a long reading list. Today I do not buy anymore on impulse just because of a great cover design or an interesting blurb (the description on the back of a book), I use the wisdom of the crowds and forgot about the days of having a bad reading experience.

References

Covey, S. R. (n.d.). Lists That Contain The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://www.goodreads.com/list/book/36072

Pj Accetturo. (December 7, 2016). Book store. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://unsplash.com/search/pills?photo=nss2eRzQwgw

Prediction. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0137xfr

Wisdom of the crowd: The myths and realities. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140708-when-crowd-wisdom-goes-wrong

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