Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How to find a Good Book to Read

I love books – the joy of owning them, the freedom to hold them whenever I want – is exhilarating. Of course, only a book lover can understand this. It is a wonderful feeling. Yesterday I counted the books I have right now. I own more than a 100 books right now, and I’m not counting those stacked in boxes, which I have already read. They are a healthy mix of chick lit, travelogues, autobiographies, general fiction, books on creative writing, grammar, general non-fiction and humour.

Adding more books to my proud possession is my favourite pastime. I will share a few things which I do to find about interesting books:

I skim through the Book Review pages of Magazines and Newspapers to find out if anything appeals to me. Some of the magazines I refer are Business World (look at the last pages), Business Today (last pages) and Femina for Books recommendations. While as far as newspaper goes, Times of India also carries book reviews, though The Hindu has some wonderful reviews. You can also check out New York Times.

Just go to Google and type the genre you are interested in like Books Chick lit or Top 100 books or Best Books 2008 or recommend read women. These key words, most of the times, lead you to sites where interesting books on the genre of your choice would be listed. You just need to select one of the links, pick up book names and again go to Google. Type Book Review name of the book. I have found numerous interesting books as well as several interesting book sites through this exercise.

All online book shopping sites show Related Books or Bestsellers or Customers who bought this book also bought. These links will lead you to some interesting books which you might not even heard of. The problem with Bookshops as well as popular review sites is that you will find the same books everywhere. So whether you go to Crossword or Landmark or Odyssey, you would see Three mistakes of my life or The Secret or Unaccustomed Earth. But believe me there is a world of interesting books out there which cannot be accommodated in the limited space of a bookshop. That is when online shopping comes handy.

Online shopping for books can be quite economical too. There are a couple of site which I have tried myself:
I have found Indiaplaza the cheapest, even after adding shipping charges. Rediff, Flipkart and FirstandSecond have free shipping. But sometimes you don’t get a book at one place, then you can go to the other site. I compare prices at all the sites and then place the order. Now I have completely stopped buying off the racks because you cannot compare prices that way.

It is sad that Amazon does not really have services in India, since it has practically all books which I have ever searched for. I think it is high time Amazon starts it’s services for India. But you can trust Amazon to read Reviews and find similar books to what you have liked. There’s Barnes and Noble as well to read about interesting books. I also chanced upon Powells while looking for book reviews. It is an interesting site for reading reviews.

Google is an amazing tool through which, if you put the right key words, you can get exactly what you want. For example, I wanted to search some good books on creative writing. If you put good books creative writing, it will lead you to shopping sites or paid sites, which will be linked as good books creative writing. Here you need to do a little thinking. If you are an experienced writer and writing a column on creative writing, you would also mention some good books on creative writing for reference. So you would definitely write words “recommend” “books” “creative writing” or “refer” “books” “creative writing” or “additional” “studies” “creative writing”. Trust me, there is everything on internet. If you can think of the right words, you will reach your destination.

You may also try Online Book Clubs like Shelfari to learn about new books. I have never used that personally but it can come handy. I am not really into Award winning books because most of the times I do not understand such books like I tried reading Life of Pi but left it mid-way. If I don’t like it, I don’t like it; even if it is an award winning book. Who cares!

Several times you would like to explore certain subjects like I wanted to read about Mahabharata. It never convinced me that Mahabharata would be so black & white as was shown on TV. There are enough complex characters to make it an interesting subject. So my research led me to some wonderful books like Yajnaseni by Pratibha Ray (originally in Oriya), Rethinking the Mahabharata by Alf Hiltebeitel, Yuganta by Irawati Karve, Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari and The Book of Yudhisthir, a translation by Sujit Mukherjee of Mahabharater Katha by Buddhadeva Bose.

Create your Wishlist. Personally, I have created my Wishlist and keep adding interesting books to the list. I have made folders of different genres and subjects. I save the book names, not as names, but I rather save the image of the book cover. That way after several days I will be able to recollect about the book. I also make wish lists on all the sites mentioned above. But I do that only after comparing prices. So that later on when I decide to buy a book, I just need to go to the Wish list and buy it straightaway.

I hope I have made your life a little easier. Believe it or not, there is actually a book named So many books, So Little Time.


  1. Anonymous5:32 PM

    I agree that with Indiaplaza you can save a lot of money. I have also tried in different places and finally i was satisfied with Indiaplaza. Just to keep u informed i visited Indiaplaza and it is organizing GoldenQuill award ceremony and 5 best authors and their writings are nominated. We can check if our favorite author is nominated and also vote for them. We will also be getting gift vouchers worth Rs100 for voting. You can check for details at

  2. Hey thanks for leaving your comment. I will surely log in to indiaplaza for voting. I had also received a feedback mail from them asking for my feedback on the usage. The only hiccup I have found on this site is that the site takes ages to load.

  3. Hi. Where were you able to find "The Book of Yudhisthir". I haven't been able to find it so far.

    1. Hi Nandini, frankly it was so long ago that I don't remember. I tried looking for it on different sites but it is nowhere :-(