The best leading indicator of a great non fiction book experience is not the source of the recommendation or its average rating on Amazon. It is the “oh shit – I really need to learn that” moment that precedes searching for it. The intensity of that desire to learn what the book is about is the best indicator I’ve found.
That is not how we normally look for books – the common approach I’ve observed is to ask externally and then check in internally to narrow the list down. For example, we might 1) ask around to see what folks we know recommend or skim some successful person’s reading list and 2) ask ourselves which of the books recommended sounds most interesting.
But, we get much better results when we flip the order. As is the case with many of life’s best experiences, the journey needs to start with an understanding of what we want to learn.
And, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.