Over the holiday break, I received a call from a client who wanted to chat about our book reviews. She said her husband used our reviews to determine the best books to purchase for his key clients as gifts for special occasions. During our conversation, she asked me a question that actually caught me a bit off guard. She asked, "How do you decide which books to spotlight on your web site?" I really hadn’t given that much thought before. I started sharing some of the factors I took into consideration and soon had an interesting list. I thought the content might be useful to some of you who enjoy reading and would rather not waste your time and money by making a poor choice of reading material.

Please keep in mind that these guidelines are what I use in choosing a book to review. They may very well fail to meet your needs. I must choose titles that I feel will benefit our vast variety of clients by meeting their individual needs. You, of course, must determine your own content needs and desires. However, once you’ve done so, you might find these tips helpful in finalizing your decision.

Once I focus on the content I’m looking for, I then take the following areas into consideration.

The Author
Does he/she have a reputation of knowing the subject matter? Does the author have a writing style I enjoy reading and can easily comprehend? Has the author written other books that have been readily accepted by the reading public? (Note: I’ve also read many excellent books that have been written by first-time authors. Be flexible here.) Does the author utilize some of the techniques I describe in this article?

A Catchy Title
Obviously you don’t buy a book for the title alone. However, once you know the content you’re looking for, the title reveals much about the content. I’m looking for a title and subtitle that immediately tell me what the book is about while still telling that this author has a sense of humor and creativity that can immediately catch my eye. Chances are good that if I find those characteristics in the title, I’ll find them between the covers as well. Humor and creativity will certainly enhance my read. Examples: Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers, Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos, and Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?

Jacket Content
The author has limited space to attract my attention and convince me to purchase his/her offering. What they do with the front and back of the jacket cover can make a big difference to many potential readers. Title, subtitle, color, design, print size, use of graphics/pictures, and quotes from noted authorities in the same field can combine to draw me in or send me on my way. Inside, the front and rear jacket flaps should give me a good idea of what lies within, the style and credentials of the author, and the credibility of the content.

Table of Contents
A quick glance at the table of contents is very important to me as it’s much like examining the blueprint of a major project. It’s an excellent indicator of whether this content can and will meet your particular needs and desires. It can be an excellent book without meeting your personal criteria, but will that be useful to you?

Every author should be well aware of the fact that his potential readers fall into one of three categories when it comes to reading styles. We are dominantly auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. Auditory readers are very comfortable and best comprehend content by simply reading the words or having the words read to them. They may very well get more from a book recorded on cassette or CD. Visual readers interpret the message better if the words are accompanied by pictures, graphics, charts, etc. Kinesthetic readers master content much more successfully by utilizing the "hands-on" approach to learning. They especially enjoy exercises at the end of each chapter, assignments, links to web sites for further study, etc. Knowing the BIG THREE should encourage any author to include something for each style of reader. I’m constantly amazed when I find a book by a reputable author that is nothing but the printed word from cover to cover. He/she obviously has not provided something for the latter two styles.

A quick flip of the pages will tell you if the author has considered the various styles of potentials readers. In addition to what I mentioned above, look for various sizes and styles of font, bullet points, steps, chapter summaries, stories, analogies, notable quotes that easily stand out, icons, lists, boxed content, color, book lists, appendix, index, questionnaires and maybe even a CD or DVD attached to the back cover. That author should be doing everything necessary to meet your needs as well as providing an enjoyable experience for you.

Not every book will meet every one of the guidelines mentioned here. However, the more you find available to you as a reader, the more you’ll enjoy your learning endeavor. If you’re one of the growing number of people today who would like to be able to read more but simply can’t find the time, be sure to check the Resources area of our blog and read the article titled "Read 52 Books Next Year!" You’ll be amazed at how easy it really is!

Author's Bio: 

Harry K. Jones is a professional speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a firm specializing in custom-designed keynote presentations, seminars, and consulting services. Harry has appeared all over North America addressing topics such as change, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork and time management for a number of industries, including education, financial, government, healthcare, hospitality, and manufacturing. He can be reached at 800-886-2MAX or by visiting http://www.AchieveMax.com.

Tips for Choosing a Great Book was originally printed in the "Resources" feature for the AchieveMax® Blog.

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