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Six Ways to Select Your Next Read

Six Ways to Select Blog

One of the true perks of working at a bookstore is receiving advance publicity and advance reader copies (ARCs).  But, one of the most challenging parts of working at a bookstore is seeing all the advance publicity and ARCs.  The adage, “so many books, so little time,” is very apt for all of us who work in a bookstore.

Recently someone asked me “how do you decide which books to read?”  Here are six things that help me decide.  I’d love to hear from others on how they select a book (and hope some folks say, because I saw it at Beaverdale Books.)

Many times, I select a book because it is by an author whose previous books I have loved.  Sometimes I choose a book simply based on its cover or title.  Oftentimes, I pick the book because I have seen a review or it’s been recommended by someone.  And I’m always on the lookout for a book by someone from Iowa. So here’s a collection of new or soon-to-be published books that are on my anticipated reads list.

  1. Because I Have Loved Other Books by the Author

Crook Manifesto, Colson Whitehead

Whitehead continues his Harlem saga in a novel that summons 1970s New York in all its seedy glory. – July 18

Covenant of Water, Abraham Verghese

From the New York Times–bestselling author of Cutting for Stone comes a stunning and magisterial new epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala and following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret.  –May 2

The Ferryman, Justin Cronin

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Passage comes a riveting standalone novel about a group of survivors on a hidden island utopia–where the truth isn’t what it seems. –May 2

Romantic Comedy, Curtis Sittenfeld

A comedy writer thinks she’s sworn off love, until a dreamily handsome pop star flips the script on all her assumptions.   –April 4

Trackers, Charles Frazier

From the New York Times bestselling author of Cold Mountain and Varina, a stunning new novel that paints a vivid portrait of life in the Great Depression –April 11

Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club, J. Ryan Stradal

From the New York Times bestselling author J. Ryan Stradal, a story of a couple from two very different restaurant families in rustic Minnesota, and the legacy of love and tragedy, of hardship and hope, that unites and divides them. Plus, he’s coming to Des Moines on May 1! –April 18

  1. Because I Love the Title

I Have Some Questions for You, Rebecca Makkai

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by TIME, NPR, The Seattle Times, Good Housekeeping, Today, Southern Living, and CrimeReads.  The riveting new novel from the author of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, The Great Believers – February 21

The Creative Act: A Way of Being, Rick Rubin

  From the legendary music producer, a master at helping people connect with the wellsprings of their creativity, comes a beautifully crafted book many years in the making that offers that same deep wisdom to all of us. – January 17

Cold People, Tom Rob Smith

The world has fallen. Without warning, a mysterious and omnipotent force has claimed the planet for their own. There are no negotiations, no demands, no reasons given for their actions. All they have is a message: humanity has thirty days to reach the one place on Earth where they will be allowed to exist… Antarctica.  –January 19

You Could Make this Place Beautiful, Maggie Smith

Like the work of Deborah Levy, Rachel Cusk, and Gina Frangello, this is an unflinching look at what it means to live and write our own lives. –April 11

  1. Because I Read Great Reviews:

Hell Bent (Alex Sturn #2), Leigh Bardugo

Wealth. Power. Murder. Magic. Alex Stern is back and the Ivy League is going straight to hell in #1 New York Times bestselling author’s latest book.  –January 10

Really Good, Actually, Monica Helsey 

A hilarious and painfully relatable debut novel about one woman’s messy search for joy and meaning in the wake of an unexpected breakup, from comedian, essayist, and award-winning screenwriter Monica Helsey –January 11

Yellowface, R.F. Kuang

What’s the harm in a pseudonym? New York Times bestselling sensation Juniper Song is not who she says she is, she didn’t write the book she claims she wrote, and she is most certainly not Asian American–in this chilling and hilariously cutting novel from R. F. Kuang in the vein of White Ivy and The Other Black Girl. –May 25

A Living Remedy, Nicole Chung

NBCC Award finalist and PEN Open Book Award semifinalist for her memoir ALL YOU CAN EVER KNOW Nicole Chung’s untitled examination of class, grief, and healthcare inequality, navigating the gap between her working-class roots and the world she now inhabits—and the struggles her family faced leading up to her father’s death.  –April 4

The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants, Orlando Ortega-Medina 

Award-winning author and immigration attorney Orlando Ortega-Medina returns to 1990s San Francisco in this powerful family drama that plays out within a captivating legal thriller.  –April 24 

  1. Because It’s About a Woman

Maame, Jessica George

Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures―and celebrates finally being able to find where you belong. –January 31

How to Think Like a Woman, Regan Penaluna

From a bold new voice in nonfiction, an exhilarating account of the lives and works of influential 17th and 18th century feminist philosophers Mary Wollstonecraft and her predecessors who have been written out of history, and a searing look at the author’s experience of patriarchy and sexism in academia. Plus it’s set in Iowa AND it has a great cover!  —March 14

What Happened to Ruthy Remrez, Claire Jimenez 

A deeply powerful, raw debut novel of a Puerto Rican family in Staten Island who discovers their long‑missing sister is potentially alive and cast on a reality TV show, and they set out to bring her home. –March 7

Old Babes, Margaret Atwood 

A dazzling collection of fifteen short stories from Margaret Atwood, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments. –March 7

  1. Because the Author Grew Up in Iowa

I Swear: Politics Is Messier Than My Minivan, Katie Porter

An honest, inspiring, and laugh-out-loud funny memoir about re-energizing our politics and standing up to corporate America–while carting three kids around in a minivan.  –April 11

The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness, Robert Waldinger, MD & Marc Schulz, PhD

What makes for a happy life, a fulfilling life? A good life? According to the directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, the answer to these questions may be closer than you realize. — January 11

  1. Because I’m Intrigued by the Covers

The Last Animal, Ramona Ausubel 

A playful, witty, and resonant novel in which a single mother and her two teen daughters engage in a wild scientific experiment and discover themselves in the process, from the award-winning writer of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty. –-April 18

 Quietly Hostile, Samantha Irby  

This is not an advice book. Samantha Irby doesn’t know anything.  After fleeing Chicago to quarantine at home in Michigan, Irby finds herself bleaching groceries and wondering if her upper lip hairs are visible on Zoom. Her career reaches new heights: she gets to work with the iconic ladies of Sex and the City – her dream – but behind the new-found glam, Irby is just trying to keep her life together. –-June 6

Big Swiss, Jen Beagin 

A brilliantly original and funny novel about a sex therapist’s transcriptionist who falls in love with a client while listening to her sessions. When they accidentally meet in real life, an explosive affair ensues.  –-February 7



This blog is written by Jan Danielson Kaiser.  Jan is Marketing & Events Coordinator for Beaverdale Books, where she hosts and promotes author events, reads a multitude of ARCs, and elicits occasional eyerolls from her coworkers for her enthusiastic responses to books and readers.