For me I have always found interesting books either in charity shops or second hand bookshops. You give the example of follow the branches on the tree: well I stumbled across a book by IB Singer ( Nobel prize for literature 1979) and I thought wow this is storytelling. My interest was piqued and I read every book I could find that he ever wrote. That done, I discovered he had a brother who was also a writer I J Singer) and IB Singer even mentioned that his brother was a far better writer than him. I hunted his brother’s books down and sure enough, I was impressed and read everything I could find. And to top it off, they have a sister ( Esther krietman), whom I am sure I will eventually get to.
So Charles sometimes there is no science to it or methodology ( unless of course there is purpose to why you want to read certain texts etc). I do not preclude everything you have said but this is as ‘in addition to all you have said'