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Thursday, November 21, 2013

50 Books That Define the Past Five Years in Literature and Why You the RA Librarian Should Care

Flavorwire ran this interesting list yesterday.

I am reposting it here for 3 reasons:

  1. I like the idea of putting recent good books in their contextual place.  Many on this list have become lost in the shuffle over the last five years, but most were critically acclaimed when they came out, thus purchased by most libraries.  Many are probably “lost" in the stacks waiting for someone to discover them again. This annotated list, will jog your memory so you can book talk one of these titles to a patron who may love it.
  2. Again, you probably own most of these in your collections, and the five year mark is when we start thinking about weeding unread books.  Now might be the time to take a look at these 50 titles in particular, pull up your circ stats for each, and see if they are the right fit for your patron base.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, in this, the season of “BEST” books lists, I can promise that you will have a growing holds list for those titles appearing on the various lists of 2013’s best, but I would be willing to bet that you have a least of few of these “important” and “defining” titles from the Flavorwire list on your shelves at any given time throughout this year end “best” bonanza.  So, when a patron comes in asking for books on the year end “best” lists, after you offer to add them to the holds list, offer this alternative “best” list of books that at least one critic thinks can define a half-decade period.  Half a decade trumps best of the year any day.
Seriously though, most people are only looking for the books from the year end “best” lists because they don’t want to waste their time with a “bad” book.  If they can only read a few books a year, they want some kind of “seal of approval” from someone before they are willing to take the plunge [yes, even when the book is free from the library with no obligation to return it read]. So when they can’t find a book on the 2013 best list, try books from 2012’s or 2011’s lists.  Or even better, this Flavorwire list.

If your goal is to have your patrons leave satisfied [as it should be], offering one of these 50 titles will allow you to hit that goal.  Now, whether or not your patrons will like any book from any best list is another story, and probably best saved for another post because just because a book makes a best of the year list that does not mean that it is right for every reader.

I will have more on that next week.

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