ARRT GENRE STUDY WEBSITE

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.

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.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Super Reading 2015 Including Outside the Box [and Easy] Display Ideas

Sunday is the big game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.  So for today, I have a few reading suggestions for those of you who like to match your reading to current events and a display idea for libraries looking to try something new, but still easy.


Next, here are some links if you want to go with the setting rather than the football theme:
Finally, why not make a fun display using these 2 ideas.  I much prefer the set in Seattle vs. set in New England idea for a display over just football books because it is more creative.  Patrons tend to appreciate it when we think outside the box with our displays. And the more outside the box we are, the more they notice.

So yes, football reads are expected. But it would take only a few minutes more to print out a picture of the two team logos, use the links I provided, and go grab a handful of books set in the 2 opposing regions.  

Find a shelf, desk, cart, or counter-- even the circ desk will do-- and cluster the books around their team logo.  Then sit back and watch people flock to the books. You can even keep track of who your community thinks is going to win based on the checkouts of these books.

This will also make for an awesome marketing opportunity.  Most libraries that are open on Sundays, will be closing just before kickoff. Why not quickly tweet out or post to Facebook what the community's book vote says about who they think will win.  Which region got more checkouts this weekend? Our readers pick a winner with their reading choices! 

Again, this idea is fast, easy, fun, but most importantly, it is creative and unexpected, which means you will have a better chance of standing out and being noticed. Being noticed means people think you are relevant to their lives, and that is the goal of every public library-- to be relevant to their communities.

If you try it out, let me know.

On a side note, having grown up in NJ and having spent 4 years of college in MA, I was not surprised by how much New England set fiction I have read, but looking at the Seattle lists, I was very surprised by how many Seattle set books I have read and enjoyed. 

For me, I am rooting for the humor of Where'd You Go Bernadette to win out over the mastery of Nathaniel Hawthorne. [Truth be told, I love Nathaniel Hawthorne enough to have named my kid after him, but I am a New York Giants fan through and through and cannot root for the Patriots no matter how much I prefer the authors of the region. ]

See some of you at ALA Midwinter in the next few days.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

NoveList RA News- February 2015 Issue


Lots of pre-ALA work and prep to finish up before tomorrow, so today, I am just passing on the link to the February 2015 issue of the NoveList RA News which also happens to have a link to the NoveList and Library Journal webinar I will be a part of.

As of Tuesday we were just under 900 registrations, so thanks to so many of you for signing up.  I am excited for us to share our varied experiences with you.

But in the meantime, here is the link to the full issue of RA News. And below is the TOC to which I added direct links to each article in case you would prefer that. [Also, it makes it easier to retrieve this post later as you can now search the contents of the issue. I have not been this smart in the past and have sifted through many past RA News issues to find something I was looking for.]

See some of you real soon. Safe travels to all as you make your way into Chicago.

***************************
In This Issue:
 
Can your library benefit from a fresh look at readers’ advisory service? Join NoveList and Library Journal 
for an engaging and informative discussion as three libraries reveal why their attention is now on helping readers find the perfect read. 
 
 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Crime Fiction Genre Study Update and a New Mystery Webinar

A week from tomorrow the ARRT Crime Fiction Genre Study will be meeting to finish out our look at Thrillers with Adventure, Crime/Caper, and [my fav] Supernatural.  For those of you following along at home, here is the link to the assignment.

I have spent most of the morning gathering all of my notes, info, and research to lead the meeting next week.  Since these are all plot heavy, over the top subgenres, I have been having a great time. Truth be told I might be having too much fun for a Wednesday at the service desk.

I also just posted Stacey's assignment for April on the Genre Study website-- Suspense and Romantic Suspense.  I think this was the hardest assignment list for us to make as the authors in the suspense category are all so popular, and we did not want to cut anyone at first.  But, we worked together to consciously make the list of authors representative of the full range of what the Suspense genre has to offer.

Finally, while we are on the subject of Crime Fiction, I also wanted to point out that I have posted the slides for my brand new Mystery webinar coming on 2/3 with Maine State Library.  You have to sign up with them to access the webinar, but the slides can be seen by anyone here.

Much of what I included is in response to the discussions we had in the early days of the Crime Fiction Genre Study too.

I hope these links help you to help you crime readers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Are Audiobooks Benefiting From the Popularity of Podcasts?

That is the title of a recent article by tech, media and marketing expert Simon Owens. In the article he cites some interesting research that seems to say, yes audiobooks are gaining in popularity. I see this happening anecdotally at my library too.

So, I thought it was a good time to point out some of my favorite audiobook resources, including one that will be updated this very weekend at ALA Midwinter -- The Listen List!

From the RUSA website:
Established in 2010 by the CODES section of RUSA, The Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration seeks to highlight outstanding audiobook titles that merit special attention by general adult listeners and the librarians who work with them.
The Listen List Council selects a list of twelve titles including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and plays. To be eligible, titles must be available for purchase and circulation by libraries. The list of winning titles is annotated, stressing the appeal elements of the title, and includes listen-alikes to lead listeners to additional audio experiences. The Council announces the winning titles at the CODES Book and Media Awards Reception, held the Sunday of each ALA Midwitner Meeting. All selected titles are published on the RUSA Web site following the event.
You can use this link to find the 3 previous years of lists. And in just a few days, a brand new list will be announced.
Remember, as I stated in this popular post, Awards Lists make for a great RA Tool; really one of the best tools you can use in terms of how much they can help you in so many different ways.  Click through for that post to see how.
You can also click here for a recent post in which I compiled some of my favorite audiobook resources.  Or here for everything I have ever labelled audiobooks.  I went through all the posts myself, and they go all the way back to the very first days of this blog (August 2007). I found some interesting info there myself. 
Right now, I am obsessed with my audiobook version of The Martian by Andy Weir and am wondering if it will end up on the 2015 Listen List. Only a few days left to see.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Discussion: Blizzard Reading

Here in Chicago, it is cloudy and appropriately cold, but my friends and family back in my homeland of the Boston-Philly corridor are hunkering down for a big blizzard.

So I thought now was a good time to talk about what you like to read when you are snow or cold bound. Do you like to read warm books on cold nights? Or do you prefer the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em mentality," and instead read books set in even colder places? Or are you someone who just wants to curl up with a tried and true, favorite author and enjoy long periods of uninterrupted reading by the fireside? Maybe you have another preferred type of winter read.

It's time to share so we can help our patrons find that perfect book for a cold, snowy day.

I'll go first.

I have to say, I am more of the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" crowd.  Here at the BPL, I think our patrons, many life long Chicago residents, fit in with that mentality too.  John currently is featuring "Frozen Solid" reads on one of our main displays, and the snowy set stories are moving fast.

I am particularly interested in Nordic Noir stories when it is cold here because it is always colder and darker there.

In his Harry Hole series, Jo Nesbo does an excellent job of describing the cold.  In particular, The Leopard has a fantastically descriptive avalanche scene.

I also have a small obsession with Iceland.  I have never been, but I really find it such an interesting country for so many reasons.  When it gets cold I like to read books set there, like Burial Rites, which I read in 2013.

Finally, my favorite snowy read is The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I hand this book out a lot in the winter.

But maybe you like hot reads for cold days. Or you have completely different suggestions.  Feel free to contribute and share so we get a wide range of opinions and ideas for all types of patrons.

Please stay safe, all my east coast friends and family. And those of you headed out my way for ALA Midwinter this weekend, I hope it is all cleared out by then.  I will see many of you there.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

Friday, January 23, 2015

BPL Book Discussion: The Secret Rescue

On Monday we met for the first discussion of 2015.  It was also the 14th Anniversary of my very first BPL Book Discussion. I find it hard to believe, but it is true. The book on tap, The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines by Cate Lineberry.

Here is the summary from the publisher:
When 26 Army nurses and medics-part of the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron-boarded a cargo plane for transport in November 1943, they never anticipated the crash landing in Nazi-occupied Albania that would lead to their months-long struggle for survival. A drama that captured the attention of the American public, the group and its flight crew dodged bullets and battled blinding winter storms as they climbed mountains and fought to survive, aided by courageous villagers who risked death at Nazi hands to help them.
Before I get started, please note, there were no prepared questions for this book. I wrote up these questions.  Feel free to use them as long as you credit RA for All. [Details in the questions post.]

I also found this interesting video of Lineberry discussing the book on CSPAN, and this article by her on the history of nurses in the military from The Huffington Post.

Now on to the discussion itself:
  • I was not surprised by our vote totals this month. We have 5 liked [with 2 who LOVED it], 7 so-sos, and only 1 disliked.
  • Most of the so-so votes came from the way the book was written. We actually had quite a bit of back and forth throughout the 90 minutes of discussion [and we filled the entire 90 minutes this month] about the style in which Lineberry told this fascinating story. It was quite polarizing but led to a rich discussion about how nonfiction stories are recounted.  I have compiled the many comments here. This is also the subject of questions 3 and 4 so this issue came up throughout the disccusion:
    • I was genuinely interested in the story, but if it were a novel I would not have tolerated the writing.
    • I wanted to like it, but I felt like I was reading a 200 page long newspaper article. It was too matter of fact and neutral. I wanted more about the survivors feelings.
    • I loved Girls of Atomic City [read for this same group] but this was not written the same way.
    • I prefer more narrative nonfiction, but this book filled a gap in knowledge for me. That was great.
    • I really want a good novelist to get his or her hands on this story and tell it without being restrained by trying to cram in all the facts. I want the feel of this story without fact after fact after fact.
    • I want to see a movie version to get a better sense of the people behind the story. [Note: there is no movie version, she meant hypothetical movie version.]
    • Even though I did not love the info heavy style, it was worth reading to learn all of the interesting stuff.
    • I liked it info heavy. The facts kept coming.
    • I liked how she wrote it. She didn’t try to tell me a story, she simply wanted to neutrally present what happened.
    • I wish it was more like Millard’s River of Doubt, which was adventure and survival with a lot of characters but read more like a griping story.
    • If she had focused on 2 or 3 of the 30 Americans a bit more in-depthly I would have liked it more.
    • But I liked it better than some of the creative nonfiction we have read because it was in between a newspaper and a narrative.
    • This one is my favorite: Lineberry is detached in her writing to reflect the military tone and the medical tone. They both think very pragmatically and attack dangerous and life threatening situations with as little emotion as possible.  She wrote with this tone to show that.
    • She is a journalist and a newspaper is sometimes called “the first draft of history.”  This book is a first draft of this story, of a lost history. She has to get it all down.  Now someone else can take the facts and make a story next.
  • Question: What did you know about medics and Army nurses before this? What did you learn about how their mixed sex squadron functioned? How did the officers, nurses, and enlisted men interact? Were you surprised to find female nurses on front lines at this time? Were you surprised at how strictly they kept rank throughout their ordeal?
    • I was so surprised that they kept their ranks and stayed separate despite barely surviving.
    • My husband was a medic in Korea, and this was very accurate to what he experienced.
    • Keeping their rank and abiding by army rules helped give their chaotic experience structure.
    • I knew there were nurses overseas for America in the army, but I never would have thought they would have ended up behind enemy lines. Just the fact that they were so close to the front lines was surprising.
    • I did not appreciate the condescension by both the Albanians and the Allied soldiers and their constant discussion of how surprised they were by the American nurses' toughness.
    • What about how crazy communication was during WWII? I loved learning about this and seeing what they had to go through to communicate with the outside world from inside Romania. It is amazing that anybody got info to each other and that they were able to be saved.
    • I am still not sure how all 30 of them got out alive. I mean, I know they did, but it seems less probable knowing the details.
  • Question: Did you feel like you now have the “whole story?” Did this book make you question how much we truly know about recent history? Current conflicts and situation?
    • This book made me think long and hard about what I really don't know.
    • It reminded me of that movie Argo.
    • We talked for awhile about how it takes time after an event for the truth to come out. It has to be declassified. But that means that while an event is happening, we never know the "truth." This topic kept us going for awhile and was interesting to discuss, especially as we pondered if we ever truly get the full story about anything.
    • I took away more questions about the world as a whole after reading this book. How many lost stories to history are still classified? How much don’t I know.
    • I was thinking about when and if we will even known what really happened in Vietnam.
    • We ended this conversation by agreeing that the one good thing about all of these "secrets" is that it makes for interesting books later.
  • Question: How did you feel while reading this story? Were you able to experience the parties’ struggle and feel their hunger, pain discomfort, despair, etc..  Were you able to experience the struggle of those who helped them-- the partisans, the British, the OSS officers? Was Lineberry more successful at articulating some points of view and feelings more than others?
    • This book made me eat all of the old food from the back of my fridge and cupboards. I felt so bad for having so much to eat while they were starving.
    • A few of us talked about how cold we felt while reading this book. They were put through extreme temperatures without proper clothing.
    • One lady blurted out, "I would have died." We laughed, but she said she was serious. Even as a young woman, she could not imagine herself making it through this ordeal.
    • This book made me think about my dad's stories of the depression and how they survived.
    • I really felt badly for the Albanians. I thinks she captured their sacrifice well. I felt connected to them in a way I did not to the nurses and medics.
    • I think the way she chose to write the book-- filling it with facts-- negated empathy for the Americans.
    • I disagree-- I felt more connected to the Americans
    • We went back and forth trying to understand why we had these different feelings.
    • I was heartbroken to see the Albanians, who had so little food for themselves, sharing it with the Americans, who then complained about not getting enough food from their hosts; or even worse, complaining about what they did get not being good enough.
  • Question: Any other characters we haven’t mentioned that you want to talk about?
    • I wanted to hear more details about those who rescued them, both the Albanians and the British and American special agents.
    • Stefa was polarizing. One participant did not like or trust him despite the fact that he ultimately paid for helping them with his life.
    • I wanted to hear more about what happened when they got home.
    • The cave guys! "They were hot!" Seriously though, I really wanted to learn more about living and working as spies in those Albanian caves. So cool.
    • I felt like I was learning about the beginnings of the spy agencies.
    • There were too many medics and nurses. With 30, it was impossible to keep track of them. That’s not her fault since it really happened, but still.
    • To manage while I was reading, I left the character names behind me and let Lineberry carry me through the story.
  • Question: Were you drawn more to the survival aspect of the story or the WWII?
    • We split at about 2-1 in favor of WWII.
    • If a teacher had assigned this to me back when I was in school, I would have loved learning about WWII. This was a textured and layered story that hit on so many of the war issues, while still being accurate.
  • Question: Albania? What did you know before hand? What did you learn?
    • We talked about how it was and how it has changed.
    • We felt like it was and is a fractured society with local structures. It holds the people together to survive, but also holds them back to move forward.
  • Question: The title?
    • The use of the word “Secret”was very apt. Secret means something is deliberately kept from others.
    • But by combining it with the word history, it is asking us to think about what we are all living through and be more critical and question what we don’t know. Find the secrets in our history!
    • It is a title that encourages us to dig deeper in our own lives to uncover the secrets.
  • Words that describe this book:
    • survival
    • WWII
    • lost history
    • journalistic
    • resilience
    • illuminating
    • secrets
    • feminine power
    • fractured societies
    • preserving
    • endurance
Readalikes: A few months ago we discussed The Girls of Atomic City and many people found lots of similarities. Specifically, both deal with the forgotten contributions of women during WWII and big secrets kept for national security reasons.

If you liked the combo of WWII and a survival story you will love Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand or Frozen in Time WWII by Mitchell Zuckoff.

If you want another cold weather survival tale but don’t care about a WWII angle, In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides (new) and Endurance by Alfred Lansing (old) are great choices

If you just want survival, a recent title that might interest you is Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar.

As I mentioned above, we compared Lineberry to Candice Millard. Specifically River of Doubt is a very similar story but told more like a narrative while The Secret Rescue is journalistic. Click here for our discussion of River of Doubt and here for Destiny of the Republic.

I also found  user generated lists of books about real nurses and titles identified as "dramatic nonfiction" on Goodreads that some readers may enjoy browsing for more readalike suggestions.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

NoveList Notes Newsletter, RA Makeover Webcast, and Some Articles of Note


As most of you already know, I will be a part of the NoveList/Library Journal RA Makeover Webcast on Feb 10th.  Click here for details and to sign-up.

This webcast is meant to kick off a longer discussion entitled, "The Year of the RA Makeover."  The idea is to give a broad view of how RA Service is currently being executed at a variety of libraries.  In conjunction with the webcast, NoveList is also facilitating an online discussion where you can share your ideas.

Click here for their first 5 ideas and find out how you can contribute some of your own.  I'll be saving mine for the webcast, but I would love to see what all of you are doing.

By the way, this article came to me through my subscription to NoveList Notes.  The most recent issue is available here.  It is important to note that you do NOT have to be a subscriber to NoveList to sign up for their newsletters [although if you can influence your library's database purchases and you do not already have NoveList, I would highly suggest you add it].

This issue of NoveList Notes also had a recap of the top 5 articles of 2014. Click on the titles to read them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Discussion Questions for The Secret Rescue

On Monday, my group met to discuss The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines by Cate Lineberry. I am working on the book discussion report post, but I wanted to let people know that I could not locate prepared questions for this book.

So, I created my own questions, but I wanted to get them up in a separate post so that they will be picked up by search engines more easily than if I embedded them in the post on the discussion itself.

They are posted below. Feel free to use them, but please cite RA for All and this permalink if you do.
________________________________________

The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines by Cate Lineberry

(Questions by Becky Spratford with some guidance from LitLovers)

  1. We have read many books about WWII and others about “survival.” How does The Secret Rescue compare to those books? Is it a WWII book or a survival book? If you had to describe this book to someone, which subject heading would you pick out as the primary one for this story?

  1. Albania in 1943-44 was an unknown political and cultural landscape to the Allies. What did you learn about this country, its customs, politics, and traditions by reading this book? What does Lineberry think about the Albanian people themselves and/or our interaction with them? How does she feel about the Partisans and the BK, and how do her feelings influence how she tells the story? Do you feel like you know anything about Albania today? Does this book help you understand that region of the world better?

  1. Lineberry employed a comprehensive research strategy to write this book using government documents, personal recollections of those involved, interviews of survivors and their family members, trips overseas, etc…  Her research choices influence the style in which she chooses to tell the story of these events. Did you enjoy reading this as a narrative story or did you enjoy the learning aspects more?

  1. How did you experience this story? Were you engaged immediately, or did it take you a while to “get into it.” Compare Linberry’s style with Candice Millard who we have read twice. Both teach us about history we did not know, but write with different styles.

  1. How did you feel while reading this story? Were you able to experience the parties’ struggle and feel their hunger, pain discomfort, despair, etc..  Were you able to experience the struggle of those who helped them-- the partisans, the British, the OSS officers? Was Lineberry more successful at articulating some points of view and feelings more than others?

  1. What did you know about medics and Army nurses before this? What did you learn about how their mixed sex squadron functioned? How did the officers, nurses, and enlisted men interact? Were you surprised to find female nurses on front lines at this time? Were you surprised at how strictly they kept rank throughout their ordeal?

  1. What does Lineberry want us to take away from this story? Is she doing more than simply asking us to learn about “lost” history?

  1. Let’s talk “characters.” There are many people here-- the 30 stranded service people plus the dozens who helped them.  Were their any who you would like to discuss [for better or worse]? Or, were there so many people here that you felt you did not have the time to get to know anyone well enough?

  1. Were you surprised that all 30 made it out alive? Why do you think that is? But not everyone involved survived the ordeal? Who made the biggest sacrifice so that these 30 could make it home alive?

  1. Did you feel like you now have the “whole story?” Did this book make you question how much we truly know about recent history? Current conflicts and situation?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ALA Midwinter is Coming...

Click picture for details
In just 10 days, the ALA Midwinter Conference will begin.

I know many staff cannot make the trip; in fact I am only able to go because it is less than 15 miles from my house and I am going on my days off. But not being able to make it does not mean you don’t get any benefit out of the fact that it is happening.

Here are some tips about how to experience ALA Midwinter from anywhere:

  • Read Booklist’s He Reads and She Reads columns in honor of the conference host city with their "Chicago Reads." 
  • Follow the #alaMW2015. You can do this by clicking on this link whether or not you are a Twitter user.
  • Midwinter is all about RA service programming. Specifically for Adults I want to mention my absolute favorite annual list of best books-- the RUSA CODES Committee Reading List. It breaks down the best of popular fiction by genre.  Click here for all the info on the ceremony itself, but it is the list they create with annotations and readalikes that you will use often with readers at the service desk.  Click here for the link to past year’s lists. If you help adult leisure readers these lists are EXCELLENT sure bet resources for genre fiction readers. I use them frequently. So should you.
  • There is much, much more going on, including more opportunities for participating from afar.  Click here to see the official Midwinter scheduler for details.

In the coming days, I will have some information and details about some of the networking opportunities that will be happening after normal conference hours for anyone in the Chicago area to attend-- whether you are signed up for the conference or not.

Don’t miss out on participating and/or interacting in some way with the conference from wherever you are. I promise it will be worth your time.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Discussion: MLK Jr Day Diverse Books Edition

Over the last year, there has been a huge movement to to address the lack of diversity in children's literature.  The have organized into a campaign known as We Need Diverse Books.

From their official campaign mission statement:
We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. We Need Diverse Books is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality. 
We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Our mission is to promote or amplify diversification efforts and increase visibility for diverse books and authors, with a goal of empowering a wide range of readers in the process. 
In order to accomplish our mission, we reach out to individuals and groups involved in many levels of children’s publishing—including (but not limited to) agents, publishers, authors, distributors, booksellers, librarians, educators, parents, and students.
 I have been following this campaign and been using some of their resources to educate myself, but since I do not work with children (not counting my own), I have not brought it up here on the blog.

But, today seems like a good excuse to start the conversation here, for an adult audience.

So, in honor of the federal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr holiday, I would like to ask you, readers of this blog, to suggest some of your favorite "diverse" books here on the blog.  Notice diverse is in quotes. As the mission statement above claims, diverse can be anything that is simply not the dominant culture.

Also, please do not feel the need to list books from a million different diversity categories. Rather, let's crowdsource this question and pool together some good adult diverse books titles as a team.

I'll go first.  Here are some of my all time favorite diverse titles and/or authors, with links to my reviews where possible:

Now help me by suggesting some of your favorite "diverse" titles for an adult audience.

For past Monday Discussions click here.