Bookish Musings: How Do You Decide What to Read?

I often have a hard time deciding what to read because I'm just very indecisive in general. But somehow I manage, or I wouldn't ever actually read anything, haha.

I always think it's fun though to learn about other people's reading habits, who's a mood reader, who sticks to a schedule, how you factor in reading challenges, if you have system, etc., so I thought this would make for a fun discussion topic!

I'll start with my answer, then you join in with yours :-)

The easiest time for me to decide what to read next is when I get an ARC or review copy. I don’t get a whole lot, so I always make those my priority and read them right away. But all the rest of the time…

I’m 100% a mood reader.

I’m not sure exactly how everyone else defines the term “mood reader,” but, for me, it’s not about my actual emotional moods at all. It’s just my reading mood, as in, what I feel like reading.

For anyone who’s never experienced this, you know how sometimes you feel like having chicken for dinner and other times you feel like lasagna? Well that’s exactly what it’s like. Except with genres and moods and supernatural creature types and whatever other ways you can classify a book. Or it could be just a specific book I feel like, for no apparent reason. Sometimes I might feel like reading a paranormal romance with vampires. Other times I might feel like reading something dark. Other times I might get overwhelmed by too much dark and intense stuff and need something light and fluffy to cleanse my palette. Right now I’m on a bit of a historical fantasy kick, but who knows when that’ll suddenly change.

Even while I’m reading a book, I have no clue what I’m going to read next.

The worst though is when I don’t know what I feel like. Those are the days I think to myself, I could read this since I’ve been wanting to for a while… or I could read that… or maybe I could start this series… and then I spend the day staring at my books and debating rather than actually reading anything.

So no schedules for me. No systems either. And this is probably one of the reasons reading challenges stress me out.

In a way, it’s a curse, because when I don’t know what I feel like reading, I might pick something I’m not in the mood for and end up liking it less for no good reason, and I’ll go through whole phases where nothing is quite satisfying. But I wouldn’t change it because I think it might also make me like books more when I am in the right mood for them, and it’s just who I am šŸ™‚


Talk to me!

How do you decide what to read next?
Are you a mood reader like me, or do you have a schedule/system?
How do you factor in your reading challenges?


Your Thoughts


30 thoughts on “Bookish Musings: How Do You Decide What to Read?

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  1. Bookworm Brandee

    I go about it in a very scientific way, Kristen. No, I don’t…not at all! šŸ˜€ I do try to get review books read first – I usually order them by release date or review date. Otherwise, I read by mood – whatever I feel like reading at the time. Even with my challenges – those that required me to make a list of what I’ll read – I choose from that list based on what I’m in the mood for. I keep a collection/shelf on my ereaders with certain books earmarked for challenges – and again, pick based on my mood. I love reading this way. It’s much more fun to pick than to be told I *have* to read something. šŸ˜‰
    Fun post!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol, so we are alike in our reading! I’ve started doing something kind of similar to what you described. I have made a list of books/series that I want to read sooner rather than later, for various different reasons, but from that list I’ve been choosing based on mood. And I’m not being strict about it, so if I feel like straying from the list, I do. I agree, this is only way reading is enjoyable to me, and that’s why I read, to enjoy it, you know? Thanks for joining the discussion!

  2. Daniela Ark

    I used to be like you Kristen, a mood reader šŸ™‚ I used to read literally anything šŸ™‚
    I started blogging last year so I had to write more and see if that kept me motivated to finish my novel .
    So since the blog is focused on dystopian/apocalyptic fantasy/sci-fi that narrowed it for me.
    I do get bored sometimes, but I’m trying to stick to it. šŸ™‚
    I had a miles long Goodreads TBR list [300ish books] that made it almost impossible for met o decide what to read next LOL. So, I cleaned it in January and left only dystopian/apocalyptic books, with the exception of a couple of fantasy books I really wanted to read
    Now I only have only about 60 books in my Goodreads “I want to read” shelf
    For this year I made the resolution to stick to that list and only add a new book when I finish one. When it comes to pick a new one I try to see if a moving or new release in the series is coming up.
    I think I told you I’m very ADD so I’m usually reading 3 or 4 books at the same time LOL

    1. Kristen Burns

      Hahaha, ok, you read mostly dystopian/apoc, yet you’re writing an urban fantasy book, and I read mostly urban fantasy, yet I’m writing a dystopian book. Well, at least we can read each others’ books!

      I couldn’t do things the way you do though. I don’t worry about sticking to a certain genre on the blog, though it still ends up being almost entirely sci-fi/fantasy since that’s what I like the most. I mean, a narrow focus is probably better for getting followers, ARCs, etc., but it would make reading too unenjoyable for me. Reading four books at a time would just make it even harder for me to focus though lol. I have enough trouble focusing on one!

    1. Kristen Burns

      So you’re like me when it comes to choosing books šŸ™‚ My TBR is really just a list of books that caught my interest, but it has no real order or priority to it. Thanks for joining the discussion!

  3. Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    I used to be a mood reader, but I feel like nowadays (especially in the past 2 months) I’ve become stricter with my reads…which worries me that I’ll put myself in a slump. In my blogging calendar, I put a list of books I want to read that month, both ARCs and my own books. I’ve also been attempting to whittle my TBR down by hosted Amber Reads Her Shelves where people tell me what to read! So far it hasn’t let me down!

    1. Kristen Burns

      That would definitely put me in a slump, but that’s good that it’s working for you šŸ™‚ I could never let other people choose my next read because, by the time I got to it, my mood would change and I’d either read it and hate it or just not read it and annoy everyone who voted lol.

  4. Blaise

    I have a system when it comes to my books; it’s an adapted form of a TBR jar system that I posted about on my blog waaaay early on. Essentially, I narrow down my choices with the jars and HAVE to pick from those titles or not read anything new. It gets me to read books I might forget otherwise.

    However, with the smaller TBR for #TheProject, it’s been a mix of “what sounds good right now?” and asking for recommendations on Twitter. They’re specific books that I need to prioritize, like you do with your ARCs, though for entirely different reasons xD

    1. Kristen Burns

      TBR jars sound like such a fun idea, but they just wouldn’t be for me. I’d be that person picking one and being like, “Nope, I’m gonna try again,” and then continuing to pick until I came across something I wanted, which would defeat the whole purpose lol.

      I don’t know what #TheProject is though? I’m very out of the loop sometimes. But I can definitely understand giving certain books priority, for whatever reason šŸ™‚

  5. Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    This is such a great post Kristen! I usually decide what I’m going to read next by how excited I am for it. If there’s a book that has an awesome summary or is really hyped in the blogosphere, I make those my priority, and then I just kind of move down the pile. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous discussion!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! If I suddenly find a book that I’m super excited for, I’ll read it immediately, even though I’ve other books sitting around for months lol, so going by what you’re excited for makes complete sense. And it is fun to read the things that are really hyped because then you get to talk about them with everyone šŸ™‚ Thanks for joining in!

  6. Greg

    I’m a mood reader although I usually have a sense of what I’m going to read next. And yeah sometimes I’m not in the mood for the “next” one. Then who knows what I’ll pick out. My TBR is pretty short actually- unlike a lot of bloggers it’s not hundreds of books. I have maybe a dozen or less that I know I want to read, whenever, and after that- just whatever comes along.

    Sometimes too I’ll have a book I have to get and then I never get around to reading it – it’s like I want to but not right now, ya know? And it seems to never get read. šŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Damn, how do you only have a dozen books on your TBR?! Every book I come across that catches my interest gets thrown onto the TBR because I don’t want to forget about it and miss out on it. But I don’t know if other bloggers consider their TBRs to be, like, strict things? Because mine is just kind of a vague blob, mixed with books I own and books I don’t own, no priorities, etc. But yes, I too have bought books because I just HAD TO HAVE THEM and then oops, still haven’t read them lol.

      1. Greg

        I know! I don’t add every book I’m interested in to my TBR or Goodreads or I’d have a ton too. šŸ™‚ I should use Goodreads more… I just have a list of the next few books I want to read but other than that I just wait to see what catches my eye.

  7. Anissa @ She Reads Too Much

    I don’t like reading challenges either, and I’m definitely 100% a mood reader! Sometimes, I’ll even read a couple of pages/chapters, put it down and just start something else. If I force myself to read something I’m not feeling, it’ll just make me grumpy lol. Great post! šŸ˜€

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh, I do that too! When I’m in one of those can’t-figure-out-what-I-feel-like moods, I’ll often end up reading a few pages of this book, a few pages of that one, but setting them aside for another time because they’re not bad, they’re just not *right* for the current time. Thanks!

  8. Laura

    I’m a total mood reader as well, so I get that all the time where I really don’t know what I feel like reading (I do also get that with food too, so just having tea every night is like some huge decision!). I usually have a bit of a plan of what books I’m going to read after the one I’m in the middle of, but I don’t often end up sticking with it. By the time I’ve finished my current book I generally don’t feel like reading the one I intended to read, and then I have to pick something else, and the circle of indecision goes on!
    Awesome post! šŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Haha yes, I’ll sometimes *think* I know what book I want to read next, but I’ll just change my mind by the time I get there. Maybe I’m just a mood everything since I can never decide on books, food, clothing, anything? Lol. Thanks!

  9. Wendy

    Mood reader. My TBR is over 1,000 books because I just mark any that look vaguely interesting, and yet I often read books that are not on it, because they caught my attention instead.

    My age-old method of figuring out which book to read next is to grab a stack and read first chapters. Eventually I’ll realize I’m on chapter three of something, and that makes it clear I’m in the mood for that book. In the meantime, I’ve gotten an introduction to several others, so I know which books will suit my mood at another point. By “age-old,” I mean this is what I would do wtih my library books when I was a kid, 30+ years ago.

    1. Kristen Burns

      No worries, I also add any book that looks vaguely interesting to my TBR. Sometimes I don’t even read the blurbs lol. I also do the first chapter thing during those times when I’m not sure what I feel like. Never seems to work all that well though since I still end up not knowing what I want lol.

  10. Lola

    I am a moodreader, so usually I pick whatever book I am in the mood for, but it’s nto always as easy as that. Sometimes I don’t know excatly what i am in the mod for or all books sound good or none. I do feel like I have a tendency to read books I received recently more quickly as those are still fresh in my mind.

    I also often have a bit of a list in my head of what I plan to read next, not that I always follow that list. For my kobo that list contains Truths we tell, Open Hearts and shearwater. While for my ipad, it’s finish my current read, then March and then another netgalley book so I can try and get that percentage down, not sure which book though. It doens’t really matter I just want to make sure it’s a netgalley book.

    But if that lists doens’t work I just read another book instead or when I get a new book I sometimes fit that in earlier. When I have a deadline book it get’s pushed to the top of the pile. And even in some cases I won’t read a review or deadline book because I really want to read a certain book. I had a lot of deadline books this month and managed to read a book I wanted to read in the middle before I returned to my list of deadline books to read as I knew I wouldn’t enjoy those books if I didn’t read what i wnated to first.

    Sometimes I read a book because I have to and not enjoy it as much as it’s not what I am in the mood for. Moodreading can be a curse at times as well, especially when you don’t know what you’re in the mood for. Just starting a book can help sometimes.

    And yes with moodreader I mean what kind of books I am in the mood for, not my emotional moods, although sometimes that can play a role. I actually wrote a discussion post about moodreading and reading challenges last year and how I handle them. I usually set my goals low, pick challenges that are pretty broad with rules, like Coyer for example, I can read any free e-books for those and I have a lot of them. I set my goal low enough that I can fit some books in that don’t count as well. Great post!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I do have a tendency to read the new stuff since it’s fresh, but lately I’ve been trying to organize my books a bit by paranormal creature type, and even though I gave up like halfway though, it helped refresh my mind on a lot of books I’ve had for a while.

      Yeah, I never follow the list in my head either. My mind changes by the time I finish the book lol. And I totally get putting off a deadline book if you’re just REALLY not in the mood for it since that wouldn’t benefit anyone to read it and hate it.

      Sometimes I’ll just force myself to finally read something when I’m in a super indecisive slump, and eventually the slump will end and I’ll figure out what I want again. Choosing broad challenges is a good idea though. Thanks šŸ™‚

  11. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I very seldom know what I’m going to read next and I have a pretty haphazard way of going about picking (unless it’s review books, like you said). BUT I rarely find myself struggling over the choice – If I don’t have a specific book to read, I usually just pick up the first one that catches my fancy. Every once in awhile I need something lighter to break up a streak of darker reads, but even then I don’t struggle too much – I just pick up the first lighter read I see and go for it!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Gah, I struggle over the choice so much! How do you just pick up a book?? Lol. Then again, I couldn’t decide ANYTHING easily if my life depended on it, so it’s no surprise that I’m the same with books. Choosing a light read in between dark stuff is easier for me though, maybe because I just don’t put a lot of expectation into it.

  12. Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm

    I’m mostly a mood reader, but that’s been harder since I started blogging. Now I’m always tempted to read new releases or other popular books I keep hearing about. I’m trying to stay true to my mood though because when I don’t I have a lower likelihood of enjoying a book. For example, I had planned on starting Winter this week. As much as I’m looking forward to reading it, I’m just not in the mood for that right now. I made the decision to put it off a little while longer because I don’t want to risk not liking it – The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series and I don’t want to do that to myself!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, my reading has changed a bit since I’ve started blogging too. Mostly in that I used to like reading completed series, but now I’ve started jumping into series at the start so that I can review the books as they come out. But even with reading new releases, at least it’s still possible to stay mostly true to our moods. Definitely don’t ruin one of your favorite series if you’re not in the right mood for it! You’ll get to it soon enough šŸ™‚

  13. Sara

    I’m also 100% mood reader! I get all of my books from the library, so when I go I always get a large stack, knowing that I probably won’t read several of them. I’ve checked out certain books numerous times, only to return them unread over and over again because I just wasn’t in the mood to read them after all. But, I keep checking some of them out, and at some point the mood will strike me to actually read them (I’m looking at you Oryx and Crake!, 4th times the charm lol).

    Just found your blog and now following through bloglovin šŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh man, I don’t borrow physical books from the library (I use my card for ebooks), but I would definitely end up having that same problem of having to borrow the same books over and over because my mood keeps changing lol. Thanks! I followed you back šŸ™‚