RA FOR ALL...THE ROAD SHOW!

I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

New Issue of The Corner Shelf is Now Live

In case you missed it, there is a brand new issue of Booklist's Newsletter The Corner Shelf, edited by Susan Maguire.

Click here to read the entire issue, but below I have reposted Susan's Editor's Note and the linked table of contents. But if you want to see the adorable picture of her dog dressed as a lobster for Halloween, you have to click here. [It's worth it].

Cute pet pics aside, this is THE ONLY newsletter out there which examines the very important space where RA Service and Collection Development overlap. Yes, they don't overlap everywhere, but in some very important places, they do. I learn things every time this newsletter comes out. And that is saying a lot because Susan is my editor and this month features one of my friends and colleagues Heather Booth.

You can read the issue here or use the links below, or click here to subscribe and have it delivered to your inbox:
EDITOR'S NOTE

By the time you read this, the world may feel like less of a dumpster fire. In the likely event this is not true, here's a quick reminder: our work matters.

It's easy to dismiss pleasure reading as something unnecessary in the face of all the necessary things that need to get done. By extension, it's easy to dismiss the work of readers'-advisory and collection-development librarians as frivolous, simply facilitating an escape from those aforementioned necessary things. 

Listen. No. In her introduction to The Best American Short Stories, 2018, editor Roxane Gay shares this jewel:

"I am not avoiding reality when I read fiction; I am strengthening my ability to cope with reality." 

Does this ring true for you? Do you think it rings true for your patrons? I'm willing to bet lots of money (OK, $5) that it does. So when the tension of the world seems to be simultaneously too big to ignore and too much to deal with, remember that books are our friends, and we, as librarians, are facilitators of our patrons' ability to cope. 

And now, here is a picture of my dog in her Halloween costume, which is a lobster: CLICK HERE TO SEE [Becky added this link]

—Susan Maguire 
Senior Editor, Collection Development and Library Outreach, Booklist 
October 2018 
• At the Corner of Baker & Taylor: Future-Proofing Libraries with Data 
• Notes from the Field: Welcome to Booklist, Heather Booth 
• From The Booklist Reader: Carnegie Longlist 
• RA Showcase: It's a Cookbook 
• Top 10: Horror 
• Baker & Taylor Best-Sellers

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What I'm Reading: The Rust Maidens

The current issue of Booklist Magazine has my review of one of my favorite books I read this year, The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste. Below is my draft review with bonus info from me.


The Rust Maidens.

Kiste, Gwendolyn (author).
Nov. 2018. 252p. JournalStone, paper, $17.95  (9781947654440)
First published October 15, 2018 (Booklist).

In the summer of 1980, Cleveland, OH the furture looked bleak especially if like Phoebe, you just graduated high school. Mills were closing, many were unemployed, and the lake was so polluted it could catch on fire. But to make matters worse, in Phoebe’s neighborhood young girls, many of them her friends, were turning into grotesquely beautiful beasts, attracting gawkers and straining already tenuous relationships. Phoebe is the readers’ guide into this strange world, recounting her tale on two timelines, 1980 and the present, allowing them to see Phoebe struggle with the events of that horrifying summer both as they happened and as she has been forced to grapple with her place in it all throughout her life. Award winning short story writer Kiste makes her novel debut with this dramatic and absorbing story, full of compelling contractions- it’s realistic yet supernatural, terrifying yet beautiful, infuriating yet redemptive. This is a tale of friendship, monsters, and growing up, a lyrical and character centered story filled with danger and horrible consequences following in the tradition of horror with a strong coming-of-age theme as seen most recently in Children of the Dark by Janz, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Tremblay, or Hex by Heuvelt.
YA Statement: With a cast of teenage characters, a strong coming of age theme, and a 1980 setting, The Rust Maidens will appeal to teens who enjoy TV shows like Stranger Things and podcasts like Welcome to Nightvale as well as supernatural horror novels.
Further Appeal: This book is lyrical and terrifyingly realistic. Seriously, the way Kiste writes the novel, her words draw you in, and even though you know that young women couldn't turn into these creatures, it feels so possible that the suspension of disbelief is easy. Then you are sucked in.

Phoebe's voice is compelling and sympathetic. If you like coming of age stories, especially with the being able to look back dual story line, this is an excellent choice. 

Three Words That Describe This Book: unsettlingly beautiful, two time frames, atmospheric 

Readalikes: I have 3 in the review above, which link to more options. But I also think the stories of Damien Angelica Walters and Kriti DeMeester are also an excellent choice. Kiste is a prolific story writer herself. All three of these women write lyrical and beautiful stories which are also terrifying. How they excel at balancing these contradictions are what make their works all a joy to read and experience.

Haven by Tom Deady is another coming of age horror novel with a similar feel like the books linked in the review.

Monday, October 15, 2018

ILA Wrap Up With Links

Last week I was at ILA Annual for 3 days. As usual, it was a great conference where I got to see many of my IL colleagues and join them for learning. I caught up with many people I hadn't seen in a while and met new people too.

Last week, I posted here about my programs with links, but today, I want to mention a few other programs and meetings.

On Tuesday I attended the program entitled, "What They Want Where They Want it: Passive Advisory for Books, Movies, and More" presented by Jennifer Asimakopoulos and Jez Layman.

Use this link, type "Layman" under the field for Speaker's last name and hit search and you will pull up the PDF of their slides.

Here is the link to my notes from Twitter. I put them into one thread and doubled checked that you do not need an account to view these, simply click that link. You can pair the slides and the notes together for a solid recap.

Attending this program is proof that even when you know the 2 people and their work very well [their library is right near mine] you can still learn a lot. This was the program I attended that I think will help my readers the most, right away. There is much to learn from Jennifer and Jez and the work their team has done for years. That's actually the main take away here, when a team works together over years, the amount of product they can create, together, is astounding.

On the final day of the conference, I was one of the organizers of another program involving Jez Layman. I had invited her to interview Kelly Jensen live on stage in a program sponsored by ARRT:

(Don't) Call Me Crazy: Book Release and Author Interview with Kelly Jensen
Venue: Peoria Civic Center
Room: 220
Join the Adult Reading Round Table [ARRT] as they host a book release party with librarian, Boot Riot Editor, and bestselling author Kelly Jensen as she launches (Don’t) Call me Crazy, an essay collection that explores, through essays, artwork, poetry, and other ephemera, the ways that mental illness impacts individuals, family and friends. This collection includes contributions from Victoria Schwab, Adam Silvera, Libba Bray, Esmé Wang, Yumi Sakugawa, Mike Jung, s.e. smith, Meredith Russo, and Stephanie Kuehn, and more. Kelly will be interviewed by Jez Layman live on stage. They will be discussing the book, how mental illness is portrayed in literature, how we help readers find inclusive titles, and much more. There will be time for questions from the audience. Kelly will sign copies of the book purchased at the event for you or your library.

Kelly and Jez talked frankly about mental health, RA Service, and Kelly's new book, (Don't) Call Me Crazy. You can click here for the Twitter thread of my notes from their conversation.

After the talk there was a nice long line of people all waiting to buy the book, and many people were buying multiple copies! This is a book you need to have at every library. I would suggest a copy in YA and Adult. 

I was so very proud of both Jez and Kelly. This was one of the best programs I have ever been a part of, both because of their honesty and the need for these conversations about mental health.


I love state library conferences for many reasons, but the biggest reason is because they are just as informative as a national conference but on a smaller scale. Next week I get to do it all again as I was invited to the Wisconsin Library Association Conference

Of course, I love my own state library conference most of all. I love it so much that I even sponsor everyone's coffee for 1 morning each year. Also, I think I may have joined another committee while I was on the pub stroll. Oh well. 

If you went to ILA or another state library conference recently and want to share something you learned with the rest of my readers, please let contact me.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Library Reads: November 2018

Well, my months of nudging you to vote for more diverse reads has worked. This month is the most inclusive list yet! As I said last month:
We need to keep finding inclusive titles, under the radar titles, titles that even we didn’t know about before giving them a try. Please look for books that could use the boost that Library Reads can give a title that your colleagues might not know about without that vote, especially more inclusive titles. 
Here you can find a link to a database by library professionals who are going through the digital ARCS and screening titles for you to choose from. Please consider starting here, not with the latest, imminent bestseller. Seriously, if you want to help, start at those databases, start by reading those titles. Try something new and if you like it, vote for it. 
Don’t start with a book you already know you are going to like. That is the worst thing you can do. We are trying to broaden everyone’s horizons-- patrons, yes, but also the publishers. We want to show them that more inclusive titles will resonate and sell. But, we need to start with ourselves first.

Keep it up. Good job.

But I also don't want you to spend too much time patting yourselves on the back because the reason this list is finally reaching truly inclusive levels is because of the work the Library Reads Steering Committee has done to improve the list.

One of the nagging problems with the list, especially after 5 years, is that the same authors were showing up over and over again, but last month Library Reads solved this problem by creating a Hall of Fame. This month there are 4[!] HoF authors [see below for details]. These are huge authors that library workers love and patrons love too. I get it that people are excited that Louise Penny et all have a new book coming out. Since Library Reads couldn't convince people to stop voting for these popular authors, they found a way to honor these authors but keep the list truly more about identifying more under the radar titles that no one would know about without us. 

Here's the thing though....without that HoF list, 4 of these titles wouldn't be here, and the number one title, a book I have had on hold for months, would not have been number 1. Actually I don't know this for sure, but looking at the HoF, I am going to make a very educated guess that they would have taken many of the top spots.

I am so proud of Library Reads for finding a way to keep the integrity of the list but allow more voices to be included.  But, now we need to keep up our end of the bargain and keep voting for titles that are less well known that we are excited about.

And now, the list...
_________________________________________________

Today is Library Reads day and that means three 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.

    Also, please remember to click here for my Library Reads 101 recap for everything you need to know about how to participate. And click here to see a database of eligible diverse titles sorted by month.


    ********************************************

    November 2018 LibraryReads

    Don’t miss the November 2018 Hall of Fame Winners! Scroll down or visit the Hall of Fame page.




    My Sister,
    the Serial Killer:
    A Novel

    by Oyinkan Braithwaite

    Published: 11/20/2018 by Doubleday
    ISBN: 9780385544238
    “Nigerian nurse Korede puts up with so much from her sister Ayoola (the serial killer). Braithwaite tells a dark, lively, and funny story of how begrudgingly cleaning up after someone else’s deadly habits is just one of those things one does for family. For fans of satirical humor.”
    Lisa Hoffman, Bloomfield Public Library, Bloomfield NJ





    The Adults: A Novel

    by Caroline Hulse

    Published: 11/27/2018 by Random House
    ISBN: 9780525511748
    “Divorced couple Claire and Matt devise a terrific idea for Christmas: spend it at Happy Forest Holiday Park with their new partners and their seven-year-old daughter Scarlett (and her imaginary friend). Hilarious and heartrending, this debut novel asks the age-old question: ‘What could possibly go wrong?'”
    Todd Krueger, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD

    The Best Bad Things: A Novel

    by Katrina Carrasco

    Published: 11/6/2018 by MCD/Farrar, Straus & Giroux
    ISBN: 9780374123697
    “Alma is a cross-dressing, bisexual, half-Mexican, badass woman who goes undercover in this historical fiction story set in 1887 Washington state. She lives life on the edge with gusto and nerve. An enjoyable ride for readers who like a fast-paced story and don’t mind graphic content.”
    Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cuyahoga, OH 

    The Colors of All the Cattle: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

    by Alexander McCall Smith

    Published: 11/6/2018 by Pantheon
    ISBN: 9781524747800
    “Each new book in this series unwraps another layer of the lives of the minor characters. Along with solving the requisite mystery, Precious delves into local politics and comes to rely more on her family and friends for their input. A charming addition to this heartwarming series.”
    Fran Hegarty, Peabody Institute Library of Danvers, Danvers, MA

    Empire of Sand

    by Tasha Suri

    Published: 11/13/2018 by Orbit
    ISBN: 9780316449717
    “A modern take on the classic Disney tale of Mulan, this fantasy-adventure story features Mehr, a governor’s daughter who wants to make a name for herself and is passionate about saving the lives of those in her kingdom. Mehr’s unique magical powers make her a target and give the classic storyline a new twist.”
    Megan Marong, Lackawanna Public Library, Lackawanna, NY

    How Long ‘Til Black Future Month: Stories

    by N. K. Jemisin

    Published: 11/27/2018 by Orbit
    ISBN: 9780316491341
    “This first short story collection from the most celebrated speculative fiction author of our time features her signature blend of sharply observed, provocative tales of magic steeped in realism and social commentary. Both SFF fans and adventurous readers of genre-blending literary fiction such as Station Eleven and The Underground Railroad will find much to admire.”
    Annabelle Mortensen, Skokie Public Library, Skokie, IL

    The Kinship of Secrets

    by Eugenia Kim

    Published: 11/6/2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    ISBN: 9781328987822
    “A sweeping, historical, family saga in which two sisters are separated during the Korean War. One is raised in the United States and the other in South Korea. For fans of Pachinko.”
    Cat Ng, Palm Beach County Library System, Wellington, FL

    A Ladder to the Sky: A Novel

    by John Boyne

    Published: 11/13/2018 by Hogarth
    ISBN: 9781984823014
    “Enter the disturbing world of high stakes publishing and meet an author so twisted and unscrupulous you will beg for justice. For readers who like an unlikeable character and sardonic tone.”
    Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX 

    Newcomer: A Mystery

    by Keigo Higashino

    Published: 11/20/2018 by Minotaur Books
    ISBN: 9781250067869
    “Newly transferred Tokyo Police Detective Kaga is assigned a baffling murder. The story is told almost entirely through the perspective of people he interviews, gradually revealing the puzzling who, how, and why in this mystery. For fans of Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and Columbo as well as lovers of international crime novels.”
    Julie Graham, Yakima Valley Libraries, Yakima, WA 

    Someone to Trust: A Westcott Novel

    by Mary Balogh


    Published: 11/27/2018 by Berkley/Jove
    ISBN: 9780399586101
    “Love defies societal expectations in this historical romance set in the Regency period. For fans of Tessa Dare and Amelia Grey.”
    Kathy Setter, Indianhead Federated Library System, Eau Claire, WI
    Four HoF Authors this month

    Kingdom of the Blind: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

    by Louise Penny

    Published: 11/27/2018 by Minotaur Books
    ISBN: 9781250066206
    “Gamache tries to understand why someone connected to a mysterious will is killed, while he and Beauvoir race against time to stop a deadly shipment of drugs from hitting the streets. Penny digs deep into her familiar characters in what may be her most personal book.”
    David Singleton, Charlotte Mecklenberg Public Library, Charlotte, NC 

    Night of Miracles: A Novel

    by Elizabeth Berg

    Published: 11/13/2018 by Random House
    ISBN: 9780525509509
    “An equally delightful follow-up to The Story of Arthur Truluv. A heartwarming tale of life in a small town with an ensemble cast of likeable characters.”
    Claudia Silk, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT

    Nine Perfect Strangers

    by Liane Moriarty

    Published: 11/16/2018 by Flatiron Books
    ISBN: 9781250069825
    “Can ten days at a special health resort change you forever? Can you lose weight, gain inner peace, become a better you? Nine people are thrown together at a remote health resort, with intriguing developments.”
    Jennifer Ohzourk, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, MO

    Past Tense: A Jack Reacher Novel

    by Lee Child Published: 11/6/2018 by Delacorte Press

    ISBN: 9780399593512
    “Another home run from Child. While visiting his father’s birthplace in New Hampshire, Reacher can’t help but intervene when a member of a local gang attempts to assault a waitress. He soon uncovers more suspicious happenings in the town. Fast-paced, great plot, and compelling characters.”

    Laura Scott, Park Ridge Public Library, Park Ridge, IL

    Wednesday, October 10, 2018

    ILA Annual Conference: Info On My Presentations Today

    Today I am part of two presentations at my state library conference and both are focused on staff training.

    Below I will have the information from the conference website and the details on what we will be covering. If you would like to download any slides or handouts, no matter where you live, go to the online conference program, put "Spratford" in the Speaker's Last Name Box," and hit search. This will bring up the page you need.

    Now, here is what you can expect today.

    First up:
    Not only have I been a participant at 15 years worth of inservice days as a worker, but I have now been to dozens more as a presenter. Throughout my travels I have witnessed some amazing staff training going on at different libraries.

    I wanted to let others get the chance to see the innovative, inspiring, and just plain fun staff training going on at libraries right here in our state. I invited people I was inspired by to present with me own order to inspire more library workers to rethink their own staff training models.

    From the planning email I sent the group:
    •  I will start with a general overview of what we are trying to accomplish-- presenting a variety of outside the box staff training ideas that will inspire staff to be better at their jobs. 
    • I would like Brandon to go first because he is going to talk about how they restructured their Staff Day at Wauconda. 
    • Then Jeannie will talk about a variety of staff training and self care sessions she has organized as the Executive Director at two libraries.
    • Laurel will be up next to talk about the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion training that is an ongoing continuing education program at Skokie
    • Finally, I will talk about how getting everyone at your library excited about your core business [reading!]-- no matter where in the building they work-- improves job satisfaction, customer service, and builds teamwork.

     Next up in the same room immediately after:

    This presentation is one that Alissa Williams and I came up with together. Alissa was excited about  sharing the results from the training I provided for the Peoria area adult services librarians a few years ago, and asked me if we could to gather a few other libraries here in IL who I had worked with to present.

    After Alissa brought the idea up, I immediately realized that while I give similar training programs everywhere I go, the outcomes for the libraries are very specific to their needs.

    I asked libraries who had me offer training for different reasons and who had positive outcomes to come and share their experiences. It is amazing how similar presentations can yield such different results when libraries take what they learn and run with it. I think these presentations will inspire you just as they have inspired me.

    Here is what we have planned for this program:

    • I will serve as emcee, explaining the general idea of the training I provide and then introduce each panelist from my perspective-- why they asked me to be there.
    • Alissa Williams from Morton Public Library will be up next. For Alissa, I was asked to do a "train the trainer" type event. She gathered library workers who do RA from all over the Peoria area in order for them to both bring back specific ideas to their individual libraries and to encourage them to keep meeting and sharing ideas across the region.
    • I presented in the morning as part of an entire in service day for Terri Suda at Wauconda Area Library. Terri has had amazing results in terms of their growth of RA service offerings and buy in from staff from all over the building, across all departments.
    • Nancy Castellanos had me do Booktalking training for her staff at Fountaindale Public Library. I saw the entire staff in 2 shifts. This was part of a morning only training session where the other half, when not with me, were with my colleague Jez Layman, hearing about how to upsell their programs. So basically, all of their training was focused on how to be better at talking with patrons in general- not just RA.
    • Finally, Emily Compton-Dzak from Winnetka-Northfield might have had the most daunting challenge ahead of her. Emily's library was going through an huge renovation when I visited them. Not only was the building going to look different, the staff was going to be reorganized. For example, every circulation clerk was getting a promotion and would be expected to provide RA. I came to work with staff who had been doing RA and those who would now be required to do it. The session was both for team building and learning, and now, Emily will share their results in the new building with their new RA focused attitude.
    I can't wait to be a part of these programs today. Sharing each library's successes for our colleagues, especially because these are all successes in motivating and energizing staff, is going to be a great experience for everyone. Staff training does not have to be boring and useless, and I am going to spend 2 hours proving that to you today.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2018

    Library Reads Favorite of Favorites Voting is Now Open [Until 10/15]

    One of the most frequent reasons I hear form library workers as to why they do not participate in Library Reads is that they do not have time to read ahead and that they are not comfortable voting for a book they haven't read completely.

    First of all, don't worry about finishing any pre-pub book. Library Reads is about sharing the excitement you have about an upcoming title. You can read the beginning and skim a bit to know if you are excited to read the entire book. That's what you are voting for...the excitement. You are not judging that title, "THE BEST BOOK THIS MONTH." The

    Second, there is one time of year you can participate without having read ahead-- the Favorite of Favorites list!

    See the directions below and here from Library Reads on how you can vote for you favorite books that made the list between 10/17 and 9/18. Chances are you have read many of these by now.

    And this voting doesn't require using another platform either [the second most frequent reason people tell me the do not vote]. It is just a Survey Monkey.

    So no more excuses. Get to it and vote. If nothing else it is good practice for Election Day next month.


    It's time to vote for your Favorite of Favorites!

    Hey there, LibraryReader!

    The Favorite of Favorites long list is awaiting your vote!

    We are celebrating our fifth year of reading and recommending great titles by inviting library staff to vote on their favorites from the October 2017 through September 2018 lists. Remember, anybody who works in a public library in the United States can vote in this poll!


    This is the first round of voting so be sure to make your vote count by clicking on the link below by October 15th!
    Click the link below to vote!

    The short list will be announced on October 20 and the final winners will be announced on December 1st!

    Thanks for voting in our Favorite of Favorites poll! Please vote by October 15th. Happy reading!

    Monday, October 8, 2018

    RA for All Roadshow Visits Bucks County [PA] Free Library

    I am a little more excited than usual for my appearance today. Why? Well, I am returning to my personal homeland for this one.

    I grew up across the river from Bucks County and this system is my Aunt and Uncle's home library. While in town for this in service day I will see many family and friends, stay in homes, not hotels, and eat home cooked meals. 

    I am also excited because Bucks County does an in service program that I am starting to see more and more often. They model their staff training day on a conference experience. This means the group is together for 1 large keynote but otherwise, staff can choose what sessions they attend throughout the day. This allows the system to offer more personalized training to their employees. It also allows people from the same departments to be in two [or three or more] places at once if they need to since they can send different people to different sessions.


    Today is also the start of a VERY BUSY week. I will return from Bucks County and head straight to Peoria for the Illinois Library Association Annual Conference Tuesday-Thursday. Figure no post tomorrow [Tuesday] and then Wednesday will be the info for my 2 presentations that day with Thursday and Friday's posts being a recap of what else I did and learned at the entire conference. Of course, the horror blog will be going every day too.

    But that is the rest of the week. Today is today. Let's do this, Bucks County [with slide access for all].

    Today's Schedule:


    9-10:15 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.

    10:30-11:45 am: Booktalking Your Way to the Friendliest Library in Town: 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.

    1:30-2:45 pm Demystifying Genre: Nothing is scarier than trying to help a fan of a genre you yourself don’t enjoy. You want to help that, for example, Romance reader find the perfect book, but you are having trouble knowing where to begin because...eek!... you don’t read Romance. You are afraid they will find out you are a fraud. How can YOU possibly help THEM?!? Never fear, in this program, Readers’ Advisory expert, Becky Spratford, will teach you the basic appeals of the major genres, give you the inside track on what a fan of that genre is most drawn to, and provide you with talking points to get your genres readers to tell you what they want. You will leave this session with the confidence and skill to help fans of every genre, regardless of whether or not you have ever read a book in that genre yourself. And that will leave a trail of happy patrons in your wake.

    3-4:15 pm: Ask Becky Anything: Now is your chance to ask RA expert Becky Spratford anything about how to work with leisure readers. What are your fears, frustrations, and obstacles. This session will be recorded for all employees to access later. Click here for an example of how one of these sessions went previously.

    Friday, October 5, 2018

    Kelly Link is a Genius!

    Today the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grants were announced and author Kelly Link was among the recipients. From their site:
    Kelly Link is a short story writer pushing the boundaries of literary fiction in works that draw on genres such as fantasy, science fiction, and horror while also engaging fully with the concerns and emotional realism of contemporary life. The worlds of her stories are recognizably based on reality but governed by idiosyncratic, internal logics. The elements of the surreal and fantastic that emerge without explanation are by turns unsettling, heartbreaking, and hilarious. 
    The familiar tedium of low-wage retail jobs, for example, is considered in the context of 24-hour convenience stores for zombies (“The Hortlak”), and a couple’s attempt to revive their marriage by moving to a house in the country fails, due to complications posed by giant bunnies and the haunting of household items (“Stone Animals”). Many of the stories collected in Get in Trouble (2015), Link’s most recent volume, take place in social landscapes marked by deep social and economic inequality. In “The Summer People,” teenage Fran faces a life of limited opportunities both because of poverty and her forced servitude to magical fairy-like creatures. She escapes on morally ambiguous terms, deceiving a classmate from an upper-class family into becoming the new captive caretaker. “Valley of the Girls” explores the consequences of excessive wealth from the perspective of the privileged. Teenagers of the very rich are protected from kidnapping and their own potentially bad choices by having body doubles act as their public “Faces.” The nonlinear structure of the story obscures the major relationships among the real teenagers and their “Faces” until halfway through the story, when with a single sentence Link clarifies the identities of the characters and the inevitable tragedy of the story’s ending. 
    Link is committed to helping other writers chart their own course, much as she did; with her husband, Gavin Grant, she runs the Small Beer Press, which publishes unique voices in fantasy and literary fiction that do not appeal to commercial publishers. As a writer and an editor, Link is mapping new literary territory, and she is a source of inspiration for many young writers dissatisfied with traditional distinctions between genres.
    I love both Kelly's work and Small Beer Press. This is wonderful news for her, but also illustrates that the trend of genre blending, especially literary fiction incorporating speculative fiction genre elements, is still going strong. You need to make sure you are aware of it.

    Here is the link to the dozens of times I have mentioned Kelly Link on this blog to help get you up to speed on her and the many other authors who write like her.

    I am so excited to see what she will be able to do with her original and exciting work and the press now that she has the money to really focus on her creative work.

    Please click here to see all of the grant recipients. Congrats to all. And yay for all of us who will get to see more from all of these amazing people now that they can focus on their genius.

    Finally, thank you to the MacArthur Foundation for giving your money to people who can decide how to use it to make the world better through their creativity.