If you were to ask me who I look up to the most, what kind of person I would like to model myself after, most of my answers would be fairly mundane. I would tell you that I want to strive toward the kindness of my mother and my father’s wit. I respect everything about my brother’s openness and ability to be wholly himself. But right after talking about members of my family, close friends and maybe a few teachers, I would tell you that if I could be anything at all like Stephen King, I would be happy.
Yes, I am talking about the guy you think I’m talking about. That Stephen King: the popular horror writer. I love Stephen King. He’s easily my favorite author, and I feel like in a lot of ways, he’s probably my hero too, ridiculous as that may sound.
I respect the way that King takes the time to develop every character, no matter how small their role in the story might be. His characters are real and human and important. Always. Everyone has fear, doubts, anxieties, highs, lows, all of it, and King really seems to get that. He captures it better than any other writer I’ve read.
And on top of all of that attention to character development, he just writes damn entertaining stories. King has a knack for making things scary that normally wouldn’t be. He tells great stories, and he tells a lot of them. His ability to crank out awesome books so quickly is just one more reason he’s a hero of mine.
Honestly, I could write an entire article about my love for Stephen King. (Hey, maybe one day I will. I’ve read nearly everything he’s ever written, and I have a lot of opinions. Too many, some might say. But I digress.) This isn’t an article about Stephen King’s writing. It’s bigger than that. This is about helping others find a love for reading like the one that King has inspired for me.
I got my King obsession from my dad. It’s pretty much directly inherited. I always tell people that I was raised on three things: “The Simpsons,” Stephen King, and “Seinfeld.” I feel like I had a pretty great childhood.
From a young age — maybe even a little too young for horror books — I started picking up King books from my dad’s bookshelf and pouring through them. But my true love for King didn’t come until much later.
My love for King really bloomed when I started finding people to talk about his books with. Conversation, as it usually does for me, enhanced the experience of reading. Sure, I had always discussed the books with my dad, but the Internet gave me a much wider outlet for my opinions.
Suddenly I could talk to anyone, anywhere about the religious symbolism in The Stand. I could debate the merits of King’s original The Shining versus Kubrick’s loose film adaptation. My love for King, and really for reading in general, grew in ways it never had before.
These days, I almost always decide what to read from recommendations or information I’ve found on the Internet. When I’m in need of a new book, I turn immediately to Twitter and Facebook. I have plenty of friends online whose taste I trust completely. If we’re being honest, I often start with Stephen King’s Twitter account. He’s always talking about what he’s reading, and obviously I trust his opinions.
If you’re new to searching the Internet for book suggestions, I’m happy to help. Social media is a great place to turn. It makes asking easy, it makes searching easy and people are usually more than happy to give suggestions. When I’m reading a great book, I want the whole world to read it too. Tons of people are like that. Especially online.
So, to make your life easier, I’ve made a simple guide to finding books using social media.
First: Determine what you’re looking for. – Obviously your search is going to be a lot easier if you have some idea regarding what kind of book you want to read. Know if you’re searching for fiction or nonfiction. If you prefer a specific genre, be aware of that too. If you typically like sci-fi and fantasy, you might not want to consult a romance fan for ideal recommendations.
Second: Tell people what you’re looking for. – The easiest way to find anything on social media is typically just to ask for it. If you want recommendations from your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or any other site, tell them. As I said before, people are usually more than happy to share their recommendations. Often they want to talk about what they’re reading. When I’m looking for a new book to read, sometimes all it takes is one tweet and I get endless possibilities. People can be incredibly helpful online, but you have to take the initiative to ask.
Third: Know where to look. – Some sites are going to be better than others when it comes to finding book recommendations, so you can make your search ten times easier by skipping the less helpful sites and going straight to the best ones. Here are the top places I go looking for books.
1. Goodreads – If you’re trying to decide what to read next, it doesn’t get much better than this site. It is the social media site for book lovers. After setting up a profile on Goodreads, you can share what you’re reading, what you plan to read and what you have read in the past. You can review the books you’ve liked, and discuss the positives and negatives of books with other readers. You can subscribe to other people’s profiles and keep up with what they’re enjoying. I’m subscribed to Stephen King, of course. He’s a fairly active Goodreads user. He reviews things constantly. Currently, I’m reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt because King said that he loved it on Goodreads. So far, I love it too. Goodreads is the absolute best place to foster a love for reading. It truly is the best site to visit, and there’s a good chance it’s the only place you’ll need to look.
2. Twitter – I know, I know. I’m biased. I just really love Twitter. Probably more than I should, in fact, but I’ve had great experiences with this site. If you use Twitter regularly and have friends who you talk to often, then there’s a good chance they know your interests. I know my friends on Twitter always know when I’m going to like or dislike something. They’ve followed me long enough to understand my tastes. For that reason, Twitter can be the best place in the world for book recommendations. However, if you don’t use Twitter very often, it might be better to skip this one.
3. Facebook – This is basically the same situation as Twitter. Your friends might know you well enough to give you great recommendations, or posting on Facebook could be a massive waste of time. If you use the site often, use your judgment before seeking book ideas there.
Though I’ve only listed three sites, these will probably be all you need. (Honestly, Goodreads is all you need. It’s easily the best option.) Of course you could always use similar sites like Google Plus, but they’re going to give you the same results as Facebook or Twitter. If you have a strong following and close friends on the site, you’ll get decent results there. Otherwise, it’s not worth the time it’ll take to post.
What it comes down to is simply knowing what you’re looking for. And if you aren’t looking for anything specific, then it comes down to asking.
When it’s all said and done, my best advice for you is that you sign up for a free account on Goodreads immediately. It’s social media for books, plain and simple, and it’s the best place to get recommendations on what to read next.
Hey, you could always ask me. In fact, and this is mostly because I am one of those people who feels the need to share the great books I’ve read, here are a few books that I would recommend to anyone. If nothing else, these can get you started.
The Stand by Stephen King: It should come as no surprise that after this article that my first recommendation is a King book. And this is probably the most intense of them all. It’s apocalyptic and vast and so amazing. It’s actually my favorite book ever, so I’m constantly urging people to read it.
The Harry Potter series – JK Rowling: I’m not even explaining this one. If for some reason you haven’t read these books yet, do it. Do it right now.
The Song of Ice and Fire series – George RR Martin: There’s a reason everyone’s talking about Game of Thrones, and it’s because Martin has told a ridiculously good story and created so many full, impressive characters with these books. Everyone, fan of fantasy or not, can find something to enjoy with them.
One Last Thing Before I Go – Jonathan Tropper: Really, anything by Tropper is worth reading, but this one stood out to me. Tropper has a fresh, witty style that’s always entertaining. He writes about familial relationships in a way that’s honest and refreshing.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding: It’s the best of the best. Dark, twisted, thought-provoking. I reread it constantly, and I’m always impressed.
The Long Walk by Richard Bachman: Bet you thought I wouldn’t sneak another Stephen King books in here… Wrong! Bachman is a pen name that King used secretly for years. King wrote quite a few books under the name, but this one is my favorite. It’s a dystopian story that delves deep into its characters. Though the plot is simple, the emotions aren’t. I recommend this to everyone I know.
So now you have a few different options, if you’re too lazy to look anywhere else. If you want to talk about this article, or you’re looking for more book recommendations, — Don’t worry; I’ve got tons! — contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SkyyTweet. Thanks for reading!