How To Know a Book is Worth Reading

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. — Henry David Thoreau

If a book doesn’t inspire you or motivate you to act, than it is of purely entertainment value and a simple use of time. The old cliche is that the pen is mightier than the sword. Ideas are powerful. Books have the power to change you for the better, or for the worse. All great books do a good job of changing your perspective. And a perspective change is what often causes a habit change. When you see the world in a different light, you can begin to act differently, and see results you have only dreamed of. This is why you must read books that are worth reading if you hope for positive change at all.

There are many ways to find out whether a book is worth reading or not. Unless you are a speed reader, you will spend many hours reading a book, and possibly not know it is worth your time until you are done with it. So here are a few ways to go about finding quality books.

  1. DO judge the book by it’s cover. Is it “overly” designed? Does the design detract from or add to the title? Does the title make sense? Does it seem hyped or genuine? Oftentimes, some of the best books have very unattractive covers.
  2. Look for the author’s credentials. Is he school or street educated? Or both? What is his history? Where did she work? What kind of role are they in now? I personally prefer to read authors who are still working in their industry yet also do consulting and/or teaching on the side.
  3. Read the book’s description. Once again, does it seem hyped or does it layout a good framework for the truth to be found inside? Is it simple and to the point? A well thought out description takes a lot of time to do well. If it is good the book is often genuine and worth reading.
  4. Check out the references and testimonials. How many are there? Who are they? Do you know any of them? If it is someone whose work you have read before and liked, you will probably like the work they are promoting. What are their credentials? A book backed up by many good references is a book that is often worth reading.
  5. Read the Table of Contents. Does anything resonate with you? Do the chapters make sense? Does it seem well organized? I personally need 3-5 of the chapters to really hit me for me to buy the book.
  6. Read the Preface and/or Foreword. Many books don’t include a preface or foreword, but the ones that do get extra points. The reason being is that a preface is written by another author. If I know and respect the author, they get bonus points. 
  7. Check out the Intro. Don’t read it all, but skim through it. Do any ideas pop out at you? Once again, does it resonate with you? The intro is the place to put some of your best ideas to get people excited about the rest of the book. If the author fails to include a single great idea in the intro then it is probably not worth reading.
Since seven is the number for completeness I will leave it at that. Hopefully some critical thinking will help you find books worth reading. In the near future I will start including some book reviews on this site. I also plan on writing an article about critical reading. Please let me know of any books you think are worth reading and I can do a review of them here.
Thanks for Reading!

10 thoughts on “How To Know a Book is Worth Reading”

  1. This is great advice, Jeremy. I love that you know what the number seven means! Not everyone knows the meanings of numbers. 🙂


  2. Thank you both for visiting! Michele, I love knowing the meanings of things. It helps me understand everything better. Peter, Let me know how my tips help you find your next great read.


  3. I agree recommendations are important – preferably the word of mouth variety, which is the essence of book clubs. The problem with professional endorsements is it’s a bit of an old boys club, I think – authors endorse each others’ books in the expectation that theirs will likewise be endorsed.

    The Crafty Writer’s last blog post..What editors want – the right pitch

  4. Thank you both for visiting!

    @The Crafty Writer. First I want to say that I really like your website and I hope it can help me to take my writing to the next level. Also, I agree that it can be an old boys club. If I could add one thing to the article I would say look for references that haven’t written a book. If there are a couple then that one issue wouldn’t really be a real issue any longer.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. Books have the power to change you for the better, or for the worse…

    How true it is! A big part of me on the inside has pretty much been influenced by one of the greatest book mankind has ever seen – Think & Grow Rich by Napolean Hill. It has shaped the way I look at life in different perspective.

    By the way, how many of us don’t judge the book by its cover? 😉 Good tips, buddy…


    Blog for Beginners’s last blog post..A – Z Blogging Guide

  6. @ Yan. That is definitely one of my favorites. I just love the classics that have withstood the test of time.

    @ Sara Thanks for visiting! I happen to be a sucker for 300+ page books that have small print. Then I think I am getting my money’s worth. 😉 But no, you are right. The gamble is half the fun in reading.

  7. As a voracious reader, I loved what this post conveyed. Now, I don’t really judge a book by its cover. I usually flip the back side of the book to have a glimpse at the story line. Though I care at times about the author, I usually prefer good storylines. If I dont find the story line intriguing I wouldnt prefer it.

    Now that you’ve asked for some recommendations I will only be too happy to do that! 🙂 I am listing the 5 books that I really love!

    1. 1984 (George Orwell)
    2. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
    3. The Moon and Six pence (Somerset Maugham)
    4. Tess of the D’urbervilles (Thomas Hardy)
    5. All books by Jostein Gaarder

    I am looking forward to the reviews of these books! 🙂 Also, please share your online book catalog if you have one! I am rampantheart on Librarything and Shelfari!

    rampantheart’s last blog post..Are we escaping reality?

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