RELAX: How to find the perfect read

By Natalie Bascur

‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’ – Dr. Seuss (Can Read With My Eyes Shut!) 


There’s nothing better than a good book (or a good magazine for that matter).

How you’ll find a great read seems an easy task, just search Instagram for #readingstacks to see the piles of books that are deemed the most popular. However step one foot into a bookstore today, and you will find yourself face to face with a dizzying array of choice.

How do you pick ‘the one’ that will give you a spring in your step?

Fear not Mama, for the list below will help you choose great reads depending on your mood, and will arm you with the tools to narrow down your search next time you are trying to find a novel that grabs you.

1. Back to basics

Picking the right book is an art. It depends on your mood first. Are you feeling like a light read by the pool, a dark thriller when you have a weekend free of chores, or a biography from someone inspirational you admire? Start in your preferred section, for example, fiction, history or biographies, and work from there.

2. Choose your own adventure

When you are in your preferred section, look for a title that stands out to you, or search for an author you have read before and enjoyed. Now read the first paragraph. If it doesn’t make you intrigued to keep reading, try another book. If the next one grabs you, open to a random section in the book, and read one or two pages. If you like the writing style, and it fits your tastes and interests (whether you want to laugh, cry, or be hooked by the illicit drama), then you have found your read.

3. Don’t assume

Look at the ‘Bestsellers’ wall/list in book stores and online, but don’t expect the books will be the right choice for you just because they are popular. It might just be that they appeal to a wide audience, make excellent gifts for people, the authors are widely known or they have simply had a huge marketing budget. They are safe choices, yes, but you are an individual and you want the perfect fit for you!

4. One click away

In the age of digital, there is more help than ever from websites that will literally do the hard thinking for you. WhichBook and Goodreads are two of the most popular ones. They are also really mama friendly. If you are time-poor, What should I read next? will ask you to type in either a subject or a book you have liked in the past, and will make suggestions based on this.

5. Explore off the beaten track

Don’t forget to look at second hand bookstores, independent book shops and charity book fairs. The staff in these stores are avid readers, and quite often would love to chat about a lesser known author you might have overlooked. They are particularly helpful if you are trying to find a book for a loved one or co-worker as they can help narrow down the information you know about the person to find the most appropriate choice.

6. Embrace new things

Doing the same things, eating the same diet and reading the same genre of books can get dull after a while which can make you lose that insatiable urge to devour a novel. It’s fine to love all things chick lit and romance, but maybe throw in a biography from a woman you have admired the career of, or swap fiction for literary fiction sometimes. You don’t have to make big changes. If you know you hate sci-fi, you’re unlikely to suddenly become a fan.

7. Don’t dismiss the classics

In our rush to go for the latest, newest option, we can sometimes forget about the abundance of great novelists from the past. There are so many great classics out there like the kind we used to have to read about in high school English. As an adult, these can be truly appreciated, much more so than as a teen. Listed below are some options to help start your search:

Penguin’s Classics all titles

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

King Lear by William Shakespeare

8. Get a library card

The benefits of a library are much like those of bookstores, except everything is FREE! Talk to staff for ideas on what to check out, or simply pick an interesting looking book at random. The joy of the library is the ability to be able to sit down and thumb through a book without anyone stopping you. Plus there is usually a kids’ area, bonus!

9. Join a book club 

These can be great fun. Either look for an existing book club (perhaps there is one at your child’s school?) or get a group of your friends together, and start a book club! You will get a plethora of new suggestions, and you can either take turns picking a book, or decide all together, and have the added bonus of some ‘mama me-time’ with the girls. The main thing to work out is the pace you want to be reading and how long the books should be. Once you decide that, you’re good to go!

You might also like NOURISH: Tips + tricks to live a more plant-based lifestyle or MAMA MIND: 9 habits of truly positive people.