RA FOR ALL...THE ROAD SHOW!

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 including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Monday, November 23, 2020

RA for All Blog Vacation and LJ Best Books Teaser

I am taking the week off from blogging, but I will be back next Monday-- 11/30-- with the Library Journal Best Books 2020 list. Including the top 10 Horror for which I was on the selection team. 

If you are looking for a good read in the meantime, might I suggest something from the 2019 LJ Best Books list. They are probably available for check out right now.

I will be mostly writing the book over this time off [instead of the blog] and tomorrow I am guest teaching horror for UCLA's Masters' Program RA class. If you are interested, here are the recently updated slides. I am always excited to infect, ummm I mean teach, new librarians about horror.

Everyone be safe and STAY HOME! See you after Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Reminder: Stock Your RA Pantry

 Now that most libraries are stepping back their service in some way, I wanted to remind you all of my "Stock Your RA Pantry" series of things you can do to beef up your virtual RA Services.

The page is replicated below, but you can always find it in the right gutter, just above my book's cover. 

After Thanksgiving I will begin adding to it again. 

Remember if you need or want training for your staff, you can go here to see my recent presentations and current pricing structure. And as always, just click on my logo from any page to access my contact information.  

Stock Your RA Pantry Archive

During the quarantine of 2020, I began a series of posts entitled, Stock Your RA Pantry. These posts address the things you can do from home to enhance your RA Services and Resources both now and going forward. And, these are all things any library worker can do, no matter what their official job at the library happens to be.

Below is the list of specific posts in chronological order, however you can also use the tag "RA Pantry" at anytime to pull them all up in reverse chronological order.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Using Awards Lists As a RA Tool: National Book Awards Winners Edition

This is part of my ongoing series on using Awards Lists as a RA tool. Click here for all posts in the series in reverse chronological order. Click here for the first post which outlines the details how to use awards lists as a RA tool.



But again, for like the hundredth time as part of this longer series, it is not the winners that are useful. Yes, right now and for the next few weeks, you will have a rush on these books, but all of the nominated titles, this year, and especially over the last 2-5 years, are excellent for displays and suggestions to any reader.

And, the National Book Foundation gets this. Click here to see the website for the 2020 awards as it is laid out. I have also included screen shots, but for those who need alt-text, click here

As you can see, each category is easily accessible on the top navigation bar, with the winner, and finalists prominently displayed. Immediately below is the rest of the long list.

5 categories, and all the titles of interest easily accessible. 

And then, you can also use this link to get every book ever nominated by year or even decade, also with a simple click on a page that is easy to find. Click here or on screen shot below to access that page.


The point here is to remind you that the the backlist of awards lists are a great resource, but also to highlight those awards that make finding those books easy. 

Build a National Book Foundation display today. Get award winners and nominees from all of the categories and from multiple years on to one display; it's a great way to highlight your whole collection in one place.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Carnegie Medals Short List Announced


 

The short list for the Fiction and Nonfiction titles were announced yesterday. Click here to see them and a link to the long list. 

I wrote a much longer post about how useful this list is last month when the long list came out. Click here to read that.

You can also click on the images for each finalist below to access the entire list.

FICTION FINALISTS



NONFICTION FINALISTS

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Time's Must Read 100 for 2020 As a Great Resource to Help Our Readers

Best lists are an excellent resource to help our patrons find a sure bet, good read. In 2016 I did an entire webinar on this topic. Please click here to read more about why I think best lists are a great sure bet option for general library patrons.

Today I want to point you to Time Magazine's "Must Read 100 for 2020" as an example.

On first glance many library workers might think this list is not a very useful because it is simply organized in alpha order by title with no divisions or comments about if it is fiction or nonfiction, genre designation,...nothing; it's just a list of books in alpha order with the covers. Now if you click on a cover, you get a useful annotation, but there are 100 books to click on.

Here's the thing about that argument though...you are thinking like a library person and not a general reader. And guess what? You are helping a general reader so maybe you should think like them.

General readers, do not care about genre as much as we do. They are drawn to a cover that interests them [see my post about why we need to judge books by their covers as a resource to help readers], so that graphic recreation of a book display is a perfect browsing experience for many readers.

But more importantly, on average, American adults read 3-4 books a year. Let that sink in. They don't have a lot of leeway to pick a bad one. They want to guarantee it is worth their time to dive in since they have so few opportunities. Even when the book is prepaid from the library, they still worry. [Reminder post-- library books are not free, they are prepaid.] So best lists-- especially ones like this that are very general, appeal to the widest possible audience, and are super fun to browse-- are a perfect option for the average reader looking for a good read.

If someone else deemed it a "must read," that's already a step in the right direction for them. Now they only have 100 to choose from instead of the millions available. You can help them narrow it down from there, but 100, unclassified, is a number they can deal with, especially when it is so beautifully laid out.

This Time list is also a great resource for the average patron because it is from a resource that hits in the middle. What I mean by that is, it isn't a stuffy award or fancy literary magazine best, but it also isn't People. I for one like lists from those places, but in terms of the average patron, Time falls solidly in the middle of those options. It has enough gravitas to trust but isn't too full of itself. Again, think like a reader. This stuff matters to readers even if it is subliminal.

The title and organization of the list even hints at that middle space. It is a "must read" list not a "best" list. It is not overly organized. It looks like a shelf you would browse. It doesn't tell you upfront about why you NEED to read the book. You can click in to the ones you are interested in and figure it out for yourself. 

This list is also a great display prompt for that same reason. Instead of "best" lists, why not promote "must read" lists? Best sometimes has the connotation that the book is going to be literary, stuffy, or not fun to read. We know this is not true, but again, think like a reader, they do often feel this way.

Let's spend more time looking at our resources as a reader. Here's more by me from this summer on that topic. Trust me you will help more people that way, and isn't that the goal.

And post the Time "Must Read 100 for 2020" for your patrons now. On Social media, website, and build a display of the books you have in the building now.

Monday, November 16, 2020

LibraryReads: December 2020

It's LibraryReads day and that means four things here on RA for All

  1. I post the list and tag it “Library Reads” so that you can easily pull up every single list with one click.
  2. I can remind you that even though the newest list is always fun to see, it is the older lists where you can find AWESOME, sure bet suggestions for patrons that will be on your shelf to actually hand to them right now. The best thing about LibraryReads is the compound interest it is earning. We now have hundreds and hundreds of titles worth suggesting right at our fingertips through this archive OR the sortable master list allowing you to mix and match however you want.
  3. You have no excuse not to hand sell any LibraryReads titles because there is a book talk right there in the list in the form of the annotation one of your colleagues wrote for you. All you have to say to your patron is, “such and such library worker in blank state thought this was a great read,” and then you read what he or she said.
  4. Every upcoming book now has at least 1 readalike that is available to hand out RIGHT NOW. Book talk the upcoming book, place a hold for it, and then hand out that readalike title for while they wait. If they need more titles before their hold comes in, use the readalike title to identify more readalike titles. And then keep repeating. Seriously, it is that easy to have happy, satisfied readers.
The LibraryReads Board has also started another great book discovery and suggestion tool for you, a monthly What We're Reading column. This means there are even more library worker approved titles, new and old, for you to choose from. 

So get out there and suggest a good read to someone today. I don’t care what list or resource you use to find the suggestion, just start suggesting books.

Please remember to click here for everything you need to know about how to participate. Click here to see a database of eligible diverse titles sorted by month.


Now let's get to that list.... 

Announcing the December LibraryReads List!

How to Fail at Flirting 

by Denise Williams

(Berkley Jove)


“Naya, a straight-laced professor, meets charismatic Jake at a bar. He might check off one item on Naya's boundary-pushing to-do list—if only he wasn't in charge of defunding her department at the university. How can they balance a relationship and a professional career? For fans of The Kiss Quotient, The Wedding Date, and The Hating Game.”

—Kari Bingham-Gutierrez, Olathe Public Library, Olathe, KS 
NoveList read-alike: The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

The rest of the list.....

________________________


The Arctic Fury: A Novel 

by Greer Macallister

(Sourcebooks Landmark)


“Virginia Reeve is a take-no- prisoners adventurer and trail guide when she's asked by a mysterious benefactor to lead a group of 12 women to find the lost captain of the shipwrecked vessel "The Franklin." Not for the squeamish or easily offended, this thrilling read is recommended for those who enjoyed Into the Wild and In the Kingdom of Ice.”

—Joy Matteson, Downers Grove Public Library, Downers Grove, IL 
NoveList read-alike: The North Water by Ian McGuire

How to Catch a Queen: Runaway Royals 

by Alyssa Cole

(Avon)


"Shanti and Sanyu are in an arranged marriage, thrown together as his father the King lays dying. As they begin to work together to better the kingdom, they grow closer. Cole weaves humor into the storyline in a way that does not undercut the themes of political action, equity, and adaptation. And as always, Cole's female characters are driven, smart, sexy, and savvy. For fans of Talia Hibbert and Alexa Martin.”

—Sarah Skrobis, Staunton Public Library, Staunton, VA 
NoveList read-alike: The Betting Vow by K.M. Jackson

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder: A Novel 

by T.A. Willberg

(Park Row)

“Marion is a new recruit of a detective agency that works undercover and under the streets of London. When she gets involved in investigating the death of one of their own agents, she is not sure who she can trust, or what forces are working against her.This is a great start to a new series that is perfect for Agatha Christie and Harry Potter fans alike.”

—Sharon Layburn, South Huntington Public Library, Huntington Station, NY
NoveList read-alike: Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart


Pretty Little Wife: A Novel 

by Darby Kane

(William Morrow Paperbacks)

“When Aaron doesn't show up for work and no one hears from him, an unofficial investigation begins. What secrets is Lila, his beautiful wife, keeping? The more the police discover, the more questions they have. A thriller for fans of Gone Girl and The Last Mrs. Parrish.”

—Chris Markley, Kingsport Public Library, Kingsport, TN
NoveList read-alike: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

Take It Back: A Novel 

by Kia Abdullah

(St. Martin's Press)


"Jodie, a teen with facial deformities, accuses four Muslim boys of raping her after a party. Jodie’s mom, her best friend, and her classmates don’t believe her. The only one who believes her is Zara Kaleel, a former high powered attorney who now works as a sexual assault advocate. For fans of The Holdout and Night Swim."

—Yvonne Selander, Somerset County Public Library, Bridgewater, NJ
NoveList read-alike: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Ten Rules for Faking It 

by Sophie Sullivan

(St. Martin's Griffin)


"Anxious Evelyn becomes a sudden podcast star and the romance she was sure was a one-way street, maybe isn’t anymore. She can’t let her nerves get in the way of happiness.
Did I mention that the leading man is completely swoony? For readers who enjoyed The Roommate."

—Emily Flynn, Berkeley County Library System, Summerville, SC
NoveList read-alike: Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

Ten Things I Hate About the Duke: A Difficult Dukes Novel 

by Loretta Chase

(Avon)


"In the second book of the Difficult Dukes series, Cassandra Pomfret has a reputation for having strong opinions and not keeping them to herself. Lucius, the Duke of Ashmont, is a devastatingly handsome trouble maker. Let the battle of wills begin. For readers who enjoyed The Rules of Scoundrels series or the Bow Street Bachelors series."

—Jessica McGee, Red Wing Public Library, Red Wing, MN
NoveList read-alike: The Untamed Earl by Valerie Bowman


This Time Next Year 

by Sophie Cousens

(Putnam)


"Minnie Cooper and Quinn Hamilton were born in the same hospital on January 1, 1990. After a series of missed connections, they are about to meet again on New Year’s Day 2020. This Time Next Year hits the perfect note for readers who enjoyed Bridget Jones' Diary and the original Shopaholic."

—Janet Schneider, Peninsula Public Library, Lawrence, NY
NoveList read-alike: One Day in December by Josie Silver

The Wrong Family: A Thriller 

by Tarryn Fisher

(Graydon House)


"The Crouches—Winnie, Nigel, and their teenage son Samuel—are perfect on the outside. In reality, Winnie is controlling, Nigel is tuned out, and confused Samuel is trying to forge his own identity. Juno, a former therapist who has become attracted to the Crouches, gets caught up in their family drama and takes the story in a surprising direction. For fans of Ruth Ware and B. A. Paris."

—Connie Laing, Great River Regional Library, St. Cloud, MN
NoveList read-alike: Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy


The LibraryReads Hall of Fame designation honors authors who have had multiple titles appear on the monthly LibraryReads list since 2013. When their third title places on the list via library staff votes, the author moves into our Hall of Fame.

 

The Dark Archive 

by Genevieve Cogman

(Ace)


“Time-traveling librarian/spy Irene Winters is having a week: dodging assassins, training a Fae intern, and contending with her dragon lover’s meddling brother. Colorful characters, a lightning pace, and a surprising revelation will please fans of Cogman’s Invisible Library series.”

—Lucy Lockley, St. Charles City County Library, St. Peters, MO
Read-alike: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Read-alike: The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith
Read-alike: Ex Libris: Stories of Librarians, Libraries, and Lore edited by Paula Guran



The Mystery of Mrs. Christie: A Novel

by Marie Benedict

(Sourcebooks Landmark)


"Taking the 11 days that Agatha Christie went missing in the 1920s and adding a fictional twist, Benedict produces this gem of a historical novel with psychological thriller overtones. This novel appeals on so many levels; there is much to love and discuss here.”

—Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library, Baltimore, MD
Read-alike: The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
Read-alike: The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey
Read-alike: And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall



Perestroika in Paris: A Novel 

by Jane Smiley

(Knopf)


“Smiley writes the perfect book to help you escape: Like Charlotte’s Web for grown-ups (but no spiders die!). Lovable, charming animals--an adventurous racehorse, a lonely dog, a know-it- all raven, a pair of ducks--interact with one another and with the compassionate humans they encounter in the City of Lights.”

Nancy Wiseman, Carmel Clay Public Library, Carmel, IN
Read-alike: The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Read-alike: Sirius by Jonathan Crown
Read-alike: A Dog’s Life by Peter Mayle

Friday, November 13, 2020

What I'm Reading: 2 Booklist Star Reviews

Last month I had the chance to review two titles, one by a well known author and another, a debut, by someone I had never heard of and both surprised me, happily. They both got stars. Let's start with the big name first.

As usual I am posting my draft review with extra information to help you book talk these titles to readers.

A House at the Bottom of a Lake

by Josh Malerman

Dec. 2020. 208p. Del Rey, paper, $16 (9780593237779); e-book (9780593237786) First published November 1, 2020 (Booklist)

Horror master Malerman scales back in both page count and chills with an enchanting, dark fantasy. Amelia and James, 17, are on their very first date, a canoe trip to a hidden lake, but while taking in its beauty they notice a graffiti covered tunnel, force their canoe through its tight squeeze, and up on another secret, although much less aesthetically appealing, lake. While less beautiful, this lake holds a secret, an entire house, submerged just under its surface. The teens spend their summer, making the trek over and over, diving to explore every inch of this creepy structure and each other. Written with a third person omniscient narration that mimics classic fairy tales, this is a thought  provoking, fast paced, novella that readers can dive into and fully inhabit for a few hours. The love story itself is believable and sweet but it is the addition of the sunken house, the exhilaration of discovery, their obsessive curiosity, deep anxiety, and some very real dangers that add a level of depth to the story, one that mirrors the complexity of love itself. Suggest to fans of The Wayward Children series by McGuire, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Gaiman, or The Merry Spinster by Lavery.

YA  Statement: Older teens will appreciate how perfectly Malerman captures the full range of feelings that engulf teens as they fall in love for the first time and the pairing with an original and enchanting mystery that will keep them turning the pages.

Further Appeal: I enjoy the way Malerman writes. I appreciate his creativity and how each book is different  from the last. That being said, I went into reading this ready for him to have to win me over. Was this going  to be hokey, too nostalgic?  It only took a few pages and I knew I was reading a great story.  

This is a book that is about how it makes you feel. Malerman captures the feeling of young love perfectly and also does it through a compelling and original story. 

It is not terrifying, so readers who have been afraid to try Malerman should feel safe to experience his wonderful prose in this novella. It is unsettling and creepy, but also lyrical and beautiful. The descriptions have stayed with me, both the beautiful descriptions and the ugly ones. In fact, the juxtapositions throughout were really great.

You can almost believe this house exits, that these kids, exist even after you turn the final page. This will be a title that will endure for years because of its universality. It is also a great pick for book clubs.

Three Words That Describe This Book: dark fairy tale, creepy, sweet

Readalikes: Any coming of age, dark fantasy that is geared toward an adult about looking back at their  teen years would work here. I gave a few of the more scary suggestions above.

This second book was a HUGE shock. I had never heard of the author but here is my soundbite I why you need to read this book: Perfect 2020 Read. She had a worse year than you!

Taxidermist's Lover 

by Polly Hall

Dec. 2020. 272p. CamCat, $24.99 (9780744300376); e-book, $9.99 (9780744300390).
First published November 1, 2020 (Booklist).

In this modern Gothic, Scarlett recounts a calendar year with her lover, Henry, the year he turned his trade into high art, mixing animals into creepy, hybrid creations. Told in two alternating timelines, one set on Christmas Day, at the end of a year where it is clear things have not gone well, and the other, in diary-esque fashion with one chapter per month which also include Scarlett’s reflections upon her troubled childhood, orphaned along with her twin brother at age ten, this an absorbing story that sucks readers into its disquieting explorations of love, art, and what happens to the spirit when the body is preserved. As the months pass and ignorant bliss merges with darkness and threats both real and (maybe?) imagined, the menace increases slowly but relentlessly, permeating every corner, and the twists, plentiful but also well earned, pile up, resolving in a near perfect horror ending. A lyrical debut, told with the confidence of a verteran, Hall’s Scarlett will get under your skin as you fall deeper into her increasingly claustrophobic world. For fans of immersive, highly personal and dangerous stories like The Unsuitable by Pohlig and Fever Dream by Schweblin.

Further Appeal: This book is a slow burn. As I was reading, I got slowly sucked in. I was on the fence about it but yet, it kept growing on me.  The sense of menace permeates every corner of this book, like the stuffed creations staring from the corners of the house, and that kept me reading. Well that and the narration. It was so different in the diary parts from the "present" on Christmas
Day, and I had to keep reading to know WHY! The voice was also direct and strong, reaching out and grabbing you from the page [or screen in my instance].

Basically, I got trapped by this book. Literally. I couldn’t stop reading. And that was so cool because it made the huge twist seem that more real and inevitable. The book leads you there. But it is shocking! And disquieting. 

The format brings high anxiety because we know that something has drastically changed from January to December. Our narrator reveals every detail slowly. There are many twists here but all are earned. I was exhausted and impressed after finishing the book.

I feel like this book was meant to find me. It is definitely odd, but also so absorbing.

After finishing the novel I looked up more about Hall. This is her debut, she describes herself as "Egyptian British," and this is literally the book she wrote while getting her MFA. 

Three Words That Describe This Book: claustrophobic, harrowing, absorbing

Readalikes: Besides the books I mentioned above, I would also recommend The Grip of It by Jac Jemc, The Seventh Mansion by Maryse Miejer and Tinfoil Butterfly by Rachel Eve Moulton. These books are all nightmarish but so compelling that you cannot look away. And none are long.

All of these titles, like Hall's novel can be read as psychological suspense or horror. I choose the supernatural horror reading, but it is up to the reader for sue.