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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Flashback Friday: What I Was Reading in January of 2008

Well, I had grand plans for catching up on reviews today, but the weather beat me yet another time this winter.  Due to a severe storm bearing down on us, our sold-out chocolate program at the BPL tomorrow was cancelled and rescheduled all before 1 pm today.  Thankfully, I was able to at least leave a message for just about everyone who was signed up and those I talked to were very understanding.

I have to say, I have gone out of my way this winter NOT to complain about the cruddy weather we have been having (record cold and almost record snow--if this storm starts a bit earlier in the evening tonight we just might make the snow record too), but the weather still keeps trying my patience.  I still will not complain because that is not going to do a bit of good, but I will protest by not posting the new review I had in the works. That will show the weather.

I was looking back on the first January I had the blog-- January 2008-- and I thought it was funny that I complained about how snowy it was that January.  Boy was I wrong there.  I hadn’t seen anything yet. I thought I would do a Flashback Friday and repost my reading report.

One last note.  Back then I tried to get everything I read in a month all in one post.  Now, I read more, and write more about each book, so I do a post for each book.  I found looking at the reviews interesting.  I hope you do too.

Stay safe and warm out there.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2008

What I'm Reading: January 2008

It has been cold and snowy here in Illinois this January. That and a vacation early in the month means I got through 6 books this month, cover to cover. I have decided to focus on the three shorter works I read. All are very different in scope, tone, and theme; however, due to their little number of pages, each could be easily consumed on one cold, winter night.

Michael Chabon has now completed his second cycle of following a large tome with a short novella. His latest novella, Gentlemen of the Road (or as he has been quoted as wanting to have titled it, Jews With Swords), is historical fiction set in 10th Century Khazaria, a mythical city of red headed Jews on the western shores of the Caspian Sea. The two main characters are both Jewish "gentlemen of the road," men who travel the Silk Road because they have nowhere else to go and no one waiting for them. One is a pale, German doctor and the other a "giant" black man. These two seemingly different men are inseparable. Their adventure involves bringing the heir to the murdered King of Khazaria back home and re-instating him onto the throne.

Although Gentlemen of the Road's plot is dependent upon the intricacies its 1oth Century setting, the novella is a true adventure novel in the style of mid-20th century pulp fiction. It was originally published in the NYT's Sunday magazine in 15 installments. Faithful to its genre, the story moves quickly and each chapter ends with a cliff hanger, and the main characters are almost too good and kind to be true. Therefore, those who enjoyed this novella tone and style may be happier trying a classic adventure tale such as those by Robert Louis Stevenson or Jules Verne rather than trying to find another historical novel set in the 10th Century. This novella has also been compare to Don Quixote, although, Cervantes is a bit harder to get through.

Award-winning British playwright Alan Bennett's new novella An Uncommon Reader is capturing American attention and is quickly becoming an underground hit (see this posting). The premise is simple enough. The Queen (post Diana's death) is chasing after her Corgis and discovers the library bookmobile part on her property. She investigates and slowly becomes obsessed with reading. We see her evolve as a reader and even move into writing. In between these plot details Bennett raises issues of class, the burden of being the Queen, and the British people's mixed feelings the Monarchy. The ending is also very satisfying.

Those who enjoyed last year's Oscar Nominated film The Queen will love this novella. For readalikes, I had trouble finding the right feel in any one book until I remembered P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves' novels . They are old but owned by just about every public library. These funny, British novels, filled with not too thinly veiled social commentary, still hold up over time.

Finally, I also read a short nonfiction work which I highly recommend to all librarians who work with leisure readers, How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by French Professor, Pierre Bayard. Here, Bayard gets at the history of non-readers throughout examples in literature and film. It was an intriguing look at how people remember what they have read, and how they discuss what they have only skimmed or heard of. Bayard does seem to have his tongue planted at least a bit in his cheek here though. I mean advocating not reading books and writing a book about it. So to honor him...I listened to it.

Anyone who likes this book should look at Alberto Manguel's excellentA History of Reading.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Reading Rules from Teddy Roosevelt


Well, if you want to energize yourself to get out there and help some readers, this is the post to read. In fact, I would go so far as to say TR should be consider the RA mascot. He was known as a big reader, but I didn't know how strongly he felt about reading what you wanted to read, not what you are supposed to read.

Thanks to Book Riot for posting the rules (with comments from the author of the post).  I will also be sharing these with my staff and collegaues. I may even incorporate them into my training sessions.  I mean take Rule 6:
“Books are almost as individual as friends. There is no earthly use in laying down general laws about them. Some meet the needs of one person, and some of another; and each person should beware of the booklover’s besetting sin, of what Mr. Edgar Allan Poe calls ‘the mad pride of intellectuality,’ taking the shape of arrogant pity for the man who does not like the same kind of books.”
This is not much different from Becky's Rule of RA #3: Everyone Reads a Different Version of the Same Book. We all like what we like for our own reasons, and life is better that way.

I don't know about you but I am in the middle of a multi-week stretch filled with meetings and deadlines, and reading about TR's love of books and his advocacy for reading for pure pleasure, sure put a spring back in my step.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Comment on Covers

I realized that I had 2 posts today about covers without reminding you all how much I LOVE covers as an RA tool.

Publishers spend a lot of time and money designing covers. They use them to tell a story to readers about what they can hope to find inside of the book.  They want to sell books and the cover is their best marketing option

Whether or not you agree with how well a cover conveys the appeal of the book, there is no denying that it gives some clues as to what one can find inside.

For example, lots of red and black together means death, murder, and suspense, while just dark colors alone signifies a much darker tone; probably a story in which a major character dies or ends up poorly.

On the other hand pastels and brightness will signify a happier book.  If there are spaceships, it is SF. If there are dragons, its fantasy.

What about the size of the author’s name.  Is it bigger than the title? If yes, this is someone you should know about.  Their name alone can sell a book to people who like that type of story. Maybe just asking, “Have you read books by ‘blank' before?" is all you need to ask.

This all may sound obvious, but when a book is put in front of you and you know NOTHING about it, being able to locate clues on the cover will help you get the RA conversation started, and, more importantly, will buy you a few moments to collect your thoughts so as not to sound like a moron.  And, I haven’t even mentioned the great info you can get from the blurbs. [Click here for more on that.]

The point is, you can tell a lot about what is going to happen in a book based on its cover.  Back in 2010, Michael Gannon had a great presentation on how to judge a book by its cover in RA terms.  I went back and found this report by an audience member on what Michael talked about.  Take a look.

And get out there and use those covers to help your readers in their search for their next great read.

More Covers

While I am on the subject of covers, check out this side-by-side analysis of the covers of popular books in both their US and UK versions by the Millions.

Vote For Your Favorite Crime Novel Cover and Crime Genre Study Reminder

As part of my stint as the Crime Fiction Genre Study Leader-- beginning in 9 days!-- everything crime catches my eye.

Over on The Rap Sheet, they are running a readers’ poll on the best crime covers of 2013 and conveniently, the polls close 1 day after our first genre study meeting.

Don’t forget, the ARRT Crime Fiction Genre Study has a webpage.  I just added some more info to it yesterday and a lot more will begin appearing there after our first meeting on 2/6.

Please feel free to add comments and participate on the web version of the genre study, even if you are not coming to the physical meetings.  Most information will be available free to anyone who clicks on over, but notes, as they become available will only be accessible to ARRT members.

In the mean time, get your crime fiction juices flowing by voting on your favorite book cover from 2013.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book Lovers Club Tonight and More ALA Midwinter Info

I will be thawing out with fellow book lovers tonight at the new Wishbone that just opened next door to Olive or Twist in Berwyn.  Click here for more Book Lovers Club details.

We are normally filled up, but with the cold I know we have had a few cancellations.  If you want to venture out tonight for food, drinks, and lots of talking books, stop by.

Since I am not going into work until a bit later, I have been spending time looking through more ALA 2014 Midwinter reports.  The best place to begin is with Twitter by following #alamw14.  Many people are on their way home and posting slides, videos, and reports.  Click through now, and check back over the rest of the week.  It seems like a productive meeting with lots of good information coming out.

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Son Reviews Today's Newbery Medal Winner and Other ALA Midwinter Awards Lists for Adults and Teens

I had already planned to displace the Monday Discussion today in honor of one of the biggest days in library announcements...ALA Midwinter Monday, but then another "snow day" from school for extreme cold kept me home with the kids.  So, it was good timing since many of the libraries in the Chicagoland area are closed or working on reduced hours due to the cold.

Let's start with the library world's most influential award, the Newbery Medal. It is such a big deal that all morning, the ALA's website has been having trouble handling all the traffic coming its way.

Today's winner was Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo.  You can read about the runners up and the other big youth media awards in this USA Today article.

Now DiCamillo is on my personal sure bet list as an author I know I can give any book, to any kid, and they will enjoy it.  If you have ever worked to pick leisure reading titles for children, you know this is a HUGE feat.

Back in September, when Flora & Ulysses came out, my 8 year old son read it, so I asked him for a review.  Here is what he said:
"This book was fun and funny.  A squirrel got sucked into a vacuum cleaner called the Ulysses 2000 or 3000 (he isn't sure which) and it gave him the superpowers to fly and write poetry.  Flora is a girl who names him Ulysses after the vacuum and they go on adventures together. Their adventures were great and I liked that it is told with comics and words.  I liked when they went to the restaurant with the giant donuts.  It reminded me of Diary of a Wimpy kid in the way it is written but not the story at all." (editors note: my son approved this quote as accurate.)
Here are the links to the other big awards announced today; I am trying to find alternative links that don't go through the main ALA website since it keeps crashing:

  • RUSA 2014 Awards:
    • The Reading List detailing the best of genre fiction with readalike options. This is a go-to list for me to suggest books to many of my adult patrons.  I use past lists, the runners-up and the readalikes all together on a regular basis when I am looking for a "good read" for my genre fans.
    • The Listen List with the best audiobooks for the year, also including listen-alikes.
    • Notable Books List -- "Since 1944, the goal of the Notable Books Council has been to make available to the nation’s readers a list of 25 very good, very readable, and at times very important fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books for the adult reader."
  • Here is the full list of all of the YALSA 2014 awards for books geared toward teens, including, but not limited to, my favorite award, The Alex Award for the best adult books with teen appeal. Like their adult counterparts, the YALSA awards also honor genreal fiction, nonfiction and audiobooks, as well as debut fiction and LGBTQ. Click through for all the details.
Congrats to all of the winners, and to us, the library community for drumming up such overwhelming interest about books, although I would be more proud of us if the ALA's website could keep up with the traffic.  It's not as if they didn't know people were going to be excited.

Friday, January 24, 2014

BPL Book Club: Death Comes to Pemberley

On Monday, the BPL Book Discussion Group reconvened for a new year of discussions and we began with P.D. James' 2011 bestseller, Death Comes to Pemberley.  From the publisher
A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem.
It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.
Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.
Inspired by a lifelong passion for Austen, P. D. James masterfully re-creates the world of Pride and Prejudice, electrifying it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted crime story, as only she can write it.
Before I begin the report, I have to admit that I was nervous about how much we could discuss here.  I was glad to see that Lit Lovers had 24 questions which they had made up that I was so glad to find and use as my guide, but also, my group was really enjoying talking about this book as you will see below.

Let get to the discussion but please note, although I tried very hard to remove most of the spoilers from our notes, there still are some spoilers here:
  • As usual I asked for votes. liked: 6, disliked: 2, so-so: 4.  But I also asked how people felt about the source material Pride and Prejudice. liked: 8, disliked: 1, so-so: 2.  Interestingly the liked and so-so fluctuated a bit, but one of the dislikes was on both.
  • Initial comments; there were a bunch:
    • I saw that this was a sequel of sorts to P&P which I had never read, so I first read the Austen and then read the James.  I loved P&P and as a result, disliked this one.
    • I am also a lover of P&P and appreciated how this novel was written like the Austen original, but I was a so-so vote here because I did not think this was up to James’ standards for a mystery.
    • I am still a like, but I did enjoy this book more the first time I read it.  I had to re-read for this discussion because, although I liked it the first time, it didn’t leave enough of an impression on me to remember the details.
    • I liked concept of not making fun of P&P but rather paying homage.  It was still firmly in the P&P setting and historical times.
    • There was good humor sprinkled throughout this book.  This commenter shared a few funny lines.
    • I thought it was excellent!  It was really similar to Austen’s style and extremely historically accurate.
    • I had fun reading this book; it was as if I was visiting with old friends.
    • I was suspicious of an Austen sequel written by someone else, but it was great.
    • I loved that James brings up characters from other Austen books like Emma and Persuasion.
    • I had never read either PD James or Jane Austen which shocked me since they are both so “classic.”  I read the James first and P&P second and I liked both.
    • I was astonished at how well James mimicked Austen
  • Question: How well did James maintain the characters from the original? Where were they true to Austen and where did they differ?
    • I really liked how much more insight we get into Darcy’s mind.  James uses this novel to explain why he was the way he was in P&P.
    • I especially liked all of the regret he had about sending his sister away.
    • I agree that she keeps to the characters as Austen wrote them, but I did love the twist about Mrs. Younge that James includes here.  That was very PD James, not Austeny at all but I loved it.
    • I did miss Elizabeth here.  In P&P her intelligence and personality shine through, but here she fades into the background.  It is as if she has simply become the mistress of Pemberley.  That is a shame.
    • Jane and Bingley are just as they were in P&P. It was cute.
    • I was excited to see that Mary got married
    • Mr. Bennett’s appearance was great.
    • The entire book builds upon the problem that is Wickham.  He is misguided and makes bad choices, but he is not a violent man.  James uses our knowledge of this to help propel the story.  He cannot be the murderer no matter what the evidence says.  Darcy and Elizabeth know this, but because James has kept all of the characters based on their origins, we the reader know this too.  The story would not work as its own book without this.
    • The Colonel is jolly in P&P but in another great James twist, she adds new information to make him more serious.  His older brother has died and he is now the head of a prominent family; he must act differently now.
    • This book helped me to better appreciate what a huge deal it was for Darcy to marry beneath himself and choose his love of Elizabeth.  I always thought he was overreacting, but James’ historically accurate peek back into their lives 6 years later shed new light on the seriousness of his decision.  It made me appreciate P&P more.
  • Question: What is Fan Fiction?
    • Some of the members had no heard of the term before, so I defined it for them as when someone takes either the story or characters [or both] from a book or movie or tv show, etc... and creates their own story based on it.
    • Comments follow:
    • I don’t think it is always fair to the author of the original.
    • If anyone can write what happens to these characters after the original, why is that author more correct than another fan fiction writer? This was a good question, but I reminded them that this question is not too dissimilar to when we are hotly discussing the actions of a character in a fiction book and I have to stop the conversation and remind everyone that these “people” aren’t real, they are merely characters in the book.
    • I usually stay away from Austen based fan fiction because I love her, but I trusted James as a writer so I was willing to give it a go.
    • And I usually stay away from fan fiction where Elizabeth and Darcy don’t work out as a couple.  I knew this was one where they were happily married though.
    • Becky speaking: The best fan fiction is good on its own without knowing the source material.  It is a good read regardless of whether or not you know the source material.  But good fan fiction will also be a treat for the fans too.
  • Discussion Point: A lot of this books based on a social etiquette that is obsolete now.  How did you feel about this?
    • I makes me sad that manners are used less these days, but at the same time this novel made me appreciate how life is less superficial now.  We do not do what manners dictate, rather we do what we feel is right.
    • It was interesting to see how their life got too messy for the rules of the time here in the novel.  I almost laughed when Darcy, relieved that Wickham got pardoned, still was not sure if he should shake his hand.  It was sad and funny at the same time.
    • It is crazy to live in a time when your sister behaves badly 2 families’s lives could be blemished.
    • But this book also shows that times are changing and a softening of the harsh world of manner is coming, much as Austen was trying to show in her original.
    • This entire novel is based upon a central disruption that is based on manners. Most of the book is spent negotiating the manners and etiquette of figuring out the murder. They have time to digest and deal with everything, but today, things come too fast to contemplate the etiquette involved in our actions.  We are forced to react and act too quickly.
    • Also, in rural life, time moves more slowly.
  • Question: What did you think about the justice system as described in Death Comes to Pemberley?
    • Early 1800’s justice system was harsh.  No appeals, no defense closing statement, no scientific evidence.  Someone mentions being able to figure out blood types one day and is dismissed as crazy.
    • I don’t think I judge would accept a 10 minute deliberation to a guilty verdict in a murder case today.
    • I liked the trial scenes the best.  That was the most PD James part of the book. 
    • The three biggest landowners in the are the “law” and jury are the commoners.
    • While this seems unfair, we talked about how England still has The House of Lords made up of land owners.
    • Darcy doesn’t trust the jury, but it is not only a class thing.  The jury were less educated people.
    • The jails were also interesting.  Your family had to pay the jailers if you wanted to have enough food and comfort.
  • Question: After completing the entire novel do you thinkMrs Younge killed herself or tripped?
    • 6: killed self; tripped because distraught: 4
  • Darcy’s role in society was discussed a bit
    • He is the law and the welfare.
    • His whole mindset is one of responsibility for the people who live on his land and work for him.
    • Politicians today fell less responsible for us as people.
    • Darcy’s role and how seriously he takes it makes the conclusion more powerful.  In fact, all of the manners of the time make the entire book more powerful.
  • Question: Is this a good mystery without all of the P&P fun?
    • yes: 7, no: 4.
    • No because it was too much Austen and not enough James.
    • There were too many side stories to fill out the conclusion.
    • I did like how all of the details James puts in there come into play in the end.  It was great that even the dog’s grave was key.  The story of the great-grandfather’s dog seemed silly in the book, but it was very vital to the explanation of the murder.
    • I thought the ending was too neat.
    • I thought it was cool how the intricate manners of the era made the conflict more compelling.  For example, understanding why Louisa’s brother-in-law will not take the baby as his own makes mush more sense when you understand that the first born son holds so much power.
  • Words to describe this book:
    • Pride and Prejudice (all agreed this would be placed before murder)
    • trenchant
    • nobles oblige
    • disruption
    • social order
    • manners
    • fan fictions
    • tedious
    • homage
    • enlightening
    • relationships
    • family
    • end of an era.
Readalikes: There is so much Jane Austen fan fiction out there that I am not sure where to begin on suggesting readalikes.  I found this list on Goodreads where fans have contributed their favorites. I think it is ranked by number of votes.  Death Comes to Pemberley  was in the high 40s when I last checked.

Of course for a view-alike, fans of Downton Abbey will find much to enjoy in this book.

Also, early in January I finished Longbourn by Jo Baker for which I will have a review up soon.  I read these 2 books back to back on purpose.

In terms of less obvious readalikes...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Touring Lobbies in Search of Better Patron Service

Today’s post is late because I spent the day touring 2 are libraries in my auspices as the chairperson of the Building and Grounds Committee for the Board of Trustees of the La Grange Public Library.

Specifically, we were looking at library’s who recently remodeled their lobbies to make them more customer friendly.  I saw some things I really liked and some that I did not.  As I have been trying to digest everything I saw today and figure out what would make the most sense for my local library, I thought I would look back at some of my previous posts tagged "patron service.” I wanted to isolate my feelings about how to best serve patrons without all of the new things I saw today complicating things.

Since I was looking at all of these posts, and thinking about my customer service philosophyI figured I would share the links to what has been on my mind today.

I hope to have some more cohesive and useful thoughts on the LGPL lobby, specifically, and what I ideally think should be in a public library lobby, in general, soon.  One thing I am learning is that the issue is quite a bit more complicated and controversial that you would think.

More here soon...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

BPL Teens: Update

I realize I haven’t written about the progress of our Teen Department in a while here on the blog, but I have a very good reason.  It is because besides ordering books for the collection, I have not had to do much.  Why? Because our first ever Teen-Only library staff members, Tara and Morgan, are awesome!

Yes, Tara and Morgan passed their 3 month probation with flying colors, and just as we had hoped, they have different strengths and as a result, compliment each other perfectly.  Working together they are able to give a broad level of services to our teens.  And not only are they offering what our teens want, but they are enthusiastic, responsive and creative.

Here is a small sampling of what they have been busy doing for our teens:

You can get an idea of their virtual and physical services to our teens using those links.

If you are also serving teens and want to swap ideas with Tara and Morgan, use one of those links to connect with them.  They would love to hear from you.

I for one am so excited that the teens of Berwyn are being served by a dedicated staff who care about their library experience.  I love ordering books for the collection, but, with all my other responisbilities, could never invest the time and energy to do even a fraction of what Tara and Morgan have been able to do.

I am proud to have them as a part of our RA Dream Team and can’t wait to see what they can do with a few more months under their belts.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What I’m Reading: Bellman and Black

I still have one outstanding book that I read in 2013 to review and it is one that just missed out on being in my Top Ten Reads of the Year (I would say it was around 12 or 13), Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield.  This was Setterfield's long awaited follow up to the fantastically awesome The Thirteenth Tale.

I will start by saying that Bellman & Black was good, but it was not as enchanting as The Thirteenth Tale.  In some ways, however it was better.  B&B  is a more sophisticated story that leaves more open to the imagination; it is more atmospheric, and less about the twisting plot as it unfolds.

B&B is most simply described as the story of one man as he looks back at his life. William Bellman lives in rural England in the late 19th Century (disclaimer, Becky's favorite time setting). William begins his story back at what he can now see as the most important event of his life, the day he killed a rook with a slingshot.  The book then goes on to recount how William rises up the chain of command in his Uncle's cloth mill, how he makes great improvements in the processing and dyeing of cloth, and how he find happiness at home and work. He is on his way to a charmed life, so it seems.

But then things start going horribly wrong, and most of the people William cares for die horrible deaths. Each time he is at a funeral (and he goes to many), he sees a mysterious man in black.  William can't get this man out of his mind.

That is the first half of the book.  The second half follows what happens after he makes a deal with the man in black to stop the death and starts an upscale funeral business called Bellman & Black.  The story then follows the creation of this intricate and opulent business.  No detail about this amazing business is spared.

In fact, that brings up some of the important appeal factors here.  There is a lot of historical detail throughout this book.  I liked it, but overall it could slow the pacing of the book down to an unbearable point for plot driven readers.The novel is methodically paced with lots of detail about how cloth is made and how a business is built and expands. Fans of historical fiction from this era will enjoy this book because of the detail. But while the plot moved slowly at times, the book was compelling because of the frame, detail, and Gothic underpinnings which created suspense and dread. This entire package easily carried this reader through the novel.

The subtitle of this book is "a ghost story;" while it is an appropriate subtitle, it may throw some readers off. This is not a ghost story where an obvious haunting takes place, rather, there is a specter or dread, the unidentified "man in black," who is the force driving Bellman, propelling the story, and keeping us turning the pages.  He never shouts boo;  in fact, he never speaks. But his darkness is always floating just under the surface and neither Bellman nor the reader can shake him. And unlike a more traditional, horror based ghost story, there isn't that moment of reckoning where Bellman and Black battle it out.

The story just fizzles out, which is so awesomely creepy.  I have read some comments in which readers are upset by the lack of an ending, but I thought it was perfect.  Bellman cannot live forever, none of us can live forever, but the rooks, they will always be here. In fact, throughout the book there are quotes from the rooks.  They are taunting Bellman, and the reader.  It is creepy cool in a subtle way that sneaks up on you. I loved this inclusion.  The rooks are always there and present throughout the story, heck, through time they have always been there. They are not going away.

The entire book is subtle. The haunting is subtle, the story is subtle, the dread creeps up on you subtly.  That's why I said at the beginning that B&B is not as enchanting as The Thirteenth Tale. That novel takes the reader by the hand and obviously leads us.  The ride we go one is very satisfying, but we are passive.  The narrator is fairly passive as she records Vida's words.  We are all  being manipulated by Vida Winter as she tells us the story she wants to tell us in the order she wants to reveal it.

So, some readers may be disappointed in B&B because it is the exact opposite.  We are not as seduced by Bellman as we are by Winter.  Instead we are treated to an atmospheric, macabre tale that haunts us.  We observe William's life.  We see his early success and then all of his personal failures.  We see him become obsessed by the darkness of the stranger in black. We see what it does to him, how it slowly changes him.  The darkness and despair creep up on all of us.  It is subtle, but fantastic, which is why I also said in the opening of this post that in some ways, B&B is better. It is less enchanting, but overall it is a more accomplished and sophisticated method of storytelling.

I think anyone who is suggesting B&B to readers who have read and loved The Thirteenth Tale need to understand and communicate this difference.

Three Words That Describe This Book: macabre, atmospheric, subtle

Readalikes:  A perfect readalike here is Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, for two reasons. First both are dark, Gothic novels which focus on the funeral industry.  Second, and more importantly, see what I said about Her Fearful Symmetry in my review which is almost exactly what I communicated above about Setterfield's two books:

Recently I devoured Audrey Niffenegger's new novel, Her Fearful Symmetry. I was nervous before I began because I really enjoyedThe Time Traveler's Wife and the new book was getting mixed reviews. Well, I am happy to report that I actually enjoyed Her Fearful Symmetry (herein, HFS) even more than The Time Traveler’s Wife (herein, TTW).
The reason I enjoyed the newer novel more and others disagree has to do with the difference in the appeal of each novel. The overall tones of these novels are on opposite ends of the spectrum. TTW is a love story with a science fiction element and a heart-warming ending. (click here to read my full report on TTW).
On the other hand, HFS is a dark ghost story about deep family secrets with seriously twisted characters and an unsettling ending.  I loved it! But this huge shift in tone, mood, and storyline focus can easily explain why fans of the more heartwarming TTW were disappointed.  Whereas Claire and Henry in TTW are good, well meaning, loving people, the main characters in HFS are manipulative, selfish, and mean.
The second half of  B&B also reminded me of one of my all time favorites, Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser.  As I posted on The Browsers Corner:
Millhauser follows the life of entrepreneur Martin Dressler as he rises from cigar shop clerk to hotel magnate in the 19th Century in New York City.  Dressler’s outrageous imagination and desire to create a hotel that will be “a world within the world, rivaling the world,” and ultimately replacing the real world, is doomed for failure.
If you enjoyed the second half of B&B you will LOVE this suggestion.


Finally, for a more outside of the box readalike, I would suggest the graphic novel Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel. Click through to my review for the full details, but it is interesting to note that I thought of the connection between these books as I was reading B&B and jotted it down.  Later, when I went back to write this review I was happy to see The Thirteenth Tale and Her Fearful Symmetry listed in my Sailor Twain review as readalikes.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Discussion: How Do You Feel About Books Made Into Movies

It's movie awards season, which means people are talking about all of the books that have been turned into great movies.  This year, there seems to be a bumper crop of movies, in many categories, based on books.  This article in The Christian Science Monitor discusses it all.

But for every good movie that has been based (even very, very loosely) on a book, there are plenty of terrible one.  In fact, some great movies that were based on a book are a terrible representation of the book but still an excellent movie in their own right.  A current example is Frozen, a very good movie that does not share much with its source material, The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson.

Currently, my daughter is devouring Divergent.  She loves the book, the story, and especially the Chicago setting. Now, she is so excited to the see the movie version coming out in March.

I told her I would take her, but in the back of my head, I am worried for her.  She loves the book and chances are that the movie will not live up to her expectations.  Maybe I am wrong, but I have been let down so many times by the movie version of a favorite book that I am at the point where I go out of my way NOT to see a movie if it is based on a book I enjoyed.

All of this made me think of throwing this issue out to the rest of you.  How do you feel when you find out one of your favorite books is being made into a movie?  Do you run away in panic? Are your cautiously optimistic?

For today's Monday Discussion, share your feeling about books made into movies, whatever they are.

For pat Monday Discussions, click here.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Conference Round-Ups

ALA Midwinter is around the corner, but Digital Book World just wrapped up in NYC and the ABA’s Winter Book Institute is also about to begin.

While I will have extensive coverage of ALA Midwinter once it begins, I thought I would share 2 VERY useful links from the other two conferences that I saw via PW.

First, there is this report on a presentation at DBW on the future of bookstores and libraries. Not much new here for those of us in the trenches, but I was just glad to see a panel with librarians addressing these issues at DBW.  It is still a struggle to make ebooks work as well as physical books do in libraries, but at least we are taking baby steps towards progress.

And second, there is this long and very helpful list of all of the authors and galleys that will be available at the conference as well as an editorial note as to why there is buzz on this particular book or author.  The list is arranged alphabetically.

I don’t know about you, but I will be combing through this list over the next couple of weeks as I start planning my spring purchases for the library.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Story Behind The Story

For many people in the world of libraries (both workers and our patrons) a common New Year’s Resolution is to finally write that novel.  I learned a long time ago that writing books and article about novels, not writing actual novels, is my forte, but there are many wonderful books-to-be just festering in the brains of many of you out there.

In the past I have encouraged this by posting about NaNoWriMo but today I thought I’d up the ante and provide a bit more inspiration for you or to pass on to your patrons.

It comes from The Rap Sheet:
Since it spun off from January Magazine to become a separate blog in May 2006, The Rap Sheet has earned its reputation as an essential resource for readers seeking information about what’s new and interesting in the world of crime fiction. Edited by J. Kingston Pierce, the site was nominated for an Anthony Award in 2008, and a year later it won the Spinetingler Award for Special Services to the Industry. Remarking on the blog’s value, novelist and editor Ed Gorman wrote inEllery Queen Mystery Magazine: “Part pure journalism, part critique, and part just plain fun, The Rap Sheet is a tribute to the intelligence and wit of a single person. Pierce gives opinionating a good name."
Pierce also writes Crime reviews for Kirkus.
One of the many useful features on The Rap Sheet is The Story Behind the Story. Now on its 46th entry, this feature invites authors to talk about their writing process.  Even if I have never heard of the author, I am always interested in these posts.  It is fascinating to see a successful writer share their process, but taken as a collection of 46 different points of view, it is amazing to see how different the path to each book is for each author.

I hope The Story Behind the Story provides little inspiration for you aspiring writers and a lot of entertainment for all the readers out there.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Corner Shelf Features ARRT!

The newest issue of The Corner Shelf, a free newsletter from Booklist Online and edited by friend of RA for All Rebecca Vnuk, is up.  Click here for past issues and here to see where I have written about this foreword thinking newsletter in the past.

This time around, Rebecca has featured the work the ARRT Steering Committee did on our annual bibliography this past year (which is distributed free to all members). Click here for the article.

On the full list, we provided dozens of titles that we considered “sure bets” but did them in a Tweet inspired format, recommending the books in 40 words or less.  Rebecca has included a few of these annotations [with our permission] in her article.  Feel free to use them when you are in a rush and stuck for a “good read” to suggest to someone, quickly.

Thinking about joining ARRT?  Besides the Crime Fiction genre study led by me, our annual bibliography this year will be YA focused.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Discussion: The Books You Are Most Looking Forward to in 2014

Last week is was reading resolutions.  This week we are in preview mode.  The end of the year best lists are done and it is time to look forward into 2014.

RA Online began keeping track of the major 2014 preview lists at this link. So I started looking through the various lists myself and found a few titles that I am quite excited about.

First I will start with 2 books that come out in February that I have been not so patiently waiting for-- Wiley Cash's follow up the his brilliant A Land More Kind Than Home entitled This Dark Road to Mercy and the conclusion of Joe Hill's masterful Locke and Key series, Alpha and Omega.  For the Cash, I had no choice but to wait, but on the Locke and Key, I could have followed the 6 issues that made up the final bound volume as they came out, but I knew I would be happier if I read the final arc all at once as I have read the previous 5 volumes. I am hearing that my patience on both will be worth the wait.

For a longer term view point, the third book in Deborah Harkness' series which began with A Discovery of Witches is coming out in July, Ernest Cline's Armada is set for October, and I am intrigued by the Colson Whitehead nonfiction book of his time in the pro-poker circuit coming in May.

Now it is your turn. For today's Monday Discussion, what books are you most excited about for 2014?

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Who Does Readers Advisory? -- An Invitation to Debate

Today I want to start an ongoing conversation about who should be providing RA service in the library.  Why now?  Well this is an issue that has been brewing for awhile.

In the beginning, when RA was in its infancy, most of us got behind the professionally trained staff  only side of the debate because we needed that argument in order to get funding to start formal RA. But that was back in the 1980s.  As we begin 2014, service to leisure readers is becoming something everyone who works at the library is expected to do (at least a little).

Obviously I fall more on the “everyone should and can do RA" side of this debate, but I do take a nuanced position. I understand that trained professionals, like myself, will provide a deeper and more accurate level of service to leisure readers, but there are plenty of ways all staff can learn how to begin conversations with readers. [That’s the idea that my entire RA for All training is based on]

I am not and will not ever advocate for all staff being expected to provide full blown RA service, but I do think that you can teach everyone on staff enough of the basics that they can help most patrons enough to encourage them to return for more help at a desk filled with more trained RA staff.

I have seen first hand how an RA based model of customer service-- listening to the patron, having conversations and not interviews (or interrogations as many patrons view their librarian interactions), and trying to provide what the patrons want first and foremost-- can transform an entire library including its staff and its patrons’ perceptions of the library and the level of service it can provide.

But regularly, I encounter colleagues who completely disagree with me.  They think that only professional librarians who have had RA training should be the only ones helping readers. These professionals only people are starting to feel out numbered, and can can feel the backlash building.

Up to now it has been more of a quiet, but balanced discussion across a dividing line.  I predict that this year or the next, there will be a lot of professional ink spilled on this issue.  So, I am going to try to throw my hat in the ring to jump on this debate before it begins in earnest.

Here's the deal.  I am looking for someone from the other side of the RA debate to work with.  I am not sure where I want to go with this.  I think it depends on the skills and attributes of my sparing partner, but I could see an on going point-counterpoint conversation here on the blog, articles, and even a presentation at a conference.

But to begin I need to find the right counterpoint person.

So if you or someone you know believes firmly that Readers' Advisory is solely in the purview of professional staffers and that all inquiries about leisure reading choices need to be handled only by professionals, contact me off the blog so we can have a chat.

I hope this is the beginning of something interesting and useful to us all.

Library Reads: February 2014

Remember to use the tag Library Reads to pull up past lists.  At this point, we have a few month's worth, so you can start going back to September 2013's list and use the titles there for your readers who just can't figure out what they want. 

List link and then embedded list below.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
February 2014 Library Reads List
RedRising3D

Red Rising

by Pierce Brown

Published: 1/28/2014 by Del Rey
ISBN: 9780345539786
“The next great read for those who loved The Hunger Games. This story has so much action, intrigue, social commentary and character development that the reader who never reads science fiction will happily overlook the fact that the story takes place on Mars far in the future. The characters are perfectly flawed, causing the reader to feel compassion and revulsion for both sides. Can’t wait for the next installment!”
Cindy Stevens, Pioneer Library System, Norman, OK

 The Good Luck of Right Now: A Novel

GoodLuckofRightNow-199x300 by Matthew Quick

Published: 2/11/2014 by Harper
ThisDarkRoadtoMercy-199x300ISBN: 9780062285539
“Socially-awkward 40-year-old Bartholomew has lived with his mother all his life and has never held a job. When she succumbs to cancer, he channels her favorite actor, Richard Gere, to make her happy during her last days. Funny and sad, with moving, unsentimental prose and a quick, satisfying pace. Highly recommended.”
Michael Colford, Boston Public Library, Boston, MA

 

This Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel

by Wiley Cash

Published: 1/28/2014 by William Morrow
ISBN: 9780062088253
“Cash’s second novel is as good as his first. In this story, we meet Easter and her sister Ruby, who have been shuffled around the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina. Then their ne’er-do-well father whisks them away in the middle of the night. I was on the edge of my seat as I followed the girls’ tale and hoping for a safe outcome. Fans of A Land More Kind Than Home will enjoy this book as well.”
Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH

The Martian: A Novel

Martian-198x300 by Andy Weir

Published: 2/11/2014 by Crown
ISBN: 9780804139021
“An edge-of-your seat debut thriller with laugh-out-loud dialogue mixed in. After a bad storm cuts his team’s Mars mission short, injured astronaut Mark Watley is stranded. Now he’s got to figure out how to survive without air, shelter, food, or water on the harsh Martian landscape until the next manned mission in four years. It’s Science Fiction with a capital S, but Weir does a fabulous job of making it accessible to non-science geeks (like me).”
Dan Brooks, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, NC


AfterImGone-193x300 After I’m Gone: A Novel

by Laura Lippman

Published: 2/11/2014 by William Morrow
ISBN: 9780062083395
“So much fun to read. In Lippman’s newest book, bookie Felix Brewer goes missing just before his indictment because he can’t stand the thought of spending years in prison. He leaves behind a wife, three young daughters, a mistress, and Burt, his best friend and attorney. Enter retired police detective Sandy Bayard who works as a consultant on cold cases. A delicious bon bon!”
Anne Lee, Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Ripper-199x300 Ripper: A Novel

by Isabel Allende

Published: 1/28/2014 by Harper
ISBN: 9780062291400
“Allende does an amazing job of developing characters in this taut, suspenseful literary thriller. The story has a lightning-fast denouement, and the mystery is artfully styled to keep the reader guessing.”
Amanda Viana, Norton Public Library, Norton, MA

GhostofMaryCeleste-203x300 The Ghost of the Mary Celeste: A Novel

by Valerie Martin

Published: 1/28/2014 by Nan A. Talese
ISBN: 9780385533508
“A cargo ship sailing from New York to Italy is discovered empty and drifting near Gibraltar in the 1870s. The mystery brings grief to two Massachusetts seafaring families and ignites the public’s imagination, including one Arthur Conan Doyle, who authors a fantastical magazine piece that purports to be an account by the ship’s doctor. Crossing time and space, this wide-ranging story proves Martin once again to be a master of the historical novel.”
Margaret Donovan, Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, MA

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

by Ariel Lawhon

Published: 1/28/2014 by Doubleday
ISBN: 9780385537629
“A captivating mystery, based on the real-life disappearance of New York Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater. Told through the voices of the three women closest to Judge Crater–his trophy wife, his beautiful maid, and his Broadway starlet mistress– this is excellent historical fiction, about the era of Prohibition and the culture of 1930s New York City. Riveting characters make for a quick and entertaining read.”
Mary Vernau, Tyler Public Library, Tyler, TX

The Winter People: A Novel

by Jennifer McMahon

Published: 2/11/2014 by Doubleday
ISBN: 9780385538497
“The small Vermont town of West Hall has been the scene of mysterious deaths, disappearances, and ghost sightings. The scattered pages of a turn-of-the-century diary relate the events that lead to a murder and the apparent beginning of all the trouble. Odd and intriguing clues emerge, and the final conclusion is thrilling.”
Nancy Russell, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH

EECummings-195x300 E.E. Cummings: A Life

by Susan Cheever

Published: 2/11/2014 by Pantheon
ISBN: 9780307379979
“Cummings is a pivotal figure in the creation of modern verse, and Cheever conveys his journey with color, warmth, and understanding, especially his imprisonment in France during the First World War, his father’s death and his final reunion with his daughter. She leaves the reader with only one wish: to be a fly on the wall while the poet held forth to his friends.”
Linda Jeffries-Summers, Howard County Library, Columbia, MD

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Crime Fiction Genre Study Website is Live

As I have mentioned previously, I will be facilitating a 2 year Genre Study for the Adult Reading Roundtable on Crime Fiction.

I wanted to use my involvement as an opportunity to promote ARRT and to enrich the experience for those participating in the genre study.  Since full participation in the genre study is one of the benefits of membership, I cannot share everything here on the blog, but after suggesting a middle ground at our ARRT Steering Committee this afternoon, I think we have found a solution.

I have created a very simple website for the genre study here.  You can also find the link in the right gutter of this blog under the list with the heading “Other Sites Featuring Me.”

What you can find on the Crime Fiction Genre Study Site are things like the schedule and the assignments. For example, here is a link to the first month’s assignment.  At each meeting, notes are taken for members, both for those who come to the genre study meetings to refer to after and  for those who are members but cannot make it.  I will also post these on the website, but with a password protecting them so as to honor the paying members. [Have I mentioned membership i sonly $15? What a deal.]

Why am I going through all of this effort?  The answer is three-fold:

  1. I wanted to make sure that the participants have one place where they can access all of the information pertaining to the genre study.  In the past, assignments, communications, and notes were all sent via email attachments.  Even with me keeping them all in one folder, I found it difficult to pull up what I needed or wanted quickly in year’s past. I also have plans to create a discussion board where people can contribute thoughts, links, and have conversations outside of our 6x a year meetings.
  2. I wanted to share the great work ARRT does to develop RA skills and promote reading. Even if you cannot participate with us in person for the genre study, I encourage you to us these assignments for your own RA training programs.
  3. I wanted to help boost our membership.  In 2014 we are looking to expand our membership outside of the Chicagoland region.  If you join as a member, you will have access to the discussion notes with the password no matter where you live. We are also going to try to offer some online content to accompany our summer program with a nationally renown speaker (tbd).

So,  take a look at the site and follow along if you’d like. We have a lot to cover in two years.

Also, as a small teaser, I am working on a pretty big post which I think will make some waves in the RA community.  I hope to have it ready tomorrow, but it might not be up until Saturday.  But it is coming soon, so keep an eye out for it.  I am hoping it energizes a lot of you out there.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project

As part of my 2014 New Year's Resolutions [found here] I said I was actively trying to be more involved in my state library association. Along with being on the ILA Conference Committee and working with ARRT to start up and now work toward picking a winner of the first annual ILA RA Award, I was also asked to be a judge for the inaugural Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project.  This week, I will begin those duties.

What is the Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project?  From their press release:
Illinois libraries hope to discover an unknown self-published author whose work will jump off the page for readers.The Soon to be Famous Illinois Author project will be accepting adult fiction submissions from Illinois residents via their local libraries. The Soon to be Famous Illinois Author will be announced during National Library Week, April 13 to 19, 2014.

But for even more detail, check out this great article that ran in the Chicago Tribune last week promoting the award. From that article:
Local librarians think it is time for them to join together to show publishers their power and highlight the e-book pricing issues they face. The Soon to be Famous contest was inspired by David Vinjamuri, a brand expert and marketing professor at New York University who spoke at the library association's annual conference in 2013. 
"Publishers see them as competitors and not as a resource," he said. 
Libraries have long proved their staying power, but he said they are failing to work together to show their ability to guide readers toward books. 
"We have a public institution that persistently and cleverly has pushed this form of engagement for thousands of years," he said. "They are a trusted brand. That's why they can step in and create new brands for authors." 
While librarians are looking to demonstrate their influence, authors see the contest as a way to break through a difficult model that relies on a publisher or agent to become their advocate.
This project hits at everything I am trying to do in my work with readers, so when a former student who is on the committee asked me to be involved, I could not say no without contradicting myself.  This was even before I planned to make working more with my state library association a 2014 priority.

So it all begins tomorrow when I pop by the Eisenhower Library  (on my way to another meeting) to pick up a few manuscripts of unpublished authors in order to vet them for inclusion in the awards process.

This is my first time being a judge for any writing contest, but I am excited to be a part of a new writer’s success and to use this award as a chance to show publishers why they need to take libraries more seriously.  We may offer books “for free” but we are building life long readers.

Although I cannot discuss my opinion on the books themselves here on the blog, I will have periodic posts about the process.  I know one of the goals of this program is not only for it to be successful here in Illinois, but for it to eventually be replicated all over the country.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

25 Best Author Acknowledgments Ever

It has been a long two days stuck in the house with the kids, but the good news is we are all fine and returning to normal life tomorrow.

As I was looking back at older articles I had been saving to comment upon at some future date, this one, The 25 Best Acknowledgments Ever, originally posted on the Barnes and Noble Blog back in October caught my attention.

A great way to start a new year is to think of ways to acknowledge what has come before and has gotten you to where you are now.  So take a look at some of the best ways authors have captured their appreciation.

Back to regular programming [literally and figuratively] tomorrow.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday Discussion: Reading Resolutions for 2014

Well, it is VERY cold here in Chicagoland. So cold that the schools, most libraries, and even the major Chicago museums are closed today.  Although I am taking a “snow day” with the kids at home, the Monday Discussion marches on as promised.

Feel free to take your time to comment, as many people around here won’t be back to work for a few days.

Each year I make a series of reading/work based resolutions for the coming year and I put them in print here on the blog so that I am forced to hold myself accountable.  I try to make resolutions in 3 areas: Genre, Blogging, and Consulting.

For the record, I do not make number of books read resolutions because it is hard for me to distinguish what “read” means in my line of work.  The number I read cover to cover vs those I speed read vs those I skim vs those I spend time with in order to annotate, etc is in the hundreds.  Those of you who have ever attended one of my trainings know that in my opinion “reading” a book does not always mean reading every word.  I do always try however to keep track of the books I read cover to cover, in their entirety, and review here on the blog and on my Shelfari shelf.  That number hovers around 60 every year.

So here are my official reading/work resolutions for 2014:

  • Genre Resolution: This year it is an easy choice.  I am resolving to read at least 3 historical fiction novels about WWI.  2014 marks the 100th Year Anniversary of the start of the First World War and I wanted to participate in the remembrances with as much knowledge as possible.  I already am planning to read Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, a book that has been on my to-read list for years, as well as a few other newer titles that are being published in honor of the centennial.  In fact, I already have a list going.  There will be a lot of interest in WWI set titles this year, so I want to stay in front of the trend in order to help my patrons better.  I would also guess that the interest will peek in late June, early July as the first “great” battle of the war began on July 1, 1914, so I will make sure to have 2 books read by then.
  • Blogging Resolution: Since I only gave myself a D+ on keeping up with reviews last year [and I still have a review of a book I finished in 2013 pending!], I think I need to keep the same revolution as last year, to try to get no more than 3 reviews behind at any one time.  But I also think I need another, new, resolution for blogging.  For this one, I am using what I did right in 2013 as inspiration.  I did not drive myself crazy to keep posting in 2013.  I set up guest post weeks so that I could take blogging vacations, I did more links roundups and re-posts, and I did not drive myself crazy trying to post critical essays all of the time.  I still think the blog was useful to everyone in 2013, maybe even more so because I was less stressed out about it. So I am also going to resolve to find ways to continue to keep the blog fresh and useful without driving myself crazy.
  • Consulting Resolution: This one is in three parts:
    • First, now that I have not been teaching graduate students for awhile, I am going to resolve to JUST SAY NO if I am offered the chance to do it again.  Although I loved teaching and all of the students I got to know, after taking a 2 (going on 3) semester break, I like my life better without the stress of weekly classes and the piles of grading.  I have more energy for my consulting, writing, and patrons not to mention my family. I am also able to pursue new methods of educating librarians like being able to commit to leading the 2 year ARRT Crime Fiction Genre Study beginning in February.  I am very excited about this opportunity and you will be hearing more about it soon.
    • Second, I am going to be more involved with RA Training at the state level.  Okay, this one is cheating because I already started doing this in the last quarter of 2013 as a member of the Illinois Library Association 2014 Conference Committee. But just being on the committee is not enough; I have resolved to take an active role and strongly advocate for RA.  I have already spoken up and have gotten Readers Advisory added as a learning track at the conference for the first time, working with ARRT we are now officially sponsoring a brand new ILA award for excellence in Readers Advisory for 2015 [we will get to vet the nominees and pick the winner, thus rewarding and promoting excellence in RA skills in IL], I have recruited people I think are innovative and interesting to present at the 2014 conference, and I have put my skills where my mouth is and have submitted a program to present myself at the conference.  By the way, you can submit a proposal too, and you don’t have to live in Illinois to participate.  Click here for details.
    • Third, I am going to continue to build upon my remote consulting from last year.  I will write more articles, provide more webinars, and train more library workers interested in RA but with less stress on me to travel and less stress on libraries’ budgets since I charge less to provide virtual training.  I am even taking the RA for All Road Show international in 2014 as I will be presenting to a group in Australia in March! Also, I have already committed to contributing 2 guest columns a year to Neal Wyatt’s  LJ Reader’s Shelf column [my annual Halloween list, plus a new “Halfway to Halloween” list in April], so I am already making strides on this resolution too.
So there are my work/reading related resolutions for 2014.  Now it is your turn.  Take some time and think about what you are resolving to do to improve your RA skills in 2014 and share them in the comments. 

For past Monday Discussions, click here.