Today Publisher's Weekly debuted their Best Books 2017 website. This is not only always the earliest best books list of the year, but also, it is one of the most useful for you as you work with readers at the desk. The reason? It's not because they pick the best books, it is because they pick books in many categories AND make access to their past best books lists [and best books of summer lists] easily accessible from every page. Here is a screen shot:
Do you realize how great this list is to use as a resource? Patrons just want a "Best" book. They really don't care what year it is from.
This time of year the best lists will come fast and furious and there will be some titles that get repeated everywhere, like Sing, Unburied, Sing by Ward. Patrons will come in asking for the best books because these are the books dominating the headlines every Fall. Also, they figure if they are only going to read a couple of books this year, they might as well read ones that are worth their time.
That's when the PW Best Books website becomes so helpful. You can pull up this one page and ask the patron to choose a category. Trust me, most of them are going to go bonkers over the fact that genre titles are included. And, together you can pick a title from this year's list-- either the overall best list or the Summer one.
Each book has an annotation too, so you don't need to worry about being able to "talk the book up." You literally only need to know how to click a link and read aloud to use this resource with a patron.
But, what if the current titles are checked out? -- which as we go through the Fall they probably all will be-- Don't worry, you have 13 more lists each with 13 categories! That's over 150 more titles to choose from. And all are "best" quality.
You just have to put the hold on this year's title that they want and then say, well, while you wait, let's look at some of the best books from a few years ago that you might not have had time to get to yet. Don't say, "titles you may have missed." Titles you haven't gotten to yet," is less judgmental. It makes it seem like the patron always meant to read those too, but just ran out of time.
Patrons LOVE this option of trying past years' best lists. They never think of it themselves, but when you suggest it, they will often take a deep dive into the backlist. Old books that at one time were "THE BEST" is enough for most patrons to give them a try.
And we have most of these books in our collections. We buy them and they get checked out precisely because they were on best lists. I often go back and use these older lists to find book discussion suggestions too. So even with strict weeding rules, most libraries will still have many of the books from the PW Best Books archive because they are still checked out at least once in awhile.
Bookmark this site from PW. It is up and active all year long. I use it frequently this time of year, but I have also used it throughout the year to identify good reads for patrons. Not to mention the display implications-- Throwback to 2009, Forgotten Favorites, Best Mysteries from the last 5 years, etc....
I know it isn't even Halloween yet and the first of many best lists is being thrown at your today, but embrace it. Use this site to help patrons. It is easy to use and patrons will think you are so smart.
For more advice from me on how to use best lists as a RA resource, click here.
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