To all avid readers out there: How do you discover new content to read?

My question applies to books in any language, but this being a Japanese learning forum, let’s focus on Japanese books. I’d like to exclude criteria like difficulty though (because a beginner might choose to sacrifice enjoyment for efficiency when starting out) and focus more on content. How do you discover and choose a new book to read?

  • I’ll read (almost) anything in my favorite genre
  • I’ll read (almost) anything by my favorite authors
  • I choose books that have received awards or are very popular
  • I choose books others have read and recommend them
  • I sometimes choose books based on title or cover, knowing nothing else about them
  • I look at online bookstores’ recommendations based on what I’ve been reading
  • I consult specific blogs/websites on books/reading (links please!)
  • Other (please specify)

0 voters

There’s really no shortage of things to read, quite the opposite in fact :sweat_smile: But I often feel like I’m spoiled for choice, or may be overlooking a hidden gem that is hiding in plain sight. And sometimes I’d like to read a books with a specific mood (rather than genre or plot), and that is extremely hard to search for.

Curious to know how everyone goes about choosing their books! :books:


I’ll repost my answer from the other thread:

If you’re interested in manga, the Bookwalker freebies thread is a great place to find stuff that might be of interest, and since it’s free, you can easily drop a series if it turns out not to be to your taste.

Other than that, I’ve also had some success searching in Japanese for recommendations. When I discovered the 大人絵本 medium, I searched the phrase on google and then skimmed reviews on various blog posts and such (in Japanese) and chose a few books that looked interesting. The better your Japanese, the more luck you’ll have fine-tuning your searches and asking for more specific stuff, probably.

I also recommend following Japanese fans and/or content creators who are into your favorite genres on twitter. Most of my personal to-read list has come from following people in the Japanese pro wrestling community. I’ve seen wrestler autobiographies that I want to read, magazine interviews on topics related to wrestling and not, manga recommendations that look interesting, even a 大人絵本, haha. It’s the same way I find out about many cool books and such in English. If you find people that share your personal tastes, you’ll get loads of great recommendations that are much more likely to be books that you’ll enjoy.


I’m also reposting my comment re Happiness, but with an edit.

Warning: spoilers re Happiness volumes 4 onwards!


So there are a few surprising turns in volume 4, but nothing that particularly shakes things up until near the end. Volume 5 focuses more on Gosho, and near the end is where things take a sudden leap with a major time skip. From here on, the characters are all essentially adults.

The focus of the story then moves away from Okazaki and Nora, actually for quite some time. Volumes 7 and 8 were my least favourite with some quite unpleasant scenes. Edit: the main thing being a major character being tortured. Also some flashbacks showing animal cruelty among other things. Actually not much in the way of sex scenes, except in vol 4.

Often times based on awards (芥川賞, 直木賞, 本屋大賞) and on synopsis. I also regularly get e-mails by Bookmeter with recommendations, and I might check out books with an interesting cover/title.

Sometimes I pick books based on authors as well. I’ve taken a Japanese literature class before and we talked about numerous authors, so I’ll sometimes recognize some names, and based on that might put an interesting sounding/looking book by such an author on my reading list. I like the feeling of having experienced a certain (more or less well-known) author and being able to talk about how I perceive their works/writing style/themes they write about. I care less about light novels.

Edit: which also means that I’ve been reading quite broadly, genre-wise. I haven’t found a good way to find books of one of my favorite genres (dystopia) yet.


For now, I get more or less all my recommendations for books in Japanese from this forum. Across the REDC threads, the 多読 extensive reading thread, book club picks and nominations, and random recommendation threads, I feel like I’ve seen a pretty wide selection of books.

I expect when I have more experience reading Japanese, that I will pick more books from authors I’ve enjoyed reading, and be more discerning when it comes to which recommendations I follow through on and perhaps ask for additional info.

For now, I feel like I don’t know enough about Japanese literary traditions/tropes/genres to be able to discern what I would enjoy more.


For English, I really chose books based on back cover, and perhaps front cover; but they are usually non-fiction (and also physical – I hardly read on Kindle). Some other times, I chose based on the authors, knowing that they usually write well.

  • In a bookstore (physical books), I always read Table of Contents, nonetheless; and skim through the rest. Asking a shop clerk to remove plastic covering for me. I also read about the personal history of the author, if it is a section in the book.
  • I am a little worried about the variety of genres and also opinions; but then, if it isn’t interesting, I probably won’t really read.

For Japanese, not yet for longer ones, but I chose 同人誌 based on the authors. But then, I have much more to be developed in Japanese.


I go to Book Off, see book, read for a page or two to see if I can read it, then buy. Spend a couple days reading, give up, repeat.


I tend to buy whatever Booklive is recommending me if there’s enough pastel on the cover. Generally not great.
I also went through a phase of reading a bunch of stuff with 悪役令嬢 in the title. That was mostly okay.
Other than that, I read stuff that are nominated for book clubs (but didn’t get picked) or mentioned in the 多読 thread and sound interesting.
I also have this site that has nice light novel recommendations.
Oh, and I also check whatever is currently most requested at my local library, but that’s usually useless (it’s either whatever got called a bestseller in the subway ads or the latest volume of One Piece)


Here are my usual methods of finding interesting (to me!) stuff to read.
To explain this a little, I generally neither read Manga nor Light Novels. I am especially looking for material that doesn’t feature schoolchildren / adolescence etc. So far I have been quite successful. Here is where I go to find such books:


Newspaper Articles etc.

These are mainly reading lists that contain books in English that are translations of Japanese authors. They serve as good starting points to explore the authors, and often it is not hard to discover the Japanese original. Just bear in mind that for some of these books there is no Japanese original (because e.g. it’s a short story compilation only edited with the English translations). Some of the newspapers may have a reading limit.


Personal Recommendations

  • I ask basically every Japanese person I meet whether they have favorite authors or books. This of course covers a broad range of stuff so I need to filter this out a little bit by reading the book’s synopsis or something.

  • Book Club proposals (although many of the nominations fall in the undesired bracket of [Manga / Light Novel / Schoolchildren] - but sometimes there is an interesting book among them.)


For books it’s largely whatever gets recommended by people on these forums, both through book clubs and the 多読 thread. I don’t really care about awards or anything like that.

For manga it’s largely based on anime I’ve watched, whatever was free / on sale, and whatever looks cool or was recommended from genres / magazines I like.


My favorite new way I’ve been finding nonfiction books to read is within other nonfiction books.

In Assata’s auto-biography, she references Lolita Lebron. I’m a sociology and theology major and the story of a Puetro Rican nationalist who opened fire on Congress decades ago is something I’d 1. never heard of and 2. a minefield of human condition, especially when compared with modern events. She was (and still is, I believe) the longest held political prisoner in American history, and she maintained a rigorous faith throughout. I like to hear/read things from people I agree with and those I don’t as well, I think it’s necessary.

She herself didn’t seem to have an autobiography, at least not in English, so after some digging I found one of her granddaughter’s, in which she discusses Lolita. This book - Message From God in the Atomic Age - has been one of my favorite reads so far. I’d never have found this otherwise.

Still in Assata’s book, she references Camillo Torres, a Columbian priest who left the cloth to become an on the ground fighting revolutionary because he believed that’s what any good priest would have done - to help the people. An english copy of his writing took forever to find, and was rather costly, but again, has been one of my favorite reads.
I read mostly non-fiction and find books mostly like this. In I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, Giraud repeatedly references Nietzsche and it felt important to stop before continuing, feeling like I had some pre-requisites to read first. Having never actually read his works, I set about finding his necessary reads - The Gay Science, Beyond Good and Evil, and Thus Spoke Zarathustra (from my research) - and found Gay Science’s Introduction to be one of my favorite to reference essays of linguistic/preservation of intent approach in translation.

Outside of nonfiction?

Has anyone figured out a good way to stop re-reading the books we read as kids? I thought that’s what we all did primarily.

After donating slews of old books a few years ago, I’ve begun repurchasing them all because I can’t seem to live without the stories I grew up with. Buried Fire Jonathan Stroud, Time Cat Lloyd Alexander, Artemis Fowl Eoin Colfer, Neverwhere Neil Gaiman, Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster. I also bought Japanese editions of all my old mangas, can you believe Tokyo Mew Mew in English is going for like 200 on Amazon?

Aside from the tried and true checking of fronts and backs of books and a peruse of a random page in the center - I used to find amazing books in Dollar Tree. I moved a few years back and I’ve never been able to decide if it’s because I’ve moved or if they don’t do it anymore, but 5-10 years ago I would spend 20 bucks at a Dollar Tree for 20 books and I’d leave with books that I’d see in regular book stores that season for full price. I even once got an autographed copy there. No idea how they managed that, but I bought books there for years.

Listen to Levar Burton Reads! If there’s nothing else, his podcast is AMAZING and filled with current author’s short stories and he often plugs their upcoming books as well. Mostly science fiction authors. I listen to a ton of podcasts of short story readings or dramatized old school radio style shows. There’s the actual old one’s - Dimension X - on spotify, and many others, or podcasts like Call of the Flame, The Two Princes, Alba Salix, Leviathan, If I go Missing the Witches Did It.


I tend to choose books, of which movies of tv shows i liked are based (at least when it comes to japanese reading material)
I love seeing what they changed but i still have a bit of a basis regarding the story if i don’t really understand some parts :see_no_evil:

Books in other languages i choose mostly by the blurp and cover or booktube. Sometimes what my sister recommends or what i can find in the used book store. I really only have one author where i read everything they write.
Or if it is a specific field of interest of mine i try to read it.


Other (please specify)

This does mix into the “anything in my favorite genre” and “based on title or cover” options, but I occasionally just browse the shelves in a book store and write down anything that seems interesting. That usually doesn’t yield any “I have to buy this immediately”, but it makes for a good wish list/fallback shopping list.

That has been and always will be the case for me. But I don’t see it as a bad thing.
If my current selection of genres/authors/other criteria is still enough to yield content I enjoy, then I don’t need to care if I miss out on other stuff.
And books stick around for a long while anyways, so I can always just “find” them later. I’d expect that within the last year, lots of people realized that a certain Sci-Fi novel from 1965 might be worth a read.


I watch YouTubers talk about books, and look up the ones I find interesting so see what the plot might be like and if it might be something I’m interested in. They talk kinda fast and use words I don’t really know, though, so it’s difficult but also good listening practice, I guess??

I also have been browsing at the bookstore and letting myself get drawn in by the covers, look up a basic summary online (curse you Japanese book jackets with no summaries!) and then decide from there. I recently bought one book I saw in a YouTube video, and took pictures of some other books from the same shelf to look up later. I live in Japan, though, so this second strat is only really good if you have physical book stores near you that sell books in the language you’re looking for.

I highly recommend social media. Whenever I have a random new obsession, I add it to my arsenal of consumable YouTube content lol


This but with 殺人事件. I’m a simple girl who loves murder :coffin: :sparkles:

But really, I get book reccs from everywhere.

YouTube book reviewers? I watch em.
Written book reviews and lists of ‘best new books’? I read em.
Asking Japanese people their favorite books? I do it too.
Reading random “limited time free books”? Yup.
Books that are mentioned inside other books? YAS. BOOKCEPTION.
Poking through “similar” readers’ books on Bookmeter? Yes (つながる→相性)
Prize winners? I’m open to anything but 本屋大賞 - that just seems like too much of a crap shoot.
Aozora lists of short stories that can be read in X minutes? Many a time.
People reading and talking about things on here? Of course!
Random things I see in the Japanese library? Yes.
Authors people have told me are pulpy? Guilty as charged.
Authors I already like? Super guilty.

I actually had to pull back from adding things to my 積読 and 読みたい lists because it was starting to feel unmanageable :sweat_smile: My eyes are bigger than my stomach where reading is concerned.


Oh, true, I check those too. It hasn’t led to me reading anything extra though, just wishing I didn’t need to sleep (or simply had time magic to extend each day to 48 hours)


Links to any particular ones you’d recommend? I wouldn’t even know how to start looking :slight_smile:


I like マサキ recently but sometimes others will be recommended and I’ll listen to a video or two.


… I just realized you quoted this too. I’m at work at the moment so will link those this evening! Google News knows I like them though so often it will reccomend them to me


There’s no hurry at all! :grin:

By the way, I’m delighted to see so many “avid readers” voting in the poll!
This is truly a well-read community! :slight_smile: