One of the reasons I think it is so hard for people to find good books is that they are lazy. They don’t want to do the work. They want to pick up any book off the shelf and have it meet their standards perfectly. This is a bit unrealistic. Am I guilty of this? Probably have been in the past.
But the number one thing is that you need to be discerning and use your own judgment. Only you can decide what you like to read. Only you can decide how much detail is too much detail. I know what is good for me (and this post is all about me, remember?) and not for you. Your tastes are your job, not mine. Got that? Good.
This discernment part is where it gets tricky. The thing is that the authors in group one are pretty much a safe bet, but they are really rare. I read so much that I would run out of things to read if I only read in column one. Plus, reading only certain authors all the time would be really boring. Column one writers are good writers, but sometimes you need to read something written in a different style. Not to mention the fact that the column one authors can be hard to find (read: not at the library). I can’t buy all the books I read or I would be broke. So, I have to rely a lot on column two.
Authors in group two are a pretty safe bet, but they are unpredictable. They have never advertised themselves as “clean only” authors. They have no contract with me saying that they will always follow my preferences. In fact, they may write a completely clean trilogy or series of books that I love and cherish and recommend to everyone. Then they may write a really dark, depressing book that I will hate. So, really you have to be smart, but taking a few steps can reduce your chance of getting a stinker.
*analyze the book cover (there are often important clues there!)
*Read the back liner
* Read what the author has written about writing the book
* Read reviews written by the author’s fans
*Read reviews of those who are not fans
*Talk to someone in your neighborhood/library/school, etc.
Do your research then take an educated risk. Occasionally you will get burned, but usually you will run into a red flag if you do at least three of these things.
Do I do all of these things? All of the time? If I do all these things how do I even have time to read? Am I insane? Lately, I’ve been following recommendations of book bloggers, and even of column one and two authors. Sometimes these experiments work and sometimes they don’t. I think I get lucky a lot. Some genres are easier to navigate than others.