Why bother reading classics, fiction, anything really if it isn't going to give you money or a career? Because 'how to human' is difficult to learn and this is your most likely shot at learning it. Textbooks and nonfiction will make you smarter, but fiction will give you wisdom. Each book is the distilled wisdom of one person's mind, life, and ideas. If you really think you've got all the answers without even looking at or thinking about what they made, you've shut yourself in a cage and thrown away the key.
- Check out your local library’s online reading access. If you have a library card, you can read books online. In fact this often works for all libraries in your state; try your luck with a library in the biggest metropolis in the state; check out their website at least. I must warn you however that the Axis 360 software used to read books is BAD, and ebook library access tends to be clunky and badly programmed. Looking forward to the inevitable tech upgrade.
- Ask all of your friends and family, especially in other states, if you can use their library cards online. Their library systems likely have different ebooks, giving you a greater variety to choose from. This is a major reason I think the library system in the US needs to be made into one united system nationwide - your average small town library doesn't have much, and even big cities lack large chunks of important informative books, especially textbooks. A nationwide library could provide online and in-library reference access to textbooks, decreasing student debt everywhere.
- If you have access to physical library books then take advantage of a thing called interlibrary loan. You place an order for books located at another library in your library’s “family of libraries” in-state network, wait two weeks, and then your books arrive.
- To find the best, most tantalizing books faster, first use search terms on your library's catalog online. Make a list using paper or using your library card and an online account; some library websites have this feature. Keyword searches are generally the best. Once you've made a list of these, check them out. Post-pandemic, don't check them out but instead go to the library, skim through them, discard the ones that are boring and keep the interesting ones and check only those out. Why do this? Because for some reason publishers have lowered their standards recently and absolute garbage is getting churned out in large amounts, filling library shelves with it and wasting your time if you're trying to actually find something worth the read. This way it's like using magnets to find needles in a haystack.
- If you have a choice of books but aren't sure what to read, try asking a kind librarian or someone that you like talking to.
- If you have required reading of “classics” in school, you can often find manga or zombie versions in your library. For instance, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or Manga Classics: Jane Eyre. This can really save you if you hate reading that crap.
- Helpful for book reports: BookAMinute Ultra Condensed Classic books. Summarizes each one in roughly one page.
- Generally speaking if you like one work by a specific author it's usually fun to read everything else they wrote, too. Especially helpful when you're supposed to get a certain number of books read for some reason.
- Cheap places to get books/textbooks online: Better World Books, Amazon, eBay, sometimes Chegg. I have serious loyalty to Better World Books because they have regular sales, free fast shipping, and hard-to-find books. They've kept me entertained for a good year of buying books every single month.
- To see if something is worth buying or checking out from the library first look it up on Amazon and use its "Look Inside" feature to flip through a few pages. Also see its reviews on Goodreads.
- If you are looking for something specific bookwise, such as good books in a particular genre, browse the lists at Goodreads here.
- To try to read books online check out Internet Archive
- For historic or old books try Project Gutenberg
- Here is a list of books reddit people say everyone should read Reddit thread and thankfully this thread provides reasons instead of just "read this it good"
- Here is a list of books people claim changed their lives Reddit thread
- Here is a list of books that are often required reading in high school Goodreads
- Here is a list of the most influential books in history Goodreads
- Here are a bunch of crowdsourced lists of the "best books" in various categories Ranker
A list of books I've personally read that broadened my perspective on things, which you might like, or maybe not, listed by genre
- The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
- Texas Skies by Debbie Macomber
- Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins
- A Cowboy's Redemption by Jeannie Watt
- The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
- The Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem
- Just about everything by Jules Verne
- Tom Clancy novels, written by Tom Clancy
- Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
- Basically anything by Alistair MacLean
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu
- The Prince by Nicolo Macchiavelli
- The 42 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
- Five Rings by Musashi
- Choose Your Own Adventure Series - the literary equivalent of Dark Souls
REALISTIC FICTION/SOCIAL COMMENTARY
- To Kill A Mockingbird
- The Outsiders
- Catcher in the Rye
- Atlas Shrugged
- A Clockwork Orange
- Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, that series
- The Godfather
- Roald Dahl's books for children
- The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
- Mary Poppins series
- The Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion, and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Basically anything compiled by Shakespeare
- The Epic of Gilgamesh
- Stories of King Arthur, any and all sources and authors
- Interview with the Vampire series by Anne Rice
- There's a trinity here imho: Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, and Raymond Chandler
- Brother Cadfael series
ANY RELIGIOUS TEXT
- Haha good luck, you'll be reading for the next ten years
- The Bible: New and Old Testament - different versions say completely different things in multiple places
- The Qur'an
Reading is good, but not enough for helping you understand the world, life, the universe, etc. Listen to music. Watch movies. Pay attention to your life as you are living it. Notice the details. Be here now, in the present, and pay attention.
Big Brain Time