What Do You Read?

Research* shows that if you started reading today and read for the rest of your life, and lived to be 100 years old, and you read at the pace of a speed-reader, you would still only get through 1/100,000th of the printed material available to you. And that’s not even counting other languages. Yes there are a lot of things to read in this world, that’s for sure. So how do you decide what to read?

Aside from the obvious answer that you read all of the books for the International Ultra Manly Book Club, what informs your decisions? Obviously there aren’t a lot of television commercials or billboards out there trying to sell you a certain book, so how do you choose what to read? There are a number of ways that that people can go about selecting what to read. Here are a few:

  1.  Wandering through the book store (or amazon).

    Although this is becoming increasingly more difficult as more and more bookstores are closing their doors, some still like the old fashion method of perusing the shelves and selecting what strikes their fancy. Or for the less-walking-inclined, they can search through the virtual shelves of your major book stores, amazon, or even your second-hand bookstores.  The ability to search specific categories and key words make online wandering quicker and more efficient, but perhaps a little less fun.

  2. Accolades

    This includes awards like the Pulitzer and the Nobel, as well as bestseller lists like the New York Times. I’m guessing that there really are people out there who get the whole completed lists and then decide what to read based off of it. More than likely though, most people just see this as a stamp of approval put on the cover of the paperback version of the latest popular book. Does this influence your decision when you’re buying books? Does seeing that a book is a NY Times bestseller or a Pulitzer winner/nominee make it more appealing?

  3.  Recommendations

    This is perhaps how I go about deciding what to read most of the time. A friend or family member tells me that a book is good, so I’ll give it a chance. Of course I have most them meticulously rated based on previous recommendations, and that plays a large role in whether or not I will take them up on their next suggestion. Amazon also has a handy “recommendation” section based on what you have bought/rated in the past, so if your friends read nothing but car magazines or nothing at all, it can help you out.


So what are the main ways that you make the decision to crack open that next book? Let us know in the comment section. And of course, you can always check out our many lists of the best books for men.


*not “real” research, per say

About Luke

Luke learned to read at the age of two, whereupon he decided, like much of the male population, that it was a chore to be done only when absolutely necessary. Then suddenly at age nineteen, he discovered good books—he has been reading voraciously ever since, earning multiple literature and writing degrees. At any given moment you'll find him reading at least one book, smoking a cigar, up fifty feet in a tree he free-climbed.

Currently Reading:
Collected Stories by Alexander Pushkin
-Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
The Mystery of Being by Gabriel Marcel


  1. Hey Luke! I definitely do all three. But here is an interesting fact..when I was younger I definitely did more of #1. I used to browse the library shelves and just grab something. But now I definitely do more of #2 and a little more #3. I think it is because I have less time and don’t want to waste my time on something I will only sort of enjoy.

    • thanks for your answer cassidy! I relate to what you said, as I think I did the same thing. I try to be careful with what I read because I don’t want to waste my time either when there is so much out there that is good.

  2. James Swanson says:

    Recently it has been mostly #3 through other people and “Top Books to Read” lists, but I have also found some great books through reading books by authors who were influential to authors I have come to enjoy (i.e. Chesterton and MacDonald for Lewis and Tolkien).

    • yeah i’m big on getting on an author too. if i like something they’ve written, i want to read a whole lot more by them. most of the time it works out and their other stuff is just as good, but sometimes not quite as much.

  3. I have two main sources. First, are recommendations. I get more recommendations than I can read. Most come from people I know or blogs/twitter accounts of people that I’ve come to trust their recommendations.

    The second source is books lists from places like Amazon and Goodreads. I like to browse the top selling books or most read books on Goodreads to see what people are reading. I figure that even if I don’t connect with one of these books, I’m reading something that a lot of other people are and gives me a way to connect with people.

    • I have a hard time with top sellers usually because in the past when i’ve read them I haven’t particularly enjoyed them a lot. I wonder if my tastes are just different than the majority of readers out there today, or if I’m just looking for something different. It is a good way to connect with people, even when I don’t necessarily like the book–that’s one thing that I’ve really benefitted from with iUMBC.

      • Yeah, let’s be honest: Oprah’s Book Club basically killed the best sellers list.

        When she started it, she did it to look smart, right? So she and her producers just pick new books that no one gets, assuming that they don’t get the book as its so smart and deep. Then everyone goes out and buys these books as they trust O implicitly. Then we get all these crappy, unreadable books on the top selling list.

        Make sense?

        • total sense. like her picking anna karenina: she probably was told she needed to do a russian novel, and so she just picked the one with a female protagonist, having no idea of the general portrayal of women in that book (not the most flattering).

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