How to Find a Good Book: Introducing The Four Doorways

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How many of you struggle to decide what to read next? Well, I’m happy to tell you that knowing how to find a good book is something you can learn.

There are so many places to look for good book recommendations, it can be overwhelming. Plus, what might be a good book for someone else might not be a good book for you. Everyone has different tastes in books. We all read books from our own unique perspective. The key is that our perspective often reflects the doorway that we enter a book through. 

Wait what? A doorway? Yes. A Doorway.

Here’s an example of A Doorway:

The last book that I read and loved was All The Ugly & Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood. What I loved most about this book was the main characters, Wavy and Kellen. They were engaging and captivating. The author did such a great job describing them and making them feel like real people. The whole story was carried by these characters. All the events of the story were slightly less important than the characters themselves. The book was a coming of age story about Wavy and Kellen’s relationship that could be considered taboo to some, or tragically beautiful to others.

You can read my full review of this book in my March Reading Wrap Up.

Since the most important aspect in this book were the characters, this book could be considered to have a large character doorway.

But that is just one of the four doorways.

Nancy Pearl’s Four Doorways

Nancy Pearl how to find a good book four doorways
Credit: https://www.nancypearl.com/about-nancy

The concept of the four doorways was developed by Nancy Pearl, a renowned librarian who made finding the best books for each individual the focus of her career. The four doorways represent how a reader experiences a book. When you are looking for a good book to read, you are actually looking for a pleasurable and enjoyable reading experience. That is why every reader is going to enjoy a book at a different level of pleasure.

The four doorways are character, setting, story, and language. 

I shared an example already of the Character doorway, so let’s take a look at the other three doorways.

Setting Doorway:

Books with a larger setting doorway give a reader a strong sense of being there. These are worldbuilding books that allow you to fully escape into them and visit their locations. 

These books are often in the Fantasy, Science-Fiction, and Historical Fiction genres. 

Story Doorway: 

Books with a larger story doorway have a lot of action and are books that you often don’t want to put down when reading. They are page-turners! You might even stay up all night to finish it! When you talk about this book, you describe the events more than anything else. 

These books are usually best-sellers and are the most popular and talked about. They can often be in the Mystery and Thriller genres too. 

Language Doorway:

Books with a larger language doorway often draw in the reader with their beautiful, lyrical, and even poetic writing style. You might be in wonder at how the author uses language, and see this as more important than what is actually being said. 

Many award-winning books in the Literary Fiction genre have this doorway. 

The Foor Doorways – How do they work?

Our reading experiencing will be greatly improved if we read a book that fits the doorway we would like to enter from. Most books have a combination of all four doorways, but their sizes will be different. You will enjoy a book more if the largest doorway resembles what you love most about a book. 

That is why what I really like in a book might be different from what you really like about a book, especially when we enter through different doorways of similar size.

Let’s go back to my example with All the Ugly and Wonderful Things.

I loved this book because of Wavy and Kellen. But maybe you loved it because the story flowed with one bad event after another and it really moved along quickly. We both end up loving the book, but what we loved about it are different aspects that resonate with our perspective and what we enjoy about reading. 

You can learn more about each Doorway from Nancy Pearl’s website or from her book Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment and Reason.

How Does This Help You Find a Good Book?

Well, it demonstrates that knowing what you like in a book is important. Our time is precious. If you are an avid reader like me, you are constantly feeling like there are so many books and too little time. We don’t want to “waste” your time reading a book that we aren’t going to enjoy. 

So, think about the last one or two books that you read that you really enjoyed.

What did you like about them? Don’t try to think about what it was about. Just think about why you liked it.

Jot down any reasons that come to mind.

Now, take a look at those reasons.

Do they have to do more with the characters? Are you describing the relationships, the friendships, their well-roundedness, their coming of age? If so, then you like books that are Character-Driven (aka a larger Character doorway).

Were you more engaged by the story? Did you enjoy it because it was a fast-paced page-turner that captured your attention? Were you thrilled, scared and engrossed by the adventure? If so, then you might enjoy books that are Plot-Driven (aka a larger Plot doorway).

Do you read to escape? Do you like to travel to magical or fantastic worlds? Go back in time? Visit outer-space? Were you caught up in the atmosphere and the imagination of the author’s writing? If so, then you might enjoy books that are Setting-Driven (aka a larger Setting doorway).

Did you think a book had beautiful and lyrical writing? Can you appreciate all the metaphors and ironies? Have you made a long list of quotes while reading it? If so, then you might enjoy books that are Language-Driven (aka a larger language doorway).

Remember, most books have all four doorways in them, but some doorways will be larger than others. It all depends on the author’s writing style and the book’s genre. 

You also don’t have to choose just one doorway. You might like a book for a combination of these reasons.

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A ‘Good’ Book for Me

Most of the books that I end up loving are Character-Driven, but I also enjoy a Plot-Driven book. The Character and Story doorways often go hand and hand. I also appreciate a book that is Language-Driven, because I enjoy literary fiction and books that are beautifully written.

While setting is important, and I enjoy traveling to new places, it is often the least important factor in determining my enjoyment of a book. And that’s probably why I don’t read a lot of Fantasy and Science Fiction novels where Setting is often the largest doorway. 

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Next Steps to Finding a “Good” Book

Now that you know what makes a book enjoyable for you, how do you find these books?

There are many places to get book recommendations, including this blog site! Over time the number of book review posts and lists on here will grow giving you even more suggestions to choose from! 

But what I suggest doing right now is to start thinking about the genre of a book you have read and loved, and start exploring new books in that genre. 

YouTube and Pinterest are actually great places to get book recommendations. There are a growing number of content creators like myself who want to share our book knowledge with you and help you find your next great read. Find ones that read in your favourite genre.

On Youtube, Jacqueline from We Be Book’n loves thrillers and romance. Kayla of BooksandLala loves contemporary, anthologies, and a good mix of thrillers. 

On Pinterest, you will be linked to many other excellent book bloggers. The Uncorked Librarian has many great resources about books that are set around the world. You can also just search for thrillers or historical fiction or true crime (or any genre!) and find great blog posts and lists of book titles. 

Continue to read books by the same author, because most likely their writing style won’t change too much in terms of their book’s doorways. 

Then, you can search for all those books at your local library or favourite bookseller!

Over time, you’ll get to know more about your own reading tastes as you continue reading. You will be able to decipher which books you are going to enjoy based on their description and genre. 

I also have more blog posts planned that will help you find reliable sources for book recommendations, suggest books for your preferred doorway, and get to know yourself better as a reader. 

Lastly, I am also always available to offer personalized book recommendations. Visit my Contact page to learn how to reach me.

I would be so happy to help you find your next great read! 

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