I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Hardboiled Is Not Only An Egg: And Other Tips For Genre Readers’ Advisory-- Via LibraryLink NJ

Last week, my colleagues Robin Bradford and Stephanie Anderson presented a webinar to NJ librarians on helping readers of some of the most popular genres. I asked LibraryLink NJ for permission to cross post it here and they agreed. Thank you to all for allowing me to share this wonderful presentation with even more people. 

Below I have posted all of the information and the links for the slides, handout, and even the video are embedded, but just in case there are technical difficulties, you can click here to pull up the entire page.

I highly suggest you take some time this week to view this webinar. I already did over the weekend.

Thank you again to all involved.

Event Information


Thursday, April 26, 2018 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm

Instructor/Presenter(s):  Robin Bradford  


Event Type:

Continuing Education - Webinar

Collection Development
Customer Service
Professional/Personal Development
HideEvent Files
HideTarget Audience
All library staff who provide readers' advisory to adult readers

Many people who work in libraries are hesitant about suggesting titles to patrons in genres they don’t read. And no wonder - with a multitude of subgenres and thousands of new titles per year, it can be hard to know where to start! In this webinar, we’ll share a set of tools you can use to decipher a wide variety of popular genres that reach adult readers in every community. We’ll discuss historical romance, contemporary romance, crime fiction, true crime, science fiction, and fantasy. In addition to providing a list of popular titles and authors in each genre, we’ll decode cover art and use appeal factors to uncover crossover titles. We’ll also share advice on how to approach the RA conversation around genre fiction, including using TV & movie preferences to reach a wide variety of potential readers, including adults who are returning to the reading life.
After participating in this webinar, library staff will be able to:
  • Guide readers in conversations about historical romance, contemporary romance, crime fiction, true crime, science fiction, and fantasy
  • Relate TV & movie readers’ advisory to print RA
  • Suggest genre titles confidently, even if they haven’t read them

Friday, April 27, 2018

Stay on Top of Book Awards Schedules for RA and Collection Development

Regular readers know that I bang the drum often on the topic of Using Awards Lists as a RA and Collection Development Tool.  Here is the direct link to the first time I brought it up, and here is a list of every time I have posted about it since, in reverse chronological order. Each of those posts links back to the original, but they are worth glancing at because I do add something each time....like today!

Every single literary award list can be used in four different ways to help with:

  1. Collection Development [identify key titles and authors]
  2. Readalikes 
  3. Displays 
  4. As a resource itself [to get yourself up to speed]
Again, all of this is explained in detail in that first post on this topic. But there are A LOT of awards and it is hard to keep up with every single one. Also, it would be helpful to know in advance which awards are being announced when, especially genre ones which are not only a resource for our genre readers, but are a key tool for us to stay up to speed on all the different genres.

Even I don’t always remember which awards are when. I know vaguely when to expect announcements, but “vague” is not ideal for planning purposes. Also there are so many awards that I often forget about some until after I could have referred to them for a specific RA question. 

Well, 5 Minute Librarian has come to our rescue here on both counts as they have an easy to use calendar, listing of all the book awards by month, and broken up by age level, with a link directly to each award page-- The Ultimate Book Awards Calendar. Now you need to go to one place for every award, its date, and just click. You don’t need to remember because they have done it for us.

Bookmark this page to use for all 4 reasons above. Seriously, you can find a reason to use this page just about every day to help a patron, improve your collection, or teach yourself.

Awards lists really do make the best RA Tool. Thanks to the 5 Minute Librarian Team who have an entire site of useful posts that get you the info you need to do your job, efficiently and effectively.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

RA Conversation Starter: Ask Your Patrons About Their Favorite RA Resources

When I talk about RA Service I stress that listening to our patrons is juts as important as suggesting books to them. Why, because one of the main tenants of RA Service is that "everyone reads a different version of the same book."

Reading is personal. You and I may both like the same book, but it could be for completely different reasons, and those reasons could even be diametrically opposed. This is something I talk about in detail and for which I give real life examples when I present, but the point here is that we need to understand WHY the person in front of us likes the books they like before we start trying to match them with a specific book.

However, I also know from experience that getting patrons to talk about the books they like and why is hard. We need to have ice breakers to start the RA conversation AND get them to reveal their reading preferences beyond specific authors and titles-- to get at what is appealing to them about the books they love.

So, here is a great conversation starter to use with patrons-- ask them to tell you what resources they have used in the past to find books to read for themselves. Their answer tells you more than you think about their reading preferences.

First, there is the obvious reason to do this, you can go straight to that resource and look for more titles. For example, if they say "NPR," you can go to the NPR books site and start talking with them about the books that have recently appeared there. You don't need to have read these titles because the info is all there. Also, the brand new titles are on the front pages, but they do an excellent job of providing many backlist options, especially through the Best Book Concierge. [Here is a post I have written just about that resource].

But you can do this with any resources. Go to their favorite first and talk about why they like it and how they use it. Together you can find more titles, but at the very least, you are setting the example that RA Service is about talking about books in a effort to find a good read. It is both the conversation and the transaction.

Second, you can learn a lot about the type of book someone wants by their answer to the resource question. For example, the person who answers "best seller lists" or "recs from friends," that patrons is interested in the communal aspect of reading. They are looking for titles that other people are reading, enjoying, and talking about. You need to keep that in mind as you help them find other books to read.

People who answer with a very specific genre based resource, well for those people you have found out that they love a specific genre. You will start the conversation with that genre.

You get the point. The key take away here is that these examples focus on getting the conversation started. You might not find them a viable suggestion immediately this way, but you can get the patron talking about the books they like more easily. Asking people to articulate why they like the books they like without them ever having thought about this before will stump most people. Heck, it stumps many of you when I ask you to do it in my training sessions. Also, I have found that they aren't as open about their true preferences if this question makes them nervous. They start spouting things they have heard others say about books and reading trends.

On the other hand, when we take the focus off a specific book and instead ask them how they have identified those good reads, we can start talking about the discovery process. It is in that process where we hear the WHYs. It is that process where we excel. It is that discovery process which we can facilitate for them.

We can even introduce them to a few fun resources in the process too. I really love Gnooks Literature Map as a way to spark conversation without pressure. Here is the entry for Gillian Flynn. When patrons see all of the authors those who liked Flynn also like, they will understand that everyone likes books for different reasons because the list is so varied. For example, I never thought of Kevin Kwan as a readalike for Flynn until I went here. Seeing that someone else likes both made me think about it and now I totally see it [engaging characters, high drama are shared. Tone, not so much.]

Seeing this connection that no other resource would make, together you will both will feel less pressure and talk about more authors and titles they have loved and why-- even those that don't seem like they make sense. Plus you can click around and end up somewhere no other resource will take you.

So ask your patrons to tell you about their favorite book discovery resources and see where the conversation takes you.

For more ideas, here is a link to the other posts I have tagged "Conversation Starter."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Halfway to Halloween by me in LJ

Twice a year I am invited to take over Neal Wyatt’s Reader’s Shelf column in Library Journal. [You can see all of my past lists in my Original Content Archive on the horror blog here. There are 11 now!] Every April I use it as an opportunity to celebrate “Halfway to Halloween.” Yes, I am still trying to make this a thing.

For the April list, I am allowed to pick any topic [for October, I have to do debuts]. This year I wanted to talk about books by some of the authors who joined me for Librarians’ Day at StokerCon 2018 as a thank you to them for freely giving their time.

Interestingly, this list was due two weeks before I left for the conference and I simply picked books I had read and enjoyed by six of the authors who joined me, but in the time between turning this list in and it being published, Christopher Golden won the Stoker for Best Novel for Ararat  and Grady Hendrix won best Nonfiction. Also Hematophages was nominated for a Splatterpunk Award in the category of Best Novel. So I think I chose well.

All of these titles are an excellent choice for public library collections.

Why not put out some horror books this week to celebrate Halfway to Halloween at your library?

Halfway to Halloween | The Reader’s Shelf

While spring breaks forth and gardening books take center stage, keep in mind that Halloween is coming. For collections that need some weeding and reseeding, here are titles worth adding. They range from a second look at a classic to voices fresh and familiar.
Many of today’s best horror writers ply their trade through short stories. Bram Stoker Award–winning author and editor Eric J. Guignard helps readers find these gems with a new series. The first installment is Exploring Dark Short Fiction: A Primer to Steve Rasnic Tem (Dark Moon. 2017. ISBN 9780998827520. pap. $13.95; ebk. ISBN 9780998827537), a fascinating study for fans seeking new reads and for librarians developing wide-ranging collections. The endeavor also includes expert commentary, critical essays, and original artwork. Volumes focused on Kaaron Warren, Nisi Shawl, and Jeffrey Ford are forthcoming.
Best-selling author Grady Hendrix contemplates the position of classic horror in the critically acclaimed Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction(Quirk. 2017. ISBN 9781594749810. pap. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781594749827). With chapters that address such beloved concepts as vampires, demonic possession, and creepy kids, the heavily illustrated book is packed with image after image of zany, pulp-y book covers from the era. Hendrix offers thoughtful and compelling discussions of these novels and articulates their enduring appeal. Biographies of authors (some still famous and some lost to the decades) are also provided. While serving as a fine resource for readers—especially those searching for the books of their youth or wanting to pick up ones they missed—this guide is also a joy owing to Hendrix’s infectious enthusiasm.
Stephen Kozeniewski’s skillful sf and horror blend The Hematophages (Sinister Grin. 2017. ISBN 9781944044558. pap. $15.99) chronicles the world of Paige Ambroziak. An academic who has never left her space outpost, Paige joins a team sent to find a lost ship that has been adrift for hundreds of years. Discovering more than that, the crew stumble upon the deadly hematophages, beings that feast upon the insides of their victims and have acquired an acute taste for human brains. Immediate and acerbic first-person narration mixes with terrifying scenes, strong science, and excellent worldbuilding, which all enhance the fast pace of this gross and great read.
A rising star of the weird fiction subgenre, Nadia Bulkin intrigues with her debut story compilation, She Said Destroy (Word Horde. 2017. ISBN 9781939905338. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781939905345). It features tales in which supernatural frights and real-world dread collide with power-hungry dictators, haunted hotels, cursed children, murderous monsters, bullies, “the final girl” trope, and much more. The author’s international upbringing and studies play out on the page; her stories weigh differing perspectives, give powerful voice to the forgotten, and find horror in experiences both extraordinary and mundane. In her hands, terror comes from the underlying truth that these stories are firmly rooted in the circumstances of our current society. Already the winner of Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy awards, Bulkin is an author not to be missed.
Savage Woods (Lyrical Underground. 2017. ISBN 9781601837516. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781601837509) by Mary SanGiovanni takes place in the forest of the eerie and haunted Pine Barrens of New Jersey. The landscape offers little sanctuary, but when Julia Russo’s raging ex forces her off the road, she must flee into the trees—an action that sends the police in after her. A master of cosmic horror, SanGiovanni evokes a Lovecraftian sensibility in this action-filled story in which ancient spirits rule the woods where Julia must now survive. Scary, suspenseful, smart, and gory, the novel is also beautifully set and described, with the forest becoming something of a second character.
The haunted mythology behind the deep, dark woods is a well-mined idea, but author Christopher Golden takes the fear even deeper—and into an icy cave—with Ararat (St. Martin’s. 2017. ISBN 9781250117052. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250117069), a story rooted in the Old Testament. Suspecting that they have at last found the remains of Noah’s Ark, a team of researchers climb to the top of a frosty mountain to extract its possible religious and historical treasures. They instead provoke a creature that has been waiting for centuries for new prey to arrive. The highly effective thrills of the narrative fuse with rapid plotting, plenty of tension, and high stakes. The result is a novel that will hook readers cold.
Neal Wyatt compiles LJ’s online feature Wyatt’s World and is the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers’ advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader’s Shelf should contact her directly at Readers_Shelf@comcast.net
This column was contributed by Becky Spratford, a Readers’ Advisor in Illinois. She is the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror (2d ed. ALA Editions, 2012) and a proud member of the Horror Writers Association. Learn more about her at raforall.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Library Blog Worth Your Time: RCLS Reads

One of the best things about going out to train library staff all over the country is that I get to see all of the great things these libraries are doing and then share it with all of you.

Recently, on my trip to the Nashville area, I met Brittney, a Branch Supervisor in the Rutherford County Library System. She is part of a team who have started the blog RCLS Reads.

On the blog they provide reviews and booklists but also, staff talk about their own reading, what they enjoy and how they find titles. I particularly liked this post on how one staff member pushed through her “Reader’s Block.” It was relatable to patrons, but it also was instructive to other staff illustrating  how they can work with patrons to identify new reading options using a real life example.

Recently, they began a series of posts highlighting genre fiction that centers on marginalized peoples and perspectives. They began with Speculative Fiction.

Below is the first post, but you can read more here.

I think RCLS Reads is a great example of what a group of library staff can create by working together. They are helping readers find good reads, but they are also helping each other.

Thanks for sharing Brittney. And if you have something happening at your library that you want to share, contact me.

This is the first installment of a new series highlighting genre fiction that centers marginalized peoples and perspectives. 
Science fiction and fantasy affords us the opportunity to travel beyond the bounds of our known world, to posit answers to timely and complex questions, and to imagine what could be. More than ever before, authors of all backgrounds are claiming their space and making their voices heard. These writers are keeping the genre relevant and vibrant by ensuring that more and more people can see themselves in the pages of the novels that they read.
Here are fourteen SFF novels with protagonists who are people of color:
Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jonesmapping the interior
Junior catches a glimpse of a phantom dressed in fancy dance regalia late at night and realizes that the ghost of his father is haunting him. Jones blends fantasy and horror in a dark, satisfying novella.
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Sierra Santiagos’s summer plans are diverted when a series of strange events around her Brooklyn neighborhood lead her to the discovery of Shadowshapers, who use art in various forms to connect with spirits.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Skilled in technology and diplomacy, sixteen-year-old Binti leaves her family and her homeworld for the first time to attend a prestigious university. On the way, she encounters a deadly alien species. Will she survive?
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Set in the year 2025, this post-apocalyptic novel follows Lauren, a hyperempath able to acutely feel others’ pain, as her home is destroyed and she is forced into the dangers of the outside world.
labyrinth lostLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Alex is a powerful bruja who hates magic and tries to rid herself of her gifts. But her spell backfires, and her entire family disappears. Can Alex save them? And who can she trust to help her?
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Atl, a vampire, enlists the help of a young garbage-picker named Domingo as she flees Mexico City for South America. Moreno-Garcia creates a fascinating world of diverse vampire races–Atl, just one example, is a birdlike descendant of the Aztecs–that is unlike any vampire novel you’ve read.
Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
Evie Tanaka’s job as personal assistant to her superhero best friend isn’t easy, but she’s good at it, and content to stay in the shadows. But she is pulled into the light when an undercover mission reveals her secret: She has superpowers, too.
The Reader by Traci Cheeheroine complex
In a world where reading is unheard of, Sefia must use a book that once belonged to her father to unravel the mystery of his death and to rescue her kidnapped aunt.
The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino
Described as “a mythical feminist noir about family secrets,” this novel tells the story of two sisters who are separated by wildly different fates: One is to become an Oracle, while the other must spend her life guiding spirits to the underworld.
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
In an alternate Earth called the Stillness, where constant seismic activity renders the land unstable and some are able to use the earth’s power as a weapon, a woman embarks on a quest to save her daughter.
Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
Nettie Lonesome lives a hard life, dressing like a boy and being treated like a slave. When she kills a stranger in self-defense and he turns to black sand, Nettie is awakened to a new reality previously unseen. A paranormal Western that has been described as adventurous and unique.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Two magical creatures–the titular golem and jinni–meet and become companions in turn-of-the-century New York. This award-winning historical fantasy explores Jewish and Middle Eastern culture.
god's warThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
When Shahrzad’s best friend falls victim to the murderous Khalid, Caliph of Khorasan, she vows revenge. But when she enacts her plan, she discovers more obstacles than she expected, and has to contend with her own feelings in addition to deception and vengeance.
God’s War by Kameron Hurley
Nyx, a mercenary and former government assassin, has a chance to end the holy war that has ravaged her world for centuries when she is chosen for a covert mission.

Monday, April 23, 2018

PW Best Summer Books 2018 is Live

I know April isn’t even over, and for some of you there is still snow on the ground, but one of my favorite year round tools is now live... The Publishers Weekly Best Summer Books database.

Notice I said "year round tool” about a summer reading list. That was not a typo. I love using this annual database to find sure bet suggestions for readers all year long. Why? First, because in general editors of “best” lists are more willing to take enjoyment into to consideration when designating something to be “great” for the summer as opposed to those they give end of the year honors. Therefore, these books are much more in a “sure bet” range than the ones we find in year end lists.

Second, you can help everyone in the family with the Best Summer Books lists since they have all the genres, age levels, and even comics in one place.

Third, because all of the backlist lists are there, right at the top! We all now have 7 full years of wonderful suggestions with this one click. And, those older titles will be on your shelves...right now! They are still best summer books, just not this year’s ones.

And fourth, because they don’t think that a book has to be set in a sunny place or on the beach to be a “great summer read.” Heck, they even picked the new Paul Tremblay [which I have read and loved; review will be in 5/15 Booklist] which is about the worst vacation ever-- and even that statement is an understatement.

Click here to see this year’s version, but see my post from April of last year [here and below] to get more details from me on WHY this annual list is so wonderful.



Best Summer Books WITH BACKLIST! [Or, why Becky Hearts the PW Best Lists, Always]

It seems like every April I gush about how much I love how Publisher's Weekly displays their best books of summer. Case in point, last year's post. But I do love it. Here's why. They think about every type of reader when they make this list:  Kids, teens, adults, genre readers and literary fiction readers, people who want the newest books, and MY FAVORITE, people who want any proven good summer read, even if it is *gasp* from the backlist.

That's right, they include the backlist, and it's front and center too.  See for yourself:

This is one of the "Staff Picks" titles, in other words, one of the "Top 10" titles for summer and it is 100% genre. There is also a kids' graphic novel, a debut novel, nonfiction, a blockbuster bestselling author, a collection of Proust's letters, and more. I wasn't kidding when I said there was something for everyone.

You can click here to access the Best Summer Books 2017 page directly to see for yourself.

But the best thing about this site is how they truly put the reader first. Yes PW is the main professional serial for the publishing and bookstore world. They are there to promote and sell books, BUT I am always pleasantly surprised how reader friendly they are-- more so than the publishers tend to be. [You can read this rant I had in October about why the publishers do not help us in the ways we need to be helped.]

We know that people read more in the summer, which also means there will be more variety in the tastes of this increased number of readers. We need the widest net possible to help all of these readers. PW understands this and gives us a wonderful variety to use as our RA conversation starting point.

This is important because when we are helping patrons who only come to the library a few times a year, we really need to shine, but we also have to do it quickly. Resources like the PW "best" lists are a way to do that.

Let me explain in more details by paraphrasing what I said about the 2016 list last year here.

As you can see you have this year’s best summer books on the front page.  On the aqua bar across the top you can then choose to see more by genre. AND, you can do the same thing for summer books each year back to 2012!

But wait, there is more. You can do the same thing for their BEST of the year lists too.  ALL FROM ONE PAGE. They have both bars right at the top for super easy navigation and quick access.

Do you all realize what a treasure trove of information this is? Do you realize how happy you will be able to make a patron with just a few clicks?

And, each book comes with an annotation. You can do everything from identify a good book AND book talk it all from one resource.  You will look like a book wizard-- because you are if you use the site to help readers.

Yes, it is great for us to know about the big books of summer ahead of time.  We can make sure we have them ordered, we can start preparing “while you wait” readalike lists for some of the more popular ones like the new Lincoln Child [which is a werewolf story by the way], and we can talk them up to patrons in advance and enourage them to place holds.

However, these books are not going to be on the shelf now, both because they are not released yet AND because this advance buzz will mean people may have to wait.

But, never fear, Publisher’s Weekly has your back. Yes this list of Summer 2017’s best are not going to be available ASAP, but last year’s, or the year before’s will be.

wrote about this at length here in regards to end of the year best lists, but the advice holds true for summer reads too:

Again, you need to remember that they just want a “best” book. Most of them do not care when it was “best.” Trust me. I have done this switcharoo dozens of times over the last 15 years. People love it. They often feel like they got a “secret” best book when it is one I found from a previous year’s list.
Most patrons will be happy with any "Summer" book. Yes, many will want to read the new Lee Child Jack Reacher novel, of course, and they should, it is going to be good, but while they wait why not give them the hot Summer Mystery/Thriller from 2014, I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes- also very good and still a great suggestion three years later.

Speaking of Mystery and Thrillers, again I want to point out how AWESOME it is that PW gives specific lists of summer reads for genre readers and kids. This makes the site so much more useful to us as we help actual readers and doesn't worry as much about what the critics say are the best books we should be reading.

So right now, use the page to make sure you have these hot titles ordered. If they made the PW site it means that the publishers will be going all out on these titles.  Your patrons will see and hear plenty of media buzz on these books, so get them on-order now.

But then, bookmark the page for use all year long, to find patrons a “best” book.  Between this backlist trove and the Library Reads lists, you have hundreds of sure bet options complete with a quick book talk right at your fingertips. You have years and years of proven titles and they are only a click away.

Anyone who can click a mouse on the Internet can turn these pages into effective service to leisure readers.  Give it a try.

Finally, I think it is important to not that I have all this love for PW and it is one of the only review journals I do NOT write for, meaning they have never paid me a dime, meaning this is true best list love.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Proof Practice Works for EVERYONE!

I am hoping that by now, every one of my readers know about my 10 Basic Rules of RA Service. Rule 10 is:
      -- Get Booked podcast as a practice tool
      -- Participate in #AskaLibrarian
      -- reader profile exercise
I always say this in my training sessions, but I practice using at least one of these tool every single week, and it always helps. Yesterday I had such a valuable experience in my own practicing that I thought it was worth sharing with all of you.

I was listening to The Get Booked podcast while I was driving around. This week it was all about Nonfiction and one of the books that came up was The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum, an excellent nonfiction about the birth of forensic medicine.

I am currently working on finding my 15 year old daughter, with dreams of being a forensic scientist/medical examiner books to read for fun. She loves Sherlock Holmes both the originals and the modern updates like The House of Silk [which she is reading right now]. She also loves narrative nonfiction. And as you can see here, Blum’s book is a perfect match for her.

Here’s the thing though....I read this book in 2013 and really liked it. Here’s my review. But, I had completely forgotten about it when asked by her for something to read. This proves that all of us need practice.

Hearing about books, anytime, anywhere, especially listening to people talk about the feel of the book and why someone may like it not only introduces us to titles we didn’t know about, but also, reminds us of the the perfect book we read already but had forgotten about, a book that might be the perfect match for the reader in front of you, if only you could remember it existed. And in this case, I didn’t remember.

Practice works for everyone, from the newbie to the expert like me. Thank goodness I practice. My daughter is going to be thrilled when the hold comes in[seriously I placed a hold immediately]. Don’t think you are too good to practice. No one is ever too good to practice and today’s post is the proof.

Click here to read my review of The Poisoner’s Handbook. And, while you are at it, why not go back and peruse through some of the books you haven’t read for 5 years or so. Speaking of, some of you may not have notes. To those of you, I refer you back to my 10 Rules page, Rule 4. Start taking notes!

Have a great weekend. Spring has finally sprung here in Chicagoland and I am going to enjoy it.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Trend Alert: Graphic Medicine

Many of you probably saw this article in Public Libraries Online about Graphic Medicine, but in case you didn’t, I have linked it here and reposted the text below [mostly so the content is saved even if the link breaks].
Graphic Medicine has been on my radar, and probably most of yours for a while, you just probably didn’t realize it. What to I mean? Well think of all of the popular graphic memoirs dealing with illness that you currently have on the shelf, and we are talking pretty popular ones too: Stiches,  Ghosts, and all the way back to one of the seminal titles in this category-- Epileptic by David B.
All of these titles deal with medical issues. But Graphic Medicine has moved well beyond the memoir-- there is even a series of Comics and Medicine conferences. It is a trend that is now being talked about throughout librarianship, as the Public Libraries Online article illustrates. 
As the article below notes, the best place to see everything that is going on in the field is the Graphic Medicine website. Understanding this trend is the first step. Then you can use their database of book reviews, links, and more. I would especially suggest that you follow librarian Matthew Noe’s This Week in Graphic Medicine reports. He is also very interested in RA for Graphic Medicine and talks about it frequently. 
The site has indexed all sides, examples, and experiences of what "Graphic Medicine” is, and presented in a way that allows you to fully grasp how wide, useful, and exciting the field is. Look, I am a librarian and married to a doctor and I learned a ton looking through the site, watching some conference presentation videos, and reading a lot of the info linked here, so I am sure you can learn something too.
As with all of my trending posts, I try to alert you to new genres or issues that are emerging so that you can anticipate the patrons’ wants. But as always, with a trend, the best pace to start is a display. Use the Graphic Medicine site to identify the plethora titles you already have, put up a sign that says “Graphic Medicine,” and watch the titles fly off the shelves. 

A Prescription for Graphic Medicine

by Shelley Wall on April 12, 2018
Graphic medicine is a rapidly growing area of creation, research and teaching that brings together the visual/textual language of comics with stories of illness and health care.
In recent decades there has been an explosion of comics exploring medical experience from the point of view of patients, family members and health care professionals. The term “graphic medicine” was coined by physician and comics artist Ian Williams when he began to catalogue such works. The website he inaugurated, www.graphicmedicine.org, has evolved into a robust, multi-faceted resource for anyone interested in learning more about the field.
And what a rich and varied field it is. There are graphic memoirs (“graphic pathographies”) about almost any state of health or illness you can name for example, cancer, bipolar disorder, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, addiction, spina bifida, HIV/AIDS — and in a wide variety of artistic and narrative styles.
While it may sound strange to create or read comics about something as serious as a life-altering medical condition, comics is, in fact, the perfect medium to capture the ambiguities, contradictions and occasional absurdities of the illness journey. The interplay of image and text can communicate in ways that text alone cannot, and the comics medium, as a familiar and non-threatening form of narrative, can possibly ease the discussion of difficult topics.
For patients and families, reading graphic pathography can provide reassurance that they are not alone in what they are going through. For readers with no personal experience of an illness, reading graphic pathography can educate and promote empathy with others — as well as providing the same human interest and narrative pleasure as all other kinds of memoir. For health care professionals and students, reading graphic medicine helps to promote empathy for the patient experience, and stimulates reflection on topics such as ethics and communication in health care. And for scholars in the humanities and social sciences, graphic medicine provides a powerful lens for the analysis of identity and culture within the context of health and illness.
In addition to reading comics, making comics is an important feature of the graphic medicine movement. You don’t have to be an artist to “get out your crayons,” in the words of graphic medicine pioneer MK Czerwiec, and draw your story. In some medical schools, students are invited to create comics as a way to reflect on formative experiences; in two recent initiatives at a children’s rehab center in Toronto, nurses and the parents of pediatric patients attended comics-making seminars to tell and share their stories. In other instances, cartoonists work with patients to document their health care stories, as in the wonderful “Sketches from Outside the Margins” initiative in Seattle/King County.
Visit graphicmedicine.org to learn more about the field and the annual Comics and Medicine Conference, to find reviews of works of graphic medicine, to check out “This Week in Graphic Medicine,” a regular blog post by medical librarian Matthew Noe that highlights the newest relevant books, articles, events, podcasts and other media, and for information about the “Graphic Medicine” book series from Penn State University Press.
Shelley Wall, MScBMC PhD, is an Assistant Professor, Biomedical Communications Program at the University of Toronto.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Audiobook Resources from BookRiot

Recently I was asked which resource I would suggest for patrons and library workers who wanted to know more about audiobooks.

I mentioned the I really like Audible to see customer reviews of audiobooks and to hear a snippet of the author reading, and that I also use Audiofile Magazine for industry news, but these both help more if you have a patron who already likes audiobooks and needs help finding more. Also, you need to know a bit more about audiobooks in general, like understanding the listening experience, in order to be able to use these resources well.

For the library worker or patrons [or both] who want to learn more about good audiobooks, why people like or dislike audiobooks, and even for great lists, I use the Audiobooks Archive tab on BookRiot.

Use this link anytime to see everything they have written about audio books. From excerpts to essays to reviews and lists on any topic or genre you could imagine, this is a great resources to interact with. You can read about audiobooks as a topic, a format, and an experience as well as find suggestions. Even an audiobook newbie will gain a better understand of the format using this resource.

This is a wonderful tool for those who are feeling lost in the midst of the audiobook’s current explosion of popularity. Give it a try. It’s updated at least once a day, so you can visit often.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Using Goodreads During the RA Conversation for Individualized Results

Goodreads is one of my favorite resources for helping readers precisely because everything on the site is driven by actual readers and, most importantly, their opinions.

As I make very clear in my 10 Basic Rules of RA Service, one of the very best uses of Goodreads for us, the library workers, is the customer reviews-- specifically the 5 star people who LOVE the book and the 2 Star reviewers who didn’t like it and very often share their reasons why. You can get more appeal information about how and why a book did or did not work from these reviews than you can anywhere else.  Even talking to a reader isn’t as useful.

My second favorite thing on Goodreads was something that is now gone, the “Others who enjoyed this book also enjoyed....” carousel. Again, the reason this worked so well as we tried to understand the appeal of a title and help readers is that this list was based on the actual readers and what else they liked. Unlike resources like NoveList, where professionals (myself included) try to intellectually match books for specific reasons, this carousel was purely based on the opinions of readers. And as we know from serving patrons and from just looking at ourselves, we often like things for reasons that don’t make measurable sense.

With that carousel gone, it was as if we lost our connection directly into the messy brains of readers. The data of people’s likes and dislikes that make sense to each individual but are harder to recreate with logic, is now lost. Or is it?

I have spent some time exploring Goodreads to recapture this more intuitive and emotionally driven type of readalike suggestion engine and I think I have found that by doing more targeted work, you will actually get even better results for your readers than you did with the carousel.

Let me explain by using a title that has a lot of appeal points-- I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas. Click here for my review. This is a book that is a Lovecraft parody aimed at uber fans, newbies, and anyone in between. It is also a mystery, a horror novel, and fan fiction about a Con. There are many people who have enjoyed this book but they have also come at heir opinion from different angles. And that’s why using Goodreads to find someone a similar title is your best bet.

But how to narrow down what a specific reader liked about I Am Providence and then find similar titles?

Screen shot from
right gutter of entry.
First thing I would do with someone who liked this book is to go immediately to the list of shelves Goodreads users have filed this book on. You can see a screen shot of where to access this info on the left. Click here to see them all 387 of them. These shelves are basically what a given user wanted to remember about the book. More often than not they are frame or appeal terms. You can read these “shelf” titles to a patron and see what piques their interest.

For example some readers have shelved this as “mystery-thriller,” “Lovecraft,” even “NPR” [lots of patrons only read books they hear about on NPR; I helped a few of those over the years]. But my personal favorite was “Random Horror Stories.” As a reader, this spoke to me about this book and my experience reading it. It is horror, yes, but hard to file in a standard horror subgenre. I like it, a lot, but it was random.

So let’s pretend I am the patron here looking for a similar read. You show me the shelves to try to get the RA Conversation going [and note, you can do this without having read the book, so you can do this with any patron for any book because the “appeal” terms are on the screen] and “Random Horror Stories” catches my eye. Even though only 1 reader of I Am Providence used this shelf term, the link lead you to a huge lists of titles including books by Paul Tremblay and Stephen Graham Jones, who I will tell you from experience, would totally work as readalikes for this book for me as a reader. And right at the top of the list is a book on my current to-read list-- Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi-- further proof that this works. A book I have been meaning to read shows up immediately on the screen. Done. That’s what I am reading next.

You just helped me find my next good read by using resources to show me how to help myself! Success.

What I love about doing this is that you have to have a conversation with the patron in tandem with the resource in order for this to work. Together you can find a suggestion and it doesn’t matter if you, the library worker, have read the book or not. You can use the reviews [5 star and 2 star] to find out a bit more about any title in question, straight from someone who read it and liked or disliked it, to help them as they pick their next read.

This is RA Service at it’s finest. At first I was mad at Goodreads for eliminating the carousel. But, now I would like to say “thank you.” You made me work a little harder, but in the end I have a much better way to help my patrons. Not only will it achieve more targeted and individualized results, but it will also help to develop the RA relationship by encouraging conversation between myself and the patron.