Did you ever have a bad reading experience because of an impulsive purchase at a book store or market? I did and I set myself the goal to find a way to avoid having such an experience again. As an Italian who was born and raised in Germany, I had little contact with English books. When I was 18 years old and went for a trip to Canada, I eventually found myself in an English book store. I cannot remember the title but I remember that I stopped reading the book halfway. What a waste of money and time. Things only changed a couple of years later, when I learned about the wisdom of the crowds. Its central thesis is that a diverse collection of independently deciding individuals is likely to make certain types of decisions and predictions better than individuals or even experts. By using the wisdom of the crowds, you will able to find the greatest books of all times.
1. Know yourself and your reading interests
It starts with knowing yourself. What do you like to read about? Personally, I am interested in many things but am especially enthusiastic about business, literature, philosophy, psychology, relationships, and spirituality. That does not mean that I would like to work as a philosopher, psychologist, or engage in spiritual work but these are the subject that I find interesting and like to read about. I spent a bit of time on Amazon and Wikipedia to research all available book subject categories and marked the ones I found most interesting for further research. Finally, I found a couple of subjects I wanted to study further. I am also sure that my interests will change as time passes. I also try to listen to my intuition to figure out what interests I want to further develop.
2. Search the bestsellers in your category
After I knew the subject categories I wanted to look deeper into, I used Amazon and Goodreads to find the bestsellers, the ones with the highest rankings and best user reviews. After I spotted the bestsellers, I read through their blurbs and decided whether to save the titles or not. By going to the business & money category on Amazon, I found Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It currently has 4.500 user reviews and 84 percent of users gave a four or five star rating.
3. Use Amazon and Goodreads to find related books
Once I found a couple of bestsellers, I went to Amazon and scrolled down to the section where you see what other customers bought: the access point to the wisdom of the crowds. Other people who read your selected book read other books similar to the one you selected. Since I chose Stephen R. Covey’s book, Amazon showed me that other people bought and read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends & Influence People, Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich, and other highly ranked books in the same category. Additionally, I checked Stephen R. Covey’s book on Goodreads and went through all lists in which the book is included.
Soon, I had a broad overview over the best books in my selected subject categories. Anytime I buy any of these books, there is a very high chance that I find it as valuable and readable as the hundreds or thousands of people who had the same experience. In addition, by following these steps, you will quickly become an expert. By consuming the best information in your field of interest, you will pick up the used industry jargon and learn to speak and think in the same language as experts do.
This method even works in the subject category of literature. I had a discussion with a literature student while being in Amsterdam and he was impressed that I, being a business enthusiast, knew about Albert Camus, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Oscar Wilde.
4. Create an account with Goodreads and stay up to date
Lastly, sign up on Goodreads and keep an eye on what is trending. You do not want to miss the next bestseller in your favourite subject category. Since using the combination of Amazon and Goodreads, I came across hundreds of great books and created a very long reading list. Today, I do not buy anymore on impulse just because of a great cover design or an interesting blurb, I use the wisdom of the crowds and read books that have been validated as good reads.