It’s back to school time here in Illinois, and as library workers, we all know that this is a time for fresh starts. What a perfect time for me to shake you out of your complacency.
I know, it sounds scary, but it isn’t because first I am going to let you complain.
Real quick, say your least favorite type of book to read. Don’t think about it, just blurt it out. Yes, I am asking you to talk to your computer screen. Just go with it.
It can be a genre, a format, a very specific subgenre, whatever you dislike reading the most. It can be a few things. All I am asking is that you are brutal honest with yourself.
Okay, now, jot those down somewhere.
Now, again be very honest with yourself, how do you feel when readers of your least favorite things come up to the desk and ask for help?
The most common answer I have found is-- AFRAID. Afraid you cannot help that person because you don’t have any positive feelings about what they are asking for. But that fear translates into us not helping those readers as well and that is not good.
Guess what? I have a way to solve that problem. Take that list you just made of your least favorites and...are you ready for this.... read one of them! Why? Because fear comes from ignorance. Not knowing about something makes us afraid of it.
Arm yourself with a little knowledge by heading over to Goodreads or NoveList and looking up your least favorite areas and find out what the best new books are in that world. And then, put something on hold.
I am not asking you to love it. I’m not even asking you to read it cover to cover. Give it a good skim. But give it a chance. Then read reviews, look at the appeals on NoveList and read the 5 star reviews on Goodreads. The whole process can take you under an hour if you focus, but give yourself a few days.
While you are doing this, I also want you to think about your favorite things to read. Why are they your favorites? Now go and look those books’ appeal and five star reviews.
When you pair your least favorite type of reads [with a focus on those who would like them] with your own personal loves, you get a better understanding of why people enjoy the books they enjoy. You move beyond the fear and into a place of understanding.
You will realize that you can still help someone who likes your least favorite books if you simply take the plunge and expose yourself to something you are “afraid" of. In fact, you may find (as I have over the years) that it is often easier to help people who like the things you dislike more than it is to help those with similar tastes. When you already like something, your personal feelings and biases get in the way of your suggestions. When you have less feelings about the genre, you can be more empirical and impartial with your suggestions.
I promise you, no one will get hurt. In fact, quite the opposite, many more patrons will find their next good read.
For the Call to Action Archive, click here.
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