Ah – hello friendly book-lover! Even though you probably don’t need more books, you’re here – welcome! These types of suggestions can be too good to pass up and FOMO is real! After all, if there are uncommon places to find a good book, then maybe you’re missing your next favorite author or series!
Or maybe being part of the bookstagram community (Instagram accounts who love and share books = bookstagram) and keeping piles of book list ideas from Pinterest is enough to keep your to-be-read (TBR) pile towering. Maybe you’re in a lovely season of reading that has everything you need to be content.
Okay, but trust me, pin this for later.
Sometimes I get stuck. Even with lists of recommended reading and myriad interests I still have periods of ambivalence towards my tbr pile. That’s when I need to get creative to find a book to jump-start my enjoyment again. So, I’ve pulled this list from my experience.
I don’t recommend trying all of these each time, but they have each served me at different periods. My reading pile is better because of all of them. In my experience, these are six uncommon places to find a good book and they work.
What is Uncommon?
Let me put some parameters around what I mean by uncommon. Social media and libraries and favorite bookstores are familiar enough places for finding books. But sometimes you need to hunt in different spots or with different intentions in order to uncover what has escaped your attention to this point. In other words, you need to use some uncommon tactics to find something outside of your routine.
I consider “common” places to find your next books to read to be social media, Pinterest, bookstores, and word-of-mouth. Some of the suggestions that I have below are located in “common” places such as libraries, but they are in “uncommon” spots – places you wouldn’t naturally go to find your next good read unless you stumbled onto it.
Uncommon Places to Find a Good Book
Library Hold Shelf
I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times I’ve picked up my library holds and then stopped to snap a photo of someone else’s book that they have on hold. I see a title or a jazzy book cover (yep, totally guilty of judging a book by the cover), and I think “I wonder what that’s about.” Next thing you know, I’ve made a request for the book to hang out on my hold shelf for me to read.
Pre and Post Book Sections
Yes, make sure you read the extra sections at the beginning and end of books. The author biography at the end of a book that you love is a good place to start. This works best in picture books; I think because the author bios usually contain the author and illustrator titles that are most recent or most notable. It does work for novels and non-fiction too although sometimes you can find a list of “Also By” books at the front of an adult book.
Check out any of the pre- or post- sections of a books. You know those parts like the Author’s Note, Preface, Bibliography? The one’s that no one usually reads. Those are now some of my favorite parts to read because of their rich content and insight.
Okay, I don’t fully read the bibliography (anyone else hate writing those in school?), but it’s a great resource to scan for reading content. Typically, this location is great in non-fiction writing, but I’ve also found great recommendations in historical fiction books as well.
Check it out – you may be surprised.
Little Free Libraries
If you bump into a Little Free Library in your local wanderings or not-so-local travels, stop and look inside. It’s a surprise every time. My best find was a hardback P.G. Wodehouse, Thank You, Jeeves. Want to know if there’s one in your area? Check out this map of registered Little Free Libraries. It’s impossible to go by one without checking it out. There are not winners in every one, but that’s part of the fun of looking inside!
Goodwill, Salvation Army, Yard Sales
Used bookstores are fantastic, but sometimes you don’t live near one, or you need to take a stop on a road trip to stretch your legs (this is how my parents find all their winning book finds!), or you just want to go somewhere different to browse. Sometimes you find winners. Sometimes you find your favorite author.
I purchased Home by Marilynne Robinson years ago at a community yard sale. I didn’t realize it was the second in a series or that Robinson wrote fiction and non-fiction. The book just sounded interesting. She is now one of my favorite authors to read, but I never would have found her if I hadn’t been browsing in a community yard sale.
A couple of our all-time favorite children’s books have been uncovered at the Goodwill or other thrift stores. The two I’m thinking of are both out of print, which is very unfortunate because they are hysterical. If you come across a copy of It’s Easy to See Why by NAME or NAME, definitely read them!
Volunteer at your local library.
Didn’t see that coming, did ya? Several years ago I volunteered restocking children’s books at our local library (and it’s on my list of things to do again one day).
Let me tell you, those thin, little picture books are quite an effort to put back into some semblance of order! But the work was great for finding new book recommendations! Some days I think more books ended up going home with me than they did back on the shelves. (Incidentally, that is also what happened when I worked for a bookstore during grad school.)
I’ve found quite a few interesting reads from putting a title in the search function of my library app. Sometimes they have the title I was searching for and sometimes they don’t, but a list always comes up. Quite often that list has an assortment of books I would never have otherwise considered. (If your library doesn’t have an app, see if they have an online catalog.)
This trick could work in other general searches as well. Amazon, Goodreads, Google, and others will bring up lists connected in one way or another. If you don’t have a specific book that you’re looking for, try a general keyword search for something that interests you.
Other Uncommon Places?
Where else have you surprisingly found a good book? Maybe on a vacation rental shelf or by hosting a book drive? Leave your ideas in the comments – the more the merrier!