Week 33 (Q): the quest for new books
A lot of times I hear newly hatched witches asking “What should I read?” My answer is usually “Read everything”. But inevitably they want me to clarify what I mean. So I figured it might be useful to put together a step by step checklist of how I choose what to read. In general, this list applies more to nonfiction than fiction. (Adopting James also did a great post on this topic.)
Step 1: read to your skill level. This is not to say that those relatively new to paganism should never read more advanced books, but you do need to have a basic understanding of beginner concepts before you can progress to more complex forms of knowledge.
Step 2: read reviews of the book you’re interested in. Read reviews on Goodreads (here’s my list of witchy books and my reviews of the witchy books I’ve read) or your review site of choice. I also like to ask other pagans what their favorite books are.
Step 3: read snarky ass pagan communities like Paganism & Wicca over on Facebook. Seriously, I love this group and the smackdown they lay on a regular basis.
Step 4: compare and contrast. Look at what different lists do and do not include to get a sense of whether there’s a core set of books that almost everybody recommends. Those are often an excellent place to start.
Step 5: read widely. I can’t stress this one enough. You shouldn’t be solely reading two or three authors, nor should you always pick authors you agree with. Read people you know you won’t like, because then you’ll be informed enough to disagree with them. Read sexist asshats (borrow their books from the library so they don’t profit from you!) and people who are just plain wrong. Read everything with a boulder of salt next to you.
Step 6: whenever possible, get a feel for the book. I like to hold books whenever possible and find out how they make me feel. Get thee to your local independent bookstore and feel up some books. (Then buy them on Kindle if you’re me. Sorry local bookstores, but I don’t always have the shelf space.)
That’s pretty much how I choose my books! I really like using websites like What Should I Read Next? and Whichbook, though their recommendations are sometimes a little strange. How do you pick what to read?