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.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Gone Girl Reading Map

A few days ago, our old friend Christi, who has done a great job serving readers at the Naperville Public Library since her halcyon days as a BPL intern, got in touch to share her newly completed Gone Girl Reading Map.

Since I recently gave my popular Bridging the Physical-Virtual Divide talk where I mention reading maps, and specifically the article Christi and I wrote together for NoveList about how to create them (links on slide 17), I thought this was perfect timing to share her new map.

Here is a screen shot of the front page as well as a link to the actual map itself.

Click here for access to the reading map
Personally, I love all of Christi's reading maps.  One of the things she does best is create a template for the maps in general and then manipulates the look and content to fit each book.  When she was our intern, she set up the template and made us a bunch of maps. Our staff then each made one to add to the collection.  Here is the link to those maps plus some maps by other former students.

But this map specifically has a tab I love... "Caution, Spoilers!"  Gone Girl is all about the devious plot twists. Its appeal lies in how you feel about them.  She had to address them for fans who have read the book/seen the movie, loved it, and want more, but she also needs to keep it "spoiler-free" for the five people who don't know yet.  Clearly labelling that section was a great idea.  Plus the page itself has some great whole collection/outside the box reading and research suggestions.

And, of course I have to mention that under "The Author" tab, you can watch me interview Flynn back in 2012.

If you want to know more about Reading Maps, let me know and I can get you in touch with Christi.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Becky Gets Trained: Thoughts on Implementing the “Right” Training

Yesterday, I was the trainer, but today, all morning I was the trainee.

I work at a SWAN member library in the suburbs outside of Chicago, and I think we have one of the best shared catalogs in the country.  I feel like I have a right to say this because I actually do travel all over the country and work with other libraries, so I know what is out there. Our resource sharing rocks!

Now it seems that our actual catalog interface is going to be as superlative as our resource sharing.  And that is what I sat in on today.

Specifically, I was being trained on using Enterprise, the OPAC for our new SirsiDynix catalog. But I realize what I learned is only useful to those of you in SWAN and this blog is for everyone who serves leisure readers. Don’t worry, I have a point to make that is relevant to everyone.

I want to talk about this huge project of migrating a catalog with over 1 million registered users.  Obviously this involves training...massive training.  But it also relies on a forward thinking organization to prepare for the training.

Let me get specific.  Way in advance of the migration (which by the way happens in less than 6 weeks...yikes), one of my colleagues on the ARRT Steering Committee, Rebecca, left her more traditional RA job at an area public library, to go handle “special projects” for SWAN.

I remember talking to her at length when she first made the switch about the opportunities for reaching out more to the front line staff when the migration would happen (at that time it still felt so very far away).  Over lunch we were discussing how, when it comes to catalog migrations, most of the time is spent training the tech services and circulation staffs. Now this makes sense.  I am not even slightly arguing for these people to NOT get the most attention, but often, those of us helping patrons to navigate the new catalog, are left to fend for ourselves and figure it all out by trial and error.

Well, not SWAN.  They thought ahead and hired Rebecca because of her ability to help front line staff assist patrons.  And today, I got to reap the benefits of their foresight. Rebecca’s lead in training front line staff was evident in her and her cohort’s presentation.  It was not only that she knew what we wanted to see the new catalog do, but she also showed us areas where it could NOT do what we needed yet.  However, because she is an employee of SWAN, this was not just a complaint.  She could tell us what wasn’t working yet, and knows that these concerns and issues have been reported and explained to SirsiDynix. We have one of us speaking to the people who can make the changes we need. I cannot express how much more confident I feel about the migration after leaving Rebecca’s training.

As a trainer, this got me thinking about training for library staff in general.  So much of the success of training depends on who is in charge of said training.  We need more administrators thinking like SWAN was when they hired Rebecca.  Yes we need staff with new ideas and new energy, but we also need to make sure people are trained to help our patrons. I feel ready to help patrons now.

New ideas, new services...they are all great for our patrons, but without identifying the right trainers, the new will not be fully realized. So as we think about starting new services for our leisure readers, let’s remember to train all the staff who will be involved (even those who are not the primary providers) and let’s train the patrons too.

Whole library RA training should be the new frontier in our service to leisure readers. I already do this a little, but I will be exploring this topic more in the coming months here on the blog.

As I go through this migration, I am excited to both learn how to use the new catalog AND also to find new ideas on how to be a better trainer.  All for the goal of creating better service to patrons!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Booktalking with Maine State Library

Good morning Maine [and others who signed up since they put this on the National CE calendar].

This morning at 9:30 Eastern I will be presenting a brand new program, Booktalking: Harnessing the Power of Sharing Books With Patrons.

As a bonus, this program also includes a book talk of some of my favorite backlist horror titles.

“See" you soon.

Monday, March 2, 2015

NoveList RA News: March 2015

Some great articles here for Women's History Month. Click through for the full issue. It is free to anyone whether or not your library gets NoveList.

Here is the intro note from Krista too:

Editor's Desk

When I worked in the public library, I didn't always make a conscious effort to promote women's history throughout the year. Sounds bad, doesn't it?  Hear me out.  My goal for any display or list I made was to represent as much diversity -- women, African American, and other historically marginalized groups -- as possible. It didn't always work out depending on the topic, but consciously making the effort is what matters.
I am thankful for March's focus on women's history as a reminder of making that effort for readers, this month and every month. It provides me the opportunity to seek out new reading options by, for, and about women -- from individual biographies to historical studies of women's accomplishments.
This month's issue of RA News has several resources to help you publicize Women's History Month in your library. Enjoy, and keep reading!

Monday Discussion: Sure Bets to Booktalk in the Stacks

I am getting excited to debut my brand new booktalking program with Maine State Library tomorrow morning.  One of the topics I will be talking about at length is how to prepare yourself for booktalking in the stacks with patrons.

But I want to get the conversation kick-started a day early here on the Monday Discussion because one of my biggest tips for being ready when the opportunity for impromptu booktalks arises is to have a stable of sure bet titles in your head.

These would be books that:

  1. you have found from experience appeal to a wide audience
  2. you feel comfortable talking about concisely and enticingly
  3. are at least a few years old (backlist titles), so that there is a higher probability that they are on the shelf.
So what are your current sure-bet favs to hand-sell to patrons as you encounter them in the stacks; patrons that you might not have time to properly enter a formal RA conversation with.

I'll go first. Here are my current favs that I am book talking to patrons regularly.  I have included my opening line, sound-bite, that I use to gauge their initial interest [if they look uninterested, I move on the the next book and sound bite quickly]. The titles here are also linked to my full review for the book.
  • The Golem and the Jini by Helene Wecker-- This is a typical immigrant tale set at the turn of the 20th Century in NYC except for the fact that the protagonists are anything but typical. Both are from their home country's folklore: a Jewish Golem and a Arab/Christian Jinni (genie).
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa-- A housekeeper is hired to care for a mathematician whose memory, because of an accident years before, only lasts for 81 minutes. Now imagine these two people building a true and beautiful friendship under such trying conditions.
  • Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones One man in Atlanta has 2 families, but he does not tell us his tale, rather it is through the eyes of his 2 teenage daughters, one who knows about the other family, and one who does not, that we experience the story.
  • The Bees by Laline Paull-- Divergent meets Watership Down only with bees! (This is all you need to say on this one; either they will grab it from you or make a disgusted face; you will know immediately)
  • The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt-- It is a cross between the movies O Brother, Where Art Thou and  No Country for Old Men. Two brothers with the last name Sisters are hit men for hire in Gold Rush CA.
Now it's your turn.  Feel free to use my sound bites and reviews to help you, but I would also love for you to contribute to the list. For today's Monday Discussion, give me a title or two, ones that are your go-to, hand-selling options when you encounter patrons looking for a good read. The more titles that we compile together, the better off we all are.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Regional RA Training @ Darien [CT] Library

Yesterday I spent the day talking to the staff and patrons of the Darien Public Library.  Today, I am welcoming Reader's Advisors from all over the area.

We are going to be doing two programs this morning.

The first, from 9:30-10:30 will be on Bridging the Physical Virtual Divide, a topic I write about frequently.

Then, after a short break, I will be presenting a BRAND NEW program from 10:45-Noon called Genre Study Success! [Yes with an exclamation point]. Here I will walk the group through the process of planning and conducting a genre study, a journey they are interested in taking together.

For those who attend AND for anyone else reading this, the slides for these presentations, as well as all of my recent presentations, can be accessed here.

In fact, on Tuesday, I will have another BRAND NEW program debuting for Maine State Library-- Booktalking-- Harnessing the Power of Sharing Books with Readers which will also include a new horror booktalk to prep you for my favorite unofficial holiday, Halfway to Halloween, [coming in April].

Thanks to everyone who came to the Darien Public Library over the last 2 days. I have had a great time working with you. But mostly,  I am excited for your leisure readers. You are all striving to serve them better and I am proud to play a small part in it all.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Recharge Your Book Group for Patrons of the Darien [CT] Library

Now it is time for another program.  This time, I am talking to patrons!

Yes, I will sharing all of our librarian secrets with the members of the local book clubs in the Darien area in a reworked version of my popular Recharge Your Book Group program from 3-4:30.

Darien library does an excellent job of connecting with their area book clubs.  Click here to see. They have dozens of books clubs registered with them, and while these groups may not meet at the library, they are connected to their library through this service.

The library has made themselves relevant to all books clubs in the area, and now they are taking it one step further by inviting me to come and talk to them too.

It is a great idea. Train the book groups to take charge of themselves, but do it through the library.

I’m am happy to be a part of it.

Genre Training With the Staff of Darien [CT] Library

Good morning Darien Library.

We are going to be having two programs this morning and they are brand spankin’ new just for your guys.

First, from 9-10:30 is Demystifying Genre.  In this program I will break down the genres, their appeal, and talk about some key authors. It’s going to be a whirlwind tour of genre fiction, but with the slides as your guide in the days and weeks that follow, you can take your time to let it all sink in.

Then, from 10:45-Noon I am presenting a training entitled: Working with Genre Fiction Readers.  Here we will work together to take what we learned about genre fiction in part one and apply it to helping genre fiction readers, no matter their preferred genre.

The slides aren’t just for the Darien folks, by the way.  Even if you do not get to partake in the me talking part of the presentations, anyone can click on the titles of each program to bring up the shared slides. 

There are still 3 more programs on the docket for this trip, so stay tuned.  I also hope to find some time to write up the notes from Monday’s book club meeting too. But one step at a time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Let's Talk About Frame

I am currently working on an article for NoveList about the importance of considering frame when we help leisure readers.  As I was gathering my notes and thoughts, I came upon a post I wrote back in 2010 where I talked about the importance of frame.

I am also leaving in an hour for 2 days of RA training in Darien, CT where I will be talking about helping genre readers [more posts on that to come this week including slides]. While crafting those trainings, frame came into play frequently and will be a topic that I explore with the various groups.

So since I have "frame on the brain," I figured it was worth a re-post of some of my thoughts for everyone to think about.

And look for an entirely new article where I contemplate frame in the May 2015 issue of NoveList RA News.

Monday August 16, 2010
Monday Discussion: What's Your Favorite Frame?
I am back from a 2 week vacation where I saw my baby sister get married in New England and visited my home state of New Jersey.  This got me thinking about the fact that since moving from Jersey to the Midwest, I will read anything-- fiction or nonfiction, any genre-- as long as it has New Jersey in it.

When I teach my students to write their Reader Profiles, I mention this reading quirk to them. I ask them to think about their reading habits. In the RA biz we call these special interest areas, "Frames."  "What special frames do you enjoy?" is the question I make them consider.

Most students look at me blankly at first, but once they go home to write their up their reader profiles they find they too have special frames which they will read about in any type of book. It is great exercise to make them think about their own reading habits, which can then make them more sensitive to addressing future patrons' habits. Until you force yourself to think about it, these likes and dislikes usually stay hidden in your subconscious. My goal is to make them "Super RA Librarians," and this is an important component tot heir training.

Here are some examples from students and friends of frames they love: Faberge Eggs, Tudor England, and I once had a student who would read any pink covered book. There are actual readers out there that will reading everything and anything that have these frames. You can click here to see some past student's reader profiles for more examples.

For me, other frames I greatly enjoy besides NJ are books with circuses, books that are set on college campuses, books with a Civil War background but which do not focus on the battles, and books with baseball in them. I will read any type of book in which these subjects appear and 9 times out of 10, will love it; even if it is a genre or type of book I normally hate. These special frames in and of themselves give me great enjoyment.

It is also important to note that some people's favorite frames are the same frame which another reader will avoid at all costs. For example, while I will read anything with a circus in it my colleague Joyce Saricksavoids circuses in her books at all costs. I also have patrons who love British Mysteries and others who refuse to read them. Literally, they refuse, even if I know they would love the book; they will not read British mysteries...period.

So today, let me know: What special frames do you like to have show up in your books? Also, what frames do you avoid at all costs? Today is the day to own up to your reading quirks.

And remember, you can use this link to follow past Monday Discussions.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This is Horror Awards and Bram Stoker Nominees

This is a cross post with RA for All: Horror because who else is going to report this news to librarians?!

Seriously though, I only double up on the posts when it is important information for both the librarians who do the horror collection development AND those who work with any and all leisure readers.

These are two main stream horror awards. These are titles that public libraries should own and promote to the appropriate readers.  This is an easy way to also stay up on what is most popular in the genre. In case you forget how, here is my post on using awards lists as an RA tool.

Specifically, I think every library should own the winners and the runners up in the Novel, Short Story Collection and Anthology collections on the This is Horror list below.  Without even double checking my holdings I know I own 4 of the six, and I have reviewed Bird Box and The New Black.  I just ordered the two short story collections I did not own a minute ago [yes, I took a break to go check].  And I should publicly say, shame on me for missing the Stephen Graham Jones title because Richard Thomas (winner below), told me himself that this collection was awesome!



Here is the link to the winners of the This is Horror Awards announced this morning, including Horror Novel of the Year and one of my favs of 2014 hands down, Bird Box.

I have also posted all of the winners below.

Yesterday, the final Ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards was also released. Hint, Bird Box is on there too [why haven't you read it yet?!?!]. Click through to see the full final ballot.

This Is Horror Awards 2014: Winners

It’s that time again. We’re announcing the winners of the This Is Horror Awards 2014. Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who voted, it’s your participation that makes the This Is Horror Awards such a special occasion. Now to the winners.

This Is Horror Awards 2014: Winners

Novel of the Year

Bird Box
You write because you love reading, and you write horror because you believe in the monsters, you believe in the imagination, you believe in the dark. I BELIEVE IN THE DARK. Maybe you start with poems, unrelated chunks, paragraphs. This may lead to short, freaky stories. Then you’re finally writing books and (holy cow) now you’re publishing books. And then you receive a notice that your book, your scary book, has won the best novel prize from a great website, a purity in the field. Nobody does it better than “This is Horror” and so not only is this a glorious chain of events for me, it’s also a magnificent HONOR. Thank you, This is Horror, and may I always maintain my end of the bargain, that when a reader reads a book of mine they will think, ‘THIS is horror.’

Film of the Year

Winner: Snowpiercer
Runner-up: The Babadook

TV Series of the Year

Short Story Collection of the Year

After The People Lights Have Gone Off Stephen Graham Jones

I feel like the Hamburglar: I tiptoed in theatrically behind all those other excellent collections and stole this one away. Thanks to Richard Thomas and Dark House Press for making After the People Lights Have Gone Off such a pretty book, and getting it out in the world, and thanks to all the editors and magazines and anthologies I wrote most of these stories for, and thanks to everybody who read and voted on it. And thanks to horror, for always being there each time I turn the lights off.

Anthology of the Year

Burnt Tongues Chuck Palahniuk

I know I can speak for Chuck Palahniuk and Dennis Widmyer when I say that we’re honored to win this award. It’s been a long journey from the original workshops and nominations, to the final selections, to putting this out into the world. Chuck says, “We return to troubling films and books because they don’t pander to us—their style and subject matter challenge, but to embrace them is to win something worth having for the rest of our lives,” and I couldn’t agree more. Medallion Press has been extremely supportive, as have the authors, some going on tour and reading with Chuck, the overall reaction from readers somewhere between thrilled and scarred for life. It’s really been a group effort, working with Dennis and Chuck, as well as all of the talented authors to bring this eclectic collection of transgressive stories out into the light. Medallion had this to say, as well: “It’s been a privilege to join Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer on their mission to bring the remarkable work of twenty authors to a wider audience, and we’re grateful to This Is Horror for honoring each of them with this award.”

Publisher of the Year

Severed Press

Winner: Severed Press
Runner-up: ChiZine Publications

On behalf of all the editors, cover artists and of course authors, I would like to say a huge thank you for voting Severed Press Publisher of the Year 2014. To have all their hard work recognised this way means a great deal to us.

Magazine of the Year

Nightmare Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams February 2015
Winner: Nightmare MagazineRunner-up: Fangoria
Wow, thank you so much! It’s quite an honor to be selected as ‘Magazine of the Year,’ especially amongst such stiff competition! Thanks so much too to all of the writers and editors who work on Nightmare with me–without them, of course, it wouldn’t exist.

UK Event of the Year

dead by dawn logo
Winner: Dead by DawnRunner-up: FrightFest

Book Cover of the Year

Last Projector

It’s an absolute thrill to win Best Book Cover of the Year. Thanks to the voters, This Is Horror, and to David James Keaton and the folks at Broken River Books for bringing me on board. You have all made this an incredible journey.


Tattoo Artist of the Year

Ollie Tye This Is Horror Tattoo Artist of the Year
A huge thank you to all who voted and support me in doing what I love. Lots more sexy monsters coming your way soon.

Podcast of the Year

Booked podcast
Winner: Booked. PodcastRunner-up: The Last Knock
I’m ridiculously excited to be selected for this award again. Thanks to This Is Horror and to the listeners who voted for making this possible. Clearly, you have excellent taste and solid decision making skills. See ya next year!
I’m truly honored to be named the podcast of the year. Thanks to This is Horror and to everyone that voted. This award is the fire that I’ll hold to our feet when we get lazy. Here’s to another year of horror excellence!