Finding Your Next Great Read

Finding Your Next Great Read

by Cathy Cooney

Picture the last really, really good book you read. The one you couldn’t wait to get back to when you had to put it down to go to work, cook, or let the dog out. The one you thought about for days afterward. The one that made you go back and read everything else that author had written. The one you told all of your friends and family they needed to read next.

Sometimes a book that good leads to a reading slump, where nothing seems to catch your interest. Luckily, your Ames Public Library staff can help! One of my favorite parts of my job is connecting customers to their next great read. I usually start by asking about books they’ve read recently and loved, and finding out what they loved about those books. I can start piecing together the similarities and find other books I think they’ll like too. Contemporary fiction by Asian authors? Check. Enemies-to-lovers romance? Check. Pulse-pounding suspense? Check.

You’re always welcome to chat with the staff at our Adult or Youth Services desks for some great recommendations. But if you’re pressed for time, we’ve got several other options to help connect you to the perfect page-turner.

One option is to fill out our Personalized Picks form, found on our website ( under “Books, Movies & More” then “Recommendations.” The form asks a series of questions about your likes and dislikes, some favorite titles, and which types of ability, LGBTQIA+, or racial representation you’d like to see in your list. When you click submit, the form makes its way to one of our Youth or Adult Services staff and they curate a customized list of book recommendations just for you, including a short blurb about why they think you’ll like the book. In fact, I have a Personalized Picks waiting in my inbox right now, and I’m eagerly anticipating the chance to connect this person to some new-to-them suggestions.

If you’d like to hear about a wide variety of books or try a new genre and don’t know where to start, our book newsletters may be the perfect fit. You can find them further down on the “Recommendations” page, and either subscribe to receive them monthly or bimonthly (depending on the newsletter), or click on the title to view the current issue. We just doubled the number we offer, and each newsletter includes short descriptions of several new releases and a short list of older titles on a theme. For example, this month’s mystery newsletter spotlights mysteries tied to Shakespeare in one way or another, the picture books newsletter showcases great storytime books to read aloud, and the armchair travel newsletter features travel memoirs involving cats.

If you love fiction, explore Christian Fiction, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fiction A to Z, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Romance, or Thrillers and Suspense.

If you love nonfiction, check out Armchair Travel; Biography and Memoir; Healthy, Wealthy and Wise; History and Current Events; Home, Garden and DIY; Nature and Science; or Spirituality and Religion.

Whether you like to read the book or watch the movie first, take a look at our new Page to Screen newsletter, which highlights books and their film adaptations, along with where you can watch them.

If you enjoy looking at books from our Youth collections or have a young person in your life, you might find some great options in Picture Books, Books for Kids and Tweens, or Teen Scene.

For folks who like to explore all kinds of books but don’t have time to wander the stacks, try NoveList, a library database that connects books and readers. You can search for a favorite author, title, or series and find books with similar characteristics. If you know which elements you like in your books, you can pinpoint a specific type of character, setting, or atmosphere. NoveList can be found on our website under “Learn & Explore” then “Online Learning.”

It’s a big literary world out there, and your APL staff love connecting you to your next favorite book in person, by email, or online!