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.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Discussion: Your Go-To Gift Book for a New Baby

Today's Monday Discussion is a repeat from a bunch of years ago, but since my baby sister recently had a baby [and a bookish one at that; her name is Harper Lee], I thought I would revisit this popular question.

When buying a books for a new baby, what is your go-to choice.  Come on, you are all library people.  You know you have a go-to gift book for a baby.

I'll go first.

I always buy every new baby of friends and family Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox.  Why? It is a fun book of opposites, with fantastic pictures that makes for a great read aloud from birth until age 5.  Plus, it has just the right amount of silly.  I also choose this title because it is not obvious like Good Night Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or a Pigeon Book.  These are books others often buy for new babies so I try to stay away from those. Nothing is worse for a new mom than having to go tot he store to make a return.

So what about you?  For today's Monday Discussion what's your go-to book for a new baby.

For past Monday Discussions click here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Library Reads: October 2014

Here is the newest list.  Click here for past lists.  Remember, they make a great sure bet back list option, especially for your patrons who are upset that they have to wait for the "Next Big Thing." With the older Library Reads lists, you can give them the "Recently Big Thing."  It just takes a positive attitude to talk them into it.


October 2014 Library Reads List


A Sudden Light: A Novel

by Garth Stein

Published: 9/30/2014
by Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781439187036
“Garth Stein has given us a masterpiece. This beautiful story takes readers on a thrilling exploration of a family estate brimming with generations of riveting Riddell family ghosts and secrets. This is a true exploratory novel, taking readers through secret passageways, hidden rooms, and darkened corridors that engage all of the senses.”
Whitney Gayle, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT

LeavingTime-200x300Leaving Time: A Novel

by Jodi Picoult

Published: 10/14/2014 by Ballantine
ISBN: 9780345544926
Leaving Time is a love story – love between mother and child, love between soulmates, and love between elephants. The story is told from a variety of narrators, all of whom are broken and lost. Jenna is searching for answers to the disappearance of her mother, and seeks the help of a retired police detective and a psychic. Alice, Jenna’s mom, disappeared after a tragic accident at the elephant sanctuary, and her work with the elephants is fascinating and touching. The book is an ode to motherhood in all its forms–the good, bad and the ugly–and it is brilliant.”
Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX

AsYouWish-198x300As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride

by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden
Foreword by Rob Reiner

Published: 10/14/2014 by Touchstone
ISBN: 9781476764023
“Even if you don’t have a crush on Cary Elwes, you’ll enjoy this vivid behind-the-scenes account of the making of The Princess Bride. His stories, especially those involving Andre the Giant, will leave you in stitches. Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, and others also recount their experiences. An amusing account of a group of performers who came together to make a heartfelt film that is loved by many.”
Emily Weiss, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, IN

NotMyFathersSon-199x300Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir

by Alan Cumming

Published: 10/7/2014 by Dey Street Books
ISBN: 9780062225061
“This memoir focuses on Cumming’s reaction to being told that his father was not, in fact, his father. An appearance on the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are was meant to reveal the mystery behind what happened to Cumming’s maternal grandfather. Instead, his father’s admission leads Cumming to resolve long-held memories of verbal abuse. Cumming is extremely open, allowing readers to share in his pain and understand his relationships.”
Tracy Babiasz, Alachua County Library District, Newberry, FL

SomeLuck-201x300Some Luck: A Novel

by Jane Smiley

Published: 10/7/2014 by Knopf
ISBN: 9780307700315
“Smiley’s latest is a love song to American farms and the people who keep them. This glorious and heartfelt novel chronicles the lives of an Iowan farm family over 30 years, beginning in 1920. Family members are born, grow, change, and die. Readers follow their triumphs and crushing losses and, along the way, learn about the evolution of farming and society in the United States. Definitely one of the best novels of 2014.”
Laurie Van Court, Douglas County Libraries, Parker, CO

BoyWhoDrewMonsters-197x300The Boy Who Drew Monsters: Novel

by Keith Donohue

Published: 10/7/2014 by Picador
ISBN: 9781250057150
“Emotionally scarred by a near-drowning experience, young Jack Keenan spends all his time indoors, fanatically preoccupied with drawing strange things. While Jack’s parents chalk his drawings up to the imagination, Nick, Jack’s only friend, notices mysterious things happen whenever Jack picks up a pencil. This detailed coming-of-age tale with a twist offers unique insights into boyhood friendships and the complexities of adult relationships.”
Courtney Block, Charlestown Clark County Public Library, Charlestown, IN

LifeWeBury-200x300The Life We Bury

by Allen Eskens

Published: 10/14/2014 by Seventh Street Books
ISBN: 9781616149987
“In this well-crafted debut novel, Joe Talbert has finally left home, but not without guilt over leaving his autistic brother in the care of his unreliable mother. A college assignment gets the young man entangled in a cold case, racing to clear the name of a Vietnam veteran. Characters with layers of suppressed memories and emotions only add to the suspenseful plot. Looking forward to more from this Minnesotan author!”
Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI

Reunion-199x300Reunion: A Novel

by Hannah Pittard

Published: 10/7/2014 by Grand Central
ISBN: 9781455553617
“When Kate learns that her estranged father has committed suicide, she and her siblings travel to Atlanta to bury him and work out years of resentment. Life seems overwhelming to Kate as she battles with infidelity, divorce, and a massive debt. It’s only when she takes a good look at herself that she begins to heal the rift in her family. Unfolding like a saga, this short book packs a punch.”
Elizabeth Kanouse, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ

Malice-197x300Malice: A Mystery

by Keigo Higashino; translated by Alexander O. Smith

Published: 10/7/2014 by Minotaur Books
ISBN: 9781250035608
“Detective Kaga is investigating the murder of best-selling author Kunihiko Hidaka. Hidaka’s wife and best friend both have rock-solid alibis, but Kaga discovers that the friendship might not have been what it seemed. A classic cat-and-mouse game with twists that keep the pages turning.”
Vicki Nesting, St. Charles Parish Library, Destrehan, LA

MurderattheBrightwell-196x300Murder at the Brightwell: A Mystery

by Ashley Weaver

Published: 10/14/2014 by Minotaur Books
ISBN: 9781250046369
“Lovers of Agatha Christie and Jacqueline Winspear will enjoy this elegant murder mystery set on holiday at the English seaside What starts out as a lark, intended to make Amory Ames’s misbehaving-but-oh-so-delicious husband jealous, turns into a dangerous and deadly game of whodunit for Amory and her friends. Love, jealousy, and revenge are tangled together in this smart and sophisticated British mystery reminiscent of the genre’s golden age.”
Vanessa Walstra, Kent District Library, East Grand Rapids, MI

Thursday, September 11, 2014

25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium and a Giveaway!

This is a cross post with RA for All: Horror.  I generally keep the posts separate, but as you will see below, this list is TOO perfect for ALL public libraries.  Seriously, I can tell you from personal experience that the 25 books will all find readership at any public library in America right now.

I feel very strongly about this.

Plus, you can simply use this list to build a fantastic 21st Century Horror display.  In fact, if you also use my book which is heavily focused on 21st century titles, you will have an easy go of your Halloween displays this year. And people, I know you think I am crazy early on this, but Halloween is only 7 weeks from tomorrow.  You will look like a horror maven superstar to your patrons!

Here is the post:

****This is the fourth in an occasional series of posts to help you get ready for Halloween.****

So I came across this list of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium and boy is it a good list.

Not only have I read, enjoyed, and reviewed many of the books on the list, this is a list every library can use right now as they prepare for Halloween.

Often when I see or find lists of horror books, they are filled with books we would never carry in a library.  They are often too obscure or too out there for a general audience.  But not this list.  Without checking, I can say with confidence that my library owns at least 20 (if not more) of the books on the list.  And, they all have healthy circ stats.

Some like, The Ruins, the 2 Joe Hill entries, Ghost Road Blues, and Drood to name a few, are among my ALL TIME favorites. Click through to see more on each title.

And number 1 is a book that is annotated in my book, a book I personally own, and also happens to be a book I saw in a co-workers hand last week, to which I said to her, “That is one of the creepiest, most disorienting, and just straight out frightening books I have ever read.”  I guess I am not alone in that opinion.

Speaking of my book, in preparation for Halloween I have five copies of my book to give away.  Be one of the first 5 people to email me with your mailing address-- and I will send it to you free of charge.  There is no better way to prepare for the Halloween rush at your public library then with my book.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Serving Younger Americans

I am sure many of you saw that the Pew Research Internet Project released data today on Younger Americans and Public Libraries. This report pulled together data from different long term research projects but grouped it by age.  The summary findings can be found here.  On that page there are links to more detailed reports.

For the purposes of the study “younger Americans” are spilt into 3 distinct age groups so that the data can be assessed even more precisely:

  1. 16-17 year olds
  2. 18-24
  3. 25-29
Again, go here for more information.  I forwarded the link to the entire BPL RA team today.  We have had many conversations about how we can improve our services to older teens and “new adults.”  In fact, I find just the summary here even more helpful than all the ink that has been spilled over the “New Adult” fiction genre.  This is information about 16-29 yr olds actual behavior patterns that I can use.

The release of this data also reminded me of an article I wrote back in 2011 for NoveList entitled, “Drawing the 20- and 30-something Crowd Into Your Library.” I was happy to see some of what I said there does hold up against the PEW data.

I also dug up this conference program report I wrote from ALA 2013 on a program about 20 and 30-something library advocates.

So spend some time this week thinking about your “new adult” patrons, or younger Americans as PEW calls them [we need a better term people].  This new information gives us a lot more to go on.  We have no excuse if we do not try to attract more of them into the building.  And the good news is...a lot of it is positive.  This demographic likes the library, we just need to do a better job engaging and informing them.

And please do engage them because as I said in the NoveList article back in 2011, “...we cannot ignore them: this demographic includes the voters who will decide the fate of your library for the next 50 years. We need them.

But they need us too, they just donrealize it yet.  Lets get out there and remind them what we have to offer.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Art of Booktalking Featuring Me and FREE!

Okay, the Maine program is done.  Thanks to those who participated live. I wish you all good luck with your book discussion groups.  Leading my book club is one of the best things about my job.

I would love to recap it all some more, but I have a jammed packed Fall, and it is time to move on to the next program.

Two weeks from today, I will be part of a new, fun, and dynamic panel sponsored by Rowman & Littlefield entitled, The Art of Booktalking.  Details here and below:


The Art of Booktalking

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 (10:00 AM - 12:30 PM)
Where:RAILS Burr Ridge Main Meeting Room / Videoconference Room (In Person, Max: 80)
Join Jennifer Bromman-Bender, librarian at Lincoln-Way West High School (New Lenox) and author of several books on booktalking, including Booktalking Nonfiction: 200 Sure-Fire Winners for Middle and High School Readers (2013), Becky Spratford of the Berwyn Public Library, and Katie Mediatore Stover of the Kansas City Public Library for a morning dedicated to the art of booktalking! Come prepared to ask questions or share your best tips and tricks for engaging children, teens, and adults alike. Moderated by Booklist editor Rebecca Vnuk, this program is generously sponsored by Rowman & Littlefield, publishers of the Practical Guides for Librarians series of professional development reading for librarians.
Register by: 9/19/2014
Refreshments will be severed.


I love that we are going to talk about booktalking and only booktalking.  Booktalking is key to providing RA Service and anyone can do it with just a little training and a lot of practice.  In fact, I am glad Rebecca Vnuk asked me to be a part of this panel because working on booktalking skills is the thing I miss the most from teaching graduate students.  Every student would have to do at least 3 book talks a semester (if not more), and I loved watching the students improve in just a few short weeks. They went from timid and tentative to confident and cool.

Also, on a selfish note, it gives me a chance to hang out with Kaite Stover.

Click here to sign-up or contact me and I will get you on the list. I promise it is going to be fun.

Book Club Program for Maine This Morning

This morning I will be doing a live webinar for Maine Regional Library System.  It is the first of 3 programs I will be doing for them, each second Tuesday of the month in September, October, and November.  Click here for the schedule and links to all three programs.

Here is the link to the slides for this updated Re-Charge Your Book Club presentation.

I’ll be back later today with news about a program in 2 weeks that is new, fun, and completely FREE!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Discussion: Dream Jobs

We all have a great job.  We get to help readers find books they will love.  We get to be a matchmaker with no pressure.  Unlike a matchmaker who is trying to find you a mate,  where the stakes are pretty high, not so for us Readers’ Advisors.  If our choice of book for a patron doesn't work out, all they have to do is close the book, return it, and pick another from the hundreds of choices on the shelves. There will be a winner there somewhere.

And, our services are free!

But even someone like me, who loves my job, can see an even more perfect one out there.  So today, let’s talk dream jobs.  Look, I know we all love working in our libraries, but if you could do anything else what would it be?

I’ll go first.

Mine is actually not too shocking.  In the last few years I have been actively looking for a bookmobile job.  I would love working in a bookmobile because it is all about finding books for readers with a high customer service bar.  The problem for me is that I refuse to live in a rural area.  I often find Chicago a bit small coming from suburban NJ, and I certainly wouldn't last very long south of I-80, but the fact is, bookmobiles make sense in rural areas, not in the Chiacgoland area where 8 million people live in a geographically small area, and where near the BPL, we have 6 libraries within a few minute drive.

So, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I may have to give up my bookmobile dream.  But if anyone out there wants to start an urban bookmobile [maybe my friends at RAILS can work on it... hint, hint] please know I would do it!

Also, in a perfect world, I would work in a small bookstore, but unfortunately, those are hard to find.  A bookmobile is the closest to that vibe.  Plus, I prefer the library and its not for profit vibe over a commerce model.

What about you?  Now is your chance to share your dream job.  Even if it isn't library or book related, fess up.

For past Monday Discussions click here.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Are You Ready For Some Football?

People who know me, know that I love football season.  I play fantasy football, am in 4 different pools, am a die-hard NY Giants fan, and because I love football, but live in Chicago, I am a Bears Season Ticket Owner.

I know I am not alone. The NFL is by far the most watched sports league in America.  It is also the biggest money maker, and it generates a lot of gambling revenue.

So, make sure you have some football themed displays ready to go this weekend.

I will admit, it is a bit harder to find great literary options for football books than let’s say, baseball books.  In fact, I happen to prefer books about baseball to books about football [which is weird since I like football more,  but hey, it’s what I like].

That being said, why not take a different angle on the whole football display thing.  Here are a ideas:

Enjoy the start of the NFL season. And remember, whether or not you like football, your patrons are watching it, so remember their interests when making displays.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

ARRT and Crime Fiction Genre Study News and Notes

Well, it is the first Thursday of the month so that means I have some type of ARRT meeting at 2pm.

Today it is the Steering Committee meting where we will begin our 2 meeting planning process for 2015.  That means we start brain storming programming ideas, thinking about job assignments for next year, and talk about the ways we can help the Readers’ Advisors in Northeastern IL be even better at their jobs.

If you want to add your two cents, or just keep up with what we are doing no matter where you live, click here, here, or here.  I also tag everything ARRT-related on this blog. It is a great way to see some of the stuff we have done before, much of which is still extremely useful.

As for me, I still have the job of leading the Crime Genre Fiction Study during 2015 [it’s a 2 year appointment].  And I am getting even more excited now because we are moving past the mysteries and diving into the vast, muddy middle that is Thriller when 1 month from today we meet to discuss Legal, Political/Financial, and Techno Thrillers.

Yes, you heard me correctly, I am excited to help sort out this mess. Librarians have a hard time distinguishing between mystery, suspense, and thriller, so how can we expect our patrons to be able to articulate why they like one type more than the other? I am excited to spend some time really talking about the similarities and difference between these crime genres.  We will be sharing stories from our own work helping patrons as well as taking a closer look at the key titles in each area, assessing where and how they fit into their specific genre and the larger “crime” umbrella.  It is going to be awesome.

If you want to follow along, the next assignment is posted here.  And the schedule for the entire 2 year study is always available here, although individual assignment come out 2 months before the meeting during which they will be discussed.

Last month, we started our transition from mystery into the rest of crime with our discussion of Historical Crime.  Which reminds me, the notes are now up at the Crime Fiction Genre Study page for members.  Please get out your passwords.

This brings up another question that I have received from all over the Internet, in my various email boxes, on Twitter, basically everywhere... What about non-members? How can we participate?

Well, no one will accuse me of not listening.  The answer as it stands now is that as a group, ARRT cannot provide more programming than we already do.  Most of us have jobs at a library, and although they kindly give us time [usually with pay] to attend the Steering Committee meetings, pay for our membership, and allow us to go to programs [where we also learn a lot], we already have a lot of commitments outside our library for ARRT.

However, we also love promoting RA Service and literally cannot stop ourselves from doing it all of the time.  So, to help all of you who do not live in the Chicagoland area, a few of us ARRT people who have been involved with the genre studies [namely, Annabelle, Debbie and I] are working on a program about creating and running your own successful genre study.  The program will include the history of the ARRT Genre Study and how we have broadened our approach to better serve today’s readers.  We hope to unveil it at ALA Annual in San Francisco, but we are still submitting paperwork and such. I am confident that it will be presented somewhere, at some point soon.

So, while we can’t be everywhere, planning and running your genre studies, in true ARRT fashion, we can help you to develop the skills you need in order to do it yourself.

I already have one training scheduled for February during which I will help a group begin planning their large scale genre study.  It is a growing area of training, and I for one am just happy to see how many librarians out there want to get better at helping genre readers.  It is a sign that the trend of the mainstreaming of genre fiction may be here to stay.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Pixel Project: Authors Against Violence Against Women

UPDATE 9/4: The Read for Pixels project will be recorded and the hangouts with these fabulous authors for a wonderful cause will be available on their You Tube Channel.  YAY! Click here to access their channel. First talk is tomorrow with an author I love and have praised in print and online, Joe Hill.

I was going to post something else today, but I thought it was more important to promote the Read for Pixels event, sponsored by The Pixel Project.   

From their site:
"The Pixel Project is a complete virtual, volunteer led global 501(c)3 nonprofit organisation whose mission is to raise awareness, funds and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women (VAW) using social media, online strategies and new technologies. Our team of over 50 volunteers is currently scattered across 4 continents, 12 timezones and over 15 cities worldwide, proving that there are no cultural or social barriers when it comes to this issue. 
Our flagship campaign is the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign which aims to turbo-charge global awareness about VAW using social media while raising US$1 million by getting a global audience to collectively unveil a million-pixel mystery collage of Celebrity Male Role Models at US$1 per pixel in benefit of a range of anti-VAW nonprofits from around the world. We also run a range of campaigns that combine social media, the Arts and popular culture including Paint It PurplePortraits For PixelsMusic For Pixels16 For 16, the Twitter Tag Team etc.

Below, you can find more details about the author events they are hosting.  Anyone can participate in these live Google Hangouts over the next couple of weekends.  Tell your patrons, especially those who are fans of the authors involved. To help raise money, the authors are offering live chats with fans.  It’s a great cause and two of my favorite authors, Joe Hill and Jasper Fforde are taking part, so I now know what I will be doing those nights.

Seriously though, its authors and a good cause.  Please pass the info along.  Details below.

The Pixel Project  presents the “Read For Pixels” 2014 Google Hangout series featuring live Google Hangout Readings with award-winning bestselling authors in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign, which aims to raise US$1 million in aid of The Pixel Project and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. This year’s “Read For Pixels” authors include Joe Hill, Ellen Hopkins, Robert J. Sawyer, Cinda Williams Chima, Chuck Wendig, Kevin Hearne, Delilah S. Dawson, Alyson Noel, Jasper Fforde, Sarah J. Maas and G. Willow Wilson. 
“Read For Pixels” sessions will take place on weekends throughout September 2014. Each session will feature an author reading from one of their books and discussing why they support ending violence against women, their writing, and women in the media and popular culture. Each session will also include a live moderated Q&A session for fans and book lovers.
In addition, all authors have generously donated a range of goodies to help raise funds for the Pixel Reveal campaign includingexclusive 1-to-1 Skype chats for fans and book clubs, signed first editions or special editions of their books, exclusive Drabbles (100-word stories), and more. Additional goodies come courtesy of Bloomsbury Books, and Romance novelist Lori Foster.