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.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Library Journal Day of Dialog On Demand Until August 28th

Real quick post today because I am busy all day celebrating our daughter as she gets her diploma, ironically from a much closer vantage point than we would have previously. [If you are interested in what it will look like, here are photos from the beginning of the alphabet. Really personal for almost 1,000 kids in her grade.]

Yesterday was Library Journal's annual Day of Dialog, an event that always coincides with Book Expo. This year, it was their first ever virtual DoD. I attendee all day yesterday and I can tell you that it was a huge success. The technology worked extremely well, the interactivity in the virtual exhibit hall was better than the physical exhibit hall I experienced the 1 time I went to this event [ when it was in Chicago a few years ago].

Seriously, I spent more time in the virtual exhibit hall than I did at the live event, and it wasn't even close. Honestly, the virtual exhibit hall was the most surprising and exciting part of this event for me. I knew the panels would  be good. Doing the panels virtually  is not that much different than everyone sitting on a stage. Plus, those  of us int  he audience didn't have to sit in uncomfortable chairs for  8 hours. I was able to get up and walk around, even do the  dishes, throughout the programming.

But even better than the fact that some of us experienced  this as a one day event ...you can actually still experience everything from home or  work, in your own time frame, for free, from now until August 28th!

Use this link to enter the virtual platform. If you already registered, you can enter the necessary info. If you did not, no worries. There is a link to register still.

Again, I repeat, anyone can participate in this amazing event for free for 3 full months!

Watch the recording of the panels, yes, but please also visit all of the exhibit booths. There are videos and resources there too. Also, the author chats have been preserved. So while you can't ask a question and get a response, you can read the questions and responses from when it happened. Again, I was blown away by the exhibit halls in a virtual environment.

For those of you who need CE certificates, those are available after you complete each video. There are hundreds of hours of CE credit available...for FREE!

You can also access the Twitter chat, even if you do not have a Twitter account, by clicking on this link for #LJDoD

Visit today, or file this post or the link for further access but just don't miss out on the chance to see editors and authors chatting about upcoming books in a variety of genres, access resources, get digital downloads, and more.

And thank you Library Journal for offering the day virtually and for FREE. I know it was a lot of work to organize and pull off. And the On Demand viewing option for 3 full months is a very nice bonus too!

Again click here  to participate for yourself. I promise you it is worth it.

[PS: sorry [not sorry] in advance for exploding you TBR]

Thursday, May 28, 2020

What I'm Reading: June Library Journal

My June #HorrorForLibraries column is now live at Library Journal. Below you can find the titles and my three words as well as links to my draft reviews on Goodreads.
Seven new and forthcoming horror books—including three starred reviews—recommended by LJ's resident horror expert. Click here to read more.
  • orange starCesare, Adam. Clown in a Cornfield. HarperTeen. Aug. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780062854599. $17.99. HORROR
    • Three Words That Describe This Book: cinematic, social commentary, fun
  • Fram, John. The Bright Lands. Hanover Square: Harlequin. Jul. 2020. 480p. ISBN 9781335836625. $27.99. HORROR
    • Three Words That Describe This Book: supernatural mystery, shifting pov, terrifyingly realistic
  • orange starGraham Jones, Stephen. Night of the Mannequins. Tor.com. Sept. 2020. 144p. ISBN 9781250752079. pap. $11.99. HORROR
    • Three Words That Describe This Book: intensely unsettling, unreliable narrator, stream of consciousness style
  • Henderson, Alexis. The Year of the Witching. Ace: Berkley. Jul. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780593099605. $26. HORROR
    • Three Words That Describe This Book: witches, dystopian, family secrets 
  • Kozeniewski, Stephen & Wile E. Young. The Perfectly Fine House. Grindhouse. Mar. 2020. 230p. ISBN 9781941918630 . pap. $14.95. HORROR
    • Three Words That Describe This Book: twist on a trope, great world building, suspenseful
  • Malerman, Josh. Malorie. Del Rey: Ballantine. Jul. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780593156858. $28. HORROR
    • Three Words That Describe This Book: sequel, multiple pov, intense dread
  • orange starMiscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors. Written Backwards. Feb. 2020. 342p. ed. by Doug Murano & Michael Bailey. ISBN 9781732724464. $29.95; pap. ISBN 9781732724471. $16.95. HORROR
    • Three Words That Describe This Book: popular authors, range of "scares," monster-human connection

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

What I'm Reading: Mexican Gothic "Star" Review and My Interview with Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The content I have written for the June issue of Library Journal is starting to appear on the site.

Tomorrow, I will have the link to the review column, but today I want to feature my interview with Silvia Moreno-Garcia, author of Mexican Gothic, the Top Pick for the LibraryReads list in June. We had a candid conversation about horror, her influences, American bias about Mexican literature, and our shared love of horror.

I really enjoyed creating  this interview with her and want to publicly thank Ms Moreno-Garcia for being so honest and open. This is an interview that is fun to read, but also, it is extremely educational for any of my readers as you will learn about horror through an EDI lens.

As proud as I am about this interview, there was a snafu in this issue of Library Journal and much of it has to do with the fact that having a dedicated Horror columnist is still very new to the magazine. I would like to explain as it was an honest error that, like all the best fails, we have learned from and turned into a positive.

I had planned to include a STAR review of Mexican Gothic in my June column. My editor and I had discussed saving it specifically so we could also do this feature interview with Moreno-Garcia to coincide with the June issue because I was also scheduled to interview Moreno-Garcia live for a panel at ALA Annual about horror [before Annual was canceled in person]. We were going to use the coverage in the magazine [early June] to promote that appearance and the book.

Now this would have been late for a normal review as the book comes out on June 30. Holding the review would have been off schedule for a major release. I already knew Mexican Gothic was going to be one of the best horror books I read all year and I also knew that library workers already liked Moreno-Garcia as her Gods of Jade and Shadow was a LibraryReads pick last July and won the RUSA CODES award for Fantasy for 2020. I knew this was going to be a popular titles, but I never dreamed it would be the LibraryReads Top Pick, but I knew it would be talked about. I wanted to spotlight Mexican Gothic as much as I could.

Well, although we thought we communicated that no one else should review Mexican Gothic, that communication did not make it through all of the channels. I think the information stopped at SF/F, meaning Kristi Chadwick, that columnist did not review it, but general fiction, which to be fair, this should not have been reviewed in anyway, ran a review. Again, it was a high interest title and everything was moving to remote as this was all going down, and we were holding the review a later date than it would normally run. 

The result was that a non horror [not even speculative] reviewer read the book and gave it a solid review, but not the star it deserves. Again, not the reviewers fault. This is 100% a horror title and if you are not used to reviewing horror, and thought this was a psychological suspense [as it was initially publicized as], I could see how a star was not assigned. Library Journal could not run a second review once that first one ran.

Now to be fair, my editor, Kiera Parrot did a huge solid and allowed me to substitute 2 small press titles that had already come out this spring for the two titles that got pulled from my column because of the miscommunication. You will see those tomorrow. This is a boon for the genre, as two lesser known, but excellent for all library collections, titles are not getting coverage they wouldn't have, but it stinks for Moreno-Garcia and her amazing book.

However, the best news is that we have now set up a much better communication tree for my columns. I am surprised we have not had more problems since this is only column three and we are living through Covid times. So kudos to LJ in general. This situation could have been a lot worse.

Since my star review was not printed in the magazine, I am giving it to you today. Obviously you are buying this book since it is the June LibraryReads Top Pick, but I wanted to make sure you had the review from a horror perspective. You can use the review below to book talk the title to patrons. It is an excellent choice for readers who want to give horror a try, but beware, this is NOT horror light. It's not extreme, but it is 100% horror and 100% awesome.

Look for this titles in my best #HorrorForLibraries of 2020 lists. Currently the ONLY book ahead of it is The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, and I have read titles that come out through September already.

And please, read the interview too.

STAR Moreno-Garcia. Silvia. Mexican Gothic [Out June 30th!]
Noemi is a cosmopolitan young woman in 1950s Mexico City, with beauty, wealth, and access to education. But when her newlywed cousin sends a troubling letter, Noemi leaves it all behind and heads to High Place, the ancestral country home of her cousins’ new family and enters the secretive world of the Doyle family, grand home falling into disrepair, an unwillingness to trust outsiders, and their strange but powerful, generations long hold over the entire town. The longer Noemi stays at High Place the more tangled she gets in its influence, tangled to a point at which the force behind the malevolent power of the family may not ever let her go. An inspiring and totally original homage to Gothic stories of yore, Moreno-Garcia introduces readers to an awesomely creepy place and extremely evil family whose grip on power relies upon their ability to trap others in their venomous web. Verdict: Featuring a feisty, whip smart protagonist, a perfectly rendered setting, exquisite supernatural details, and an escalating sense of dread that jumps off the page, effortlessly pulling both Noemi and the reader through a range of emotions from unease to panic, and finally, to breathless terror, this is not your mother’s Gothic tale. For fans of intense psychological horror focused on ancestral homes such as The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters or Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami.

Three Words That Describe the Book: Gothic, family secrets, escalating dread

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

BEA Librarians Day Live, LibraryReads Anytime Content, and Library Journal Day of Dialog

Today Book Expo Librarians Day is happening on their Facebook page all day. Here is the schedule:

Click here to view

I am not a Facebook user, but I am able to view it by just clicking on the link and watching without an account.

As you can see there is a lot of good content. I will probably have it playing in the background throughout the day as I work. I have no idea if the panels will be archive, but I will let you know if they are. Update, they are available on the Book Expo Facebook page at the same link to view after.

I am enjoying this because I would have missed the live BEA, so even popping in and out during the day is nice.

LibraryReads is normally a huge part of BEA and this virtual version is no different. Not only are they hosting a Book Buzz as you can see above, but they also recreated their author panel events.

Click here to go over to the Library Reads YouTube channel to see 2 sets of author panels. Each video is actually comprised of Executive Director Rebecca Vnuk interviewing the following:
Video 1Lisa Jewell, INVISIBLE GIRL (Simon & Schuster)Raven Leilani, LUSTER (Macmillan)Emily Levesque, THE LAST STARGAZERS (Sourcebooks)Helen Macdonald, Vesper Flights (Grove Atlantic)Naomi Novik, A DEADLY EDUCATION (Penguin Random House) 
Video 2Jennifer Nansabuga Makumbi, A GIRL IS A BODY OF WATER (Tin House, distributed by W.W. Norton)V.E. Schwab, THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE (Tor Books)Brad Thor, NEAR DARK (Simon & Schuster)Bryan Washington, MEMORIAL (Penguin Random House)
You can find a list on Edelweiss for ease in requesting and downloading advance reader copies for all of the available titles featured in these videos. That list is here: https://bit.ly/LibraryReadsBEA20Books
These  videos aren't going anywhere, so you can watch them today, tomorrow, or whenever.

Finally, Library Journal normally hosts their Day of Dialog during BEA. They have also transitioned to a FREE online event which will run live on Thursday AND be recorded and sent out to registered parties to view on demand through August 28th. Click here for details.

I for one am even more excited about this DoD event than about the online BEA content both because I can view it on demand later AND because the DoD panels are always broken up into larger categories. Personally, I am most excited about the SF/F/H panel and the nonfiction panel.

This is a busy week of events, but most of them can be viewed on your own time.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

RA for All Virtual Roadshow Visits Allegheny County [PA] Library Association

Another day, another morning presentation, this time for Allegheny County Libraries, and it is the start of a three webinar series spread out over 6 months [webinar every other month]:
  • Allegheny County Library Association: Webinars-- all times 10-11am Eastern
    • RA for All, May 21, 2020: slide access here
    • #OwnVoices for All Readers, July 16, 2020
    • Recharge Your Book Club, September 17, 2020
We begin at the beginning, with my signature RA training. This one is interactive and comes with exercises to do during the presentation and many that can be done after.

This program follows my 10 Rules of RA Service which you can find here or linked in the slides.

Finally, a programming note, the blog is taking a break tomorrow. [I have to finish the Library Journal Horror Preview by the end of the day Friday], and with Monday being a holiday, I'll be back on Tuesday.

See some of you soon online soon and enjoy the long weekend.

Click here for slide access

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

RA for All Virtual Roadshow Returns to NE Ohio for Recharge Your Book Club

This morning I am back with my new friends in the Northeast Ohio Regional Library System to do some Book Club training.

My Recharge You Book Club presentation is one of my favorites. I am proud of the presentation because I have brought something new and useful to the conversation-- my Group and Leadership Norms-- and I just love book clubs, both as a leader and as a participant; in fact, I will be participating in a Zoom book discussion for book discussion leaders tomorrow.

Speaking of Zoom book clubs, I have completely updated this presentation and will be discussing the differences when you do an in person vs virtual book club. But, I will say, book discussion groups may be one of our first chances to bring back in person programming in the future, since a book club needs to be 20 people or less and you can wear a mask while having people spread across a larger room.

Also, the skills are not very different when you lead on Zoom or in person, so brushing up how to  lead the best book clubs is a great activity.

There are many new examples and links since I hadn't given this presentation for awhile and yet, since I never stopped being in and/or leading book clubs, I had many new examples to add.

As always, the slides are open to all here or below.

Click here for slide access

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Conversation Starter: Best of the Year So Far Picked by Readers

Believe it or not, we are closing in on the time of year when the "Best of the Year [So Far]" lists will begin to come out in droves.

While I enjoy seeing these lists both to get an idea on what to suggest to patrons AND for collection development purposes, they are all "expert" opinions. What we really need are more reader generated lists because we are helping readers, not experts, find books to read for their enjoyment [and I say this knowing full well that I am in that "expert" camp].

My main focus when I am training ALL library staff to provide Readers' Advisory service can be summarized in this statement [found here always on my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service page]:
Flip Your Focus and Think Like A Reader
This change of attitude begins with you, the individual library worker. You need to embrace yourself as a reader, rediscover the joy of what you love to read for yourself and why, and then share that with others, all while listening to them share their books. We learn so much from each other about why individual  readers enjoy what they do and why, so much more than from an expert telling his why the book is great.

When I write my professional reviews, I try to think about the book's best reader. Who would that individual reader be? And then I write the review to speak to that person. When I do my reviews on Goodreads of the books I have read for fun [not paid to read], I take a different tone. I am the book's best reader [or not] and I write about how the book worked for me, and if it didn't work great for me, then who it would work for better.

But this change of attitude should not stop with you, or even your co-workers. We need to look at all of our resources with a nod toward  the average reader. What do people who have "no skin in the game," people who are just reading for reading's sake think about the books that have been released this year so far?

That is an important list. One that speaks directly to readers, but also gives you insight into what other readers are thinking. It allows you to hear from them directly. There are many examples of  these reader driven best lists, but this week, Book Page released one of the first. Here is their Readers' Choice of the top 20 of the year so far. I found some surprises on the list, titles that were not on my radar, and others, that were barely there.

Now, let's circle back in this post to you and your fellow staff members as readers. This Book Page list is a great prompt for you to get your fellow staff members-- all of them, no matter where in the organizational structure they fall-- to start their own list, but don't make their dependent upon the book being out in 2020.

Get a staff conversation started about what is the best thing they have each read in 2020 so far is. Make sure you are clear that the copyright date on the item does not matter. For our purposes, as a library, with access to an extensive backlist, when the book was released does not matter, rather, just that it was read in the fist half of 2020. Use this as a chance to discuss positive things amongst the staff, things that are not tied to the stress of the pandemic. Compile a list of the titles mentioned, combine it with the Book Page list, and then make a display. As libraries begin to start opening up again, it can be online AND in the building.

Then as we start welcoming patrons back to our physical locations*, we can use this conversation starter as a great welcome message. We care what you have been reading. We have been reading too. In fact, here is what we have been reading and enjoying. Here is what readers across the country have enjoyed. What about you? Share with us. Let's make a local list of the best reads of the year so far.

Most of all, this supports my belief that we all should spend more time thinking like readers since we are helping readers and not book critics. When we remind the patrons that we are readers too, it makes them more comfortable to ask for help. Plus, it is fun; for everyone involved. And you know what, we could all use a little fun right now, especially fun that will also improve our service to patrons.

*I am not going to enter the conversation about how and when buildings open both because I think each individual community needs to decide for themselves [I am a trustee actively engaged I this conversation], and because many already are open in some way. If I ignore that, those staff get no help from me, and that is completely unfair to them.

Monday, May 18, 2020

What I'm Reading: The Hollow Ones

The current issue of Booklist has my review of  a new series that will be very popular.

The Hollow Ones.

del Toro, Guillermo (author), Chuck Hogan (author).
Aug. 2020. 336p. Grand Central, $28 (9781538761748); e-book, $14.99 (9781538761731)First published May 15, 2020 (Booklist).
Del Toro and Hogan team up again [The Strain] this time opening a brand new series, in an imaginatively built world that both pays direct homage to the progenitor of the occult detective story, Algernon Blackwood, and stands alone as an original, speculative thriller for today. FBI agent Hardwicke’s life and career are upended when her partner goes mad during a raid, forcing her to kill him, observing something shadowy leaving his body as he dies. The aftermath sends her on a quest for answers, leading her to an aging colleague, Agent Solomon, his civil rights era case, and the immortal detective, John Blackwood, who has been chasing the ancient evil at the center of it all for the last 500 years-- the Hollow Ones. With a shifting time frame that fills in the back stories for Blackwood, Solomon, and even the Hollow Ones themselves while also generating palpable suspense, this is a compellingly paced supernatural thriller, that refuses to sacrifice the details readers need in order to become invested in the story's well crafted dread and danger. Ultimately though it is Hardwicke and Blackwood, quite an odd couple partnership, that readers will be inevitably drawn to as they reconcile each other’s strengths and weaknesses, working together on an otherworldly assignment with very real world consequences. A great choice for those who enjoy popular speculative investigative series like those by the team of Lincioln and Child or Christopher Golden, but also for fans of occult thrillers with a nod to horror masters of the past like The Twisted Ones by Kingfisher.
Further Appeal: The keys here are the links to the origins of the occult detective story in general and the characters.  

Hardwicke is an interesting protagonist. She is complex and interesting enough that readers get caught up in her story immediately, but then you add in the intrigue and back story of the first black FBI agent in the south [Solomon] and an immortal detective, and, well many readers will get hooked.

This diverse cast, female detective, black FBI agent, immortal, serve the story telling well because they all live on the fringes on their worlds. It is not strange or odd that together they are able to operate outside normal rules and procedures because they are already discounted by the the establishment.

I really liked Blackwood as a character too. His backstory was fascinating and informed both the thriller storyline in the present and the one from the 1960s.

The press materials hint that this will be a series, and the ending suggest that; however, the ending is extremely satisfying and sweet on its own.

Three Words That Describe This Book: ancient evil, solid world building, occult detective

Readalikes: The titles and series above are a great starting point. There has been a huge increase in revisiting the origins of the occult detective in recent years and there are two anthologies I would suggest for people looking for more options.

Fighters of Fear edited by Mike Ashley which compiles old stories and Hardboiled Horror edited by Jonathan Maberry which is modern authors taking on the occult detective story. Both are excellent additions for public libraries and will lead patrons to many more reading options.

Friday, May 15, 2020

LibraryReads: June 2020

Editors Note:
 Before I begin with the regularly scheduled message I repost before each and every LibraryReads monthly this, I need to take a moment to recognize this particular. As you will see below, the June 2020 LibraryReads list not only has 2 straight up horror novels on the list BUT, the Number #1, top vote getter is a horror novel. You can call it Gothic, but I have read this book, and I can tell you, this is not Rebecca, it is straight up horror. 
I would  like  to  remind all of my readers that I am not allowed  to vote because I do not currently work in a library. I had absolutely nothing to do with this. This is all your doing, and I am so proud. 
I  have spent a huge portion of my career promoting horror to library workers so that they will in turn remember to suggest it to patrons. I never thought in my wildest dreams that you, as a group, would  begin to appreciate it as readers. 
As I really settle in on completing the third edition of my book, this is inspiring; it is going me the energy I need to power through for all of you. As I told LibraryReads Executive Director, Rebecca Vnuk, this morning, "I think I may faint." 
Now back to the regularly scheduled programming.

It's Library Reads day and that means four 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 through this archive OR the sortable master list allowing you to mix and match however you want.
  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.
  4. Every upcoming book now has at least 1 readalike that is available to hand out RIGHT NOW. Book talk the upcoming book, place a hold for it, and then hand out that readalike title for while they wait. If they need more titles before their hold comes in, use the readalike title to identify more readalike titles. And then keep repeating. Seriously, it is that easy to have happy, satisfied readers.
The LibraryReads Board has also started another great book discovery and suggestion tool for you, a monthly What We're Reading column. This means there are even more library worker approved titles, new and old, for you to choose from. 

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.

Please remember to click here for everything you need to know about how to participate. Click here to see a database of eligible diverse titles sorted by month.

Now let's get to that list....

Mexican Gothic
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
(Del Rey)
“A perfect gothic mystery with an updated sensibility that will appeal to the modern reader. Noemí­ is a Mexico City socialite in the 1950s. When her father receives a disturbing letter from his niece, he sends Noemí­ to check on her cousin at the remote house where she is living--a grotesque and rotting English-style mansion, built on dirt imported from England by the colonialist eugenicist family she has married into. Lush descriptions and the creepy atmosphere make this a good choice for readers who liked The Witch Elm, The Little Stranger, or The Haunting of Hill House.”
Lorena Neal, Evanston Public Library, Evanston, IL
NoveList read-alike: The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero    

And now, the rest of the list....

The Boyfriend Project
by Farrah Rochon

“In this contemporary romance, three women who were two-timed by the same man become friends. The unique, funny premise cleverly serves as a catalyst for why the women are trying to make changes in their lives. The romance is lovely and finds ways in which the couple struggles to be together. Give this to fans of Mia Sosa and Alisha Rai.”

—Ann Carpenter, Brooks Free Library, Harwich, MA 
NoveList read-alike: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre 
by Max Brooks
(Del Rey)

“Nobody imagines the end of the world quite like Brooks! Here he takes a group of privileged idealists, sets them in a beautiful utopia where they can escape the headaches of the city but suffer none of the inconveniences, and then brutally removes all the comforts they expect to be delivered. Throw in some hungry Sasquatch and things get really interesting. For fans of Blake Crouch and Jeff VanderMeer.”

—Amy Hall, Jefferson County Public Library, Wheat Ridge, CO 
NoveList read-alike: The Abominable by Dan Simmons

The Empire of Gold
A Novel
by S.A. Chakraborty
(Harper Voyager)

"This is a story about colonialism and cycles of trauma, giving an in depth look at the politics and psychology of a land warred over by ethnic factions for centuries. Highly recommended to anyone looking for an imaginative fantasy with complex characters, well developed relationships, and insightful social commentary. For readers who enjoy N.K. Jemisin and Tasha Suri.”

—Lauren Mitchell, Neenah Public Library, Neenah, WI NoveList read-alike: Books of Ambha by Tasha Suri

The Girl from Widow Hills
A Novel
by Megan Miranda (Simon & Schuster)

“Miranda returns with another engrossing psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The story is primarily told from Olivia's unreliable perspective. News reports, book excerpts, and other media are also used to fill out the story, which keeps the plot moving. For fans of Conviction (Mina) and The Other Mrs. (Kubica).”

—Megan Coleman, Cecil County Public Library, Elkton, MD 
NoveList read-alike: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

The Guest List
A Novel
by Lucy Foley

(William Morrow)
"A wedding celebration on a remote island off the coast of Ireland turns eerie and nightmarish in this gothic atmospheric mystery. A good choice for fans of Ruth Ware."

—Bill Anderson, Scott CountyPublic Library, Scottsburg, IN 
NoveList read-alike: Go To My Grave by Catriona McPherson

The Last Flight
A Novel
by Julie Clark

(Sourcebooks Landmark)

“Claire and Eva both have reasons for wanting to disappear, so when they happen upon each other at the airport, they decide to take the other person's flight. However, when one of the planes crashes, the danger they thought they were leaving isn't far behind. For readers who enjoyed The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine and The Passenger by Lisa Lutz.”

—Lora Bruggeman, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL 
NoveList read-alike: Layover by David Bell

The Lies That Bind
A Novel
by Emily Giffin
(Ballantine Books)

"Cecily is fresh off a break up and meets a “too good to be true” stranger in a local dive bar. For fans of Me Before You by JoJo Moyes."

—Stephanie Hall, Topeka Public Library, Topeka, KS 
NoveList read-alike: Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Take a Hint, Dani Brown
A Novel
by Talia HIbbert (Avon)

"Dani and Zaf have been low-key flirting forever when a gallant moment is turned into a viral video and the pressure is on for these two to become a couple. This is a fabulously fun and meta take on a classic romance trope, the fake relationship. For fans of The Wedding Date and The Kiss Quotient."

—Jessica Trotter, Capital Area District Libraries, Lansing, MI 
NoveList read-alike: A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

The Vanishing Half
A Novel
by Brit Bennett (Riverhead Books)

"Centering on two twin light-skinned black girls who grew up in a strange town in the Jim Crow south, this book explores racism, colorism, sexism, and familial relationships through the interweaving storylines of vivid and complicated characters. For fans of Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson."

—Pamela Gardner, Medfield Public Library, Medfield, MA
NoveList read-alike: A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Alpha Night
by Nalini Singh (Berkley)

"This continuation of the Psy-Changeling series features the shapeshifting wolves of Moscow and their pack alpha, Selenka, but it also brings back many characters from previous books. Another enjoyable, fast-paced paranormal romance from Singh."

—Cathy Shields, East Lyme Public Library, Niantic, CT
Read-alike: The Mane Event by Shelly Laurenston 
Read-alike: Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison 
Read-alike: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews 
Read-alike: The Last Wolf by Maria Vale

Dance Away with Me
A Novel
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (William Morrow)

"Phillips’ slow-burn romance centers around a grieving young widow who is drawn into the life of a frustrated artist. The story’s darker turns are lightened by humor drawn from the small-town Tennessee setting. Highly recommended.”

—Rose Miller, Orange Public Library, Orange, CA
Read-alike: Blue Hollow Falls by Donna Kauffman 
Read-alike: Blackberry Summer by RaeAnne Thayne 
Read-alike: Sanctuary Cove by Rochelle Alers

The Dilemma
by B.A. Paris (St. Martin's Press)

"If you knew something that was certain to change everything, would you keep it a secret to hold on to tranquility for one more day? Paris' driving narrative, alternating between the perspectives of a husband and wife, guarantees your book group will be divided over this very question."

—Lorri Steinbacher, Ridgewood Public Library, Ridgewood, NJ
Read-alike: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
Read-alike: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing 
Read-alike: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Home Before Dark
A Novel by Riley Sager (Dutton)

"Maggie’s father wrote a famous book about the family’s paranormal experiences when she was a child living at Baneberry Hall. Twenty-six years later she returns to the house to finally face what happened long ago. This suspenseful and compelling book keeps you guessing to the very end."

—Ashley Borer, Normal Memorial Library, Fayette, OH
Read-alike: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell 
Read-alike: The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott 
Read-alike: The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

Party of Two
by Jasmine Guillory (Berkley)

"In the fifth book of the Wedding Date series, sparks fly between a smart, independent lawyer and a charming, impulsive senator. Guillory thoughtfully incorporates serious issues into her books while keeping the tone light and uplifting. Sweet, sexy, and a lot of fun."

—Jayme Hughes-Gartin, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Cincinnati, OH
Read-alike: A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole 
Read-alike: Rumor Has It by Cheris F. Hodges
 Read-alike: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang 
Read-alike: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Stock Your RA Pantry: Have an Honest Conversation Around the Question, "Why Read Diversely?"

I am back with Stock Your RA Pantry, a series of posts that address the things you can do from home to enhance your RA Services and Resources both now and going forward. And, these are all things any library worker can do, no matter what their official job at the library happens to be.

In my popular "#OwnVoices for All Readers: Incorporating EDI Values Into RA Service" program, I have a link to the Book Riot 5 part series entitled, "Why Read Diversely?" However, I don't usually  have more time during these programs than to say, "Go read that later." It is the nature of my job, that I am hired to spend a mere 60 minutes on a complex topic, so I do the best I can and provide more links so those who want to take a deeper dive.

And yet, now we have a little more training time, which is why I started this "Stock Your RA Pantry" series in the first place. Today, I want to explain a little more about this 5 part series and how you can use it to have a conversation among your staff because this series not only features POC book professionals discussing why reading diversely is important, but they also provide discussion questions, honestly tackling some of the most uncomfortable questions at the heart of this conversation, and they do it in a respectful and direct manner.

Here is a list of just some of the questions they address in the series:
  • Where can I go to find authors from diverse backgrounds?
  • Isn’t this publishing’s problem?
  • Who counts as a “POC”? For example, does someone from Spain count? Or someone who is Jewish? And what’s up with the term “POC” anyway?
  • What about other kinds of diversity? Isn’t reading diversely important in terms of politics, religion, and where an author is from, as well as race?
  • What about books written by white people that are about POC? Do those “count”? And as an author, what if I’m uncomfortable writing a character who is a POC?
  • How can I, as a non-POC person, relate to a story by/about a POC?
  • Why does everything have to be political?
  • So what’s a “good” percentage to aim for? And isn’t that just filling a quota?
  • Am I a racist if I just don’t care?
  • Why are diverse books specifically important in children’s literature?
  • Isn’t it enough to have at least one PoC character?
  • Why is it important to have PoC characters in stories that are about more than just their racial background?
As a team, either in departments or as a whole library [or even better, creating teams across departments and job levels to break into smaller group discussions so you can have a cross section of staff working on these issues together], you can read each part, the questions they pose, and the answers they provide, and then turn each part of the series into  a discussion where staff can share their thoughts, concerns, solutions, etc.... about what they read. Even the most "white" staff will have heard the point of view of people of color in this conversation simply by reading the articles.

The key is that this series is the jumping off point you need to have these conversations at your library. You don't need to hire a fancy EDI consultant to get the discussion going. Now, as you work  through an EDI focused program at your library, there will be a time when you might need professional help, but you do not need that to get the conversation started.

Unfortunately, I am seeing some libraries push back their equity, diversity, and inclusion training and the goals they have set because of the pandemic. However, I would argue that now it is even more imperative that we push EDI to the forefront. You could use these articles and questions to have an online discussion board conversation or to make them a topic at department meetings. These are conversations that every single staff member can and should participate in. This is training that is inexpensive and useful. This is an activity that should be happening everywhere.

And let's remember the importance of  including everyone on staff, not only because every level of staff, from the janitor to the director, make up your organization, but also because the hard truth is that support staff at a library are made up of more diverse people than the 88% white ladies that make up professional librarians [myself included]. To not include all staff is to ignore the entire point of having a discussion centered around equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Click here to access part 1 and then follow the links to read the entire series. In fact, please return to part 1 after you finish each part because only Part 1 has the direct links to all 5 parts [at the end of the post]

For more posts in the "Stock Your RA Pantry" series, click here.