CLICK HERE for quick access to the materials for the 2016-17 Speculative Fiction Genre Study.
The website now features UNRESTRICTED access, including notes from our meetings; however, in order to attend the meetings in person, you must be a member of ARRT. Click here for information about how you can join.


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, August 18, 2017

How To Sell RA to Your Staff Who Aren’t Drinking the Kool-Aide....Yet

I am back from two days of training library workers in South Central Wisconsin [Madison area]. This training was specifically designed for current RA practitioners to both give them a refresher and as a “train the trainer” session.

As we were wrapping up I was asked this question: “How do I convince the staff who don’t get it that RA is important for the entire library to care about.”

This is a great question. For the answer I took inspiration from my friend and colleague Steve Thomas who runs the librarian interview podcast, Circulating Ideas. In every interview he asks the librarians what their professional “origin” story is; meaning how they decided to to this as a job. He also asks the non library professionals he has on for their first library memory.

So I began my answer by citing Steve and telling her that for the most stubborn staff, you need to pull them aside and ask them to tell you their favorite book from childhood. What is the story that first captured you? Don’t ask just favorite book in general. If they are not into books and think they are not what the library is about anymore, you won’t get an answer.

But, if you ask them about a favorite childhood book, you will find that more often than not, they have an answer. Remember, they work at a library. Even if they are not into books right this minute, they were at some point. You don’t work at a library for the money. You can get better pay doing the same type of job somewhere else. You work there because of what it stands for and what it means to you.

Try this on anyone you know and see what I mean. When you ask people about their favorite childhood book, their eyes gloss over and they harken back to a time in their life when everything was simpler. That person will start speaking about that book, how it made them feel, and what it meant to them. They will use all those adjectives we work so hard to get out of our patrons when we ask them to tell us about a book they enjoyed.

When you ask this “origin” type of question to any library worker, you get an honest, heartfelt response. I know, I do it all of the time.

After the staff member answers, you say: “That response is why we do this.” [mic drop]

No seriously though, tell the person that how that book made them feel is the essence of why we do RA. Matching people with a book that brings them joy is magical. And, since we work at the public library already, it’s an obvious place to do this great work.

This won’t work for every one, and you may have to go about it one person at a time, but it will help you get more people on your side than not, and that is all you need, to create an RA culture at your library- a majority on your side, drinking the RA Kool-Aide. 

We need to spread the joy that a good read brings to people, especially right now. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

RA for All Roadshow Visits SCLS [WI] for 2 Days of Training: Day Two- RA Rethink

Today, I am still in the Madison Area. We have an entire day of Intermediate RA Service training planned under the following heading:
RA RETHINK: Join Becky and your area Readers Advisory colleagues for a day of interactive training.  We will rediscoverour love for this core service by assessing our own favorite reads, brush up on our booktalking skills, and end by rethinking what it all means for our patrons right now. Come ready to participate and share. 

We are also going to focus our training on working together as a region, not just staying in our little boxes within our town limits. It is my favorite component to add to any training I give, a chance to let people share their successes and failures AND encourage everyone to keep working together after I leave.

We have a busy day, so let’s get started. Below are all of the details with links for the participants and so anyone can follow along wherever they may be.

Location: Sun Prairie Public Library

9:15-11 am: RA for All: Readers Advisory belongs in every library, no matter its budget. The implementation of this vital service is the responsibility of every staff member-- from pages to directors, from those behind the scenes to the ones on the front lines. This program will remove the mystery behind providing great RA service. Using her “Ten Rules of Basic RA Service” as a guide, Becky Spratford will use your own love of your favorite books to show you how to help any patron find their next great read. It's not as hard as you think. But more importantly, you will learn why a staff that can harness the power of sharing a great read will become a stronger team and improve service to all patrons.

Program follows Becky’s 10 Rules of Basic RA Service
10 Minute Break
11:10 am-12:10 pm: Booktalking: Harnessing the Power of Sharing Books with Patrons: Booktalking is at the heart of what we do with patrons each and every day at the public library. Whether we are sharing books informally at the services desk, presenting a prepared list of books, or posting information online, talking about books is something we do each and every day. It is a core service, but it is also hard to teach. Booktalking is more of an art than a skill, but with the right guidance and some practice, it can go a long way toward engaging your patrons and re-energizing your staff. Join experienced Readers’ Advisory Becky Spratford as she shares the secret behind delivering great book talks, giving you tips and tricks you can begin using right away to hone your own skills. Rediscover the power and joy that comes from sharing books with patrons.

Slides with a BRAND NEW booktalk
12:10 -1:30pm-- Working Lunch. Get your lunch and sit at a table with people you don’t know. Spend an hour eating and networking. Then at 12:40, practice booktalking the title you used in the exercise earlier in the morning or another favorite book, to your colleagues. Becky will provide even more examples during lunch.
10 Minute Break
1:40-3pm: RA Rethink: You can live without a 3D printer, but without readers’ advisory, you’re not doing your job. Readers’ advisory belongs in every library, no matter your budget or size. A robust and modern program that embraces whole collection discovery is one that inspires staff, engages patrons, and builds stronger library communities. Reconnect with this core service and empower staff at all levels to connect users with your collection. RA expert Becky Spratford will offer “rethinks” that will harken back to the basics of this core service and incorporate 21st Century possibilities.

SLIDES [Note: every picture in the presentation links to more information]
15 Minute Break
3:15 to 4:30: Group Discussion of RA Services: Becky will facilitate a discussion between all of you about how service to leisure readers is going at your library. Please bring successes and failures, comments and questions. I want to help you help each other. Let’s all work together to improve service to all of your area’s readers.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

RA for All Roadshow Visits SCLS [WI] for 2 Days of Training: Day One- Recharge Your Book Club

This morning I am headed to the Madison, WI area to do two days of RA related training for staff who work in the South Central Library System. [On a side note, I love their tag line: “Helping Libraries Serve the Public.” ]

We begin this afternoon with "Recharge Your Book Club."  Below are the details of when and where with the link to the slides. I love when I can add this half day program on to my trips, especially because it is discussion based. We are really going to focus on sharing successes and failures with each other, and I will actively encouraging these participants to keep working together after I leave.

1-4pm: Recharge Your Book Club: Reader’s advisor Becky Spratford has been leading book clubs for over 17 years and has seen it all. All book groups go through their ups and downs, but re-energizing your group is not as hard as it may seem. Becky will walk you through how to confidently identify and utilize the best resources for leading a book discussion, pick books that will engender the best conversations, lead a more interactive discussion even with the most jaded of groups. Let her show you how to take control, shake things up, and rediscover why you started the group in the first place. After Becky shares her tips and tricks for building better book clubs, she will turn the focus on to you and your groups. Please bring your specific issues and concerns about your own group as Becky will facilitate a support group session for book discussion leaders where we will all help each other. Bring your favorite successes and your worst failures to the discussion and let’s all help each other recharge.

[This program will include a 15 minute break]
Also, please note that every book cover in this presentation leads to my original book discussion report on that title. There are many links with further information embedded in this program. Even if you are not joining us, there is much to learn from these slides.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Call to Action: Shelve Series in Number Order NOT Alpha Order

The Call to Action is back, and while today’s is not as serious an issue as some of the others in this series, it is a huge pet peeve of mine and one that will greatly improve your service to leisure readers. But, it is kinda of an annoying amount of work [with a HUGE customer service pay out].

Here it is: Stop shelving our series in alphabetical order. Who reads a series in alphabetical order?!?! NO ONE! 

Look I know we shelve books in alphabetical order to make them easier to find and it’s what we do, but series are almost always read in order. Yes we are obsessed with alpha order in libraries, but here’s a shocking news alert... Sometimes it is not the best way to organize our materials.

We want people to enjoy browsing the library for their next good read. We want to show them that we care about their experience. So, then we need to actually put the books out in a way that helps them to find what they want.

Now sarcasm aside, I also know that many library employees will react poorly to this suggestion. I know this from experience. They will act like changing the way will shelve books will physically harm them. Seriously. I have used the following lines on my actual coworkers before when they screamed at me or freaked out at my “cray ideas.":

  • Calm down. No one is going to die here. We are talking about moving some books.
  • They are not your books. You do not own them. They belong to the people of this community. So let’s put them where those people who own them will best find them.
As you can tell, I didn’t make any new friends with those comments, but I did make my point. We need to think less about our “rules” or “how things have always been done,” and instead think about what makes the most sense.

I am happy to say that I have been spreading this Call to Action all over the country in my live appearances and I am starting to see that more and more libraries are listening.  At my regional training last week, we had multiple libraries who have made the switch. A few of them shared how they did it. Some did everything at once, which is a huge project for Tech Services. But others said they began by marking the new books. As they came in, they added the series number to the call number sticker and then went back and did all the books in that series. So they tackled it one series at a time.

In terms of how to mark the series, different libraries do it differently. Some simply keep the call number sticker the same and have a brightly colored series number sticker that goes on the spine. This is the easiest way to do it as you don’t have to change every record and can simply pull the books and slap a sticker on. This way, you also don’t HAVE to shelve them in numerical order which is sometimes a compromise you have to make depending on your administrators. You can keep shelving in alpha order because the numbers are there. This does get a little more confusing when an author has multiple series. In that case, libraries have told me that they make sure to use a different color for a different series. So one author might have three “1s” on three different books, but one is on green paper, one on blue, and one on red.

However, the best way to do it, the way that gives the most access points- from the shelf to the catalog- is to add the series info to the call number on the book and in the catalog. Here is an example of what it would look for Louise Penny’s Still Life:
Gamache: 1
And this would be what A Fatal Grace would look like:
Gamache: 2
Now “Still Life” will be shelved appropriately before “A Fatal Grace” in series order. This fixes the non-intuitive alphabetical order rule which flips them. Also by using a shortened version of the series name, we can keep like series grouped.  In Penny’s case she only have one series for now, but who knows what will happen in the future. Plenty of authors have multiple series [I’m looking at you James Patterson and Nora Roberts]. Picking a shortened version and being consistent in using it is perfect.

Also, while Louise Penny does not have a stand alone book as of yet, by using a series name with the number you also have a way to shelve any standalones a series author might have-- and for many this is the case. Those without the series designation, would be shelved first and then the series all together as alpha rules would demand.

So please consider making your series more intuitive on the shelf. Yes, it is a lot of work at first, but it really is the best thing for our patrons.

For past Call to Action posts, click here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Guest Post: A Critically Acclaimed Midlist Indie Author Proves Why We Need Indie Picks Magazine

I am so happy about the impending existence of Indie Picks- a magazine of book reviews by non-big 5 published books aimed at library workers [click here if you missed the detailed announcement]. This is the review journal we have been waiting for. All of you who have wanted to add great books but you couldn’t because there was no “official” review [a requirement of many librarycollection development policies], now you can add these titles.

Earlier this year I was the  Librarian Special Guest at the Horror Writers Association’s StokerCon 2017. All of the authors wanted to know how to get their books into libraries. I spent most of my time at the conference explaining this unfortunate circumstance to small and self published authors. I agreed with many of them that their books were just perfect for a library audience but without a publisher who could get them an official review in one of the major review publications, the vast majority of libraries could do nothing about adding their titles. Many of them didn’t even know that libraries had complex acquisition policies. Why would they? We know that libraries are giant bureaucracies, but most authors and patrons have no idea.

One of those authors I met was Patricia V. Davis. She serves as the perfect example of what is wrong with our current Big 5 publisher dominated system. She chose to publish her novel Cooking for Ghosts with a smaller publisher, but that doesn’t make it any less good. In fact, this was proven by the fact that it was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award!

I was so compelled by Patricia’s story and her series [which is a spooky, food mystery that library patrons would LOVE] that I asked her to write about this issue from the author perspective. Meeting her and many other authors heightened my frustration which I have expressed on the blog many times before [here is just one example]. I work as hard as I can to get books in the various publications I work for, but I am only 1 person. 

While I was at the conference I began working on my own plan to help alleviate this problem. I even started putting the pieces into place, but what I had planned was not nearly on as big a scale as Indie Picks, so I abandoned my first plan and jumped on the Indie Picks ship. Actually I didn’t totally abandon the plan, I diverted it to Indie Picks

Now, Indie Picks still cannot review every single great book out there, but it will give the smaller publishers a fighting chance. They will have a voice and an advocate in the publishing world. I have started letting all of my horror author and small publisher contacts about the magazine and have encouraged them to advertise and send in ARCs. I am contacting the library reps for all of the writers associations and told them to get the word out to their publishers. I have even begun talking to Indie Picks about including author profiles and feature articles so that even more great reads can be given a chance to shine on their limited pages.

It’s a start.

I really want all of your libraries to subscribe. I don’t want you to give up your Library Journal, PW, and Booklist subscriptions [especially Booklist since I am still writing reviews for them]. And honestly, these publications are not upset with Indie Picks. They know they cannot do every book. More attention on good reads helps everyone, publishers, book sellers, authors, and libraries. More attention means more readers. More readers translates to more dollars. The people in charge listen to dollars.

I know it is another expense, but there will be plenty of content. The first issue doesn’t come out until November but I just turned in a pre-publication review column of three great titles that will serve as a preview of this resource before it comes out.

But enough from me. Here is Patricia V. Davis to explain why we need Indie Picks from the author side of the coin.


On the (Vital) Importance of Libraries for Midlist Authors 

When authors who write good books you’ve never heard of talk among themselves, the mantra most often repeated is the wish to get on The New York Times bestseller list. Those who see this as the golden ticket to success are surprised when a number of us say that our wish is different. Our wish to the publishing gods is for our novels to be in every library in the United States. 

“Libraries?” some of those authors say. “You won’t get any repeat sales in a library. And besides, how many people still go to libraries?” 

Since this is a site for librarians, I can only imagine the collective eye roll at that last question. You don’t need me to tell you who “still” goes to libraries. But as a former teacher and an author with a wide and varied social media following, I know the answer is, “everyone who can manage it.” Recently one of my favorite Twitter accounts, Librarian Problems @librarianprblms retweeted an article that talked about libraries as a “dying industry.” Needless to say, they begged to differ. Libraries are not at all a dying industry. What they are is a changing industry, and millennials are frequenting them more than ever.  

But for those who don’t recognize the rich resource the library system is, I tell them about the first time I took my son into a library. He was three. When, after two hours, I told him it was time to go, he started to cry. I tell them about my underprivileged teenage pupils who viewed their library as a haven of promise and possibility ─ a colossal-sized room filled with ideas, imagination, hopes, and inventiveness they might never have been exposed to in the world of financial hardship that restricted their families. I tell them about the homeless woman who wrote to me weekly on my blog by using the computer available to her at her library. I tell them how librarians are different than booksellers in that they are not motivated by sales, but by a literary quest is to discover a great, new story, whether or not it ever becomes a bestseller, and that their patrons are looking for just that ─ the wondrous, the unique, the undiscovered.  But, on the purely practical side, I point out that there are currently over one hundred thousand libraries in the United States. Getting just one copy of any novel in all of those libraries is far better than a fleeting mention on a list that is not really a “bestseller” list, in the actual meaning of the word.  

But how to attract the attention of librarians when one is a midlist author, published by a small, independent publisher? That is the frustrating challenge for the many of us in that group.  

Take my novel, Cooking for Ghosts. (And, if you’re a librarian, I mean that in the same way Henny Youngman did.)  It’s a magical realism story about four diverse women who meet on a food blogging site and decide to open a restaurant aboard the modern-day, haunted RMS Queen Mary, which is now a floating hotel berthed in Long Beach, California. Cooking for Ghosts was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, is an Official Selection of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club, and is the only book about the Queen Mary, fiction or non, chosen by the ship’s staff to be presented aboard at their monthly Salon Series.  That series was such a success, I have been invited back to present Book II, SPELLS and OREGANO, in the trilogy. 

As for the publisher, HD Media Press, I have no complaints about the marketing they’ve done for the book series. Their publicist has worked hard to get me a number of speaking gigs, including at StokerCon 2017, which, by lucky coincidence, was held aboard the Queen Mary, and I know their distribution is as good as, if not better than, other indie publishers. They’ve been reasonable and fair in regards to giveaways, promotions, blog tours and the like, and they offer above standard industry discounts, as well as returns to any retail outlets and wholesalers such as amazon and Baker & Taylor. In addition to the printed version offered through direct sales and distributors, HD Media Press has made a POD version of the novel available for those indie booksellers who wish to go through Ingram as their wholesaler.   

And yet, while Cooking for Ghosts is doing better than I might have hoped, and my agency tells me several foreign publishing houses are eyeing the title, domestic sales so far are mostly online sales and through independent bookshops. Much to my dismay, in libraries across the country the novel is almost invisible. And this I believe mostly has to do with the industry perception of smaller houses.  

Let’s take what happened with the ARCS of Cooking for Ghosts, as an example. While the final version of the novel included intricate interior graphics inspired by the royal salons of the Queen Mary, a unique cover that pays homage to vintage Cunard travel posters with a supernatural bent, an interior Art Deco style QR code that scans to an interactive Readers Guide that includes video, and another Art Deco style QR code on the back cover that scans to the viral book trailer, the ARCS had none of these extra features or beautiful graphics. They were standard, the back cover including the required marketing material and other necessary information for reviewers. The ARCS were submitted everywhere, including Booklist and Library Journal, and they looked no different than ARCS from larger houses. But with the exception of the Huffington Post and Midwest Book Review, HD Media Press was not able to garner any mainstream professional reviews. Additionally, Barnes & Noble turned down the title.  

And then, HD Media Press re-submitted the final version of the book to Barnes & Noble, and suddenly the title was accepted. With that in mind, even those at the publishing house contemplated that not seeing the professional work (and money) they were willing to put into the final version of the book, reviewers assumed the ARC was an example of the end quality that could be expected from such a small publisher.  

While frustrating, this is certainly understandable. But I know of many truly wonderful books that the public who frequents libraries are missing out on as a result of this mindset. Librarians cannot pick new authors and discover new titles if those titles are not visible through the channels they trust. 

Someone reading this might ask, “Um, excuse me ─ but if this novel is so ‘noteworthy,’ why wasn’t it published by a bigger publisher, one that might have more clout in the industry?”  

I’m glad you asked, but I won’t be surprised if you’re skeptical when I tell you that I turned down two ‘really-big-deal’ agencies to go with the more innovative agency I have now.  I know that those RBD agents would have likely sold Cooking for Ghosts to a bigger publisher, and for a very nice advance too. But after talking with those agents, I learned that their plan was to sell it to a publisher who would produce it as a pricey hardback along with an ebook edition at 12.99 USD. And this is where the tough choice comes in for an author: a great advance, accolades from your fellow authors for landing such a deal, but limited retail sales because readers have no idea who you are, or why, even with a good review, they should buy an unknown’s book in hardback or in ebook at a price that rivals the cost of a paperback.  

At the end of the day, I decided that I’m more like a librarian than a book merchant. I wanted to introduce as many readers as possible to my work. I wanted to give them the best story I could possibly offer, whether that story becomes a bestseller or otherwise. And I wanted a publisher that would present it at a price point that would entice as many readers as possible. HD Media Press produces my novel in a paperback version and a reasonably-priced Kindle version. They make a hardback version for libraries. So far, the hardback sales have been rather sad, and that’s because so few libraries even know it exists. 

So, on even-numbered days, I’m happy with my decision to publish with a small publisher, because they have the commitment to get to as many readers as possible. But on odd-numbered days, I wonder whether I should have made a different choice. Particularly when I go to a library. 

Patricia V. Davis is the author of Cooking for Ghosts: Book I in The Secret Spice Café Trilogy, (October 2016, HD Media Press) and Spells and Oregano: Book II of The Secret Spice Café Trilogy (November 2017, HD Media Press).  Visit The Secret Spice Book Series Page 

Friday, August 11, 2017

RA for All Roadshow Goes to Coal City

As summer reading programs begin to end, my schedule of live events starts to ramp back up. To see where I have been recently and where I am going soon, click here.

Today, I will be at Coal City [IL] High School speaking to a group of 150+ library workers from all over that area. This is a multi-type, regional library training. I am excited not only to work with some of my area colleagues, but I also am excited for these library workers to all get to meet and mingle with each other.

I want to thank Coal City [IL]Public Library District Director, Jolene Franciskovich for inviting me, but I also want to applaud her for getting so many people together. The learning will be enhanced because we will have so many different people together, plus they can use this meeting as a spring board toward even more collaboration. And collaboration between libraries, especially when multiple public and school ones work together, is always a boon to patron service. More hands= less work for each person, and a higher output of service. A nice side effect is that it also keeps staff engaged and happy. So bravo Jolene. I hope others use this post as an example to try to get their own regional training scheduled [whether or not you hire me to lead it]

Now for the specifics and links for today’s presentation.

9-10:30 am: RA for All: Readers Advisory belongs in every library, no matter its budget. The implementation of this vital service is the responsibility of every staff member-- from pages to directors, from those behind the scenes to the ones on the front lines. This program will remove the mystery behind providing great RA service. Using her “Ten Rules of Basic RA Service” as a guide, Becky Spratford will use your own love of your favorite books to show you how to help any patron find their next great read. It's not as hard as you think. But more importantly, you will learn why a staff that can harness the power of sharing a great read will become a stronger team and improve service to all patrons.

10 Minute Break
10:40-11:40am: Booktalking: Harnessing the Power of Sharing Books with Patrons: Booktalking is at the heart of what we do with patrons each and every day at the public library. Whether we are sharing books informally at the services desk, presenting a prepared list of books, or posting information online, talking about books is something we do each and every day. It is a core service, but it is also hard to teach. Booktalking is more of an art than a skill, but with the right guidance and some practice, it can go a long way toward engaging your patrons and re-energizing your staff. Join experienced Readers’ Advisory Becky Spratford as she shares the secret behind delivering great book talks, giving you tips and tricks you can begin using right away to hone your own skills. Rediscover the power and joy that comes from sharing books with patrons.

5 Minute Break
11:45-12:50: RA Rethink: The Displays Edition: Becky Spratford brings the display portion of her popular “RA Rethink” series to you. In this presentation Becky will show you how to “rethink” your displays to make them more engaging for patrons without increasing your workload; in fact, she will help you to create better displays in half the time. While Becky will provide many examples and suggestions, this training will be highly interactive. Participation is expected with the goal of you leaving the session with a few display ideas all set and ready to be put out immediately. This talk will also include-- Creating Your Own Reader Profile and Brainstorming Session: Becky will help you take what you have learned to craft your own personal reader profile and start you on your first RA journey-- suggesting a good book to a fellow staff member. Becky will also get you started talking to each other about how you can all work together to share the load.

12:50-1: Questions and Wrap Up

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Library Reads: September 2017

This is your monthly Library Reads announcement.

I usually just cut and paste the same intro each month, but for the next few months I am amending it with this long introduction. I want to address the fact that Library Reads has been called out for their lists being too "white." While this is a fair criticism, blaming Library Reads is not fair because Library Reads and their Steering Committee are only the ones running the website, coordinating the eArc process, and counting the votes, the voters who pick the books are ALL OF YOU!!!! [Seriously, Steering Committee members votes do not come into play. I looked into it.]

So that means all of you-- all of us-- are falling down on the job of nominating more diverse titles-- both in terms of the ethnicity and race of the author and the genres represented. So I think the problem requires action in a two pronged strategy.

First, we need more of you to participate, especially those of you who read more diversely and widely. Basically Library Reads needs new blood. Library reads is SUPER EASY to participate in, yet despite that, as I travel the country meeting all of you, many of you do not participate and surprisingly, a lot of you don't even now how to begin. So, we are going to fix that. Here's the recording of a LibraryReads webinar on how to participate.

But one fallacy about Library Reads is that you have to write a full annotation in order for your vote to be counted. That is not true. You just need to read [or honestly skim] the eARC and then rate the book and submit your vote to Library Reads. But the webinar will explain it all.

I know many of you have not gotten involved because you thought that it was too difficult. I am here to tell you it is not. So let's get some new people submitting votes. It only takes a few new people to make a big difference. I am calling on you, my readers [and there are close to a thousand of you a day] to step up and make your voices heard.

[On a side note, while Library Reads will not release how many votes it takes for a book to make the list, a publishing rep [not a big 5] told me confidentially that she has gone back and crunched the numbers that she has seen for her titles and she estimates that about 40-45 votes gets you on the list. But to be number one, she has no idea because one of her books hasn't ever been number one.]

Second, stop voting for the obvious books. I know you like the big name authors. We all do, but seriously people, voting for big name, huge bestselling authors over and over again is helping no one. Looking at the list below for August 2017, WHY is Louise Penny taking a spot from a less well known author. Look don't get me wrong. I LOVE Louise Penny [proof here]. For goodness sake, if you go on NoveList and see the author appeal statement for her-- I WROTE THAT. So I am not dissing her. I adore her novels. But seriously is there a library worker in America who hasn't hear of Louise Penny AND who doesn't have this author on automatic hold already? NO!

We are Library Reads. We need to do better. Library Reads needs to be more proactive in helping library workers identify the great books we wouldn't know about without this resource. Don't squander the opportunity to read a great under the radar title- early and for free- and to then pass it on to others. Read Louise Penny early for yourself, but spend your time voting for the titles that will not find an audience without your expert help.

If we keep voting for the mainstream titles, the publishers will keep spending money signing similar authors, but if we use our power to vote for more diverse and less mainstream works that we know our patrons would love, titles that no one would know about without us raising our voice to be heard, we can make great change. We can force the publishers to sign more diverse authors and we can get some great reads into more library collections, and we can have a backlist archive of great titles for all readers.

I am not going to tell you what to vote for though. I want you-- all of you-- to decide for yourselves. Me telling you would be as bad as the publishers forcing titles on us [which they already do]. The more voices we can gather who each independently choose the books that they are passionate about, the better the list will be. It will be more diverse by default when more of us use this two pronged approach that I have outlined today.

Remember, Library Reads is not a nebulous group of librarians lording over us-- it is you, me, your co-workers. It is up to us to do the right thing here because goodness knows, the publishers aren't going to do it unless we force them to.

Let's work together to make Library Reads more diverse and reflective of the full range of great books that are coming down the pike, then when we go to use these lists as a backlist tool we have an ever better resource at our fingertips.

[Now back to your regular Library Reads message.]

Library Reads day means 3 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 Library Reads is the compound interest it is earning. We now have hundreds and hundreds of titles worth suggesting right at our fingertips.
  3. You have no excuse not to hand sell any Library Reads 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.
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. 

September 2017 LibraryReads

Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

Published:9/12/2017 by Penguin Press
ISBN: 9780735224292
Little Fires Everywhere delves into family relationships and what parenthood, either biological or by adoption, means. We follow the members of two families living in the idyllic, perfectly-planned suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio: Mia and Pearl, a mother and daughter living a less traditional lifestyle, moving from town to town every few months, and the Richardsons, the perfect nuclear family in the perfect suburb…until Izzy Richardson burns her family home down. Ng’s superpower is her ability to pull you into her books from the very first sentence!”
Emma DeLooze-Klein, Kirkwood Public Library, Kirkwood, MO

Sourdough: A Novel

by Robin Sloan

Published: 9/5/2017 by MCD
ISBN: 9780374203108
“Lois works at a company trying to perfect a robot arm, and while she has been eating the ‘Slurry,’ or nutrient paste, that many use for nourishment, she discovers a nearby take-out restaurant that offers a ‘double spicy’ along with the most delicious sourdough bread she has ever tasted. The brothers who own this restaurant also briefly enchant her, and before they leave San Francisco they share with her the starter for the bread, which changes her life forever. This delightful tale of food, robotics and microorganisms is filled with charm, magical realism, and science.”
Michael Colford, Boston Public Library, Boston, MA 

Dear Fahrenheit 451:
Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks

by Annie Spence

Published: 9/26/2017 by Flatiron Books
ISBN: 9781250106490
“If you could tell a book how you really feel…this is what the author has done with her collection of love letters to books. Readers (and librarians especially) will appreciate the sly stabs or ‘roasting’ that the author makes to point out fine and not-so-fine moments of key books that she is contemplating removing from her shelf. She weaves in stories from her life inside a library (which is fodder for chuckles in itself). Perfect for fans of Jenny Lawson.”
Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library, Azusa, CA 

Jane, Unlimited

by Kristin Cashore

Published: 9/19/2017 by Kathy Dawson Books
ISBN: 9780803741492
“A chance encounter with former tutor Kiran Thrash enables Jane, an umbrella-crafter and college dropout, to fulfill a promise to her beloved late Aunt Magnolia—to accept an invitation to visit the mysterious Thrash family home, Tu Reviens. During her visit, Jane reaches a seemingly insignificant moment in time where one action will branch her off into different futures. Each choice results in a different path for Jane that takes her far beyond her previously ordinary life. An ambitious, complex offering with diverse characters from the author of the Graceling series.”
Pearl Derlaga, York County Library System, Yorktown, VA 

Love and Other Consolation Prizes: A Novel

by Jamie Ford

Published: 9/12/2017 by Ballantine Books
ISBN: 9780804176750
“Ford excels at historical fiction, especially set in the Pacific Northwest. In this tale, the reader follows the life of Ernest Young, experiencing the early 1900s in Seattle. He is raffled off in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exhibition. The story then follows adult Ernest as the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair opens. Rich with historical detail and touching on a time period not widely known (the wilds of Seattle’s early days), this moving story comes together and draws the reader in.”
Alissa Williams, Morton Public Library, Morton, IL

The Child Finder: A Novel

by Rene Denfeld

Published: 9/5/2017 by Harper
ISBN: 9780062659057
“Who better to find a missing child than one who escaped abduction? Denfeld offers a nuanced treatment of a difficult subject. The narrative switches between the voice of the missing child and the Child Finder, Naomi, as she searches. While Naomi’s abduction gave her a unique ability to find missing children, it left her with issues. As she searches for the missing child we see her move toward resolution. Additionally, the glimpse into the mind of the missing child, which shows us the child’s view of the situation and the steps she takes to survive, is fascinating.”
Joan Hipp, Florham Park Public Library, Florham Park , NJ 

The Salt Line

by Holly Goddard Jones

Published: 9/5/2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN: 9780735214316
“This dystopian novel describes a future in which a tick infestation has driven humanity to barricade itself in a series of safe zones. A thrilling plot involves a group of wealthy individuals on an extreme adventure trip that doesn’t go as planned. Through chapters written from their viewpoints, the reader comes to sympathize with and understand the motivations of the people involved. While telling a story involving hostage taking, drug smuggling and the search for a solution to the bug problem, the novel raises the question of what we are willing to sacrifice for safety.”
Michelle Geyer, Durham County Public Library, Durham, NC 

Hanna Who Fell From the Sky: A Novel

by Christopher Meades

Published: 9/26/2017 by Park Row Books
ISBN: 9780778328735
“Hanna is a young woman, like any other in the world today, except for one unique thing: she is part of a polygamist community and has just been told, at eighteen, she has to marry a man who is her father’s age and has four other wives. Hanna must make the confusing and heartbreaking decision about where her future path lies. Should she stay at home and be obedient to the only family she has ever known, or will she choose her own love and life? A gripping story that would make a great book club selection!”
Kelly Baroletti, Wantagh Public Library, Wantagh, NY

Caroline: Little House, Revisited

by Sarah Miller

Published: 9/19/2017 by William Morrow
ISBN: 9780062685346
“This novel retells the story of Little House on the Prairiefrom the point of view of Laura Ingalls’ mother, Caroline. In 1870, Caroline, Charles, and their two young girls leave their home and extended family to travel more than 600 miles in a covered wagon. This is a fresh, deeper look at a much-loved story. Five-year-old Mary is lively and eager to please, and charming three-year-old Laura will still delight Little House fans. The relationship and personalities of Caroline and her husband Charles are more complex and fully realized, making for a wonderful reading experience.”
Brenda O’Brien, Woodridge Public Library, Woodridge, IL

George and Lizzie: A Novel

by Nancy Pearl

Published: 9/5/2017 by Touchstone
ISBN: 9781501162893
“The daughter of two renowned narcissistic psychologists, Lizzie’s problem has always been overthinking everything. George, raised in a very adoring family, comes into Lizzie’s life with one goal – to love her completely and forever. Can she relinquish the past to move toward the happiness that could be hers in the future? Relationships, good and bad, past and present, all come together to make a truly wonderful tale of the reality of the struggles of everyday life. Very well-written.” 
Debbie Wittkop, Southwest Public Libraries, Columbus, OH

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How to Stay in Top Genre Shape with NoveList, Booklist, and Me!

Click here for details and to RSVP
As I teased in this post last week, I have signed on to host a series of Booklist Live Events in the coming year.

The first one is August 22nd.

Below you can find all of the details and the link to RSVP. Please note, if you cannot join us, the program is being recorded and will be available for archived viewing.

But first, a quick note of all the stuff I couldn’t fit in the short description: this will not be your typical genre study discussion. That may be obvious to my readers since I am leading this and I never do anything “typical”-- my goal is to push you and challenge you to think "outside the shelf”-- always. Yes, we are going to talk nuts and bolts with people who have been part of genre studies for years, but I am not letting those of you who can’t easily get together with others off. Nope. No excuses. You have to stay in genre shape no matter who you are and where you live. And for every genre, not just the ones you think people in your area like.

I will have tangible advice about how to have fun studying genre alone, how to rope in your coworkers or even your patrons, and most importantly, we will discuss the importance of finding a way to collaborate and get together with other library workers whether it is in person or virtual.

If you are in a library, anywhere and you work with adult leisure readers this program is for you.

Remember, I have spent the last two years traveling the country and meeting with library workers from big cities to very small towns. I understand what you need and how you work because you have told me and shown me yourselves.

I promise this will be 90 minutes of your time well spent.

How to Stay in Top Genre Shape

Nothing is scarier than being asked to help someone find books in a genre that you don’t enjoy yourself. You want to help that romance reader find the perfect book, for example, but you don’t know where to begin because—eek!—you don’t read romance. Will you be exposed as a fraud? How can you possibly help this reader? Well, you can. You can help any reader at any time as long as you know the right resources to consult, and you make a commitment to staying in genre shape. You can do that by forming a genre study group. Join Booklist RA specialist Becky Spratford as she leads a panel of experts who will walk you through the process of crafting a genre study model that will ensure success for you, your staff, and, most importantly, your readers. 

Meet our panel:

Becky Spratford  is a Readers Advisory Specialist who trains library workers all over the world on how to match books with readers through the local public library. She is under contract with Booklist and NoveList to provide content and reviews to help in this mission. She also runs her own popular training site—RA for All ( Becky was recently named an Illinois Library Luminary for her contribution to the profession. 

Marlise Schiltz is the Reader Services Librarian at St. Charles (IL) Public Library, where she leads an active Reader Services team. Marlise also organizes all-staff genre studies at SCPL and co-leads the RAILS West Suburban Genre Study.

Karen Toonen, Adult Services Librarian at Naperville (IL) Public Library, became the official notetaker of the ARRT Genre Studies in 2013, documenting the Graphic Novel, Crime, and Speculative Fiction discussions. Karen also organized ARRT’s Genre Book Camp, an all-day training session covering multiple genres presented in 2013.

This Booklist Live Event is sponsored by Novelist 

Event will be held at Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State Street Chicago, IL