The NEW Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges (plus a free download!)

Book of the Month Judges


Every month, I share my commentary on the Book of the Month selections and which ones I’d choose that month (ex: February 2019 selections). Putting these posts together got me thinking about creative ways to help Book of the Month members choose the monthly selection that is right for them

Then, I created The Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges as another way to help members choose the right selection for their reading taste. Many of the judges pop up over and over again, creating a track record of their selections…which you can analyze to figure out what types of books certain judges tend to choose and which judges are most compatible with your personal reading taste.

Last February (2018), Book of the Month announced a change to the structure of their judges (details here). They didn’t specifically say that the Book of the Month judges would change, but I noticed a large shift ever since that announcement. Many recurring judges disappeared and some new judges entered the fold. The types of books chosen as monthly selections also changed. So, this updated Judges Guide reflects this new landscape. 

Changes Since the February 2018 Announcement

  • The number of judges has shrunk drastically (we are looking at a smaller time period, so some decrease makes sense).
  • Judges predominantly focusing on serious literary fiction disappeared entirely.
  • A psychological thriller is featured almost every month.
  • Nonfiction selections have fallen considerably (i.e. there have only been 3 selections in the year since the structural change).
  • Same with Young Adult (i.e. there has only been 1 selection in the year since the structural change).
  • My favorite judges (Kim Hubbard, Sarah Weinman, and Laia Garcia) disappeared.

If you downloaded the template at the bottom of the post when I first released it, I recommend doing it again because you’ll find your results are very different! And, your results from this template will be far more useful. As with my last Judges Guide, I will update the template every month with the new selections and judges.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.

How to Join Book of the Month…

Book of the Month is a subscription service for people who like to try new books from a curated selection and like to read in hardcover format. Through Book of the Month, you can get a hardcover book for generally significantly less than you’d pay in a bookstore or through Amazon. And, you get to try something new that has been vetted by one of Book of the Month’s well-read judges!

Sign up for any of the subscription plans below and you get to choose one of five books selected by Book of the Month’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month will then mail your chosen book to your house with a cute note. You also have the option to purchase additional books for $9.99 each and to skip a month if you want.

Sign up for a Book of the Month membership (NEW pricing below)!

New members will sign up for a membership that renews monthly:

A book of your choice for $14.99 / month
Add extra books to your shipment for $9.99 each
Skip any month you want
Free shipping, always

The Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges

Lighter Literary Fiction

Elizabeth Mitchell (Readers Committee, Author, Editor, Journalist)

  • She’s only had one selection so far, which didn’t work for me.
  • Pick that Didn’t Work for Me: Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

Skye Sherman (Brand Ambassador – Freelance Travel Writer & Blogger)


AJ Finn aka Dan Mallory (Author, Editor)
*Scandal surrounds Finn/Mallory right now (details here), so I’ll be interested to see if he ever reappears as a BOTM judge.

Cristina Arreola (Bustle Books Editor)

  • While she picks mostly thrillers, she did select Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, a literary dystopian novel in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale.
  • Also selected The Child by Fiona Barton (a mystery) and Cross Her Heart, Sarah Pinborough’s sophomore novel. 
  • Pick that Didn’t Work for Me: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (my spoiler discussion

Elizabeth Sile (Judge Emeritas, Features Editor for Real Simple Magazine)

  • She’s only had one selection so far, which I haven’t read.
  • Pick: The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn (see above)

Laura Whitelaw (Readers Committee)

  • She’s only had one selection so far, which I haven’t read.
  • Pick: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Eclectic Judges

Brianna Goodman (Book of the Month Editorial Team)

Etaf Rum (Brand Ambassador, Author, #Bookstagrammer)

Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

Samantha Irby (Author, Blogger)

Siobhan Jones (BOTM Editorial Director)

Steph Opitz (Book Reviewer at Marie Claire)

Taylor Jenkins Reid (Author)

Who are MY go-to Book of the Month judges?

Taylor Jenkins Reid is my #1 judge…I liked two out of three of her picks! I hope she starts appearing more often.

Etaf Rum is in second place…but, I’ll have to keep an eye on this one as she’s only picked two books so far (I liked one of them). 

Who are MY no-go Book of the Month judges?

Elizabeth Mitchell and AJ Finn are my top no-go judges.

Elizabeth Mitchell is based on only one choice, though, so that could change moving forward.

How to find YOUR go-to and no-go Book of the Month judges

  • Download my free template below.
  • In the spreadsheet, look for the genre categories that you generally prefer. You can skip this step if you want to consider every single judge as an option for you.
  • Look for Columns D, E and F (Read?, Liked?, Interested in Reading?). For each book you’ve read, use the dropdown menu change the “No” to “Yes”. Do the same for “Liked?” and “Interested in Reading?”
  • Look in the Total Column (Column G) to find your go-to and no-go judges! The go-to’s are obviously the ones with the highest numerical total and the no-go’s are the ones with the lowest…and preferably negative numerical total (highlighted in yellow).

Using this guide, who are your go-to Book of the Month judges?

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Book of the Month Judges

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  1. Wow, Sarah! This is amazing. Brilliant to break down BOM by judges. What a lot of work for you, but such a gift to readers. I hope this gets many more people interested in BOM! (I wish I had more readers in my family so I could gift BOM club.)

    Posted 9.29.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Thanks so much! I was kind of surprised no one had done it before (at least based on my Google search). Now we get to test whether my go-to judges end up being reliable!

      Posted 10.4.17 Reply
  2. This is incredible! How do we DL the template?

    Posted 9.29.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Thank you so much!
      At the bottom of the post, enter your name and email address in the colored box and click “Get Template”. Then click the link that appears where the box was. Let me know if you have any trouble with it.

      Posted 9.29.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Thanks! Hope you liked it!

      Posted 10.4.17 Reply
  3. Beth F wrote:

    Cool post.

    Posted 9.29.17 Reply
  4. Michelle wrote:

    Wow. Just wow. How long did this take you to do?

    I confess it never occurred to me to consider a monthly selection by judge. I will have to pay closer attention now to see if I favor one over another.

    Posted 9.30.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Haha – I entered all the picks into a spreadsheet over the course of a month or so…that was what took the longest. Did it while watching TV.

      I hadn’t either, but once it occurred to me, I was like “this makes so much sense.” The judges are essentially book recommenders and most people tend to pay attention to their favorite bloggers or booksellers or librarians or reader friends…why not also pay attention to the BOTM judges. You can also rely on their picks even if you’re not a member!

      Posted 10.4.17 Reply
  5. Carrie wrote:

    I’ve been so tempted to join a monthly book subscription like this. there’s a few out there and they’re all slightly different but i love the concept of this!

    Posted 10.2.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I waffled about BOTM forever. I love the concept and follow the picks every month…it’s a big source for reading recs for me. BUT, I really prefer reading on my Kindle, so it didn’t make sense to actually join. But, I just changed my mind b/c am trying to stock my new built-in bookshelves and also would like some pretty hardcovers to post on Instagram. But, if you like to read hardcover books, I highly recommend it!

      Another option is Shelf Subscriptions from The Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA. Set up a little differently, but Annie Jones (the owner) is one of my go-to sources for book recommendations. She picks the books for one of the subscriptions. Check it out – they have a website!

      Posted 10.4.17 Reply
  6. What a great resource! I never thought to look for patterns in each judge’s selections. I’ll definitely be returning to this in the future.

    Posted 11.5.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Glad to hear it! I had never thought of it either until randomly on a bike ride…go figure!

      Posted 11.8.17 Reply
  7. Hope wrote:

    GREAT RESOURCE! Thank you so much!!

    Posted 2.26.19 Reply
  8. It was interesting to read about the changes in judging, Sarah. I just can’t pull the trigger on BOTM still. As I’ve read more and more library books this year, I realize more than ever how very much I prefer reading on a Kindle. Part of me would like to just have the books, but why? Bookworm problems!

    Posted 2.26.19 Reply
  9. Tina wrote:

    You are so creative girl. Love the post!! I think Liberty is my most successful judge.

    Posted 2.26.19 Reply
  10. renee wrote:

    This is such an awesome post Sarah! I’d be on board with Taylor Jenkins Reid as well! I joined for March, we’ll see how it goes.

    Posted 2.26.19 Reply
  11. Jan wrote:

    Thanks for your work on this Sarah. I’ve been disappointed in the BOTM choices lately but I’m still hanging on to hope…. this will help!

    Posted 2.27.19 Reply
  12. Marianne wrote:

    I’m so impressed with everything you’re produced here. By the way, you’re an excellent writer, and I am waiting to hear about YOUR books?.

    Been a BOTM club member since November 2017. I also prefer to read on Kindle, but have learned to fit both into my reading life. I enjoy getting hard copies of old favorites ( Moriarty and Hilderbrand ) and discovering new voices (Waxman and Rum)

    Looking forward to next month’s analysis.

    Posted 6.1.19 Reply

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