Library Journal Horror Review Column: January 2020 - 2020 brings with it more jobs for me and expanded horror coverage for all of you. Library Journal has hired me to provide a horror review column 4x a year...
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The Reading List annually recognizes the best books in eight genres: adrenaline (including suspense, thriller and adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and women’s fiction. This year’s list includes novels that will please die-hard fans, as well as introduce new readers to the pleasures of genre fiction. Librarians can use the lists as resources for reader recommendations and collection development at their own libraries, or to build their personal to-be-read lists.The "pleasures of genre fiction," are too often forgotten by "best lists." But we librarians know that those genre titles are what the vast majority of our readers are craving. The Reading List is our only guidance to a general consensus of "the best" of all genres in one place, picked by our colleagues.
Georgette Heyer is best known for her Regency- and Georgian-era romantic comedies of manners, but she also wrote other historical fiction and mysteries during the "Golden Age" of the twentieth century. Her historicals are remarkable both for the extent of her research and the consistency with which she portrayed her settings, bringing them to life with carefully chosen details. The wit and style of her characters and lightness and humor of her plots combine with the vividly-portrayed settings and a touch of suspense to produce entertaining stories to which many fans return again and again.Okay back to the backlist issue. I am glad Kloester's book is bring attention back to this fabulous writer. With the continuing popularity of all things Jane Austen, it is important to note that Heyer has been described on NoveList as writing like "Austen distilled." She is an author we should be directing more readers to. Thankfully they find her on their own, but we could be doing more.
"It's far more enjoyable to learn about, say, the French Revolution when you've got great characters to take you through the story, oui? Y.A. is not all futuristic dystopia or fantasy, no matter how much we love some of those books. You can also find the Wild West, early America, 16th-Century Venice, 1980s New York City, and more on the pages of your favorite teen and younger reads. The scope, in fact, is far too great to wrangle into one post. But this week in Y.A. for Grownups we name a few of our favorites and some of the most promising on the way, charting a course through history by way of books new, old, and upcoming. For your reading convenience, we've categorized the books by historical period or event."What follows this introduction is an annotated list of books that will take you on a tour of world history. All of the books are targeted to teen readers, but are also a good read for adults. One of the titles on the list, Code Name Verity, even made Betty's best of 2012 list.
As with some many ideas, the idea for Small Demons came from a book; in this instance, Total Chaos, the first book of Jean-Claude Izzo's Marseilles Trilogy. Our founder, Valla Vakili read the book in November 2005, and found himself drawn to various aspects of the protagonist's world. Fabio Montale is a cop on the
police force, a single malt whiskey drinker and into the jazz and blues, with tastes very similar but not identical to Valla's own. He found himself trying the whiskey Montale drinks (Valla drank Laphroaig, Montale drinks Lagavulin) and buying the music he was listening to in the book, from iTunes. By the end of the book Valla was so into the description of Marseilles and Montale's world that he wanted to immediately continue into the second volume. It wasn't available in English translation yet, so he did the next best thing. He had a vacation planned to Marseilles Madridand Paris, and he changed my Parisleg to go to instead. A week in Marseilles , ensued, drinking the drinks, eating the food, and roaming the streets described in the book. He came back from that trip convinced that many of the best experiences we can find, are within books. And that if we could gather them all up and put them in one place, we could unlock a world of pretty incredible discovery. Marseilles
It took him years though until he could convince others this was worth doing! He and eventually three co-founders started in earnest in early 2010 and have been at it ever since—I joined in Sept 2011 as the first person from the "Old World" of publishing, completely smitten by the potential of a whole new universe of serendipity, not just with books but across all culture and cultures. Suddenly, I realized, books could actually be at the center of the culture, not just at its margins, because books contain multitudes, of people, of places, of songs and food, of drink and history.
In practice, what we do is obtain digital files from publishers with whom we've signed agreements (at this stage we've agreements representing about 80% of current trade publishing) and identify keywords within them, connecting them on the site such that one one starts at, say, the Met. Like here in which you can see references to the Met from the 10,000 or so books we've indexed thus far. But you can also proceed onwards. To Steve Jobs. To Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man, to Birth of the Cool to Brooks Brothers to Julie Hecht's The Unprofessionals to Brooklyn. Or just dive in to Zippos and Koolaid and Neil Armstrong.
So this is a nice little research tool—one librarian we met told us of a patron who came in who said her son would only read books that feature Paul McCartney. A simple search! But also for reading groups, where patrons could learn about historical figures they encounter in The Help or The Paris Wife, or the food in the Life of Pi, or be supplied with playlists of all the music in Jodi Picoult's books. For displays, say for Elvis Presley's birthday (Jan 8th), one could include not just the biographies, but also Julie Hecht's book on Andy Kaufmann which discusses Kaufmann's obsession with Elvis or Ann Beattie's Mrs. Nixon. For little social media squibs too, like all the movies in Jane Smiley's Ten Days in the Hill.
We have also added a new feature, Collections, which, as we continue to add titles, you could use as a Pinterest board for books. We'll shortly be offering embed code too, widgets, so that you could add these Collections to your own library sites and blogs.
In closing, I wanted to tell you a little about the name, partly because it's a little unusual, partly because it has to do with a librarian, namely the former Director of the National Library in Argentina, Jose Luis Borges. In his short story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” Borges writes, “The history of the universe… is the handwriting produced by a Minor god in order to communicate with a Demon.” Valla read that as, the history of the universe is all the stories ever told. Minor gods are the storytellers who rule the worlds of their stories. And the Demon is the force that drives the need for stories, the place where author and reader meet. He took “Minor” and “Demon” and from there, Small Demons.Thanks Richard. I have begun using the Collections feature myself; click here to see a board I made of my favorite reads of 2012. I think that in the long run, Small Demons is a better option for libraries than just Pinterest. On Pinterest you have the cover of the book and any note you add, but on Small Demons you can have that, plus anything else about the book that they have already added. It is a book centric site that provides thousands of extra access points into the books we and our readers love. But just in case, you can also add your Small Demons collection straight to Pinterest with one click if you want things in both places.