Click here for quick access to all of the materials for the 2014-15 Crime Fiction Genre Study. Please note, some information will be password protected for members only. Click here for information about joining ARRT.


I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Articulating Appeal With Coworkers at the Service Desk

Often, during slower times at the BPL, the staff engages in impromptu book talking across departments while we are working at our service desks.  We do it for passive marketing purposes. It's our way of saying to every visitor,  "Hey, we all talk about what we read and watch and why we like it, so why don't you join us."  Now, we do get the occasional complaint that we are talking too much, but we have administrative support behind us because we are talking about books, movies, and TV shows that we can get for others.

We also do this book talking as professional development.  We are encouraging all staff to practice sharing what they have been reading and enjoying and to tell us why in a nonthreatening, casual environment.  We do this both to help the speaker work on honing their skills AND to help the listener work on using what someone says to draw connections to other things.

Over time, these impromptu book talks have also had the added bonus of making us all more aware of the tastes and leisure reading/watching preferences of each other.  I now know what a huge percentage of the staff likes to read and I can point patrons in a kindred spirit's direction if I am having trouble helping him or her.  We have been able to identify local "experts" on genres and can use their skills in various ways throughout the library too.

Another issue that has emerged over the years, which, again, is an excellent training tool because it happens with patrons all the time too, is when we share certain LOVES with a co-worker and then find out we have a favorite author whom this same co-worker HATES.  Here's my example.

I love Chris Ware, you can click here for details, but let me just say anything the man draws and writes, I read.  Jose in Circulation, with whom I share a love of many of the same graphic novels, finds Ware overly complicated.  He gets the point, likes what his overall message is, but feels that Ware goes out of his way to be "interesting," and that annoys him.

This Chris Ware debate has been going on for over a year.  Just today I brought this 2 page Chris Ware Strip from the April 10th New York Times Book Review over to Jose as he sat at the Circulation Desk.  All I said was, "This strip encapsulates everything I love about Chris Ware."  Jose read it.  And said, "Yes it is cute and clever, but again, too busy for me." He liked it in that short spurt, but an entire book...yuck to him.    
Overtime, Jose and I have felt each other out. I have shared why I like something, and he, why he does not.  By listening to each other, we are both getting a broader view of how personal our work in RA truly is. We have taken the time to articulate appeal in very specific terms with each other, and this allows us to improve in honing down the essence of appeal in our less in depth interactions with patrons.  It also allows us to understand that liking one thing the same does not mean all of our likes will overlap.  We have been able to navigate the murky waters where disagreements occur and have found a way around them. This distinction is also key when working with patrons. 

So the point of today's post is--- practice with each other.  Book talk and focus on articulating the appeal, the WHY, you liked or didn't like a particular book.  You will not only get good practice, but you will be role playing situations that actually come up with patrons. By doing it in public spaces, you will also be advertising your services, commitment and expertise to your patrons while you are learning.  I can promise you from experience, you will be surprised by how much you learn.  And, if nothing else, you get to spend your day talking to your co-workers about your last great read or this week's Game of Thrones.

Back tomorrow with my recap of how things went on World Book Night.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

“New” Shirley Jackson Story and Why You Need To Be Promoting It

This week’s New Yorker features the second of two found stories by the late great Shirley Jackson. While you need to get your hands on the magazine itself to read the story, the book blog for magazine features an interview with Jackson’s son here.

Even if you do not plan to read the new story, read the interview.  As I have professes before in more detail here, Shirley Jackson was a genius.  Her brand of psychological suspense was truly revolutionary, almost shockingly so, when she was first writing, and their remain intensely haunting to this day.

Her tales of literary suspense also prominently featured female characters at a time when that was out of the ordinary.  Her willingness to admit to the dark thoughts and issues surrounding women was what kept Jackson from even more acclaim during her lifetime.  It was too “real” for the mainstream male establishment to handle at the time.

However, I feel like Jackson is getting her due in today’s publishing run to find the next Gone Girl.  When Library Journal ran their Genre Preview on the state of Mysteries in 2014, the top trend was the female driven, literary suspense story.

The ARRT Crime Fiction Genre Study will be covering Jackson in great depth, but not until June of 2015.  I can’t wait that long to sing Jackson’s praises.  And you shouldn’t either.  Start passing out your collections of Jackson’s stories to your Gone Girl fans while they wait for the new titles listed  in the LJ article to come out. And while you’re at it, grab them the “new” Jackson story from The New Yorker too.

I can promise you some happy patrons, many of whom may be shocked to find out that this new trend in mysteries goes back into the middle of the last century.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Discussion: World Book Night Is Coming

Today's discussion is for the sole purpose of promoting your WBN activities.

World Book Night is always on April 23rd, which falls on a Wednesday this year.

Click here for the official word from the people who work so hard to make World Book Night Possible.

For the Monday Discussion today, please use the comments to share your book and where you will giving it out.

Click here for a list of every book that is being given out this year.  You can click on the cover to see more about the specific book and the author.

I will be at the SW corner of Cossitt Ave and Madison Ave in La Grange  from 2:15 until I run out of books giving out Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  I picked this location because it is the perfect spot to hand out my book, an award winning teen title with adult cross over.  At this location I will be by the elementary school as large numbers of high schoolers will walk by me and parents wait for their younger kids to get out of school. It is perfect!

Courtesy of a team of people here at the BPL, but mostly because Jose coordinated and made sure it got done, I will also have an annotated list of 3 readalikes on a book mark inside each book.  Every giver who picked up a box at the BPL was also given a stock of these created for their specific title.

So no matter where you live, share your WBN love by at least leaving the title you will be handing out even if you are not sure of (or don't want to share) the location.  IT is going to be a wonderful day of spreading the love of reading.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Soon to Be Famous Wrap Up and More...

This really has been a whirl-wind week and with the kids off tomorrow for a “Spring Holiday” [hey, it’s public school], I am taking tomorrow off, but I did want to post a few links to leave you with over the holiday weekend.

  • First, here is the direct link to the slides from David Vinjamuri’s presentation yesterday as well as the interview he did with IndieReader which he referred to in passing during his talk.
  • Here are the links to a few of the other sites David mentioned as particularly good for ebook original discovery and reviews:
  • Also, here is the official winners photo and statement from the Soon to be Famous website.
  • The newest issue of The Corner Shelf is out and it has an article, entitled "A Year of Reading Suggestions " which I highly recommend.  Basically, the idea is a list of 1 suggestion a month based on a very broad category.  So in January, you read a book published the same year you were born or in May, you read a book from another country.  Click here for all 12 ideas.  This list is a great idea for a 12 month reading plan, but also, these 12 general groupings are a great way to suggest a book to a patron who is having trouble picking their next good read.  Some guidance like August’s suggestion of reading a book in a genre or format you don’t normally read, might be a great way to get out of a tricky RA situation. At the very least, keep a link to these 12 reading plan ideas handy and pull them out to suggest to that patron who can’t seem to find anything he or she hasn’t already read.
  • In further news about Booklist’s The Corner Shelf, editor Rebecca Vnuk was at the Soon to be Famous event.  Look for her to spotlight the award, the winner, Vinjamuri, and me [in relation to my work as a judge] in the next issue.
Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

And The Winner Is...

So, here I am at RAILS in Burr Ridge for the announcement of the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Award Winner.  Just a quick editing note, I created this post as the announcement event happened live.  I will go back later and add more links and clean up any typos, but I figured it was worth the sacrifice of a perfect post.

Click here for more details about the award, the books, and their authors.

Here is a picture of a few of us judges who made it to the event. It was nice that some of us could make it.  I am the second from the left.

As the announcement event went on, the three finalists were sitting in front of us as you can see here. Each was in front of a blow up of the cover of their book.  I felt for them though.  The wait must have been insufferable.  But as you can see in the picture below, they were very happy to be here.

David Vinjamuri got up to talk about how he was surprised, but proud to have inspired a contest that is promising to make someone famous.  He talked, among other topics, about how the public library is one of the most trusted institutions in America.  How great it is that we are confident in our talent to evaluate materials and take a stand publicly to say that this book is good and you should read it.

After 2 representatives from the award committee came up to give background on how we got here today, David came back to introduce each writer and read something from the nominated book.  And then each author had a chance to talk to us.

 First up was the lone male author, Rick Polad, the author of Change of Address: A Spencer Manning Mystery. [Ed note, since I read an author provided Kindle copy of each novel, I have linked each title to Amazon.]

Next we had Mary Hutchings Reed author of Warming Up.

And the last finalist, Joanne Zienty, author of The Things We Save

I got her sitting because she was framed so nicely from where I was sitting, but she too got up and talked to us.

As the rules of this award stipulated, the book needed to be sponsored by a library and it had to be self published, so it came as no surprise to me that each of the authors had a life long connection to the public library.

Zienty, specifically, had her book reviewed by PW Select and was surprised to find it had been purchased by some public libraries, as far away as Maine. She spoke eloquently about how I’m

David came back to remind us all that the announcement of the winner is only the beginning of our job as Illinois librarians.

And then he announced the winner...Joanne Zienty! Here is her initial reaction.

She then shared the story of how she tried to get her local library to nominate her, but due to the polar vortex, at the last moment, she had to nominate herself [she is a librarian].

You can look for more info by following #soontobefamous. There you can find the live stream and lots more photos and links there.

Soon to Be Famous Award Announcement Today

Just a quick update.  The LIVE announcement of the winner is scheduled for 2pm Central today.  I will be in attendance [along with local and national media] and hope to get some pictures and a post up immediately.

For more background on the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project, please click here.

But before the announcement, at 12:30, David Vinjamuri, author and adjunct professor, and branding expert will be speaking on the publishing world and how librarians have way more influence than we realize.  Vinjamuri is the man who inspired the Soon to Be Famous committee to start the award and he has agreed to be a part of the marketing machine behind what is still to come.

For a taste of what Vinjamuri will be talking about check out this article from Forbes entitled, “How Public Libraries Are Solving America’s Reading Problem."

As I told a member of the committee last night, I can say in all honesty, even before the winner is announced, I am proud to have been a part of this process.

Look for the winner later today.  And after the winner is announced, look for the real work to begin. I will be chronicling those next steps here on the blog as I know there is much interest all over the country in how we leverage this award into tangible currency with the publishing world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Poetry Month

The library is closed all day today for our annual staff in-service.  But I still have a pre-scheduled post.

Besides being tax day, today is also the halfway point of National Poetry Month.  I wanted to share a couple of interesting poetry related links.

First, as I was perusing the NPR Books coverage last week, I came upon this:
Help us make poetry!
April is National Poetry Month: 30 days set aside for the celebration of all things verse. Many of us here at Code Switch love poetry every month of the year, but we can't always make space for it in our coverage.
So this month, we're taking advantage of the national celebration and highlighting great poets and poems that address issues of race, ethnicity and culture.
To kick off our coverage, we're inviting you to help us create collaborative poetry on Twitter. We've invited poet Kima Jones to curate a crowd-sourced poem on the subject of race and identity. (Keep your eyes peeled for a profile of Jones tomorrow.)
This Wednesday, April 9 at 12 p.m. EST, join us on Twitter and tweet out the line you'd like to see added to the poem. Use the hashtag #CSPoetry so we can see your submission.
We'll share the final product, a co-creation of Code Switch readers and Kima Jones, and have a conversation about race, culture, poetry and creativity.

 Click here to see the poem they made.

What I took away from this community built poem was 2 things.

  1. What a great tool Twitter is for crafting poetry.  In fact, I did a bit more digging and found this link from Book Riot of 12 Twitter Accounts for Poetry Lovers to Follow.  Twitter and poetry really do fit hand in hand very nicely.
  2. Libraries could easily do something like this on Twitter or Facebook or even on a chalkboard at the library. In fact, I am going to pass this idea on to a few people here at the BPL to see if we can have our own community sourced poem.
If you have some interesting or useful National Poetry Month links or ideas to pass on, please leave a comment.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Goes To....

...The Gold Finch by Donna Tartt, for which my review is still pending.  Maybe this will kickstart me to actually finishing that review.

Monday Discussion: National Library Week

It is National Library Week.  So for today's Monday Discussion, let's share why we love the Library, as a worker or a patron.

I'll go first.

I love the library because, I can order every single book that even remotely interests me, have it show up in 3-5 days, and then read it or not, all without paying. If I did not have the library, I would be spending a lot of money buying too many books.

I love the library because I am surrounded by books.

I love working at the library because my job involves making people happy. I get to help people answer their questions (just today, I helped someone wade through the bureaucracy to get a death certificate from Texas). I bring joy to people by finding them the right book for their mood.

I love the library because it feels like home.

Now it's your turn.

Help me celebrate National Library Week by leaving a comment on why you love the Library.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Library Reads: May 2014

You know the drill by now.  Here is the newest Library Reads List.

I have some great RA news on using these lists though. For the first time, last week, I went through the old Library Reads lists to find someone a "good book" to take on spring break.  She was excited that it was a recommendation from a librarian.  Our seal of approval sealed the deal for her.

I will have much more on this idea of leveraging our power to help promote books next week after I live blog from these programs. But for now, go check and make sure these books are on-order at your library.

May 2014 Library Reads List


We Were Liars

by E. Lockhart

Published: 5/13/2014 by Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9780385741262
“This brilliant and heartbreaking novel tells the story of a prestigious family living on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Full of love, lies, secrets, no shortage of family dysfunction, and a shocking twist that you won’t see coming. Though this book is written for teens, it shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone looking for a fantastic read.”
Susan Balla, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT
AlltheLight-200x300All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

by Anthony Doerr

Published: 5/6/2014 by Scribner
ISBN: 9781476746586
“Set during World War II Europe, this novel is sobering without being sentimental. The tension builds as the alternating, parallel stories of Werner and Marie-Laure unfold, and their paths cross. I highly recommend this beautiful and compelling story.”
Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN

The Bees: A Novel

by Laline Paull

Published: 5/6/2014 by Ecco
ISBN: 9780062331151
“This book is set entirely in a beehive, but the novel and its characters are so beautifully rendered that it could have been set anywhere. Societal codes and social mores combine with the ancient behavior rituals of bees, bringing forth a remarkable story that is sure to be a book club favorite.”
Ilene Lefkowitz, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ
Delicious-198x300Delicious!: A Novel

by Ruth Reichl

Published: 5/6/2014 by Random House
ISBN: 9781400069620
“Billie leaves college to take a job with a soon-to-be disbanded food magazine. What follows is an intriguing story involving dusty archives, long-forgotten letters written during World War II to the illustrious James Beard, and a young woman in New York City who learns to trust her culinary talents. This novel is a delectable feast.”
Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI

The Forgotten Seamstress

by Liz Trenow

Published: 5/6/2014 by Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 9781402282485
“Two women’s stories, separated by close to 100 years, connect through a patchwork quilt. Carolyn finds a quilt in her mother’s attic and is intrigued by its origin, and quiltmaker Maria’s story is told through transcripts. Trenow carefully stitches together a novel about family secrets, using many interesting details about fabrics, needlework, and textile conservation. A strong sense of place and well-told story make this book superior women’s fiction.”
Leslie DeLooze, Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY

Bird Box: A Novel

by Josh Malerman

Published: 5/13/2014 by Ecco
ISBN: 9780062259653
“Close your eyes! Don’t look! Something is out there that will drive you mad if you see it. Is it an alien invasion? An environmental toxin? Two sisters, Malorie and Shannon, embark on a journey seeking safety and other survivors. I was unable to put this book down. Horror at its best, not graphic, but truly creepy and scary. Highly recommended for fans of psychological suspense.”
Mary Vernau, Tyler Public Library, Tyler, TX

Bittersweet: A Novel

by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Published: 5/13/2014 by Crown
ISBN: 9780804138567
“As unlikely a pair of roommates as you’re ever likely to meet: plain, working class Mabel Dagmar and beautiful, privileged Genevra Winslow. Mabel spends the summer in the Winslows’ idyllic lakefront property in Vermont, dreaming of being one of them–only to discover that being a Winslow is not all sunshine, yachts, and ease. Being a Winslow means keeping very disturbing family secrets.”
Nancy Russell, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH

Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage

by Molly Wizenberg

Published: 5/6/2014 by Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781451655094
“As Wizenberg tells the story of how she and her husband opened the successful pizza restaurant Delancey, I felt like I was hanging out with a close friend. She also shares delicious sounding recipes for the everyday food they made at home during the hectic days of launching the restaurant. Wizenberg’s writing is so sincere and relatable.”
Michelle Marx, Eagle Valley Library District, Avon, CO

Sixth Grave on the Edge: A Novel

by Darynda Jones

Published: 5/20/2014 by St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250045638
“The continuing adventures of P.I. Charley Davidson and Grim Reaper (not as mutually exclusive as one would think) are just as delightful as in previous books, with new characters including a wonderfully snarky new demon. Jones expands on Charley’s existing relationships and supernatural powers. It’s the perfect paranormal-romance-mystery blend that you never knew you always wanted.”
Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH

The Blessings

by Elise Juska

Published: 5/6/2014 by Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 9781455574032
“This finely-crafted story is told through a series of Blessing family members’ points of view over a two-decade span of time. A deceptively small book with very big themes, this novel is gentle and wise. It made me look at my own close and extended family with new eyes; now I see the ways in which we are alike, not the ways in which we are different. A transformative reading experience. Highly recommended.”
Janet Schneider, Great Neck Library, Great Neck, NY