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Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Discussion: The Book You Want Everyone to Love

I start teaching the students this week which got me thinking about the key issues I need to impart to the students from day one.  I realized that the hardest thing to teach new Readers' Advisors is that you need to suggest books to patrons based on their tastes, not yours.  When you start doing RA it is easy to begin by suggesting your personal favorites since these are the titles you are most comfortable discussing.

Instead, RA is all about using the tastes of the reader in front of you as your guide to help match their reading needs to a book on your shelf, whether you have read it yourself already or not.

This by far is the hardest RA skill to obtain, but with time and practice, I promise it comes.

But (and you knew a but was coming) despite the best intentions of even the most seasoned Readers' Advisors out there, we all have books that we personally love and want everyone to read.  It is so against everything I teach, but I do it too.

For me, my favorite horror book is The Ruins by Scott Smith and I hand it out to everyone and anyone who will take it from me. Seriously, it is barely ever on the shelf at the BPL.  For a more general audience, I try to pass on The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti to every person I help.  There are 43 copies in our system and only 2 have it checked out right now, one is our copy and another is one of our patron's reading an ILL copy I put on hold for them.

My point is, no matter how professional and removed from the RA process we try to stay, it is hard not to foist your favorite books on your patrons.  We love books and reading or else we wouldn't be doing thsi job.  Giving out our favorite books may be taboo, but it is also one of the biggest perks of the job.

To help alleviate this problem, we have The Browsers' Corner here at the BPL where the staff can push our favorite books on people in a more traditional staff pick's format.  But still, you get that patron in front of you who sounds like they may like one of your favorite books, and it is very hard to resist the urge to put the book in his or her hand.

So for today's Monday Discussion, share with me the book(s) you personally love, and hope to make everyone else love too.  Come on, you know there are one or two.

For the Monday Discussion archive, click here.


Emilyn said...

The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Dresden Files, the Unwritten graphic novels, Mistress of the Art of Death

John BPL RA said...

Browsers' Corner is wonderful! If I were going to start listing favs I could be here all day! I mostly like horror, preferably with some sort of social or philosophical message ingrained in the plot. I'll narrow it down to my top ten.

10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
9. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
8. Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite
7. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
6. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
5. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
4. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
3. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
1. The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

Most of these books involve travel and some sort of search for personal identity both of which have been big themes of my own life. I also seem to prefer bleak narratives using a lone, male protagonist. Fans of this sort of thing are not large in number at my particular library but when I do come across them I can spot them instantly. They almost always return for further recommendations.

ckubala said...

The Sparrow / Mary Doria Russell
Highwire Moon / Susan Straight
The Bells / Richard Harvell

I could go on and on. I love this topic and hope more participate.

Chris said...

Lately, Dry Grass of August is what I am shoving into everyone's arms. I loved it and can't resist mentioning it every time someone wants "The Help." Mixed reviews from those that I have foisted it on, but I'll take a 75% success rate.
BTW, based on your previous posts, if someone wants something scary, I grab "The Ruins."

Mike said...

Mike BPL REF said...

Among many I could suggest, I
often try to persuade people to
read The Coldest Winter by David
Halberstam, It is a book about
the Korean War. Known as the
Forgotten War, this compelling
book about the mismanagement and
ego-driven policies of America's
Viet Nam before Viet Nam is un-

I also recommend Edmund Morris'
three volume life or Theodore
Roosevelt. An inspiring study of
a larger than life figure.

ckubala said...

How could I? I didn't mention any of my favorite non-fiction reads that I'm always giving to people.

Shadow Divers Robert Kurson
Devil in the White City Erik Larson

Becky said...

Love those nonfiction choices. They are two of my "go-to" ones too.