Skip to Main Content
Fairfax County logo

Find Your Next Book

Lists that help you find your next favorite book Last Updated: May 24, 2024 8:45 AM

Reading: Challenge yourself

"Read a book about a character who doesn't look like you or live like you, about a topic you don't know much about, or a format you don't normally read—such as a graphic novel or a book in verse."
~Gene Luen Yang

Read Around The World

Pick 7 books, each set (primarily) on a different continent. Variations of this task could include choosing all Fiction or all Non-Fiction, the authors from each continent instead of the books set there, or perhaps biographies of someone from there. Feel free to be creative for Antarctica!

Judge a book by its cover (no, really, it's okay)

Pick a book simply because you like the cover. Don't put it back after you read the summary. Variations of this task could include picking books because of the cover color or pattern. For example, read the rainbow of covers (ROYGBIV), or find books with a particular element on the cover, such as a flower, cross, or tartan.

Try a door stopper

Pick a chonker of book—say, over 500 pages or 16 hours listening. Variations on this are really about how heavy the door—at over 1,000 pages, Murakami's 1Q84 could probably prop open a bank vault.

'Re-format your reading'

Read a format or form you don't normally read. If you always read print, try an audio-book. Never read a graphic novel? Pick one up, they can be an amazingly rewarding visual reading experience. When was the last time you read short-form—essays, short stories, or poetry?

Read about lives that differ from yours

There are many amazing works by authors from communities that are marginalized, either by race or other factors. Despite a few notable exceptions, these works are not often well-known outside of the author's own communities. Explore by reading a work by an author, or about a person, from a community not your own. Treat the work as an opportunity to view another's experience and to help develop an understanding of the broader human experience.

Read a book translated from another language

Select a work originally written in a language you do not read. There are wonderful works in all languages; you may already be reading these works without realizing it. There is a wealth of knowledge informed by international cultural perspectives that a single-language reader may not have considered. With translations included, a reader has even more creative and exciting styles of writing available. Reading translated works opens the door to other cultures and histories.

Re-read a book

Pick a book you read at a previous time in your life. Consider: does a book meaningful to you earlier in your life have a similar resonance today? The relationship you have with a work is often closely tied to the events in your life at the time. Think about how your relationship has changed with this work as well as what has changed in your world or the greater world since you last read it—this could be eye-opening.

Read a book set in a time not your own

Select a work set 100+ years ago. Reading history helps us to understand what happened; reading historical fiction moves us by what happened. Good historical fiction encourages dialog between the past and the present. A variation of this challenge is to read a book set 100+ years in the future. Another twist is to read a book written in the past that speculated on the future, which is now our present day—or close to it. What did they get right, wrong, or kind of close? Examples of this include Philip K. Dick's "Do androids dream of electric sheep?" (1968 / 2021) or Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot" (1950 / 2035).

Read a book from another world

You get to define 'another world'. Another world could be microscopic or sub-atomic, it could be pre-historic, it could be on in the wilds of the tundra (assuming you live around here), or simply not of this earth. Yes, a world of zombies or after an alien invasion can count, too. Pick something strange and fantastical and so unfamiliar to you it could be of another world.

Read a book about a real person

Select a work about someone extraordinary in ordinary times or about someone ordinary in extraordinary times. Biographies and memoirs would be the most common options, but you don't have to limit yourself to just those. You could opt for a novel based on a real person.

Read a book-club book

Select a book that was chosen by a book club or as a book discussion book. There are myriad reasons books are chosen to be a book club book. Generally, the books will offer a good variety of topics and writing styles that match the varying interests of the club itself. Visit the Book Discussion Kits page of this site or ask your local librarian to see what library staff has selected. You might even decide to join a book discussion group.

Read a book you saw someone else reading

Pick a book you see another reader enjoying. The next time you're on the Metro, riding a bus, catching a flight, in a coffee shop, at the pool, or even at the library, look around and see what book someone is enjoying. The DC metropolitan region has amazingly rich and varied reading tastes . . . take advantage of it!

Read a book recommended by . . .

Ask a friend or a librarian if they would recommend a book. You can choose who you would like to get a recommendation from. If you have a friend who is a reader, ask if they have a book they enjoyed and would recommend (and why). Maybe you like it, maybe not. Either way, you will learn something about your reading tastes and perhaps enjoy a book you would never have picked up on your own. The library offers personalized recommendations via My Perfect Read or you can visit your local branch and ask for recommendations.

Fairfax County seal