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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.

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