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Friday, December 28, 2018

What I'm Reading: Becky's Best of 2018

For the second year in a row I am doing my best books that I read in 2018 list in a category list rather than ranking them. Why? Because why I loved these books matters more than anything. How I interacted with them, how they affected me, how they stayed with me are what I have carried throughout the year. That is why they are "Best."

Some of the categories are the same, while others are new. This is because the books I read create their own experiences and categories to me personally. In each year that passes in my reading life, some things stay the same, but other things change, just like for you or your patrons. We are not robots, we are all human readers, even those of us who do read and suggest books for a living. This is a best list that celebrates and acknowledged that.

Also, lots of people have already weighed in with critically acclaimed "best" lists for weeks now, so why do you need more of that from me. I have nothing more to add to that. I played my part in that side of the "best" debate with my Best Horror of 2018" list. That is a place where my opinion on what is the BEST matter from that expert perch.

What I bring here on the general blog that is most helpful to all of you out there in the trenches, is a list that reflects my best experiences as a reader. This is a list that is personal to me, my tastes, and my weird quirks. You can use it to help other readers, yes, but because it is so specific to me, it is actually better used as a conversation starter.

For example, you can ask people "What is the most fun you had reading a book this year?" That is a question readers can answer much more quickly than "What was your favorite book?" Or what was the best Audiobook you listened to?"

The categories I have listed here provide great questions to offer to your patrons and you can use my answers to keep the conversation going by saying, "I was thinking about this question because Becky said [fill in the title] as her answer."

The point of my "Best" list is to both offer books that I loved this year, but also present an example of a regular reader view of the "best" list ideal.

Below you will find my list of the best books I experienced in 2018 [regardless of publication year] in 12 categories created by me. It is arbitrary but so what, it's my list of what mattered to me the most this year. Each title links to a longer review which will explain why it is the "best" book for that category, and my "Three Words."

I am off on vacation until 1/7/19. Happy New Year.

Becky's Best Books I Read in 2018

Most Fun I Had Reading a Book This Year: My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite 

Best Audio: There There by Tommy Orange

Best Surprise: Mr and Mrs American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Best Horror: Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay.

Click here for my full Best of Horror 2018 post which has many of my favorite reads of the year in general included there.

Best Nonfiction: I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Best Historical: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Best Speculative: Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Best Story Collection: Florida by Lauren Groff 

Best Books from 2017 That I Read In 2018: Sing, Unburied, Sing [fiction] and Killers of the Flower Moon [Nonfiction]

Best Book That Came Out in 2018 but I read in 2017An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

One of the best things about my job is that I get to read books early. Super early sometimes. But it also means I sometimes forget to include the book in the best list for its correct year.

Best Debut: Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

Wildcard: These two titles could each fit into other categories here, but weren't perfect for a single category overall. They were however at the top of my overall favorite reads of the year; titles that really stayed with me. I have listed the other categories they also fit into after each title.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

What I'm Reading: Final 2018 Goodreads Updates

Just a reminder, these are the books I read for fun, not pay. My reviews, thoughts, or opinions on these titles were not published somewhere else. I do the updates on Goodreads and then post the titles and my "three words" here so that they are searchable on the blog. 

Have really enjoyed how this new style frees me up to not get as far behind on reviews, and I do not force myself to be as formal. Goodness knows I write dozens of formal reviews a year. Some times it is nice to just record my thoughts.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The #LibFaves18 votes are in.....

In case you forgot, or don't know what #LibFaves18 is, I posted about it when it began on December 10th here:
Beginning today and going for 10 straight days, library workers all over the country will be counting down their personal favorite reads of books published in 2018 by Tweeting 1 books a day, with the title in ALL CAPS, and using #LibFaves18.
Click here to read more about #LibFaves18, what it is, and how I participated.

The votes are now tallied with this easy to use spreadsheet over on EarlyWord here:.
The list is most interesting for its range, around 875 title, a testament to how widely librarians read. Browsing the titles, you are certain to make new discoveries as well as being reminded of favorites.
The spreadsheet has every single title mentioned, even if only once. That means the list is way more comprehensive than your average "Best" list. Also, because it is library workers from all over the country, you have a larger pool of like minded people to help you suggest. You truly will have a title for every type of reader because every type of reader participated.

What an easy end of the year display too. Keep this up from now until mid January, there are 875 titles to choose from, you are bound to have enough to fill 1 display, and add previous year's titles as it gets empty. This will get patrons excited-- library worker approved titles-- and it is super easy. Speaking of, click here to see my post where I provide the links to the previous year's spreadsheets so you can quickly pull them up.

And have fun with it.

I'm back 2 more times this year. Tomorrow with my final Goodreads reviews updates of the year and then Friday with my fun, personal "Best" reads of the year.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Reminder: Stay In the Know With Minimal Effort

One of the most useful pieces of advice I regularly give out during my signature RA for All presentation is to remind people that reading ABOUT books is just as important as reading all the books, and since you physically cannot read all the books, you can see how this advice is useful.

Over the last 3 months I have given my RA for All signature training 10+ times and I am always surprised at how many people don't realize how much reading a few daily newsletters and Entertainment Weekly can help you to serve patrons better. Although after I come to visit, things change.

I now know of 2 libraries that bought a second subscription of EW for their library, this one specifically for the desk staff to read while they are working-- all because of my training. I also get feedback from over taxed staff saying that simply reading a few newsletters before they start their shifts each day has not only decreased their stress levels, but it has also made them better at their jobs, especially helping those who like the types of books they themselves don't personally love.

And it is so easy.

I have meant to pull out the initial post where I outline the details of how and why reading about books is so important, and today I am finally getting to it.  It really is an extremely useful post for all staff who work in any public library.

The post is below, but it is also always linked in my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service page under Rule 5, a page which also happens to be the outline for the RA for All signature presentation.

I hope it helps you today and every day [and it will if you sign up for the free newsletters].

Also RA for All is NOT off for the holidays yet. I vacation for New Year's, so expect me back on 12-26-12/28 and then off until 1/7! And 12/28 will be my annual and unique "Best Books I Read" post. But if you listened to the podcast I posted yesterday, you got a sneak peek into 3 of the titles already.

If you celebrate Christmas have a wonderful holiday. If not, have a nice long weekend.  I'll be back on 12/26.

MONDAY, AUGUST 28, 2017

Call to Action: Stay In the Know With Minimal Effort [Updated 12.18]

Today’s Call to Action is less scolding and more of a pep talk.

One of the most important things every single one of you can do to be better at RA service is to stay on top of the book world news. Or as I say in Rule 5 of my Ten Rules of Basic RA Service:


Look, I know that reading widely is important for our job, but honestly, it is not as imperative these days as it used to be. Why? Well because you can learn a lot about many different types of books by speed reading “about” books.

Let me explain further. In my signature RA for All training, I still show people how to speed read a book for appeal; however, I am finding that I also give this advice-- “You can also replicate this speed reading for appeal with the physical book by fully reading the NoveList entry for that title.” It’s even better if you follow some of the links. And, if you also go to Goodreads and read the 5 star and  2 star reviews [1 star ones are sometimes too mean and petty to be useful for our purposes], you get a full picture of the appeal of the book with an example appeal  statement from the book’s target reader and those who also disliked it and why.

This is a great way to “read” books in genres that you dislike personally or just don’t have the time to stay on top of. You get objective information about who the book most appeals to on NoveList and then actual opinions from readers via Goodreads.

However, staying in the know on the general book world news is about more than speed reading select titles. We also need to be aware of trends in all of pop culture in general and still stay on top of the most pressing book news.

One thing I hear- frequently- from library workers all over the country is that they try so hard to stay up to date, but Twitter is too “noisy" (even when I show them how to make lists) and they get overwhelmed by their RSS feeds from all the blogs and book news sites they follow that way. I regularly get calls for help from people with thousands of posts to sort through in their RSS feeds.

Many of you are so inundated that you are sinking. I see it all of the time. Library workers who have the drive to stay in the know, but they cannot find the time to follow everything as it is happening quickly, in real time. So instead, they give up.

I get this response, I really do. But, it is not an option people. I will be your life jacket. It’s not that hard. Today, I will share my easy way to know the bare minimum about the most pertinent information.

First, I highly recommend everyone read Entertainment Weekly every week. Not online, the actual magazine. Seriously, you can write off your subscription to the magazine as a business expense. But also, if you work at a library you can spend 1 lunch break with the current issue each week [or read the digital copy if your library, work or home, subscribes]. A quick page through of the magazine will let you know what the current pop culture/mass media trends are. You will be alerted early to books being made into movies or tv shows. You will see what books are getting the most buzz. You will even see actual book reviews. But the biggest thing you will get out of it is a wide angle picture of what, in general, is popular right now-- week by week. Not only do these trends extend into all areas of leisure media consumption, but also, knowing what people like overall will help you craft book suggestions based on what is popular overall.

But that is just for general trends and very specific titles of interest. In order to stay on top of the deluge of daily news while making sure to filter out what doesn’t matter so you only spend time reading the "news you can use" take my second advice--

Sign up for 3 daily newsletters. That’s it. Just these three I scare them in my email every day. Yes, there is overlap, but that is actually helpful because then I know what is MOST important-- if it is repeated 3 times I really pay attention. It maybe takes 10 minutes total to get through these emails, but the knowledge I gain keeps me in the know:
  • Shelf Awareness for Book Trade Workers [That’s you]. This daily email covers all age levels of books and gives you a heads up on author media appearances as well as general industry news. [Media appearances always lead to book requests from patrons]. 
  • PW’s Daily newsletter, although if you click here you can see a full list of all of their free newsletters. You can pick the ones that are most relevant to you on top of the general “Daily.”
  • Library Journal’s Book Pulsea daily update designed to help collection development and readers’ advisory librarians navigate the never-ending wave of new books and book news. The link will take you to the main page. In the left gutter, LJ has "Book News." There is always the most current Book Pulse in that list. Click on it to read. Follow the links to sign-up.
What I have found is that while some bigger news may break more quickly on Twitter, if it is important enough, it will make it through to these two newsletters that next morning. I have been monitoring this consciously for a few months now and I am confident in this advice.

Let them sort through all of the noise for you. That’s what these editors are paid to do. You have enough going on at your libraries to add this to your daily to-dos. Use the links I provided, give your email address to them, and start each day with a recap of what you need to know from book news, to upcoming titles, to reviews. Again, the beauty of this solution is that someone else is doing this work for you. You then only have to read a very short email with the most pressing information.

You need to stay in the know. You cannot avoid it. So instead of being overwhelmed by everything and/or just ignoring it-- both very bad ideas-- please take my advice here today. The outcome is that you are more informed, less stressed, and have happier patrons. See, you have nothing to lose.

For past Call to Action posts, click here.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Three Books Podcast, Featuring Me....Again

Back at the beginning of the month, I visited Ela Area Public Library to do a morning training and after lunch I got together with Becca and Christen to do another episode of Three Books

I was their first guest ever, but this time I came back to continue their conversation about gifting books from episode 14. We also talked about my best books of 2018 and I even previewed 3 books coming early in 2019 that I am excited about. 

You can listen here or below and access the show notes here. Also, those of you who know me in real life, yes I am sounding a little hoarse on the recording, but I had just given my second half day presentation that week before appearing. 

Thanks for having me on again. And kudos to Becca for the humors episode title. 


Episode 15: Becky With the Good Recs 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Never Ending Suggestions of Largehearted Boy's Best Books of 2018 Database

All month I have been trying to give you as many varied suggestions of "best books" lists that you can use so that you do not run out of "best book" suggestions for your patrons. One of my back pocket tricks to keep the "best books" flowing into patrons' hands despite the rush to check them all out is to remind them that previous year's "best books" are still a great option. [Click here for more by me on this.]

But, as I know all too well, that doesn't cut it with every patron. Some only want to read this year's best as the year comes to a close, and they will not hear otherwise, no matter how you explain it to them. Of course we know that many of these titles 2018 appear on multiple lists, and by this point [2 weeks before the end of the year], the most common "best books" are checked out and have long holds lists.

So, what should you do with these particular patrons? Give up? NOPE.

Largehearted Boy is here, like he has been every year for the last eleven years to help you, with his archive of every online "best books" list. There are hundreds of lists, and he includes library best lists too.

So never fear. Click here and pull up the entire archive. It is just what you need in these waning days of the year, as your 2018 "best" stock is dwindling.

Click here to access.
Psst....he also has easy access to every previous year's list too. While, these more particular patrons might not want those, you can use it on everyone else too.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Booklist Starred Reviews Issue 2018

The current issue of Booklist is the Starred reviews for 2018 roundup. This year, the magazine was paired with an excellent and useful 22 minute, free webinar:
The December 15 issue of Booklist will be our second annual Starred Reviews issue, collecting all the adult and youth titles published in 2018 that received the coveted Booklist star. How can you make the best use of this remarkable resource in your library or school besides filling in collection gaps? Join Erin Downey Howerton, Children’s Manager at the Wichita Public Library, for a star-spangled list of ways the Booklist Starred Reviews issue can help with fundraising, displays, programming, book groups, community engagement, and more. As a special thank-you to webinar attendees, all registrants will receive a digital copy of Booklist’s December 15, 2018 Starred Reviews issue! 
Click here to watch and learn how use the magazine you already paid for.

I also wanted to use the publication of this issue to point out the 6 horror titles, 1 collection of speculative stories, and 1 science fiction novel which I gave a star to that appear in this issue. The links lead to my review here on the blog too:


However, no matter what area you purchase for or help patrons with, there is much you can use the Star Review Issue for. Again watch the 22 minute webinar which breaks it down, and put the dollars you have already spent to work for you.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Library Reads: January 2019

Today is Library Reads day and that means three things here on RA for All:
  1. I post the list and tag it “Library Reads” so that you can easily pull up every single list with one click.
  2. I can remind you that even though the newest list is always fun to see, it is the older lists where you can find AWESOME, sure bet suggestions for patrons that will be on your shelf to actually hand to them right now. The best thing about Library Reads is the compound interest it is earning. We now have hundreds and hundreds of titles worth suggesting right at our fingertips.
  3. You have no excuse not to hand sell any Library Reads titles because there is a book talk right there in the list in the form of the annotation one of your colleagues wrote for you. All you have to say to your patron is, “such and such library worker in blank state thought this was a great read,” and then you read what he or she said.
    So get out there and suggest a good read to someone today. I don’t care what list or resource you use to find the suggestion, just start suggesting books.

    Also, please remember to click here for my Library Reads 101 recap for everything you need to know about how to participate. And click here to see a database of eligible diverse titles sorted by month.

    ********************************************

    January 2019 LibraryReads

    Don’t miss the January 2019 Hall of Fame Winners! Scroll down or visit the Hall of Fame page.

    Once Upon a River:

    A Novel

    by Diane Setterfield

    Published: 12/4/2018 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
    ISBN: 9780743298070
    “A wonderfully dark and mysterious read. Something happens one stormy winter solstice evening that triggers a chain of events that changes the lives of all the main characters. Moody and mystical. For readers who love gothic fiction like The Death of Mrs. Westaway and The Clockmaker’s Daughter. ”
    Melanie Liechty, Logan Library, Logan, UT 

    An Anonymous Girl

    by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

    Published: 1/8/2019 by St. Martin’s Press
    ISBN: 9781250133731
    “Struggling to stay afloat with a job as a makeup artist, Jessica signs up for a study, thinking she will earn some easy money. After the first two parts of the study, she gets invited to the professor’s house for more questions and more compensation. Fans of psychological thrillers won’t want to miss this one as Jessica is a compelling character and the novel will keep you reading long into the night.”
    Annice Sevett, Albert Lea Public Library, Albert Lea, MN 

    The Au Pair

    by Emma Rous

    Published: 1/8/2019 by Berkley
    ISBN: 9780440000457
    “After giving birth to Seraphine and her twin brother Danny, their mother throws herself from a cliff. 25 years later, Seraphine finds a picture that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her childhood. For fans of compelling suspense novels and family secrets.”
    Selena Swink, Lake Public Library, Lake, MS

    The Current: A Novel

    by Tim Johnston

    Published: 1/22/2019 by Algonquin Books
    ISBN: 9781616206772
    “When two girls, trapped in a RAV4, fall into an icy river one dies and the other barely survives. Unanswered questions and old accusations resurface as the small Minnesota town recalls another incident ten years earlier where a girl died in the same river. For readers who love small town suspense.”
    Shellie Taylor, Iredell County Public Library, Statesville, NC

    The Dreamers: A Novel

    by Karen Thompson Walker

    Published: 1/15/2019 by Random House
    ISBN: 9780812994162
    “A virus appears in the small town of Santa Lora that causes its victims to fall into a deep sleep from which they cannot wake up. While this story is about a pandemic apocalypse, it also reminds us of our humanity and how we are all connected. For fans of The Country of Ice Cream Star and The Water Knife.”
    Cari Dubiel, Twinsburg Public Library, Twinsburg, OH 

    My Favorite Half-Night Stand

    by Christina Lauren

    Published: 12/4/2018 by Gallery Books
    ISBN: 9781501197406
    “Another delightful contemporary rom-com from the author of Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. Millie and her four male friends decide to jump into the pool of online dating together. When Millie matches with one of the friends, chaos ensues. For fans of The Kiss Quotient and The Wedding Date.”
    Kelsey Hudson, Middleton Public Library, Middleton, WI

    The Red Address Book

    by Sofia Lundberg

    Published: 1/8/2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    ISBN: 9781328473011
    “A ninety-six-year-old Swedish woman reflects on her life, paging through a long-kept address book. A compelling, charming, and ultimately heartwarming read. For fans of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and The Japanese Lover.”
    Brenda O’Brien, Woodridge Public Library, Woodridge, IL 

    The Suspect

    by Fiona Barton

    Published: 1/22/2019 by Berkley
    ISBN: 9781101990513
    “Reporter Kate Waters pursues the story of two 18-year-olds who have gone missing in Thailand. The case takes a turn when the main suspect is Kate’s estranged son. For fans of twisty psychological suspense.”
    Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ 

    Unmarriageable: A Novel

    by Soniah Kamal

    Published: 1/15/2019 by Ballantine Books
    ISBN: 9781524799717
    “A thoroughly enjoyable retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan. The characters, storyline, and dialogue are true to the original while being completely fresh. For readers who enjoy a comedy of manners.”
    Kristen Gramer, Lewes Public Library, Lewes, DE 

    Watching You: A Novel

    by Lisa Jewell

    Published: 12/26/2018 by Atria Books
    ISBN: 9781501190070
    “Set in an upscale English neighborhood where everyone knows everyone and someone is always watching. When one of the residents is found murdered, the police investigation turns up long buried secrets. Told from multiple viewpoints and alternating between past and present.”
    Cyndi Larsen, Avon Free Public Library, Avon, CT

    The Golden Tresses of the Dead: A Flavia de Luce Novel

    by Alan Bradley

    Published: 1/22/2019 by Delacorte Press
    ISBN: 9780345540027
    “Follow the delightful hijinks of the precocious Flavia and her faithful Dogger as they take on their first case as private investigators. Although this is the 10th Flavia de Luce adventure, it is one of those rare mysteries you don’t have to read in series order.”
    Abby Hardison, Rowan Public Library, Salisbury, NC 
    Readalikes:
    Home Sweet Homicide by Craig Rice
    Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett
    The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
    The Case of the Missing Bookmobile by Ian Sansom

    In An Absent Dream

    by Seanan McGuire

    Published: 1/8/2019 by Tor.com
    ISBN: 9780765399298
    “Young Katherine stumbles into the Goblin Market, where order, friendship, and belonging carry a high price. The latest novella in the Wayward Children series shines just as bright as its kin, as McGuire spins a tale infused with mist-covered magic and sharp and creative storytelling.”
    Sharon Layburn, South Huntington Public Library,Huntington Station, NY
    Readalikes:
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
    The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
    Among Others by Jo Walton
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly

    The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel

    by Marie Benedict

    Published: 1/8/2018 by Sourcebooks Landmark
    ISBN: 9781492666868
    “A fascinating look at a famous movie star with an unexpected past: Hedy Lamarr, the Austria-born screen siren who was also a brilliant inventor. Brisk pacing and atmospheric scenes of pre-World War II Europe round out this intriguing work of historical fiction.”
    Alissa Williams, Morton Public Library, Morton, IL
    Readalikes:
    The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
    The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams
    Marlene by C.W. Gortner
    The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton

    The Winter of the Witch: A Novel

    by Katherine Arden

    Published: 1/8/2018 by Del Rey
    ISBN: 9781101885994
    “In this magnificent conclusion to the Winternight historical fantasy trilogy, Vasya risks everything to ensure that both medieval Russias–human and fey–can continue to live together. Exciting, moving, and beautifully written, this is a story readers will savor.”
    Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY
    Readalikes:
    Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
    The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar
    Deathlesss by Catherynne M. Valente
    The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

    Thursday, December 13, 2018

    Resource Alert: Using Author Recs as a Suggestion

    When a patron likes a specific author, one of the best tricks of the trade I have for finding them something new to read is pointing the patron to that author's favorites, or at least books the author shared with the world that they enjoyed.

    Nothing makes a patron happier than reading a book that one of their favorite authors loved, well except maybe a new book by their favorite author. Seriously though, you look like a genius and often the book is better received by the patron than the carefully crafted suggestion you agonize over by analyzing their reading tastes. All that matters is that the reader in front of you finds a good read; you don't get extra points for working harder to get them that suggestion.

    My go-to resource for this kind of information is Fantastic Fiction. If you search an author like Stephen King here, and scroll to the bottom of the author record, you will see covers of the books the author has recommended over the years, with the blurb as to what they likes about it. Simple and easy.

    There are thousands of choices here especially if a patron tries a new author because of this resource, likes them too, and then goes and finds books they recommend the same way. It's a rabbit hole of awesome reading recs.

    No, these are not always "readalikes" for their favorite author, and often the suggestions end up being very different from what the patrons likes about their favorite author, but 9 times out of 10 the patrons I have used this resource on have loved the outcome. Sometimes they don't love the book, but they feel like they learned more about their favorite author by reading a book they liked.

    This time of year there are also some bonus options for suggesting books recommended by an author.

    The most well known one is The Millions "A Year of Reading," their annual year-end series of essays by some of the most talked about authors of the current year telling you what they read during the year, why, and what it taught them. Each author has a different style in how they present their essay which I also love. Some patrons will connect more with the author who writes a full essay and works books into it, while other may enjoy the annotated list, and still others just the simple, "Here's what I read," list-- and there is every presentation style in between.

    Here is the link to this year's series and at the bottom of every page in the series there are links to all the previous year's essays going back to 2005! I can confidently proclaim you will find something for every reader here. And bonus points to The Millions for easy backlist access.

    The other list of authors making recs I wanted to point out is in the current issue of Booklist Magainze-- The Star Reviews Issue.

    In the issue [and available for free online for 2 weeks] are lists from each of the 6 Carnegie Medal finalists recommending titles that "resonated with them" to you. From the Booklist Reader:
    With the Carnegie Medals announcement approaching this January, this issue includes recommended books from our finalists in fiction and nonfictionEsi EdugyanRebecca MakkaiTommy OrangeFrancisco CantúKiese Laymon, and Beth Macy.
    These lists work for all of the reasons discussed throughout this post AND because they also make wonderful suggestions for patrons looking for the current books by these authors, who are appearing on just about every other best list.  Because the request from Booklist was appropriately vague, each author took a different take on their list. For example, Kiese Laymon did books he wished he wrote while Esi Edugyan did "Required Reading You May Have Overlooked."

    Links are in the above paragraph for all 6 and they make the perfect suggestion for the reader who has to wait for these currently hot "Best" titles.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2018

    What I’m Reading: A Dozen Goodreads Reviews in Audio and Print

    Today I have more links to my reviews of books the have appeared on Goodreads but not here on the blog. I periodically post the authors and titles here mostly so that they are searchable for both me and you. All of these titles were read in 2018.

    The links go to my Goodreads review each of which have my three words and readalikes, although I have indeed the three words here in the post too.


    I have really enjoyed putting my “non-paid” reviews on Goodreads and linking them here. First of all, I feel more open and casual about the way I write them on Goodreads. I don’t stress about making them perfect and I really focus on the appeal.

    Second, indexing them here is important because I need to be able to pull them up here on the blog with a search. Some of you may have seen these reviews, when they posted on Goodreads, but this is their first appearance on the blog.

    And third, these are the books I read on my own time, for myself and my own enjoyment, not because someone assigned them to me. And as you will see, one appeal factor that unites just about every book I pick for myself...character centered].

    Read in Audio:
    • The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti [Character Centered, Flashbacks, Suspenseful]
    • Borne by Jeff VanderMeer [Surprisingly Uplifting, Thought Provoking, Weird Fiction]
    • Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan [History From Female POV, Richly Detailed, Character Centered]
    • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee [Compelling, Character Centered, Saga]
    • There, There by Tommy Orange [Collage of Voices, Strong Sense of Place, Character Centered]
    Read in Print:
    • The Power by Naomi Alderman [Tables Turned, Thought Provoking, Dramatic]
    • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward [Character Centered, Stylistically Complex, Heartbreakingly Beautiful]
    • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara [Haunting, Compelling, Journalistic]
    • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland [Character Centered, Compelling, Moving]
    • The Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broads [Steampunk, Story About Stories, Engaging]
    • All Systems Red by Martha Wells [Intense First Person, Robots With Emotions, Snarky] 
    • Florida by Lauren Goff [Nuanced, Strong Sense of Place, Unsettling]

    Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    More Best Lists Worth Your Time: BookRiot and Book Marks

    Today I have 2 more best lists you can use confidently with a wide range of readers all year long.

    First is the more traditional of the two-- BookRiot's Best Books 2018. This list contains books that you have seen other places but there are also some great hidden gems. And the list is broken up into genres if you want/need that [although, no horror :( ]. Overall it is a good one because the fact that it has many of the books you have seen elsewhere gives you more confidence to try to suggest the ones you are less familiar with. If the list was all wacky things that you had never heard, no one would trust it. I like this approach.

    I also wanted to remind you of another "Best" list Book Riot has: their Best Books I Read in [fill in the month].  Every month Rioters [what they call contributors to their site] submit the best book they read in that month, but it doesn't matter when it came out. I love this list because it is a great one to use to suggest books to readers-- the books aren't all brand new so there is a better chance they will be on the shelf, the list is made by a wide variety of readers so the list is varied and inclusive by default, and the annotations are written in a colloquial style that focuses on the feel of the book. You can also use any of the lists at any time. Here is a link to pull them all up at any time.

    Second, is a list that you can also use throughout the year-- Book Marks: The Book Review Aggregator's Best Books of 2018 via Lit Hub. It is what it sounds like, they take reviews from major sources and then assign a rating of RAVE, POSITIVE, MIXED, or PAN. So this is the list of the best reviewed books of the year, but they do this all of the time, updating the site every day.

    Click here to see the main site which has rotating features but generally always has easy access to the newest releases, genre titles, and even a category of current best reviewed books. Basically it's like Rotten Tomatoes, but for books. And I am happy to see they have included my reviews of horror in Booklist and even quote me by name.  Here is an example.

    Again, a reminder to my readers as I wrap this post up. I do not try to post every best list here on the blog, but I do make it a priority to point out the ones I like to use as a resource all year long. Best lists are a treasure trove of information and suggestions for us to use every day, not just during the waning days of each year. I hope these posts have been reminding you of that without hounding you.

    Now get out there and place a "Best" book in a reader's hand. Just remember, it doesn't have to have been deemed best this month or year. Any "Best" destination can be a valuable suggestion resource.

    Monday, December 10, 2018

    #LibFaves18 Has Begun: Participate And Access Previous Year's Lists Immediately

    Beginning today and going for 10 straight days, library workers all over the country will be counting down their personal favorite reads of books published in 2018 by Tweeting 1 books a day, with the title in ALL CAPS, and using #LibFaves18.

    Whether or not you are a Twitter user you can enjoy all the countdown fun using this link. But even better, the entire 10 days of library worker recs will be compiled into one, accessible spread sheet where every single title that is mentioned, even if it is only once, will be available for all to see, use to suggest to patrons, and for collection development. And, the organizers will also extrapolate some data from the process too.

    In fact, it is in the analysis of the results, after the 10 days are up, that I love even more than following along in real time because when all of our titles are aggregated together, some interesting trends appear. To see specifics, click on the year to see the final reports for 2017, 2016, and 2015 on the #LibFaves host, EarlyWord.

    I have not only included those links to show you what the organizers do with the titles each year, but also to remind you that those 3 past lists still make for perfect "BEST BOOK" suggestions to your patrons today. And, the best thing about those backlist best lists, there is a much better chance those titles will be on your shelves right now. Meaning, a patron can enjoy a previous best book, one they missed, one that is still just as good a read as it was 1, 2, 3 years ago, one they do not need to wait for. Sounds like a win-win to me.

    Personally, I take advantage of the  #LibFaves18 spotlight and use the fact that every single title will be included in the final list to promote only horror. Throughout #LibFaves18, I will be counting down my top 10 #HorrorForLibraries and then I will wrap it up with a post on the horror blog with more details.

    I take #LibFaves18 very seriously as a chance to promote horror to the widest audience of library workers possible. Go back and look at last year's list and you will see at least 10 horror titles on the LibFves17 list because of me. Without me horror is almost non existent on the list. Since I know some libraries will use the aggregated list to enhance their collections, I am not missing the opportunity to advocate for the appeal of horror to the widest audience possible.

    Please consider participating yourself. And while you wait for the results, peruse the last few year's lists. Remember, best lists are a great resource all year long, not just at the end of the year, and not just the current year's best. If it was someone's best at one time, there is a great chance it could be your patron's next best book right now.

    Friday, December 7, 2018

    RA for All Road Show Visit Ela Area [IL] Public Library

    Today I am headed Northwest to Lake Zurich, IL to work with the popular materials staff of the Ela Area Public Library.
    I will be speaking to a group that ranges from experts to novices. This is very common for me. What I like about these programs is that I can come and get everyone on the same page and begin the process of working together. Then after I leave, the leaders will be able to easily keep the RA ball rolling in the right direction.
    My program is only for the morning as the library will remain open and other staff will help cover the desks that will be left empty during the training.
    As always, the slides and links can be accessed by all.
    9-10:30 am: RA for All: Readers Advisory belongs in every library, no matter its budget. The implementation of this vital service is the responsibility of every staff member-- from pages to directors, from those behind the scenes to the ones on the front lines. This program will remove the mystery behind providing great RA service. Using her “Ten Rules of Basic RA Service” as a guide, Becky Spratford will use your own love of your favorite books to show you how to help any patron find their next great read. It's not as hard as you think. But more importantly, you will learn why a staff that can harness the power of sharing a great read will become a stronger team and improve service to all patrons.

    15 Minute Break
    10:45 am-12 pm: Booktalking Your Way to the Friendliest Library in Town: Booktalking is at the heart of what we do with patrons each and every day at the public library. Whether we are sharing books informally at the services desk, presenting a prepared list of books, or posting information online, talking about books is something we do each and every day. It is a core service, but it is also hard to teach. Booktalking is more of an art than a skill, but with the right guidance and some practice, it can go a long way toward engaging your patrons and re-energizing your staff. Join experienced Readers’ Advisory Becky Spratford as she shares the secret behind delivering great book talks, giving you tips and tricks you can begin using right away to hone your own skills. Rediscover the power and joy that comes from sharing books with patrons.

    This is my last in person appearance for 2018. But 2019 is filling up quickly. Currently I am booking April for my earliest in person appearances that require a flight, but February has a bit of space if I can drive. And don't ask about May. I cannot possibly be anywhere else in May. I have already turned down 2 fabulous offers for May 2019 because I can only be in one place at a time.

    Thursday, December 6, 2018

    Best Book Covers of 2018 via BookRiot and a Reminder to Judge Books By Their Covers

    This week Book Riot released their list of the best book cover of 2018. There are many RA opportunities in this piece as each cover was picked by a different contributor and includes a statement as to why that person chose it. The annotations are awesome and enhance the list both as a resource for me, the library worker and me, the reader.

    This is a different kind of best list and is a nice break from the sameness of the daily onslaught of best lists we are getting every day.

     It is also a great one best list to use to help readers. How? Well I have a post about that. Back in 2017 I outlined why you need to judge a book by its cover and how to use it to help patrons.

    Pair the two together and you will have a great resource.

    Also it is fun. I judge books by their covers all of the time and every time it makes me giggle, like I am doing something wrong. Every time I match a book with a reader this way it makes me smile. Give it a try yourself.

    Click here for theBookRiot post

    Wednesday, December 5, 2018

    RA for All Roadshow Visits La Grange Public Library

    Today I am presenting a half day afternoon training at my local library, where I am on the Board of Trustees. Yes, that means I cannot charge them, but I am fine with this because training the staff of my local library means that I am helping all of my neighbors get better service. 

    Here is the schedule for this afternoon. As always, the slides and links can be used by all, at any time.


    RA for All: Readers Advisory belongs in every library, no matter its budget. The implementation of this vital service is the responsibility of every staff member-- from pages to directors, from those behind the scenes to the ones on the front lines. This program will remove the mystery behind providing great RA service. Using her “Ten Rules of Basic RA Service” as a guide, Becky Spratford will use your own love of your favorite books to show you how to help any patron find their next great read. It's not as hard as you think. But more importantly, you will learn why a staff that can harness the power of sharing a great read will become a stronger team and improve service to all patrons.


    Booktalking Your Way to the Friendliest Library in Town: Booktalking is at the heart of what we do with patrons each and every day at the public library. Whether we are sharing books informally at the services desk, presenting a prepared list of books, or posting information online, talking about books is something we do each and every day. It is a core service, but it is also hard to teach. Booktalking is more of an art than a skill, but with the right guidance and some practice, it can go a long way toward engaging your patrons and re-energizing your staff. Join experienced Readers’ Advisory Becky Spratford as she shares the secret behind delivering great book talks, giving you tips and tricks you can begin using right away to hone your own skills. Rediscover the power and joy that comes from sharing books with patrons.