How To Vet Books


Terminology

Amazon Book Charts: A list of top 20 books on the Amazon website separated by best selling and most read. It is updated weekly and includes Kindle and Audible statistics.

Genre: A product(book) created in relevance to a topic.

Vet: To investigate something to know whether or not to approve it.


Vetting books is a skill necessary to learn to avoid learning harmful material. The goal of an author is to change the reader. I’ll share with you a modern vetting system, using Amazon, and explain the danger of the author’s intent.

Pick a genre

Choosing a random genre will take out the deliberation of the growing process and cause a random result. The first thing you have to know to deliberely learn is, “what do you want in general?”, then, “What do you want to get out of the book?”. Let what you want in life dictate what you get from a book and not the other way around.

If you want to become fit or lose weight or even gain weight then a fitness book is a good place to start. If you want to learn how to socialize more effectively than a book on communication is for you. With these in mind a history book won’t cause the reform desired.

Use Amazon to find books


The selection of books available on Amazon in 2019 is invaluable. It is possible to choose any topic and find a book on it and buy it on Amazon. In fact I search for new books on Amazon based on genre, Amazon charts and reviews.

For someone beginning to read books for the first time Amazon charts are probably all they need. For people who want to go deeper into a subject and need specific knowledge they will need to dissect the book beforehand to know if it’s in there. I will cover as briefly as possible how Amazon charts work and the dissection of books.

Look at Amazon charts
Every week the Amazon charts are updated. On the desktop version of the website there is a top 20 list that is hard to get to on the mobile version. To find it you may have to switch modes using your browser settings on your phone.

The longer a book is in this top 20 list the more effective the book must be. Long-standing books in the Amazon charts are highly bound to influence your decision making during the reading process.

Using Amazon’s charts

Here are the two types of charts for books in early 2019. First is best-selling(salesmanship). Second is most read(based on digital kindle/audible statistics). Most read is a more dependable metric for measuring the books personal impact because of the read through rate. More reading means the content is effectively influential. Salesmanship could have just been an elaborate marketing ploy with a bad book.

There are different lists per genre of books.  To find them the desktop version of Amazon is necessary. It will take a few minutes of exploration to find the Amazon charts for each genre but it is worth it.  The website changes so muc if I post how to do it today in a few weeks it will change.

Use Amazon reviews

If the Amazon charts are not cutting it for the genre/specific knowledge then the first thing I look at when searching for books is the number of reviews. If there are over a 1000 reviews it is highly bound to be an effective book at changing its reader. Once I have found an influential book the second thing I look at is the ratio of 5 star reviews to 4-star reviews and below.

If 80% of the reviews are 5 star and it has 1000+ reviews then the book definitely is influential, interesting and well written. I make a list and add the book to it. Long lists of influential books can be made and sorted through for finding the best information for a genre or topic.

Dissecting and choosing books


The final thing I do is dissect the most influential books for specific knowledge. I do this by looking at the table of contents in the Amazon previewer(shown above) and verify its credibility with the author’s biography. If both are solid then I check a few 4-star ratings and try to find out why they did not give them a 5-star rating. 4-star ratings are great for finding honest reviews. Usually this is enough to know whether a book is worthy of a full read.

The danger of not knowing your author
An important thing to note is “Who am I listening to?”. The strong tendency that occurs when reading is to become more like the author. I will give you two books as an example in the fitness space.

Take “Bigger Leaner Stronger”, by Mike Matthews and “Why We Get Fat”, by Gary Taubes. These are two different sources on the same topic of diet and fitness. Both are reputable and have many success stories. One is for the ketogenic diet and the other is a high carb advocate.

Take another example, a more controversial one so I’ll post a picture of them. “The Selfish Gene”, by Richard Dawkins and Genesis, the first book of the Bible are both books foundational to their fields. Richard Dawkins says we came from proteins and Genesis says we were created by God.

These are four books having opposing views that can shape the mind of its reader to the mold of the author. It is then your duty to vet the books you read. Can you read this book safely? That is the question to ask. Both are in the same type of genres(fitness/origins of life) and are highly influential but both produce radically different views for its readers.

The benefits of reading and vetting

The point of filtering books is both to decrease danger and increase quality. Reading will make you gain understanding but reading the right books will make you gain understanding faster and can even change your life and many others around you. That is the point of vetting books. To find the knowledge that will make the big difference.

Bottom line


Vet your books before you read them. Amazon charts, reviews, the author’s background and the genre should all be considered when searching for the best book possible for a topic. The danger of not knowing the author’s background is real. Vetting not only protects the reader but helps the reader benefit better from the book.