ARRT GENRE STUDY WEBSITE

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.

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.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

ALA 2013: Andrew Carnegie Medals Announcement in Pictures

I was honored to get to be there, but after a very long day at the conference I am tired, so you get the pictorial version of the awards as they happened.


ALA 2013: PLA President's Program and Awards Presentation with Ann Patchett

PLA President's Program and Awards Presentation

The program began with the PLA Awards presentations. All award winners and  are listed here.  Congratulations to them all.

And then the key note with Ann Patchett and her pep talk for librarians.

This is a keynote and not really a training, so I will just share some of her better comments and thoughts.
I was sitting in the back, so I took
a picture of the screen so you
 could see Ann Patchett too.

  • It's a relief to talk to librarians because I know you are with me; you like reading.
  • Told how she began her involvement with the Nashville Public Library because the director was her neighbor.
  • She told a funny story about how she joined the library's Foundation Board.
  • November 2011 that woman retired from the library. It was the same month Ann opened her book store-- Parnassus Books.  Now that director works for Ann.
  • This woman, Donna, said the reason I became a librarian was because I loved to read and put books into people's hands, but once I got to be the Director of a library system I got too far away from that.  Moving to the book store brought her back to that key service, putting books in people's hands.
  • Ann has 1 hobby-- I read.  That is it. Publishers want me to have interesting life stories to share on their websites or use in interviews, but I have spent my life on the couch reading.  My made up characters have interesting stories, but not me.
  • Now with opening Parnassus Books, I have finally done something interesting. Now everyone has something to ask me. Her partner does the nitty gritty, day to day work and she is the public face to promote it.
  • The thing I love best about the book store is that my life time hobby of lying on the couch reading is now useful.  The workers at the store are all too busy working, I am the only one reading, so I write a lot of the reviews.
  • Now I walk around the store and put good books in customer's hands.  I don't even care about selling the book, I want to share the experience of a good book.
  • You don't have to sell the new books.  I press old books on people.  [Becky: I love the backlist] Act One by Moss Hart is her favorite to give out.
  • I also take bad books away from people and give them something better.
  • They have an Ann recommends shelf.
  • She talked about doing real RA stuff. She told stories about talking with customers about the best books for them. It was inspiring.
  • The joy of my life is reading, much more than writing.
  • Sometimes I feel like I am standing in a river of books and I just need to get out before I drown. Then you need a book you love to pull you out and rescue you, makes you want to dive back in.
  • She talked about Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift. I read it years ago.  She is right though, it is an older book that is worth the time of today's reader.
  • She gets big authors at her store, so when she has a larger group the library hosts them.
  • SInce I know every author or their agent or their publish. So we get authors coming to Nashville now who never came before.  I feel like my life has become a big Mafia deal.  We host these big authors at the library.
  • Her suggestion to us is to find your local book store people and invite them to lunch. See if you can work together. There is not an unlimited readership, so we need to work together to stoke the biggest fire.
  • Also, if author is already on tour you should be able to get them into the library for FREE.
  • She talked about the post card you saw above. They put out their recommended reads on those postcards and just change the type on the back when necessary.  Here is the current list on the back of the postcard we all got. Here is what is on the back.
  • She then proceeded to book talk the list to us.  I would suggest all of these titles.  Specifically she mentioned The All of It and said it sells better than her books at the store.  Only 130 pages, but brilliant.  Great for a summer book club.
  • She also said that Where's You Go Bernadette is best described as if David Foster Wallace wrote a Nancy Drew novel.  That was great! Here's my review of it too.
  • Ann also felt like Casual Vacancy was the best book written last year.  Everyone she forced to read it has loved it.  Ann interviews Rowling at her only US appearance.  At first Ann thought she shouldn't do the interview because she had never read Harry Potter. They wanted that. They wanted a big name interviewer that would judge the book on its own merit.
  • Notice that she mixes old and new titles. This is what I try to do in my work.  This is what libraries are great at. I am glad she is doing it too.
  • Her desire together with people and ask what they are reading is "blood" for me.  And it gets worse as I get older.  My world is narrowing and reading is all I want to do.


ALA 2013: Pictures from Sunday [updated]

Here are some of the sights and scenes from today.

Pop Top Stage in the Exhibit Hall


Graphic Novel Stage in the Exhibit Hall


Random shot from the Exhibit Hall

Friend of RA for All, Rebecca Vnuk at her Booklist Booth

Horror Author Jonathan Maberry.
See my book where I proclaim him the New King of Horror along with Joe Hill

Maberry's personalized zombie trading card from his
awesome and award winning YA Zombie series
that begins with Rot & Ruin. Thanks Jonathan.


Becky and Aurora [IL] Public Librarian Magan
hanging at the Booklist booth.

rewre
Richard Ford being interviews by Booklist
in advance of tonight's Carnegie Medal Awards.
Click here for details.
I will be there.


ALA 2013: Leading Readers to Water….Guerilla Marketing for RA

Leading Readers to Water….Guerilla Marketing for RA

This one features my colleagues from the Chicagoland area, people I know and trust.

Speaker: Helen Stewart, Readers' Advisory Librarian, Schaumburg Township District Library
Speaker: Kate Niehoff, Popular Services Librarian, Schaumburg Township District Library
Speaker: Nancy McCully, Schaumburg Township District Library
Speaker: Susan Gibberman, Head of Readers' Advisory, Schaumburg Township District Library


Handouts online here

Helen Stewart began:
  • RAs we are engaged in a mighty battle.  We are battling the idea that we have nothing to offer while hundred wait for Dan Brown
  • Statistics are down
  • On the front lines: Day to Day RA
  • Get out into the shelves and see what the patrons see as they browse
  • As they browse they only have their reading list as a tool. It is very daunting.
  • If we put a great book in the stacks, no reader will ever find it on their own.
  • Rise to the challenge as victorious reader leaders.
  • Duncan Smith suggests: the standard RA interview should become a thing of the past.  We used to be reactive: Patron- Do you have this book? Us-- Yes. Here it is. Transaction done.
  • Instead we should be suggestive, anticipatory [suggest books they may like based on what they ask for], contributory [submit a book review], participatory [join our book club]. Start every transaction as a sales pitch.
  • Shelf Talkers our best tool.  She says use Shelf Wiz which is what we use at the BPL.
  • Dress up your displays. Make them look nice.  She has a lot of pictures in the powerpoint available with the link above.
  • Book News Noticeboard: treat books as a current event. Post pages from magazines like EW with book reviews.
  • Engage your readers [participatory]. Use a digital picture frame or even just a chalkboard.
  • Paperback Exchange: giveaway paperbacks with all the libraries contact info in the book.  It will give them a way to start an interaction with you without having to talk to you.
  • Mark the series order on the books by doing the work for the patron. Not knowing where to begin is a major impediment for readers.
  • Face out book display. Do it within the stacks here and there. Patrons do judge books by cover, but also want books to grab quickly.  Face out is good here.
  • The have am ipad they can use at the desk with a paired down version of website that they can browse at your desk. Can do it alone or ask questions as they go along.
  • Liked the book try this displays.  You can images of the books for the same effect. See screen shot on power point.
  • Form based RA: Have them everywhere in paper at the library.  Williamsburg Regional for ideas on what questions to ask.  Remember to add queries about what they don’t like as much as what they do.
  • Put customized RA stickers with contact info in the books!  I LOVE THIS You suggest a readalike in the book and when they finish they know where to go next.  Have contact info so they know you did it.
  • Or bookmarks with readalikes or info that is pertinent in the books in the stacks.
  • Promote yourselves.
  • Summer reading is popular.  Use it to collect info when they sign up.
  • Annotated book inserts.  Again good picture on ppt. Give a handwritten short review and put it in the book so when they open it they get your staff’s opinion of the book.
Nancy McCully
  • Helen gave us ideas about how to introduce books when they are in the library. But how do you help them when they are looking for ebooks or browsing you collection via the online catalog at 2 in the morning.  Your website is a good place.
  • Here are our group’s favorites: look at them on ppt
  • Boulder Public Library: Look at screen shots on ppt.  There is a huge button on the front page to find a good read.
  • Skokie Public Library.  I have blogged about them before.  There are now over 1,000 reviews by staff on their Books We Love site. They have a service called “Fast Match” that suggests a book from their Book We Love reviews.  Online equivalent of discovering a book on a display table.
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library: Reader’s Club. When you get to the suggested reading lists, you can place a hold, email to a friend, etc..
  • Hennepin County Library also includes reader driven suggestion lists.
  • Rocky River Public Library-- Reading Room. A little library that does a lot.
  • Book Groups: Special Ops
  • People who read genre fiction love to talk about what they are reading. Schaumburg has genre book clubs for mystery and romance.  They only meet 4x a year.  The marketing for the crime book group used real morgue toe tags as invites/flyers to club.
  • Different libraries who do cook book based discussions.  One library does a cook book, people go home and make some of the food and come back to discuss how it tasted.
  • Why not do films.  Read book at home, come to the library to watch the film, and then discuss first.
  • Consider books with great audio books and/or ebooks.
  • David Wright’s story time for adults. Just drop in.  They are no books to purchase or borrow.  People come to hear a story.
  • Consider quarterly book discussions for groups that only read longer books.  Or a group that only meets for a few months and discusses a topic together: the example was Victorian literature.
  • Why only hold book groups in conference room?  Do them out in the open so that you can attract attention from people not in the group.  Kathy and Crystal just did this month for our teen book club; they had it out in the open in the teen room.  I observed part of it. It was engaging to others in the room who didn’t even read the book.
  • Hold book club somewhere else.
  • She mentioned a book club where they take a nature walk and discuss the books as they go.
  • If you get your book club people to register, then you can send them info overtime that they might be interested in.

Susan Gibberman:
  • The Art of War: Extend upon the physical confines of our desk. Go to where our patrons are.  PR and Outreach.
  • Parents love the library (see Pew report from yesterday) but how many of them use the library for themselves.  Put books for the parents where they are with their kids or right in the lobby.
  • Prize wheels are an attention getter and are a great way to get people to your desk.  People love to win something. And you can get rid of all old summer reading prizes.
  • Go to your town’s big festivals. Bring that prize wheel.  At Berwyn we do go to these.
  • Promote your programs and services at the catalog or by the public Internet computers.
  • Book a Librarian service. Do one on one training for ebooks or go outside to make presentations at local senior centers.
  • Put a page inside your Book Page newspapers and staple it in there. With programs and services.
  • Do book related programming. You can even have fun book talk related programs with food.  So a program where you talk about a trend like Fifty Shades and then suggest other books.  Have food.  The combo of trends and food brings people in.
  • Try. The worst that can happen is that no one comes.  Don’t let that discourage you. The worst case scenario is that the staff gets a snack.
  • Exterior Resources of note:
  • NoveList: and the RA Training Section.  Begin with the new ARRT list which just went up on their site.  Nancy, on the panel, worked on this list [as did I].
  • The Next Reads newsletters and you can use them to send to patrons.
  • Dear Reader.com which is an online book club.  Outside source but customized to your library.  It sends you a couple pages a day from a new book.
  • Bookish, which I have just begun using.
  • Early Word. Linked here on the blog.  You must use this and follow it.  They have the best daily library based information.
  • Epic Reads for teen books and their authors.  Allows authors to communicate directly with readers.  
  • It is sometimes difficult to keep up with what is new, so sign up for Net Galley.  I have an account.
  • Stop You’re Killing Me! I use it often too. 
  • Go to the ppt for the urls to all the resources.

Kate Niehoff
  • Technology
  • QR Codes. It is easy to put them on things.  They will drive traffic to your website. 
  • Reading Maps.  See the BPL’s here. Her example is one for the Night Circus on the ppt.
  • Podcasts and videocasts: Topeka Library on slide.
  • Live Chat, Instant Messaging for RA
  • Facebook: Good ideas. Facebook is about engaging with your patrons. Just post a question that is book related.  People will reply.  Then when you have something to promote, they will pay attention.  Or just post an image and see who likes it.  Some ecards are also popular to post [example on slide]. Don’t just promote your books and services, also promote your librarians. Ask people to post their favorite book and then promise a readalike suggestion within a time frame.
  • Twitter: follow area book stores, post when a new bestseller is out.  Use hashtags.  A popular one is #FridayReads.  All over Twitter people do this.  You use the tag and then millions see it.
  • Goodreads
  • Going Rogue: Other things you can do that don’t fit neatly into what they talked about already
  • Summer Reading Games: Ann Arbor PL, online game. They have things to do and get points for it.  It is a great way to show your electronic patrons what you do. DO more than read a book, get a prize.
  • eReaders to check out
  • She suggested a monthly trivia night at a bar.  We do that!
  • The IdeaBox at Oak Park PL.  Ask patrons to interact with the room and the library as a result.  Changes each month. Click here for more.
Post Program Report: Please go see the ppt. It has a lot of info and pictures that I did not get up here.
This program was useful and inspiring!  I have been doing RA for 13 years and I learned a lot here.  I liked how they did not just show what they do at their libraries; they tried to give us a broader picture of  RA all over the country.  While we do some of the things they mentioned at the BPL, Kathy and I still go plenty of new ideas.  I can't wait to try them out.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

ALA 2013: Saturday Wrap-Up and Share Your Day's Experiences

Well that was a busy day of programs. I only set foot in the Exhibit Hall for about 30 minutes. I also was basically live blogging and did NOT read through what I wrote. As a result, I am sure there are a million typos, but my goal was to get stuff posted.  After the conference, I will read through and clean things up.

I also hit a discussion group for people who work with Friends Groups.  Since that is not in the scope of this blog, I will not be posting it here, but if you are interested, I will be typing up some notes for that  after the holiday and can share them with you.  I don't have much though as I had to leave early to go to the RUSA President's Program (post immediately previous to this one).

What I wanted to do in this post is make a place for other people to post any comments they want to share on interesting programs they attending, especially if they were different from mine.  In fact, if you went to a program I reported on, please comment on that program in the post I already did for that program.

But if you want to share any exceptional or interesting things you saw today, do it here.  Leave a comment.  And please try to link to the page with the session details and handouts.  I don't expect long reports like mine, but it would be helpful to everyone if you linked to the program page and gave us a few sentences on what you thought.

Thanks.

I start tomorrow at 10:30 am. Check out my schedule here.

ALA 2013: The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The RUSA President’s Program with Lee Rainie

The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The RUSA President’s Program with Lee Rainie

This was a full house program in a large room, but it makes sense.  We need to know who our patrons are if we are going to serve their needs.

Speaker: Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project

DESCRIPTION: Just how well do you know the people who use your library? Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and co-author of Networked: The New Social Operating System, shares the latest data about how our clientele are interacting with information technology. Learn about patron preferences and behaviors during this program. Then, join Mr. Rainie and library leaders on Sunday, 10:30-11:30 am, to discuss how the data may influence your library's future.

Before I start.  Here is the link to the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project. All of the data I refer to can be found in detail there. Library specific data has been gathered since 2011, all internet data since 2000. He will put up the slides on the site on Monday also.  I have blogged about their work before.

HANDOUTS JUST ADDED : scroll down to comments for ppt and a video of the presentation!


Report:

  • Pew is a "fact tank," non-partisan group that has been gathering data about Internet use for 13 years.
  • When started doing internet research didn't think of libraries as stakeholders for their work.  Then they realized that librarians were the primary stakeholder.  Have kept us in mind ever since.
  • He joked about us coming out at the end of a long day to gear about data.
  • Not think tank, they are a FACT TANK. They cannot advocate for anything.  News in the numbers. They have no positions. Completely neutral.  "Tell the truth, and trust the people." --Joseph N. Pew Jr.
  • Lee breaks the rules when he advocates for the word "Tweckle"-- to abuse a speaker on Twitter. Don't do it to him.  [Becky: He is engaging. Turns out he is from NYC area like me so that might be why I like him.]
  • Tech revolution has changed patron experiences and expectations in 5 ways:
    • Evolution driven by purpose of engagement/need-- the whole act of searching for info is so different, act of browsing different.
    • Evolution driven by life stage-- young library patrons are different from old, women from men.
    • Evolution driven by life stressors (time, demands, urgency).
    • Evolution driven by demographics.
    • Evolution driven by library innovation (supply side evolution)-- we deliver up new stuff and get feedback from patrons.  We are active in shaping evolution
  • Inertia is as much a force in our lives as innovation.  We have patrons who like the familiar relationship with the library and don't want any of it to change.  But then we have all the new tech people too.  These patrons want us to deliver all the new stuff.  Have the people all in between too.  Every time we want to try something new, and if it means giving up something we are good at, we will hear about it.  Old stuff works and hasn't passed from the scene.  We have to hit everyone's needs in every possible way with fewer resources.
  • Current state of patrons (see Lee's slides for details)
    • 53% of all Americans 16+ have visited a library or bookmobile in person in the past year. That's the big number. Then he broke it down specifically. Some college at least are more likely to use the library. And parents of minor children love us most.  Even further down, it is moms. 
    • Lee's advice: romance the moms in your community.  They will advocate for you.  They are deeply appreciative.
  • Major activities
    • borrow books
    • browse books
    • research topics of interest
    • get help from a librarian 
    • These are all 50% and higher
    • Young people really like to use the library to sit, read, study, or listen to media-- this surprised some reporters when they released their data.
  • Data on website users
  • Three tech revolutions and their impact on patrons and libraries that have happened since 2000 when we started gathering this data.  We are lucky. Most social scientists don't see one big revolution; we have seen three in 13 years.
  • #1: Internet/Broadband Revolution-- Began with dial up at home with 40% and now Broadband is 68% at home and dial up is down to 3%. This revolution means people use the Internet more. It became much more built into their every day lives. Reading online increased- newspapers, magazine, books.
    • But the biggest thing that happened is that people became content creators. [Like me] People began to take advantage of the 2 way nature of the Internet. Impact on the idea of expertise because now anyone could be published. More volume, velocity, and variety of information.
    • Rise of a "fifth estate" of civic and community actors using these new tools to rant and comment.
    • More arguments in the culture and libraries can function as "commons" and "referees." More need for critical thinking about data. Librarians need to make sense of it all. New pressure on us. But we were not trained to do this.
  • #2: Mobile Revolution: 91% of American adults have a cell phone.  Smartphone users just went over 50% mark. It is now "norm" to have smart phone. 1/3 have tablets.
    • Data is showing that people use smart phones and tablets in different ways.  Smart phones is for snacking-- fast hits. Tablets are more lean back experiences; not as participatory; more leisurely. Segregating into different uses.
    • Our mobile subscribers are just under 100% of population, but in some countries at or over 100%. In 7 countries at 200%.
    • Impact is that the attention zone changes. You live your life in a continuous state of partial attention.
    • But people can now get to the bottom of a topic they really like without getting credentials of becoming an expert.  They can find a lot of info on own. See this with health searches; especially the caregivers of sick people.
    • People can now get real time and just in time searches
    • Data is captured and manipulated, but data mergers the real world and virtual world.  Star Gazer app is an example.
  • #3: Social Networking Revolution: 61% of all adults use social media; 72% of internet users. 38% of seniors who are online are now using social networks; over 50% of seniors are online now. For 18-29 it is 92% of internet users who are on social media.
    • all kinds of people, from all ages are having social networking conversations
    • Slide with breakdown on different kinds of social networking sites and who uses them the most.
    • Facebook is 68% but there is a huge drop to the next one, Twitter at 18%.  Twitter gets so much press. The importance of Twitter is not in their size but they have more influence makers and media people more. Important for their influence not numbers.
    • Facebook is still big, but people are using it a bit less now. Use other sites for other purposes. Limits time on Facebook.
    • Impact on patrons and libraries: Composition and character of people's social networks changes. The size of the group we interact with is huge.
    • the network becomes an important channel of learning, trust and influence.
    • People use these larger networks to segment. You find the people to serve the needs to have at the time.  You use different people/networks for different needs. Before this, people had one physical network who had to serve all your needs.
    • Trust has shifted from institutions to networks.  Only libraries and firefighters have kept local trust.
    • Social networks act as
      • sentries-- they are gate keepers to information. The "Daily Me."
      • evaluators-- they ping their friends for help.  How can libraries be part of this. Inject ourselves into those conversations.
      • audience-- people see their followers and friends as an audience for all of the stuff we are posting.
  • All the things people do at libraries is being shaped by these new technologies. People hate the noise, the junk, the distractions, the temptations. This is where we can help.
  • The libraries used to bring all the stuff together for people to go get it in one place.  But in digital age info is abundant.  The new scarcity is time. So we need to now help people be maximally efficient and get the most meaningful experience.
  • Librarian Takeaways:
    • networks matter
    • tech mastery matters
    • life long learning is the norm
    • new divides emerge
    • new ethic are important
    • Technology is overlaid with life stages. But librarians knew this. The basic notion that different people are approaching you for different reasons hasn't changed. And that a patron's needs change over time too.
    • We have to do a better job promoting ourselves.  Only 1/5 say they know everything that we are doing. People love us; think well of us.  Think they are important even if don't use us.  Get the word out about what we do now.
    • Librarians need to think about how to save people time. They also like when you do special things for them.
  • When asked things that the library might offer, new services, blacks and hispanics were significantly higher than whites is saying yes, they want that.  2 to1 higher, sometimes more. This speaks to the work we have done with minority communities. They know us and appreciate us. 
  • Library Innovations:
    • 3D printing: Makerspaces
    • Heirloom seed collection
    • Online learning-- it is huge and people want it
Becky's comments: It was nice to see much of the data broken down by a person.  There is a continuation of this discussion tomorrow morning, but it is during another program I will be attending.

ALA 2013: Attracting Reluctant Male Readers

Winner of my favorite title of a program this year:  Attracting Reluctant Male Readers

Speaker: Barbara Binns
Speaker: James Klise


Report: As of the time of the program, there are no handouts online.  I have paper handouts however, so I will scan when I get back to work after the holiday (around July 8th), and I will add links to them on this post.

B.A. Binns is the first speaker.  She is a writer of books about real boys and blogs for YALSA Hub. [post speaker note: she was very engaging and interesting.]Reading is not normal.  We learn to walk without being taught to walk, but reading is simply not a survival factor.
  • Literacy is a 21st century survival skill though: read or not have a good life
  • Good news--when we learn how to read, it is effortless; bad news we have to be taught.
  • Good book is its own reward.  Epiphany of a novel we like gives us endorphins.
  • Reluctant readers need positive rewards (good books) to keep them going.
  • Do Guys Read? She asked teen boys.  Replies
    • I don't read
    • I read for school
    • I read comics
    • I read all the time, I guess other guys haven't found anything they like yet.
  • When you talk to former reluctant readers they can point to one book that turned them around to being a reader.  Many of them cite The Outsiders by Hinton as book that turned them around.
  • Guys are different.
    • It takes boys longer to develop communication skills, including literacy
    • by 16 it evens out
    • But if don't get them before that, may have lost them.
  • Reading for fun chart on screen.  Both genders are interested when young, but somewhere in that 6-8 years old range [when we start to learn to read on our own], boys begin to drop off at a greater rate.  By high school only 17% of boys are reading by their own free will 5 times a week.  Girls are at 31%.  Both low numbers, but boys even lower. The boys are getting less practice and fall further behind.  They then think, "reading is for girls" too.
  • What does being a reluctant reader feel like? She tried to learn French to read a thick novel that wasn't in English. Taught herself to read French with picture books and graphic novels.  She found she loved the graphic novels because she could get it.
  • If we provide a good book, appropriate to their skills, age level, and interests, we can convert then to readers.
  • Give books that attract; that show practical value. Nonfiction a big guy draw.  She will focus on fiction, but remember that.
  • Easier to get them young than win them back as they get older.
  • For novels boys  want fast moving action, frequent danger, high stakes, and straightforward, unfussy narratives.
  • Don't say "get lost in a book" to guys.  For guys we say, "find yourself in a book."
    • Characters that act "real" and can show them something about their own lives and issues
  • Stories of real boys growing into real men from her publisher All the Colors of Love Press.
  • Don't forget the fun factor. As long as the writing is good, and there is a good moral at its foundation, let them have fun. [Becky: like my son's love of the Dr. Proctor Fart Powder books by Jo Nesbo.]
  • Its a myth that guys won't read books about girls: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass is a great example to show that they will.
  • Sometimes covers hurt the cause. Example is Take Me There.  It is a buddy book about boys on a road trip with the police after them and running from a gang whose leader they killed.  Going to talk to one kid's dad on death row.  The hero can't read.  Reluctant readers will love him. Terrible cover, but great book for boys.
  • Marketing for guys
    • If he says he doesn't read, find out why.
    • Find alpha male and get him to read
    • Some don't read because of fear and embarrassment.
    • Some have no time, or have trouble reading, or find other activities are more fun
    • We can find people a book to solve these problems. 
    • If we throw guys into the deep end before they are ready to swim, they will drown.
    • Man cave concept for your library.  A Guy friendly area.
    • Showcase a variety of titles that are attractive to guys. Display: Don't Get Mad, Get Even
    • She showed a non-dewey subject organized library [Arlington Heights].  Have an eating section.
    • Remember not all reading involves books.  Magazines for example.
  • She book talked a bunch of options.
  • Guys like Crime/Detective/Mystery: Example of a backlist title-- Acceleration by Graham McNamee
  • Science Fiction: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.  Multi-cultural and boys and girls characters; dystopian. A near future sf example, The Chaos by Rachel Ward.
  • Superheroes: Hero by Perry Moore.  I read this book here.
  • SF and Sports: The Rookie by Scott Sigler.  Football 700 years in the future.  First in a series. It is thick.  Suggest audio book.  Remember audio for guys too.
  • Realistic Sports: Leverage by Joshua Cohen. Being God by Binns herself. Pinned by Sharon Flake; girl protagonist but boys will like.
  • Humor/realistic: Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo
  • Short Stories are good because they can finish something and feel proud
  • Books in verse get to the point quickly. All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg. Also Unlocked by Ryan Van Cleave.
  • Graphic Novels: War Brothers by Sharon McKay in novel and gn.
  • Never Fall Down, a fictionalized biography of a boy solider.
  • YALSA Quick Picks, "seeks books that teens age 12-18 will pick up on their own to read."
  • Encourage Guys to Write
    • stories
    • book reviews
    • not essays, just a few words about why they liked a book
  • Author visits are great to attract reluctant readers.
  • Role models: including librarians
James Klise: school librarian and YA author.
  • Everyday I work hard to contradict the thought that boys do not like to read.  He once heard a publisher at a writers conference say, "boys are not readers, so I am not interested in acquiring books for them." No wonder boys don't
  • He asked boys at his school what their favorite books were
    • there is a handout about the books these real high school books suggested. I will attach.
  • More than half of his regular patrons are boys.  Why do I have so many? Maybe because I am a boy. I talked to them about reading during freshman orientation.  I spend 50% of my budget on books for boys. These boys who I work with are not all the best readers or students.
  • I take it personally when people say boys don't read. I read all the time.
  • Becky: This speaker is the brother of the writer of another one of my son's favorite series. It is amazing how much I am thinking of my son (8 yrs old) during this presentation.  He is not a reluctant reader, but he is pickier than my daughter.  They are on the right track for sure.
  • When he went to the Peoria library he felt free.  He had 5 older sisters. He could pick any book he wanted.  And he could escape into a boy world with his books.
  • What do most boys think about reading.  To Be a Boy, To Be a Reader, great book to see archetypes of boy readers.  Also see Reading Don't Fix No Chevys.
  • He surveyed students about reading 170 boys, 30 girls.  Charter school in Chicago. Students are admitted randomly by a lottery, no testing.
    • 850 students
    • 55% biys
    • 76% get free or reduced lunch
    • Average ACT score is 20. Average kids.
    • Diverse population: shows that boys of color read
  • What books appeal to boys:
    • Besides genres we already talked about, they said they want books that "are related to me," "visual"
    • Some quote show that they want action, twists, realistic, broken character is trying to be better, people in struggles, books as escape to life we don't have
    • Like external conflict over angst
  • Don't like: historical stuff, emotions, romances, long and boring at the beginning, too much talking and very little conflict.
  • I prefer real over made up: 60% False, but 40% do prefer NF-- that's a big area, nf for pleasure
    • girls responded similarly. 66% to 34%
  • I prefer GNs over regular- pretty even split true and false.
    • But only 6% of girls said they preferred GN over regular.
  • It's helpful when a teacher/librarian recommends a book to me: 77% true, 23% fault Boys.  91% true and 9% false for Girls
  • Strategies:
    • Buy books for all of our patrons, not just some of them
    • Expose teens to all the options
      • displays and shelf talkers
      • book talks to school groups
      • featured titles on website
      • He went to the local Barnes and Nobel and most Teen displays were geared toward girls.  In libraries we have a chance to fill in the gap here and cater to boys.
    • We promote the idea that you can chose your own reading
      • They are starting a reading choice program at their school.  Read whatever you want is their strategy to get to the goal of raising their ACT scores. You pick your books, just read more of them and we will use your books that you want to read to make you better test takers and students. Many of his kids cannot read fast enough to do well on the tests because they do not read for fun enough.
    • His favorite strategy: You can win over reluctant readers by giving them a book to keep
  • High School Book Club; monthly for 10 years. It has a waiting list.  He thinks it works because the kids get to keep the books they read. He uses friends with publisher connection and grant programs.
  • Guys Read series and resources, but these are mostly for straight guys.  He reminded us that gay guys read too.  Lee Wind's site is a good choice [Becky: a personal fav].
Questions:
  • A librarian from DC shared her experiences using audio books with boys.  She put out audio books for the to listen to while they played video games at the library. They read things that I never expected, like 10 year old boys who love Pippi Longstocking because she "gets me."  As James said, that's because she is trouble; boys love that.
Post Session Comments by Becky:
I really liked this presentation.  I will use much of what I learned here.  Hearing librarians and writers who have worked with boys for many years was helpful.  Again, as I mentioned during the above notes, I kept thinking of my boy reader, my son.  They articulated things I have noticed but only subconsciously. 

UPDATE: Jim shared his list with me via email.  Please find it attache below with his contact info.


James Klise Chicago, IL 
Jamesklise@gmail.com


AFTER PERCY JACKSON: 10 Irresistible Novels for Teen Boys at My Library
Descriptors slightly modified from the copyright pages
The Compound – S.A. Bodeen
15‐year‐old Eli is locked inside a radiation‐proof compound built by his father to keep them safe following a nuclear attack. He begins to question his future, as well as his father's grip on sanity, as the family's situation steadily disintegrates over the course of six years.

Leverage – Joshua C. Cohen
Danny excels at gymnastics but is bullied, like the rest of the gymnasts, by members of the football team, until an emotionally and physically scarred new student joins the football team and forms an unlikely friendship with Danny.

The Morgue and Me – John C. Ford
18‐year‐old Christopher, who plans to be a spy, learns of a murder cover‐up through his summer job as a morgue assistant. He teams up with Tina, a gorgeous newspaper reporter, to investigate.

Fallen Angels – Walter Dean Myers
17‐year‐old Richie Perry, just out of his Harlem high school, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam.

Boy 21 – Matthew Quick
Finley, a quiet boy who is the only white player on his high school's varsity basketball team, lives in a dismal Pennsylvania town that is ruled by the Irish mob. When his coach asks him to mentor a troubled African American student who has transferred there from an elite private school in California, he finds that they have a lot in common in spite of their apparent differences.

Unwind – Neal Shusterman
Three teens embark upon a cross‐country journey in order to escape from a society that salvages body parts from children ages 13 to 18. Its sequel, UnWholly, is also fantastic.

Escape from Furnace: Lockdown (Book #1 in series) – Alexander Gordon Smith
When 14‐year‐old Alex is framed for murder, he becomes an inmate in the Furnace Penitentiary, where brutal inmates and sadistic guards reign, boys who disappear in the middle of the night sometimes return weirdly altered, and escape might just be possible.

Boot Camp – Todd Strasser
After ignoring several warnings to stop dating his teacher, Garrett is sent to Lake Harmony, a boot camp that uses unorthodox and brutal methods to train students to obey their parents

The Final Four ‐ Paul Volponi
Four players at the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament struggle with the pressures of tournament play and the expectations of society at large. (Volponi’s Rooftop is also v. popular.)

I am the Messenger – Markus Zusak
After capturing a bank robber, 19‐year‐old Ed Kennedy begins receiving mysterious messages that direct him to addresses where people need help, and so begins getting over a lifelong feeling of worthlessness.


Popular Nonfiction for Teen Boys at My Library

Descriptors slightly modified from the copyright pages

My Friend Dahmer – Derf Backderf (graphic novel)
In presenting memories of childhood classmate, Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic
portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the
deep recesses of his psyche.
Into the Wild – John Krakauer
Tells the story of Chris McCandless, a 24‐year‐old who walked into the Alaskan wilderness on an idealistic journey and was found dead of starvation nearly four months later.
American Shaolin : flying kicks, Buddhist monks, and the legend of iron crotch : an odyssey
in the new China
– Matthew Polly
Matthew Polly recounts the experiences he had during the two years he spent living and studying in China, performing with the Shaolin monks, who taught Matthew important lessons about life and his place in the universe.

The Burn Journals – Brent Runyon
At 14, Brent Runyon set himself on fire and sustained burns over 80 percent of his body. This account describes the months of physical and mental rehabilitation that followed as he attempted to pull his life together.

True Notebooks – Mark Salzman
Salzman chronicles his first years teaching at Central Juvenile Hall, a lockup for Los Angeles's most violent teenage offenders, discussing what his students taught him about life.

My Bloody Life – Reymundo Sanchez
The author tells about his early life in Puerto Rico, shares the story of how he became involved with the Latin Kings in Chicago, and discusses how the gang changed over the years from heroes representing the struggle for Latino equality to cold‐blooded murderers. (Sequel: Once a King, Always a King)

Guys Write for GUYS READ – Jon Scieszka, editor
Contains a collection of 80+ short stories, drawings, poems, and memoirs from well‐known writers of "guy" fiction, written by boys, for boys. Includes pieces by Daniel Pinkwater, Neil Gaiman, Will Hobbs, Stephen King, Gary Paulsen, among others. (This book is perfect for classes writing personal narratives.)

Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member – Kody Scott
L.A. Crip gang member Kody Scott recounts his life from the time he joined at 11 years old to being in solitary confinement at San Quentin.

Ghosts of War – Ryan Smithson
Ryan Smithson recounts the experiences he had serving his first tour of duty as an Army engineer in Iraq when he was only nineteen.
Plus, about 100 books about SPORTS: sports history, popular players, practical advice, etc.... 

ALA 2013: Beyond Genre: Exploring the Perception, Uses, and Misuses of Genre by Readers, Writers, and Librarians

Beyond Genre: Exploring the Perception, Uses, and Misuses of Genre by Readers, Writers, and Librarians

Speaker: Laura Lippman, Author, Harper Collins
Speaker: Margaret Dilloway, Author, Penguin
Speaker: Naomi Novik, Author, Random House

Report: Direct link to handouts.

We began with a short statement on genre by each author. Notes follow.

Laura Lippman:

  • I identify as a crime novelist, but 20 years ago I started as an author when I met an editor who asked if I wanted to write erotica.  $1,500 offer for a story for a collection of women writing erotica for women.  Was a reporter still.
  • Editor told her that women writers needed the mask of genre to get started.  Women felt less presumptuous if sat down to write a "western" or "crime novel" rather than thinking I am going to sit down and write the great American novel.
  • I put on the mask of genre and never took it off.
  • When we think about all fiction that the more helpful image is to think about a map of a large but not very well charted world.  There are regions.  Yes there is a literary fiction area, but it is for books that we can't fit anywhere else.
  • These regions are all over the place and they don't have very well charted boundaries.
  • Best work is on the boundaries.
  • I am not that person who says, "I don't read ______." I read anything.
  • You can go from genre to literary, but you can also be a literary writer and move to genre.
  • Hate the concept of guilty pleasure.  Where's the guilt?  That line got applause. Only guilty because of someone else's perceived hierarchy. At the very least we should not feel guilty about things we love, and NEVER feel guilty about reading anything.
  • Genres are helpful to group books, but NOT if we are using them to condescend.
  • If there is a genre formula, I would like to see it.  That would help.
  • What does it mean to be a great popular novelist [a la Dickens back in the day]? Is that a genre on its own.
  • Nick Hornby has a column in McSweeny's where he talks about what he is reading.  Worth taking a look
  • It is not the form [genre] that has the limit; it is the writer who has the limit.  For example, I have to murder someone in every book.
Margaret Dilloway
  • So many classifications under the genres that it makes it hard to place a novel.
  • I did not sit down and try to write women's fiction.  I didn't try to tick off the boxes.  I just sat down to write a book.  Then someone told me it was women's fiction and my editor sometimes suggest that I beef up certain areas to fit there better.
  • I often have people tell me that I write "literary" women's fiction.  She has been told her work is between commercial and literary and we don't know where to put it.
  • I am trying to put my square peg in a round hole.  My characters are women and my topics are more domestic because that is what I know.
  • Future of genre.  It can't be like biology, where you keep classifying more and more specifically until you have a sub-sub-sub genre with only one author in it.
  • I like seeing all of the genre crossover.  Shine, Shine, Shine is a great example.  It is classified as women's fiction but it is about an astronaut and his wife. Husband calls it "Sci-Cry."
  • If a book gives me something I want and then maybe something from a different genre-- that's what I like as a reader.  Makes the book more appealing to me.  It's like a nice surprise.
Naomi Novik
  • These days, as a reader, I have a 2 year old daughter, so I have very little time.  I save time by not picking my books myself; I get recommendation from friends. Find someone whose taste you like and go with that.
  • Genre is solving a problem of abundance.  There are so many books, you need to be able to sort them somehow. 
  • Genre helps us have more hits than misses.
  • I find genre useful as a reader, even with all of the problems.  Of course it does limit you as well if you never go to the other shelves. You are closing yourself off as well.
  • I am a huge fan fiction reader and writer. 
  • People use tagging to assign genre now. There are people who have to condense the variations of spelling and names to make unified. Can get more specific.
  • Tagging explores genre because it takes the highest level away.  So you stop using things like Romance or Mystery.  They are too broad now.  You can get more specific now.
  • Problem with categorizing books is that books are full of ideas and you can't classify ideas.  BUt you have a limited space, so you have to fit them in somewhere.
  • If mystery and science fiction share a border and now romance wants to share a border with them and women's fiction wants to share with all three, how do you do that in a library or book store.
  • electronically, a book can live in 10 difference places at once and you can access it that way. It can live in all 10 places at once with tags.
  • How I approach genre as a writer.  As a writer, I do like constraints. Constraints turn writing into a puzzle to be solved.  When I do research into the historical details and find that there is not a street where I want a fight to be, I have to figure out what to do.  I need to find a street to fit my scene.  I find that pleasurable, fitting it into the box I set up (historical).
  • What is not pleasurable when you write a book like mine, historical fantasy, and you can't find a place to put it where readers can find it.
Moderated Discussion: Questions from audience.  Authors initials on their responses.

Q: We have heated debates about how many genre sections to have. Now there is a move toward having no genre sections. The idea is that it will move people who only read one genre to find more books they would enjoy.  There are passionate people on both sides. How to we honor their genre loyalty and help them find more options?

A: LL-- I use my local public library and I can't tell you if there are genre sections.  I like the idea of a free for all. I would be fine with all fiction shelved together, but with smaller curated sections. [Becky: this would be displays]. I love staff suggestions.  Any of us would like any curated smaller sections even if we didn't know why books were put together; just that they were put together thoughtfully.  I need guidance; but may be better if those sections moved away from genre and more toward staff picks.

NN-- Only problem with that is if it crosses with status.  If someone on staff won't put a certain genre there because they are embarrassed, that's a problem.  Staff have to put themselves out there when they say "this book is good, I think you should read it" on a staff picks.

MD: I think it would drive people mad to not be able to find their preferred section.  It could also make it hard to find new authors. They would get lost. My library has sections, and I find myself looking for a book and didn't even know that it was science fiction.

See the BPL's staff picks blog, Browser's Corner here.

Q: Did you write the story you wanted to write and then let the genre fall where it may. Do you deliberately write mash-ups

A: NN-- I write dragons in Napoleonic Wars.  [giggles].  Did I deliberately mash it up? I was writing Napoleonic Wars and thought "Dragons would be great here."

MD-- I let the cards fall where they may.  I don't set out to write genre.  Right now I am writing historical because it was the story that was calling to me. As I get further along, I guess I have to consider genre in advance.  But all my stories are about women, so I am women's fiction, but maybe the sub-genre changes.

LL-- I started with traditional who dunnits.  But now I am trying to see how quiet and character driven my suspense can be while still bring crime.  I think they may be morphing more into women's novels as a result.  I am interested to see how far I can push it until people notice. Much more navel gazing at this point.  I am mashing it up but not deliberately.

Q: I gave my mom Temeraire  book because I knew she would fall in lvoe with the characters, but at first she was turned off by the dragons. How can we, authors and librarians, work together to explore the market better?

A: NN-- We don't know what the market will be like. Publisher consolidation, ebooks. The more publishing becomes a business, the less it is about sharing authors.  My husband works for Hard Case Crimes.  Stephen King's Joyland pays for them to find new authors and publish everything else.  But what about a world where only King type books are published?

LL-- Self publishing gets right that it finds readers for quirky books. Then publishers take notice and sign more authors like that.

There were a few more questions, but I had to leave for Book Buzz Theater with Random House.

ALA 2013: 20 Programs Under 20 Dollars

This is the first of many reports from ALA 2013.  Those that are for a specific program, such as this post, will begin with a link to the program page featuring a description of the program and a link to the handouts. Click on the title of the program in the body of the post to access that information.

It's going to be a busy day today as I am doing all programs today.  Tomorrow and Monday's posts will be a mix of programs and exhibits.  So let's get started.

20 Programs Under $20

Report: Before I begin, Pamela went into a lot of detail about how to pull off these programs. She has links to videos, pictures, and all of the nitty gritty of pulling this off all posted here.  My report

  • Pamela Jayne from the Boone County Public Library
  • Program geared toward teens.


  1. Rube Goldberg: a machine that completes a simple task in a more complicated fashion. Lots of building with trial and error. Use  what you have.
  2. Cupcake Fondue: Buy cheap cupcakes.  She put up the recipe.  They made the
  3. Pi Day: March 14, 2013. Did Pi inspired jewelry--gave a color to each number 1-9 and made a bracelet to go with the numbers.  Also served Pi
  4. Gross Out: Halloween programs for teens do not get a good audience.  So instead did gross out.  How to make snot.  How the digestive system works. Carrot fingers! One of these programs actually made one of her teens gag. Awesome
  5. Mario Party: crafts to make Mario scenes; very cool!  They made art that looked like a video game screen.  Also one time just played Marion Party 9; made a Mario memory game.  Another program they earned play coins based on how well they did on the mini-games.  They could turn coins in for prizes. The memory game cost to play and you could earn more money or lose all of your play coins.  Making choices with play money.
  6. Picture It: set out props and scenes and kids posed and they took pictures and emailed them to their parents.
  7. Candy Casino: buy a lot of candy and play blackjack and poker.
  8. Spy Society: This one has a lot of details, but very cool.  Go to handouts. Laser hallway was cool. 
  9. Teen Spa Night: Asked staff if they had massage pad for chairs to donate for the night.  Do it after finals. 
  10. Freezer Tees: Ask teens to bring a t-shirt but have a few extra on hand just in case. Supplies listed on handout, but doing a search for your image with silhouette is best.  So dog silhouette will get a good image.
  11. So, You wanna Be a...: ask the teens what they are interested in being when they grow up and then go out and find people in the community who do those jobs and ask them to come in.  She had a police officer, someone who owns an MMA gym and a radio producer.  They came for free. She had them talk about how much money they made when they started, what kind of education they needed, how they moved up.
  12. Tall Paintings: part of art afternoons series.  Showed examples of Holton Rower's works and replicated it.  She began by gluing the wood block together ahead of time. Kids poured paint over them, let them dry overnight. I like this idea because it was art appreciation; learned about an artist and then did a version of his or her work.  Becky's thought: you could do something like list for lots of artists.
  13. Minecraft 
  14. Bottle Cap Mosaic: They collected for months, different sizes.  Together they made the library logo and put it outside on display. Teens liked doing it and loved seeing it on display for everyone to see. 
  15. Excavation: clay pots, and decorated them, and then break them, fill kiddie pool with sand and hide pit pieces and other objects in sand.  Have  talk about how archeologists work and systematically grid and search a site.  When they find, they catalog them.  At end try to piece pots together.
  16. Animal Ears
  17. Life on Mars: Mars garden. Mars Creature: she took extra craft supplies she had and uv beads; kids created a creature and then had to present it to the group.
  18. Marshmallow Wars: make your own pvc mini-marshmallow shooters; had them make them at a smaller branch. Too much with a bigger group.  They made poppers and catapults with a larger group. Make targets for kids. Keeps them busy.  They even came back to tell her that they decorated their pvc shooters with paint at home and were still using them.
  19. Nail Art: She had suggestions for making the tools to do it.  Real easy to do, and she admitted that she is not the best at it and it worked.
  20. Star Wars: Light Saber craft (pool noodles and duct tape). Star Wars Shrinky Dink jewelry. Print out templates online and use the blank ones.  Use any toaster oven to bake them.


Post Program Thoughts:

I am always looking for ways to get people into the library, especially in the 15-40 age range. Once I get them into my building, I will find a way to make them want to return, so if we can have cheap but interesting programs that bring in reluctant users, then I am 100% on board.

Pamela was obviously very well versed in providing teen programming that the teens like and doesn't cost her much money.  I appreciated the numerous links she provided here. I will definitely try some of these out on the BPL teens.

I could see using some of these programs to attract some younger adults too.  Our adult programming skews older, but maybe Rube Goldberg, Freezer Tees, or Candy Casino might draw in the 20-somethings.

My colleague, Magan, said this about the program: "Anything that teens can make themselves and then take home will be popular.  Also any chance you  give them to make fools of themselves with picture evidence will work."  See  Picture It above.


Friday, June 28, 2013

What I'm Reading: Red Moon

One of the hot books of this summer is Red Moon by Benjamin Percy.  It was being marketed as a werewolf version of Justin Cronin's The Passage which readers of this blog know I love.  In fact, Cronin even reviewed this thriller in the NY Times Book Review.

Red Moon is being hyped as a literary, supernatural thriller.  Back to yesterday's post, this is one of those examples of the blurring of genre lines to the point that no one is sure where this book should be classified.

And that is where I want to start with my review, even before I get into details about the plot because I think this is essential.  In my opinion, this novel has been marketed inaccurately. I mean, NYT Book Review?  Usually that is meant for literary books or the most literary of genre fiction.  Red Moon is not that.  And that's okay.  You need to understand the dominant genre appeal here and then you will match this book with the correct reader.

So, what type of reader would most enjoy this book? At its heart, Red Moon is a thriller in the most old fashioned, textbook sense. This is a great choice for fans of techno-thrillers [a thriller with a speculative element from plausible, but not currently possible science] more than fans of paranormal or literary thrillers.  I will explain as I begin my more traditional review now.

The setting of this speculative thriller is an alternate current America where a prion that spreads through blood, bites, or sex can make people part werewolf (or lycan as they call it).  In Percy's world, this has been going on for thousands of years.  Many of the world's lycan live in their own republic near Northern Russia.  Currently, the Americans have occupied the Lycan Republic with troops for many years, both for the citizen's safety and for the uranium.

Lycans who wish to live peacefully in American must be drugged so that they cannot change at the full moon.  They must submit to drug tests to prove they are complying.  As you see this is a dystopian set-up where lycans are going to eventually rebel. (It's kinda an obvious allegory)

The novel opens with a series of brutal lycan, terrorist attacks on airplanes (again, thinly veiled 9/11).  From there we meet our three main characters: Patrick-- the only survivor of the plane attacks, he is a teenager who lives with his National Guard enrolled Dad; Claire-- a law abiding lycan living a boring life in Wisconsin whose parents are killed by the authorities after the plane attacks; Chase-- the meathead governor of Oregon (where most of the action unfolds) with Presidential aspirations.

Patrick, Claire, and Chase narrate most of the book. Eventually their stories all collide.  There are a few other secondary characters who get to take a few turns narrating.  Percy strings the narrators together well.  Watching all of their stories work toward meeting up is interesting and will keep you interested for the 500+ pages [hopefully].

In true thriller fashion, chapters end with cliff hangers to keep you turning the pages, and although there is a lot of bloodshed along the way, the good guys win in the end [with a tiny bit of evil left to survive to maybe live another day in a sequel].  But unlike most true thrillers, there is a lot of time spent building the connections between all of the problems in the novel's world and our real life one.  This bogs it down a bit.  Also, unlike most thrillers, there is not the obvious hero to root for.  That is where the literary fiction designations start to come in.  Percy inserts symbolism and nuanced characters into what should be a straight ahead thriller filled with action.  Here the blending causes an identity crisis for the novel.

If you couldn't tell yet, I did not like Red Moon.  It dragged too much for me in the middle and the thinly veiled symbolism of our reactions to the Middle East, terrorism, AIDS epidemic, 9/11 and the current political landscape were so simple they annoyed me.  But the main reason I was not a big fan was that I read for characters, and I did not feel like Percy's main characters were developed well enough.  I got a little bit of their motivations, but never engaged with them for good or bad.  I felt like he relied on too many stereotypes. For example, I found Chase to be a flat caricature, and that is a problem since he is one of the main characters. Patrick and Claire never got their hooks in me either.  See my readalikes section below where I discuss why I think I felt this way and offer "better" suggestions.

But I could see many readers who love techno-thrillers who will eat this up.  Many people will also enjoy the mix of contemporary problems and concerns with the mythology and lore of the werewolf. Just make sure they know what to expect when you hand this hot book out to readers.

Three Words That Describe This Book: techno-thriller, werewolves, shifting pov

Readalikes:  While some fans of The Passage [mentioned at the start of this review] will enjoy Red Moon, I have a few more techno-thrillers with horror tropes and characters to suggest that I think are much better matches.

Red Moon is very much like Jonathan Maberry's best-selling techno-thriller series featuring Joe Ledger. I reviewed the first book in that series, Patient Zero, here, and wrote about the difficulty of classifying it here [includes comments by Maberry himself]. The switching of pov, the terrorism angle (only here it is scientifically created zombies instead of scientifically explained lycans), and a thriller pacing/story line are all present in the Ledger books.  You can access the entire Joe Ledger series information in detail here.

Much of what I have said in this review for Red Moon is similar to what I said about Mira Grant's Newsflesh series.  I call that one David Baldacci with zombies.  I think this trilogy would be highly satisfying to people who liked Red Moon. Click each title for a review: Feed, Deadline, and Blackout.

Please Note: in my opinion, the character development, plotting, and overall flow of the Maberry and Grant series are better than Red Moon. I think this is because Maberry and Grant are genre writers, while Percy is from the literary world.  He tried to do genre here, but it is not his natural writing style, and that shows, at least to me. For a better example of a literary writer trying to write a speculative thriller, click here to see my review of Zone One by Colson Whitehead.

If you want a nice long (500+ pages), speculative thriller like Red Moon, but, in my opinion, better because it was written by gifted writers who ply their trade in genre, I would suggest 11/22/63 by Stephen King or NOS4A2  by Joe Hill [titles link to my glowing reviews].

Finally there are some people who will read anything with werewolves.  This is an important appeal to remember for all horror and fantasy readers.  They have a creature they like more than anything else, and that is how they pick their books.  In my book I have an entire chapter on shape-shifters.  You can also click here to see what users on Goodreads have tagged as "werewolves." Also, click here for some of my thoughts on werewolves. I should probably also note here that I don't really like werewolf books, so that may have biased me.