Life is short and there are more books out there than you can read in a lifetime. You don’t want to waste what little time you have on this Earth reading junk that doesn’t help you at all. That’s why I’m highly selective when I choose to read another book.
This matrix represents how I think whenever I make a new purchase:
The matrix applies to all purchases, not just books. You want the majority of your purchases to be “worth it”, at least in the beginning. Once you have tried all the popular and highly rated things you care to try, you are ready to niche down and find those “hidden gems”. If you want to niche down even further and take a risk of buying a bad product, you can try obscure products with low ratings. Sometimes it’s a good product but the right audience hasn’t found it yet, so the few wrong people who found it gave it low ratings. You need to avoid buying anything in the “well-marketed junk” category. These are things that a lot of people have tried and most of them think it was a waste of time and money.
Going back to books, this means that you should only buy books on Amazon that have at least 4.5 stars and hundreds of reviews. These are sure to be good books.
After you have consumed all the “worth it” books, you might want to look for “hidden gems.” These are the books that have 4.5+ stars, but only a few reviews.
Then if you want to go even deeper into a genre, you can look at the books with few reviews and a low rating. Most of the time the low rating is justified, but occasionally you will find a useful book in the “junk” category.
Once again, avoid the “well-marketed junk” at all costs. These books have hundreds of reviews—and they are mostly bad reviews.
Amazon book chaining
On each book page, Amazon has a “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section showing related books that people with similar interests have bought. Sometimes I decide what to read next by looking for “worth it” books in this section. You can generate a whole reading list like this. I call it “chaining.”
Just for fun, here is a chain of 12 books I generated, starting with one of my favorite books ever, The 4-Hour Workweek:
I can’t guarantee that you will enjoy all of these books because you are entitled to your own opinions, but I can guarantee that they are all good books. I’ve read five of them, and they were all worth reading.
Disclosure: Links to Amazon are affiliate links