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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween: Here's A Recommended List of Halloween Books from the Foremost Expert on the Holiday

Happy Halloween! We made it. See and you didn't get too scared this month.

This year I have asked Lisa Morton, international Halloween expert, author, and the current President of the HWA back to the blog to help us celebrate [click here for her past appearances].

She wanted to share with you six Halloween titles that she feels are perfect for public library collections. She made sure they were in paperback [to save us money] and in print. She also included the link for you to order them directly from the publisher. Thanks to Lisa and HAPPY HALLOWEEN to you all.

Remember, just because Halloween is today that doesn't mean you cannot suggest great scary reads all year long; in fact, I will have a few options perfect for a wide range of readers here on the regular blog tomorrow. [See even if you hide from my horror blog, I will come and find you.]

Now, Lisa, take it away...


Six Halloween Books Every Library Should Have 
By Lisa Morton 

As a Halloween expert, I’ve been known to refer to my favorite day of the year as “the most misunderstood holiday.” I encounter a lot of misconceptions about the holiday, everything from the notion that it’s based on a day when ancient Celts worshipped a Lord of Death (it’s not), to “trick or treat is centuries old” (again – it’s not), to concerns that anonymous psychos tampering with candy is a real problem every year (surprise answer: it’s not). 

Fortunately, over the last twenty years a number of excellent books about Halloween have been published, so I consider it my civic duty to let librarians know that they can assist in countering these mistaken notions of Halloween by putting these titles on their shelves. 
Plus, they’re all really fun books that patrons will enjoy, and will likely want to check out even when it’s not October. 

Here are six that are still in print as trade paperbacks and are all worthwhile additions to any collection: 

A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloweens Past, edited by Lesley Pratt 

Bannatyne, published by Pelican Publishing. Bannatyne is one of the world’s leading authorities on the holiday, so you know this anthology of stories, poems, and articles was chosen with knowledge and care. The book includes classic works (Robert Burns’s poem “Hallowe’en”), pieces by great authors (James Joyce, Edith Wharton, Edgar Allan Poe), and lesser-known but equally wonderful entries. It works as either a reference volume or just an enjoyable, casual reader. Younger readers will find plenty to scarf down here, too. 

The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories, edited by Stephen Jones, published by Skyhorse Publishing. 

Halloween fiction has become immensely popular over the last twenty years, and there are a number of fine anthologies out there. This one, just released two months ago, packs twenty-six stories into nearly 500 pages, so every reader is sure to find new seasonal favorites in this “mammoth book.” Authors include such genre luminaries as Ramsey Campbell, Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Nancy Kilpatrick, and many more. Be aware that these stories are not intended for very young readers. 

Drawn to the Dark: Explorations in Scare Tourism Around the World, by Chris Kullstroem, published by Pelican Publishing.

This is the only title on this list that’s not 100% about Halloween (although it has a wonderful chapter on playing a monster in a Halloween haunted attraction), but I’m recommending it because it offers a compelling examination of similar festivals and attractions around the world and makes us realize why the things we love about Halloween are universal. Don’t be surprised if you want to book some airline tickets after reading this!

The Halloween Encyclopedia (2nd edition), by Lisa Morton, published by McFarland and Co., Inc. 

Although this book is really intended for either academics or serious Halloweenaholics, it’s also illustrated throughout and written in an accessible style that makes for fun, enlightening browsing. 

Halloween and Other Festivals of Life and Death, edited by Jack Santino, published by the University of Tennessee Press. This is the one truly academic title on this list, but the papers assembled here have made it the classic for Halloween scholars. Santino is a folklorist who is without peer in the field of serious Halloween studies, plus the selections offer up some wonderful takes on Halloween (like the importance of noisemakers in the past) that you won’t find elsewhere. 

Halloween: The History of America’s Darkest Holiday, by David J. Skal, published by Dover Publications. Originally released under the title Death Makes a Holiday, this is an entertaining pop culture history by the always-reliable Skal. Dover has reprinted it in an affordable paperback with a kickin’ new cover. 

Happy Halloween, everyone! 

BIO: Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, and award-winning prose writer whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening”. She is the author of four novels and more than 130 short stories, a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, and a world-class Halloween expert. She co-edited (with Ellen Datlow) the anthology Haunted Nights; other recent releases include Ghosts: A Haunted History and the collection The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats. Forthcoming in 2019 is an anthology of classic ghost stories, co-edited with Leslie Klinger, and short fiction in books including Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. Lisa lives in Los Angeles and online at http://www.lisamorton.com .

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

RA for All Roadshow Presents Horror RA Webinar for State Library of Missouri

This morning I am presenting my updated webinar-- Thrills and Chills @ Your Library: How to Help Your Scariest Patrons for the State Library of Missouri.

You can click here to sign up even if you missed it because they are recording it.

You can click here for access to the live slides with links.

These slides will also be linked on the horror blog on this page as long as they are the most up to date. I replace that link every time I update the presentation.

Also, please go to the horror blog today for a HUGE announcement about SUMMER SCARES, a librarian selected reading list for all age levels of horror readers, aimed at providing you with lots of reading options AND access to authors.

So much horror based goodness today, and Halloween isn't until tomorrow.

Click here for slide access

Monday, October 29, 2018

2018 Best Lists Begin With the Easiest One for Helping Patrons

It's an annual pre-Halloween rite of passage now. The march to the end of the year begins with the Publishers Weekly Annual Best Books lists.

Here is why I love using the PW Best Lists, and it has nothing to do with the titles they choose being any better than anyone else's. The reasons are visible in this screen shot:

Click here for the PW Best Books Site

It is clearly laid out for you in categories across the top:

  • Top 10
  • Fiction
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Poetry
  • Romance
  • SF/F/H
  • Comics
  • Nonfiction
  • Religion
  • Lifestyle
  • Picture Books
  • Middle Grade
  • Young Adult [cut off in screen shot]
These are categories we can use to help patrons easily. They are organized in ways that patrons look for books rather than the librarian mumbo jumbo we use; for instance, they put mystery and thriller together. They also have the genres real readers enjoy and not just the snobby lit fiction ones [romance, speculative, lifestyle]. That is not to say others don't include these in their year end best lists, but PW makes it super easy and clear.

However, and many of you know what I am going to say already because I have said it here many times before about this very list and its summer version cousin, no other best list makes finding past year's lists easier that the PW Best Books portal.

Look at the screen shot or click here to go to the site yourself.  As you can see, past best books of the year and best of summer lists are all linked at the top of EVERY PAGE of the current list. You don't need to hunt them down in order to access and use them.

Why is this so important? As I have reminded you all many times before, patrons will start coming in asking for "best books," not because they must read the current best books, but because best books lists are a way for them to filter out what books will be worth their limited reading time. So, if a book like Heavy [which is very good as  I wrote about back in June here] isn't available right this minute, you can put the person on hold for that titles but find them a book from last year's list [or the year before, or the year before that....] that is still "BEST" and it will probably be on the shelf. 

It is a win-win. It's a win for you as you can more easily help more patrons find a good read; it's a win for your collections as great backlist titles will get into the hands of readers; it's a win for patrons because they learn what a good resource the library is for their leisure reading needs.

You can read my longer argument for the backlist best lists being one of your more useful and crowd pleasing tools here.

We know this is just the drizzle before the deluge, but I know you can handle it this year as you do every year. Turn this overwhelming time of year into a chance to wow your patrons. Use this post and the links in it to get started today.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

RA for All Off Until Monday...

...instead, go read the Horror Blog.

I know many of you haven't had a chance to get to all of the content I have been loading for you  every single day this month. I know because you have told me.

Well, today is the day to stop procrastinating.

Go read my 31 Days of Horror series.

Later today I will begin a 3 day series of reviews of books perfect for the general public library horror collection, books I read for fun on my own time.

But there are 24 days and counting from this year already there for you to read right now, so you can help your patrons. Experience tells me they are going to begin coming in to your building in droves from today until Halloween. So get ready.....

Click here

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

RA for All Roadshow Visits the Wisconsin Library Association Conference

Yesterday I ran a preconference for the Wisconsin Library Association Conference, and today I am a part of the main conference.

Here is the info from the conference program with links to the slides below. Attendees can also access the slides on the conference website.

11:00 A.M. - 11:45 A.M. 

Staying in Genre ShapeLa Crosse Center South Hall - Ballroom C
Once you know what makes a mystery a mystery or a fantasy a fantasy and why a patron may prefer one of those genres to another, it is time to move on to the next step...keeping that genre knowledge up to date. Yes, Harry Potter will always be classified a fantasy and Agatha Christie a mystery, but within those larger categories there are smaller subgenres and trends that evolve over time. Join Becky as she gives you a workout plan for staying in genre shape. She will show you not only how vital it is to stay on top of the changes within genre fiction, but also how easy and, more importantly, fun it is to stay in genre shape. Together you will rethink the entire concept of genre and how to use it to help readers find their next good read.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

RA for All Roadshow Visits the Wisconsin Library Association Pre-Conference

This morning I got up at the crack of dawn to make my way to the banks of the Mississippi in Lacrosse, Wisconsin so that I could be a part of the Wisconsin Library Association Conference today and tomorrow.
Today, I am providing one of the half day preconferences. Here is the schedule of events from the website, including the specific links for my programs. Conference attendees, please note that all links and handouts are also available on the conference website.
1:00 P.M. - 2:15 P.M. 
RA for All 
Readers Advisory belongs in every library, no matter its budget or type. 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
2:30 P.M. - 3:30 P.M. 
Booktalking: Harnessing the Power of Sharing Books with Patrons
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 service 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 Specialist Becky Spratford as she shares the secrets 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.
  • Here are the slides. Also, this program has had a name change. It is now-- Booktalking Your Way to the Friendliest Library in Town

3:30 P.M. - 4:00 P.M.
Facilitated Booktalking Practice
10-Minute Break
4:10 P.M. - 5:00 P.M.  
RA Rethink: Merchandising and Upselling Edition 
If someone told you there’s a practical and easy way to increase circulation, patron visits, program attendance and the job satisfaction of your staff, would you do it? Of course you would. Becky has developed a method you can use to accomplish all of this and it plays off of the skills, talents, and interests you already possess. She’ll explain how to deepen staff involvement in readers advisory in a way that gets everyone from staff to patrons excited. You are spending a lot of effort and money on cultivating good collections, but are you giving those collections a fair chance to shine? Are you linking your programming and other services to items you are finding for your patrons? Do your patrons even know the full breadth of what you offer them? And how are you measuring results? With just a few simple tweaks to how you already market your collections, services, programs and even staff, Becky will help you leave a trail of happier and more engaged patrons in your wake.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Author and Reviewer Gabino Iglesias On What It Is Really Like to be an Author of Color

I first got to know Gabino Iglesias through his essays and book reviews on Lit Reactor. Iglesias is a prolific writer and reviewer for a variety of major media outlets [keep reading for more links]. I knew about his critically acclaimed debut novel, Zero Saints, but I really interacted with his work as a fellow book reviewer reading his nonfiction and following him on Twitter.

And then, last February, I read his contribution to Clicker Forever: A Tribute to JF Gonzales entitled, "Garcias, Hermano: A Letter to a Man I Never Met" and it made me cry. I gave the entire collection a star review in Booklist Magazine, and Iglesias' entry I will never forget.

You can read a tangential piece, "Collaborating with a Dead Hero" on LitReactor here.

I now race to get my hands on everything he writes-- fiction, nonfiction, book reviews, essays....everything.

So today, I am going to let Iglesias, a man who writes about marginalized voices frequently, an author of brilliant fiction and nonfiction, and a human who fights for all to humans to be treated with dignity, I am going to let him tell you about what it is truly like to be a writer of color in America. And as you read his essay, please remember, this is a successful, well educated, critically acclaimed writer of color. Someone who has the platform to speak from NPR, the LA TimesLitReactor, and other major media outlets. Then imagine everyone else, those without a way to defend themselves or speak out.

That's where we come in, at the public library. I will not take anyone's excuses that their community doesn't want or need diverse collections. I stood up to a powerful librarian from a notoriously racist suburb at my state library conference 10 days ago and challenged her in front of her peers when she said that I couldn't "require diverse collections to her community because they don't want them." I did not back down and she grudgingly admitted I was correct.

Everyone needs a collection that reflects the world we live in because all kinds of people live everywhere AND we all need to understand the perspectives of the people that make up our world, and last time I checked, the world is more "brown" [to borrow the word from Iglesias] than "white."

Today, I asked Iglesias to show us all a small slice of the life of an author of color- on both blogs. And then tomorrow, on the horror blog, he will answer some questions about horror specifically, tell you about his books, and even suggest some of his personal favorites.

I would like to thank Iglesias for being open and honest with my readers. I have added some links to his piece below if you want to check out more about him.

Now, Gabino Iglesias:

Let me give you an idea of what it’s like to be a writer of color in this country. It won’t be a thing about my past or a long recount of my plethora of negative experiences. Instead, I’ll keep it short and recent. A single day: October 20, 2018. 

At 6:00am I got to the gym. A few minutes later, a man on his way out was having a loud conversation on his cell phone. He suddenly switched to an Indian accent and laughed before pushing the door and walking out into the dark. I wished he hadn’t. I wished he had stuck around so I could give him a lesson in civility. A few minutes later, I pulled out my phone and Tweeted: “Remember: making fun of someone’s accent makes you trash. If you do it in front of me/to me, I’m coming for you. Also, you have an accent. Move a few states, change coasts or travel a bit and you’ll notice. Happy Saturday.” 

The guy on the phone soured my mood, but at 7:00am I received an email notification that my review of Jeff Jackson’s Destroy All Monsters was up at NPR. I’ve been a professional book reviewer for a decade, but talking about books in great venues hasn’t lost its appeal, so my mood soared back up. I was able to ride that high for hours. That’s how happy books and shining a light on the work of outstanding authors makes me. 

At 4:00pm I took a stack of books I won’t read and some I received in the mail twice and went to a local used book store. I stood in line behind a white man at the selling counter. They asked him if he had sold with them before, took his license, asked him if he went by Paul, and told him they’d call him in a few minutes with an offer. Then I stepped up to the counter and the following conversation took place: 

Counter guy: "You sold with us before?" 

Me, giving him my license: "Yeah." 

Counter guy, looking at the stack: "So you...acquired these legally?" 

I didn't yell or drag him over the counter to knock his teeth down his throat. I didn't ask to talk to his manager. I didn’t say “I probably read more books in a month than you read in a year.” I didn’t say I get a ridiculous number of books delivered to my front door every month. Instead, I looked at him in a way that clearly communicated one more racist comment and he would definitely fly over that counter. He looked at his shoes and asked me how I pronounced my name. I slowly said “Gabino” instead of “In the immortal words of Roxane Gay, it’s Dr. Iglesias to you, motherfucker.” 

I’m used to those comments. I’m used to the looks. I’m used to people running away from me when we step off the bus at the same time. I’m used to being followed around whenever I step into a store. I have developed coping mechanisms to navigate life without letting stuff like that ruin my blood pressure. Unfortunately, that nonsense seeps into my writing career. Being a writer of color is different from being a white writer. Let me give you a mixed bag of facts and invitations: 
1. Every 1-star review of my previous novel, ZERO SAINTS, includes a complaint about the amount of Spanish in the narrative. There’s also Russian and Yoruba in there, but no one has ever complained about those. 

2. I’m not good at many things, but I’m good at readings. I’ve had many people come up to me after readings to congratulate me. I’ve also had many people come up to me to ask about my accent, tell me I have very good English, tell me I sound “educated,” or comment something about the Spanglish I throw into every reading. 

3. I write primarily horror and crime. I invite you to go make a list of all the Latin@s who have won the Bram Stoker or an Anthony Award. When you’re done (trust me, it won’t take long!), go check out the best-sellers lists right now. The term whiteout comes to mind, doesn’t it? 

In any case, for folks like me, writing is act of resistance. After folks complained about the Spanish and Spanglish in ZERO SAINTS (a novel that was praised by Jerry Stahl, optioned for film, nominated to the Wonderland Book Award, translated into Spanish and published in Spain, and praised in places like the Los Angeles Review of Books), I decided to double down, to stay true to my voice, to make barrio noir a thing, and to anger as many racists as possible in the process while saying something with my scary stories. 

Now let me tell you about the end of my day. A racist read that tweet about making fun of accents. At around 8:00pm he decided to call me a beaner on Twitter. Twice. Beaner and spic are things I’ve been called on Twitter a few times over the past year. I don’t let that get to me. Let them call me names as I continue to hustle, to write and publish, to review great authors, and to support indie lit, LGBTQ writers, fellow writers of color, Appalachian writers, and work in translation. 

As a horror writer, my job is to scare and entertain, but I decided long ago to do that within the context of my identity and while saying something about race and authenticity with my writing. My job is to support and amplify marginalized voices with my platform and my nonfiction. My job is to minimize experiences like my own for others and to battle racism wherever and whenever it pops up. My job is to strategically dismantle the system from the inside so that I never again have to sit on a diversity panel where half the panelists have absolutely no reason to be there but there weren’t enough authors of color invited/present to fill said panel. My job is to give readers blood and pain and death and mayhem but in a way that makes me happy and aligns with my life and experiences. My job is to tell the tales of my side of the world. My job is to push with all I have until we have women and people of color getting published as often as they should and until there is a bit of Otherness in those best-sellers lists. The time is now. I’m not alone. COYOTE SONGS, my next novel, will be published on October 31st. It’s full of horror and violence and multiculturalism and syncretism and Spanglish. I’m ready for the backlash. I’m ready to keep fighting. The thing about marginalized voices is this: you can try to ostracize us, but we will push back harder than you thought possible.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Why You Need To Read and Promote Marie Benedict

Yesterday, I got to have breakfast with Marie Benedict an author many of you know well because her books are huge hits with our library patrons. But just in case she's new to you, here are the links to her Goodreads page and her website. Benedict writes compelling, well researched, and absorbing historical fiction that focuses on the stories of women and their important but ignored place in some of history's most important events/people.

All of her books are library and book club favorites,  but personally, I think her newest one, out in January is her best yet- The Other Woman in the Room [out in January]. From Goodreads:
She was beautiful. She was a genius. Could the world handle both? A powerful, illuminating novel about Hedy Lamarr.  
Hedy Kiesler is lucky. Her beauty leads to a starring role in a controversial film and marriage to a powerful Austrian arms dealer, allowing her to evade Nazi persecution despite her Jewish heritage. But Hedy is also intelligent. At lavish Vienna dinner parties, she overhears the Third Reich's plans. One night in 1937, desperate to escape her controlling husband and the rise of the Nazis, she disguises herself and flees her husband's castle. 
She lands in Hollywood, where she becomes Hedy Lamarr, screen star. But Hedy is keeping a secret even more shocking than her Jewish heritage: she is a scientist. She has an idea that might help the country and that might ease her guilt for escaping alone -- if anyone will listen to her. A powerful novel based on the incredible true story of the glamour icon and scientist whose groundbreaking invention revolutionized modern communication, The Only Woman in the Room is a masterpiece.
Hedy's story spoke to me because my grandmother lived a similar story. In fact, Marie and I discussed that  at breakfast. But this story is still a must read for people without a shared background.

There are aspect of the Hollywood #MeToo movement here. The technology Hedy invented is directly tied to the WiFi we use and take for granted every day and the government turned down her offer for them to use the patent for free because surely a beautiful woman couldn't come up with something useful. This is a WWII adjacent story that book clubs will love. There is so much here for readers both casual in in book clubs. Men and women.

All of Benedict's books are the perfect length and have great pacing. Benedict spends enough time giving you the details and crafting the character, but she also keeps you turning the pages. Most importantly, she ends her books before you feel like the subject was exhausted. There are not too long, things are resolved, and you are satisfied after finishing, but you still might want to learn a bit more. That's what good historical fiction does; it makes you want to read a biography or seek out a documentary, to learn more.

While Benedict talked about this specific new book, she also talked about her process. She sees herself as much of an archeologist as a writer. She has to dig deep into the history that we know to uncover the untold stories of the women who were forced into the shadows. She unearths them and gives them voice in her novels.

I asked her how she chooses a subject. She said she has a list of about 30 possible subjects. Women she heard about, read something in passing about, or someone passed on to her. While working on a current book, she takes small breaks by "putting one foot, and then the other into the rabbit hole," researching a bit more about a few of these women. She cannot allow herself to dive fully down the rabbit hole, but as she dips in and out of a few, she feels the pull and knows what her next project will be even before she finishes the current book.

You can see how much she truly loves the work she does- telling these stories that honor the women who have contributed so much to the world we live in today but whose stories have never been told.

Benedict is a talented writer of historical fiction who takes the "history" part of her work very seriously. In libraries we know this. We buy and hand out her books frequently, however, I also know many don't take her excellent books seriously precisely because they are about women.

Don't forget about Marie Benedict; don't dismiss these as "women's book." These are everybody books. Make sure you order and promote The Only Woman in the Room. History from the point of view of those who were marginalized is something our culture is sorely missing. Filling in the blanks behind the white-male version of history that everyone has been told is important for all people to know and understand. And putting it into fiction form, making it accessible and fun...the perfect way to start the conversations we all need to be having as humans.

Benedict is committed to doing this for a long time; remember she said she has over 30 women in a list. These are books we need. If she keeps selling a lot of copies, other historical fiction and history books about those left out of history will also get more book deals. And all of us will be the winners in a world where all stories get a chance to be told.

Oh and news that I got official permission to announce-- Clementine Churchill is her next subject for January 2020!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Popular Reading Collections in Academic Libraries

I have been interested in popular reading collections in academic library collections for years. Click here to pull up my posts on the topic including slides I created for a 2016 ILA Annual presentation where I talk about all of the reason WHY it makes sense for every academic library. [Major reason: your patrons, students, staff and faculty like to read for fun too, maybe even more than the average library user].

The recent issue of RUSQ has a feature article on the topic. It's a real life, researched, academic article and not just me telling you why my opinion is right. But spoiler alert, I was right.

Although RUSQ allows reproduction of their articles in entirety for educational purposes, I would rather  link to the article and simply repost the title, author info, and summary below. It is a bit longer than the material I usually post, but there is much here that we all can learn about popular reading collections, public, school, academic, or special libraries.

Again, click here to read the full article.

Don’t Call It a Comeback
Popular Reading Collections in Academic Libraries

Elizabeth Brookbank, Anne-Marie Davis, and Lydia Harlan
Elizabeth Brookbank (brookbanke@ mail.wou.edu) is Instruction Librarian, Hamersly Library, Western Oregon University. Anne-Marie Davis (adavey@uw.edu) is Collection Development Coordinator, Odegaard Undergraduate Library, University of Washington. Lydia Harlan (lharlan@ uoregon.edu) is Acquisitions Budget and Receiving Coordinator, Knight Library, University of Oregon.

Despite the persisting notion that recreational reading does not have a place in the academic mission of college and university libraries, these libraries have a long history of providing pleasure reading for their patrons. During the latter half of the twentieth century, the idea of academic libraries meeting the recreational reading needs of students seems to have fallen out of favor, but a literature review of that time period shows that the collections them- selves still existed. Discussion of—and jus- tifications for—these collections, however, has enjoyed a resurgence in the library literature over the past decade. Given this renewed interest, this study seeks to assess just how common these collections are in US academic libraries today, and whether or not they are, in fact, enjoying a come- back from previous decades. This study surveyed the thirty-nine academic libraries that make up the Orbis Cascade Alliance in the Pacific Northwest, a diverse group of libraries in terms of size, type, budget, and student populations. The results of the survey show that a majority of librar- ies have a recreational collection and that these collections are valued by patrons and librarians alike. Recommendations are made for shifting the perspective on popular reading collections and their place in academic libraries, as well as for how to study them in the future.

Reference & User Services Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 28–39
© 2018 American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Permission granted to reproduce for nonprofit, educational use.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

New Issue of The Corner Shelf is Now Live

In case you missed it, there is a brand new issue of Booklist's Newsletter The Corner Shelf, edited by Susan Maguire.

Click here to read the entire issue, but below I have reposted Susan's Editor's Note and the linked table of contents. But if you want to see the adorable picture of her dog dressed as a lobster for Halloween, you have to click here. [It's worth it].

Cute pet pics aside, this is THE ONLY newsletter out there which examines the very important space where RA Service and Collection Development overlap. Yes, they don't overlap everywhere, but in some very important places, they do. I learn things every time this newsletter comes out. And that is saying a lot because Susan is my editor and this month features one of my friends and colleagues Heather Booth.

You can read the issue here or use the links below, or click here to subscribe and have it delivered to your inbox:

By the time you read this, the world may feel like less of a dumpster fire. In the likely event this is not true, here's a quick reminder: our work matters.

It's easy to dismiss pleasure reading as something unnecessary in the face of all the necessary things that need to get done. By extension, it's easy to dismiss the work of readers'-advisory and collection-development librarians as frivolous, simply facilitating an escape from those aforementioned necessary things. 

Listen. No. In her introduction to The Best American Short Stories, 2018, editor Roxane Gay shares this jewel:

"I am not avoiding reality when I read fiction; I am strengthening my ability to cope with reality." 

Does this ring true for you? Do you think it rings true for your patrons? I'm willing to bet lots of money (OK, $5) that it does. So when the tension of the world seems to be simultaneously too big to ignore and too much to deal with, remember that books are our friends, and we, as librarians, are facilitators of our patrons' ability to cope. 

And now, here is a picture of my dog in her Halloween costume, which is a lobster: CLICK HERE TO SEE [Becky added this link]

—Susan Maguire 
Senior Editor, Collection Development and Library Outreach, Booklist 
October 2018 
• At the Corner of Baker & Taylor: Future-Proofing Libraries with Data 
• Notes from the Field: Welcome to Booklist, Heather Booth 
• From The Booklist Reader: Carnegie Longlist 
• RA Showcase: It's a Cookbook 
• Top 10: Horror 
• Baker & Taylor Best-Sellers

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What I'm Reading: The Rust Maidens

The current issue of Booklist Magazine has my review of one of my favorite books I read this year, The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste. Below is my draft review with bonus info from me.

The Rust Maidens.

Kiste, Gwendolyn (author).
Nov. 2018. 252p. JournalStone, paper, $17.95  (9781947654440)
First published October 15, 2018 (Booklist).

In the summer of 1980, Cleveland, OH the furture looked bleak especially if like Phoebe, you just graduated high school. Mills were closing, many were unemployed, and the lake was so polluted it could catch on fire. But to make matters worse, in Phoebe’s neighborhood young girls, many of them her friends, were turning into grotesquely beautiful beasts, attracting gawkers and straining already tenuous relationships. Phoebe is the readers’ guide into this strange world, recounting her tale on two timelines, 1980 and the present, allowing them to see Phoebe struggle with the events of that horrifying summer both as they happened and as she has been forced to grapple with her place in it all throughout her life. Award winning short story writer Kiste makes her novel debut with this dramatic and absorbing story, full of compelling contractions- it’s realistic yet supernatural, terrifying yet beautiful, infuriating yet redemptive. This is a tale of friendship, monsters, and growing up, a lyrical and character centered story filled with danger and horrible consequences following in the tradition of horror with a strong coming-of-age theme as seen most recently in Children of the Dark by Janz, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Tremblay, or Hex by Heuvelt.
YA Statement: With a cast of teenage characters, a strong coming of age theme, and a 1980 setting, The Rust Maidens will appeal to teens who enjoy TV shows like Stranger Things and podcasts like Welcome to Nightvale as well as supernatural horror novels.
Further Appeal: This book is lyrical and terrifyingly realistic. Seriously, the way Kiste writes the novel, her words draw you in, and even though you know that young women couldn't turn into these creatures, it feels so possible that the suspension of disbelief is easy. Then you are sucked in.

Phoebe's voice is compelling and sympathetic. If you like coming of age stories, especially with the being able to look back dual story line, this is an excellent choice. 

Three Words That Describe This Book: unsettlingly beautiful, two time frames, atmospheric 

Readalikes: I have 3 in the review above, which link to more options. But I also think the stories of Damien Angelica Walters and Kriti DeMeester are also an excellent choice. Kiste is a prolific story writer herself. All three of these women write lyrical and beautiful stories which are also terrifying. How they excel at balancing these contradictions are what make their works all a joy to read and experience.

Haven by Tom Deady is another coming of age horror novel with a similar feel like the books linked in the review.

Monday, October 15, 2018

ILA Wrap Up With Links

Last week I was at ILA Annual for 3 days. As usual, it was a great conference where I got to see many of my IL colleagues and join them for learning. I caught up with many people I hadn't seen in a while and met new people too.

Last week, I posted here about my programs with links, but today, I want to mention a few other programs and meetings.

On Tuesday I attended the program entitled, "What They Want Where They Want it: Passive Advisory for Books, Movies, and More" presented by Jennifer Asimakopoulos and Jez Layman.

Use this link, type "Layman" under the field for Speaker's last name and hit search and you will pull up the PDF of their slides.

Here is the link to my notes from Twitter. I put them into one thread and doubled checked that you do not need an account to view these, simply click that link. You can pair the slides and the notes together for a solid recap.

Attending this program is proof that even when you know the 2 people and their work very well [their library is right near mine] you can still learn a lot. This was the program I attended that I think will help my readers the most, right away. There is much to learn from Jennifer and Jez and the work their team has done for years. That's actually the main take away here, when a team works together over years, the amount of product they can create, together, is astounding.

On the final day of the conference, I was one of the organizers of another program involving Jez Layman. I had invited her to interview Kelly Jensen live on stage in a program sponsored by ARRT:

(Don't) Call Me Crazy: Book Release and Author Interview with Kelly Jensen
Venue: Peoria Civic Center
Room: 220
Join the Adult Reading Round Table [ARRT] as they host a book release party with librarian, Boot Riot Editor, and bestselling author Kelly Jensen as she launches (Don’t) Call me Crazy, an essay collection that explores, through essays, artwork, poetry, and other ephemera, the ways that mental illness impacts individuals, family and friends. This collection includes contributions from Victoria Schwab, Adam Silvera, Libba Bray, Esmé Wang, Yumi Sakugawa, Mike Jung, s.e. smith, Meredith Russo, and Stephanie Kuehn, and more. Kelly will be interviewed by Jez Layman live on stage. They will be discussing the book, how mental illness is portrayed in literature, how we help readers find inclusive titles, and much more. There will be time for questions from the audience. Kelly will sign copies of the book purchased at the event for you or your library.

Kelly and Jez talked frankly about mental health, RA Service, and Kelly's new book, (Don't) Call Me Crazy. You can click here for the Twitter thread of my notes from their conversation.

After the talk there was a nice long line of people all waiting to buy the book, and many people were buying multiple copies! This is a book you need to have at every library. I would suggest a copy in YA and Adult. 

I was so very proud of both Jez and Kelly. This was one of the best programs I have ever been a part of, both because of their honesty and the need for these conversations about mental health.

I love state library conferences for many reasons, but the biggest reason is because they are just as informative as a national conference but on a smaller scale. Next week I get to do it all again as I was invited to the Wisconsin Library Association Conference

Of course, I love my own state library conference most of all. I love it so much that I even sponsor everyone's coffee for 1 morning each year. Also, I think I may have joined another committee while I was on the pub stroll. Oh well. 

If you went to ILA or another state library conference recently and want to share something you learned with the rest of my readers, please let contact me.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Library Reads: November 2018

Well, my months of nudging you to vote for more diverse reads has worked. This month is the most inclusive list yet! As I said last month:
We need to keep finding inclusive titles, under the radar titles, titles that even we didn’t know about before giving them a try. Please look for books that could use the boost that Library Reads can give a title that your colleagues might not know about without that vote, especially more inclusive titles. 
Here you can find a link to a database by library professionals who are going through the digital ARCS and screening titles for you to choose from. Please consider starting here, not with the latest, imminent bestseller. Seriously, if you want to help, start at those databases, start by reading those titles. Try something new and if you like it, vote for it. 
Don’t start with a book you already know you are going to like. That is the worst thing you can do. We are trying to broaden everyone’s horizons-- patrons, yes, but also the publishers. We want to show them that more inclusive titles will resonate and sell. But, we need to start with ourselves first.

Keep it up. Good job.

But I also don't want you to spend too much time patting yourselves on the back because the reason this list is finally reaching truly inclusive levels is because of the work the Library Reads Steering Committee has done to improve the list.

One of the nagging problems with the list, especially after 5 years, is that the same authors were showing up over and over again, but last month Library Reads solved this problem by creating a Hall of Fame. This month there are 4[!] HoF authors [see below for details]. These are huge authors that library workers love and patrons love too. I get it that people are excited that Louise Penny et all have a new book coming out. Since Library Reads couldn't convince people to stop voting for these popular authors, they found a way to honor these authors but keep the list truly more about identifying more under the radar titles that no one would know about without us. 

Here's the thing though....without that HoF list, 4 of these titles wouldn't be here, and the number one title, a book I have had on hold for months, would not have been number 1. Actually I don't know this for sure, but looking at the HoF, I am going to make a very educated guess that they would have taken many of the top spots.

I am so proud of Library Reads for finding a way to keep the integrity of the list but allow more voices to be included.  But, now we need to keep up our end of the bargain and keep voting for titles that are less well known that we are excited about.

And now, the list...

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.


    November 2018 LibraryReads

    Don’t miss the November 2018 Hall of Fame Winners! Scroll down or visit the Hall of Fame page.

    My Sister,
    the Serial Killer:
    A Novel

    by Oyinkan Braithwaite

    Published: 11/20/2018 by Doubleday
    ISBN: 9780385544238
    “Nigerian nurse Korede puts up with so much from her sister Ayoola (the serial killer). Braithwaite tells a dark, lively, and funny story of how begrudgingly cleaning up after someone else’s deadly habits is just one of those things one does for family. For fans of satirical humor.”
    Lisa Hoffman, Bloomfield Public Library, Bloomfield NJ

    The Adults: A Novel

    by Caroline Hulse

    Published: 11/27/2018 by Random House
    ISBN: 9780525511748
    “Divorced couple Claire and Matt devise a terrific idea for Christmas: spend it at Happy Forest Holiday Park with their new partners and their seven-year-old daughter Scarlett (and her imaginary friend). Hilarious and heartrending, this debut novel asks the age-old question: ‘What could possibly go wrong?'”
    Todd Krueger, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD

    The Best Bad Things: A Novel

    by Katrina Carrasco

    Published: 11/6/2018 by MCD/Farrar, Straus & Giroux
    ISBN: 9780374123697
    “Alma is a cross-dressing, bisexual, half-Mexican, badass woman who goes undercover in this historical fiction story set in 1887 Washington state. She lives life on the edge with gusto and nerve. An enjoyable ride for readers who like a fast-paced story and don’t mind graphic content.”
    Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cuyahoga, OH 

    The Colors of All the Cattle: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

    by Alexander McCall Smith

    Published: 11/6/2018 by Pantheon
    ISBN: 9781524747800
    “Each new book in this series unwraps another layer of the lives of the minor characters. Along with solving the requisite mystery, Precious delves into local politics and comes to rely more on her family and friends for their input. A charming addition to this heartwarming series.”
    Fran Hegarty, Peabody Institute Library of Danvers, Danvers, MA

    Empire of Sand

    by Tasha Suri

    Published: 11/13/2018 by Orbit
    ISBN: 9780316449717
    “A modern take on the classic Disney tale of Mulan, this fantasy-adventure story features Mehr, a governor’s daughter who wants to make a name for herself and is passionate about saving the lives of those in her kingdom. Mehr’s unique magical powers make her a target and give the classic storyline a new twist.”
    Megan Marong, Lackawanna Public Library, Lackawanna, NY

    How Long ‘Til Black Future Month: Stories

    by N. K. Jemisin

    Published: 11/27/2018 by Orbit
    ISBN: 9780316491341
    “This first short story collection from the most celebrated speculative fiction author of our time features her signature blend of sharply observed, provocative tales of magic steeped in realism and social commentary. Both SFF fans and adventurous readers of genre-blending literary fiction such as Station Eleven and The Underground Railroad will find much to admire.”
    Annabelle Mortensen, Skokie Public Library, Skokie, IL

    The Kinship of Secrets

    by Eugenia Kim

    Published: 11/6/2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    ISBN: 9781328987822
    “A sweeping, historical, family saga in which two sisters are separated during the Korean War. One is raised in the United States and the other in South Korea. For fans of Pachinko.”
    Cat Ng, Palm Beach County Library System, Wellington, FL

    A Ladder to the Sky: A Novel

    by John Boyne

    Published: 11/13/2018 by Hogarth
    ISBN: 9781984823014
    “Enter the disturbing world of high stakes publishing and meet an author so twisted and unscrupulous you will beg for justice. For readers who like an unlikeable character and sardonic tone.”
    Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX 

    Newcomer: A Mystery

    by Keigo Higashino

    Published: 11/20/2018 by Minotaur Books
    ISBN: 9781250067869
    “Newly transferred Tokyo Police Detective Kaga is assigned a baffling murder. The story is told almost entirely through the perspective of people he interviews, gradually revealing the puzzling who, how, and why in this mystery. For fans of Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and Columbo as well as lovers of international crime novels.”
    Julie Graham, Yakima Valley Libraries, Yakima, WA 

    Someone to Trust: A Westcott Novel

    by Mary Balogh

    Published: 11/27/2018 by Berkley/Jove
    ISBN: 9780399586101
    “Love defies societal expectations in this historical romance set in the Regency period. For fans of Tessa Dare and Amelia Grey.”
    Kathy Setter, Indianhead Federated Library System, Eau Claire, WI
    Four HoF Authors this month

    Kingdom of the Blind: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

    by Louise Penny

    Published: 11/27/2018 by Minotaur Books
    ISBN: 9781250066206
    “Gamache tries to understand why someone connected to a mysterious will is killed, while he and Beauvoir race against time to stop a deadly shipment of drugs from hitting the streets. Penny digs deep into her familiar characters in what may be her most personal book.”
    David Singleton, Charlotte Mecklenberg Public Library, Charlotte, NC 

    Night of Miracles: A Novel

    by Elizabeth Berg

    Published: 11/13/2018 by Random House
    ISBN: 9780525509509
    “An equally delightful follow-up to The Story of Arthur Truluv. A heartwarming tale of life in a small town with an ensemble cast of likeable characters.”
    Claudia Silk, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT

    Nine Perfect Strangers

    by Liane Moriarty

    Published: 11/16/2018 by Flatiron Books
    ISBN: 9781250069825
    “Can ten days at a special health resort change you forever? Can you lose weight, gain inner peace, become a better you? Nine people are thrown together at a remote health resort, with intriguing developments.”
    Jennifer Ohzourk, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, MO

    Past Tense: A Jack Reacher Novel

    by Lee Child Published: 11/6/2018 by Delacorte Press

    ISBN: 9780399593512
    “Another home run from Child. While visiting his father’s birthplace in New Hampshire, Reacher can’t help but intervene when a member of a local gang attempts to assault a waitress. He soon uncovers more suspicious happenings in the town. Fast-paced, great plot, and compelling characters.”

    Laura Scott, Park Ridge Public Library, Park Ridge, IL