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.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

RA for All Is On Vacation

No RA for All posts on either blog from today until Monday January 9th. 

When I come back, I will begin with my annual Resolution posts where I assess last year's goals and set this year's. 

But even thought there will be no new content, there are many ways this blog can help you while I am gone. Poke around, use the tags, check out some older lists, head over to the Horror blog for genre specific suggestions, and so much more.

Happy New Year and see you all in 2023.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

What I'm Reading: Becky's Best Books That I Read in 2022

For the sixth year now, I am doing my best books that I read during this calendar year in a category list rather than in some kind of ranked order, Why? Because why I loved these particular books matters more to me than the order in which I would place them. How I interacted with them, how they affected me, how they stayed with me is what is important here because that is why they are my personal "Best."

Some of the categories are the same from year to year, others change. This is because the books I read create their own experiences and categories to me personally and I want to capture that experience each year along with the titles. I am not a robot, I am a human reader, even if reading and suggesting titles is my job. In order to remind myself [and all of you] of the joy in what we are paid to do, I am trying to create a year end best list that captures, celebrates, and acknowledges that.

By this time, lots of people have already weighed in with critically acclaimed "best" lists for weeks now, so why do you need more of that from me?  I played my part in that side of the "best" debate with my Best Horror of 2022 list as part of #LibFaves2022. That is a place where my opinion on what is the BEST matters from that expert perch.

This year, I also got to weigh in a few months ago with a more general "Best" list, as a member of the the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction committee. That list of 43 books are all spectacular. I have read all of them and they are among the best books for a general adult audience that came out this year. Click here for all of the books, with the three short list titles at the top-- those short list titles all apart below in my personal best list as well. Also, each title in that list links to the title's Booklist review for more information.

I can honestly say, I greatly enjoyed every single one of the books on the longlist, but you  should know that most of them do NOT appear on my Goodreads. As a member of this committee, I did not want to let anyone else know what we were reading for consideration. By not keeping track of every book I read this year on Goodreads (because there were many titles I read that did NOT make the longlist), I was respecting our committee's diligent and serious process. However, I do have paper notes for all of them and we have a detailed committee spreadsheet. So for my purposes, I have a full record of everything I read in 2022.

I understand how important that Carnegie Medal longlist is to all of you as well. I know because I used it when I worked at the library to make "sure bet" suggestions to patrons. In fact, I wish I could include every single one of the longlist titles on this "Best Books" list because not only did I enjoy each of them, that was my over all BEST reading experience of the year-- being on the committee, meeting with the members monthly to discuss the books, and coming to consensus on the short list and the winners (which you will find out next month) was among my BEST experiences as a librarian EVER. And I am not taking those superlatives lightly.

Fro you this means that you should take both this category based post AND the Carnegie Medal longlist together as my combined Best Books I read in 2022 list.

Speaking of, let's get back to this particular annual list of mine here on the blog. What I bring here on the general blog that is most helpful to all of you out there in the trenches is a list that reflects my best experiences as a reader. This is a list that is personal to me, my tastes, and my weird quirks. You can use it to help other readers, yes, but because it is so specific to me, it is actually better used by you as a conversation starter.

For example, you can ask people "What is the most fun you had reading a book this year?" or "What title was the biggest surprise to you?" Those are questions readers can answer much more quickly and easily than "What was your favorite book?" These are also questions that encourage longer conversations.

The categories I have listed here provide great conversation starters to offer to your patrons. You can even use my answers to keep the conversation going by saying, "I was thinking about this question because Becky said [fill in the title] as her answer."

The point of my "Best" list is to both offer books that I loved this year, while also presenting an example of a regular reader view of a "best" list.

Below you will find my list of the best books I experienced in 2022 [regardless of publication year] in 15 categories created by meIt is an arbitrary amount, but so what? It's my list of what mattered to me the most this year so I get to decide how I present it. Each title links to a longer reviewwhich will explain why it is the "best" book for that category, and will include my "Three Words."

Also the list this year is way more nonfiction heavy because of my reading for the Carnegie Medal longlist.

Finally, After creating the list I also audited it. In the 15 categories there are 21 books [but 22 authors], 11 are by women, 14 are POC, and 4 identify as LGBTQ [that I know of]. This is what happens when you make an effort to diversify your reading by the way, you end up with a diverse lists of best titles. I filled out my categories first and did the audit second. If it had turned out to be too white, cis, and male, I would have owned it publicly as I have before. 

Click each title for reviews and more appeal information

I'll be back on January 9, 2022. Have a safe and happy New Year.

Becky's Best Books I read in 2022

Best Feel Good Read: This is What It Sounds Like: What The Music You Love Says About You by Susan Rogers and Ogi Ogas [interactive, accessible, conversational tone]

Book That Stayed With Me All Year: The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka [heartbreakingly beautiful, thought provoking, immersive]

The Most Fun I Had Reading a Book in 2022: Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin [band of survivors, thought provoking, action packed]

Best Book From 2021 Best Lists That I Read in 2022: The Sentence by Louise Erdrich [darkly humorous, moving, compelling] and The Trees by Percival Everett [uncanny, open ended, thought-provoking] Ed note: If forced to pick a fav book I read this year, The Trees would be it.

Best Surprise: [tie] Fiction-- The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan [uncanny, thought provoking, character centered] and The Impossible City: A Hong Kong Memoir by Karen Cheung [eye opening, personal/researched balance, immersive] Ed note: both are books I only read because of ACM committee.

Best Book By A Big Name Author: The Ghost That Ate Us: The Tragic True Story of the Burger City  Poltergeist by Daniel Kraus [verisimilitude, immersive, escalating dread]

Best Speculative Fiction: How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu [gorgeous, emotional, epic in scope] Ed note: I will probably read every book this author ever puts out after this

Best Horror: [tie] The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay [original, immersive, pervasively creepy]  and The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias [lyrical, brutal, strong narrative voice]

Best Graphic Novel: [tie] Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands written and illustrated by Kate Beaton [candid, richly detailed, reflective] and The Third Person written and illustrated by Emma Grove [frank, vulnerable, emotional] Ed note: I fought for these to make the ACM longlist which generally does not include graphic novels, but both of these books are spectacular and tell important stories, true stories which are greatly enhanced by the addition of illustrations. 

Best Audio: The Babysitter Lives by Stephen Graham Jones [disorienting, character centered, original haunted house trope]

Best Historical Fiction: Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang [richly detailed, compelling, heartbreakingly beautiful]

Best Short Story Collection: Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty [linked stories, strong sense of place, moving]

Best Memoir: [tie] Stay True by Hua Hsu [friendship, reflective, candid]  and Constructing a Nervous System by Margo Jefferson [reflective, engaging, stylistically interesting]

Best Nonfiction: [tie] An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Young [thought-provoking, engaging, joyful] and Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage by Rachel E. Gross [authoritative but colloquial, inclusive, science communication]

Best Debut: Greenland by David Santos Donaldson [character-driven, story within a story, thought-provoking]

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Using Awards Lists As A RA Tool: Wonderland Book Award and In Praise of the Power of Smaller Awards

This is part of my ongoing series on using Awards Lists as a RA tool. Click here for all posts in the series in reverse chronological order. Click here for the first post which outlines the details how to use awards lists as a RA tool.  

When I do these awards lists posts, I often focus on bigger awards, but I don't want you to forget the smaller awards, those that honor up and coming writers. 

Today I want to focus on the Wonderland Book Award. These awards are given out each year at BizarroCon to honor books in the Bizarro genre. But what is Bizarro? Well those that run the con have an amazing website with an extensive "About" page. From that page:


  1. Bizarro, simply put, is the genre of the weird.
  2. Bizarro is literature’s equivalent to the cult section at the video store.
  3. Like cult movies, Bizarro is sometimes surreal, sometimes avant-garde, sometimes goofy, sometimes bloody, sometimes borderline pornographic, and almost always completely out there.
  4. Bizarro strives not only to be strange, but fascinating, thought-provoking, and, above all, fun to read.
  5. Bizarro often contains a certain cartoon logic that, when applied to the real world, creates an unstable universe where the bizarre becomes the norm and absurdities are made flesh.
  6. Bizarro was created by a group of small press publishers in response to the increasing demand for (good) weird fiction and the increasing number of authors who specialize in it.
  7. Bizarro is like:
    • Franz Kafka meets John Waters
    • Dr. Suess of the post-apocalypse
    • Takashi Miike meets William S. Burroughs
    • Alice in Wonderland for adults
    • Japanese animation directed by David Lynch

Even though the Bizarros are underground cult outsiders they still have gained an incredible amount of respect in the publishing industry, having been praised by the likes of Chuck Palahniuk, Christopher Moore, William Gibson, Jonathan Lethem, Piers Anthony, Cory Doctorow, Poppy Z. Brite, Michael Moorcock, and Charles de Lint, to name a few, as well as the publications Asimov’s Science-fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-fiction, Fangoria, Cemetery Dance, Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Details Magazine, Gothic Magazine, and The Face, among many others. They have also been finalists for the Philip K Dick Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Rhysling Award, the Wonderland Book Award, and the Pushcart Prize.

Bizarro isn’t just weird fiction, it is DAMN GOOD weird fiction. And it grows exponentially every single day, so, love it or hate it, you’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the years to come.

The page goes on to list a starter pack of titles. This is a great genre because it crosses over with so many popular genres. And MOST IMPORTANTLY, there are some big name people who have won their annual award. Take a look at this list of all past winners over on Goodreads. One of the authors who has been nominated for and won this award before is Gabino Iglesias, now a mainstream, critically acclaimed author who is ending up on numerous 2022 bests lists for The Devil Takes You Home, his Big 5 debut. 

This is a more niche award that clearly has quite a track record as you can see from their about page and past winners.

I happen to personally know this year's novel winner as he is a library worker here in Chicagoland and a member of the Chicagoland Chapter of the Horror Writers Association with me-- Michael Allen Rose-- who won for Jurassichrist (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing).

More about the author: 

Michael has been involved with the bizarro community for over a decade. His first book, "Party Wolves In My Skull," was published by Eraserhead Press in 2011 as part of their "New Bizarro Author Series," a program meant to introduce new authors of the weird to a larger audience and give them their first professional book publication experience. Since then, he has worked with a number of small presses in bizarro and adjacent genres, most notably horror and humor, and had six more book published in addition to appearances in several anthologies and publications. He has hosted the "Ultimate Bizarro Showdown" event in Portland Oregon for over half a decade, which is the entertainment portion of the Wonderland Awards Ceremony at Bizarro Con. He also makes music under the name Flood Damage, and enjoys good tea and cats. You can find out more about him and his work at www.michaelallenrose.com

I asked Michael to share his thoughts about his book with all of you, to give it a proper introduction by the man who wrote it, but also as a library worker himself, as he understands all of us and our needs as well. Here is Michael Allen Rose on his award winning novel:

"Jurassichrist is the ostensibly story of the second coming of Jesus. Since he's a deity, however, and time and space don't really apply to him, he ends up missing entirely and landing in the Jurassic period, fighting dinosaurs. He discovers that dinosaurs are nothing like what we assume they were, fostering bizarre civilizations and advanced technology, but they are in danger from the burrowing creatures called mammals that have somehow been gifted as-seen-on-tv products from the far-flung future they could not possibly access. J.C. uncovers a cosmic conspiracy to put mammals on the top of the evolutionary ladder, and has to find his way back to the heavens to figure out who or what messed up the plan of creation, and might be bringing about a new apocalypse.
Nikolas P. Robinson actually summed up the plot extremely well in his review here:

I highly recommend you add this book to your collection. It was published by one of my trusted independent horror publishers, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. You can access my full list of trusted Horror small presses here

You should also consider making a display of past award winners and nominees. This link will give you access to all prelim and final ballot titles to build a list or display. As you could see from the information I posted above, this is a genre that will attract a lot of readers. Why not highlight it by showcasing those who have been considered among the very best in the Bizarro community.

One final note. Michael Allen Rose has a very cool title dropping later this week. It will be of high interest and the entire book and its release is super fun.

I asked him to share it with you. It is a graphic novel entitled, The Last Five Minutes of the Human Race. You can see the record for it on Fantastic Fiction here

It is releasing 5 minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve-- 12/31/22. Michael describes it as " A horror book, an ABC primer for adults about all of the existential terror that comes from witnessing the last 5 minutes of the human race in 27 entries (26 letters and an ampersand).

I for one and super excited for this one.

Back tomorrow with my personal end of the year Best List and then off until 1/9. More then.

Friday, December 23, 2022

New, Old, Winter Storytelling

I am bringing back these posts from year's past. I am happy to report that my family has acquired more of these amazing little books and we still read them around the Solstice and have incoirtaped them into or regular holiday season traditions. 

You don't need the specific books I mention to make this a thing at your library. It is also not tied specifically to any one holiday, but rather to the long winter nights, meaning it is very inclusive.

Enjoy. I will be back on Tuesday.


Resurrecting A Victorian Christmas Storytelling Tradition

Yesterday, I came upon this article from the Smithsonian Magazine, “A Plea to Resurrect the Christmas Tradition of Telling Ghost Stories.

This made me remember that I already made this plea to all of you, my readers, almost exactly a year ago- not that this fact surprises anyone. I guess I was a year early on the trend, so today, I have a rerun of that post where I talk about this tradition, discuss how you can turn this into a fun display, and even offer up some reads.

And, I happy to report, as a family, we are keeping this tradition going in our house for second year in a row. 


A New, Old, Winter Storytelling Tradition With A Library Display Opportunity

The weekend after Thanksgiving I went back to my old neighborhood in Chicago to do some holiday shopping and stopped in at Volumes Bookcafe.

While I was there I found a beautiful series of paperback, spooky stories on display.  Below is a picture of the front of the three I purchased and a shot of the back of the Burrage title.

You can zoom in to read the back, but basically, these titles have been produced to revive the Victorian tradition of families getting together to read ghost stories aloud on Christmas Eve. 

I did some more research on this topic and found this interesting article that explains the tradition in more detail. It turns out that the tradition hit it’s heyday in Victorian Times, but probably dates back before that. As the article also notes, while much of our current holiday season traditions are remarkably similar to those from Victorian times, this one specific tradition has all but disappeared.

The winter, with it’s long nights, led to spookier thoughts and more forced togetherness huddled inside, around the fire. Ghost stories made for popular entertainment in these circumstances. But Christmas Eve in particular, when large groups were assembled already, grew to be the most popular time to read ghost stories aloud. 

As I mentioned above, I did purchase three titles in this series and our family plans to spend a few evenings over the days off this holiday season to read these stories together, aloud, around our 21st Century fire place. No screens or other distractions involved. 

While I hope some of you out there give the old tradition a try, I think it is a great display option for all libraries. Any spooky story will do. And, it is not Christmas specific. A spooky story for a long winter’s night works no matter where you live, regardless of whether you celebrate a holiday during this season or not. It is a display you can do now, to take advantage of the time people have off of work and school over the next 2 weeks or wait for the new year.

Let’s bring this tradition back through the public library

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Best Books 2022: Best Content From the Genre Experts and Finding "Niche" Best Options

This post is part of my year end "Attack of the Best Lists" coverage. To see every post in my "Best Books 2022" series you can use the best lists tag 

Today I wanted to focus on the best lists from the eyes of the genre experts-- not Horror because I have a whole blog for that already.

But first, a general reminder that the easiest way to find niche "Best" lists is to use the Largehearted Boy Online list of all of the best lists. But, here are a few links to get you "best books" from trusted genre resources more quickly:

Remember, I have my personal list of my most trusted and FREE genre specific resources always avaiable here. Access is easy through my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service page (at the bottom). I went to this list to see what these expert sites pushed out as Best of 2022. 

And if you have a very specific reader, don't ever count out a targeted Google search. Type in their favorite  micro genre or tastes with "best books." For example, here is the search for "Best Apocalyptic Books 2022." 

Also here is a list a colleague sent me: Comedy Women in Print Prize Longlist. Literally the best witty women in print. 

Take away: you don't need to be afraid to get super specific. Trust me, you will find something and your patron will be impressed. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Suggest Books to Their Best Reader

The other day I came across this essay in Book Riot about why you should consider recommending books you didn't like yourself. There is also a link to another piece by the same author (in the first paragraph) about recommending books you didn't read as well.

Both are an important read because they get to the heart of one of the foundational tenants of doing RA service, which is that you should always suggest books to their best reader.

Whether I like a book or not matters less than why someone else would like it-- a specific someone else. When I write my reviews for Booklist and Library Journal, they are ALWAYS with that thought in mind. I think about who would enjoy this book the most and I write my review to them. 

I think about what the authors does best, where the appeal lies, and what readers would enjoy that type of read because my reviews are there to help you make purchases and match books with potential readers.

But this is how we all should match books with readers, always. It is also why we would be doomed if we were only held to suggesting books we read and enjoyed ourselves. And, this is also why I say reading about books is more important than reading a book in my 10 rules of Basic RA Service.

The best advice I can give to you about how to match books with their best reader involves using resources-- also one of my 10 rules of Basic RA Service. You can use NoveList (if you have it) to search by appeal factors or even better, use the appeal mixer to find books that have a similar feel without worrying about the plot or if you have read it or even if you read it and didn't enjoy it.

But you can also use Goodreads reviews. When you look at 4, 3, and 2 star reviews, you are seeing people who have opinions about the book without being at either extreme of loving it or hating it. These readers tend to give you a more nuanced picture of the books and why it worked or didn't work with them. I also love using the "shelves" people put a book on (you can access those in the right gutter) because those are natural language appeal factors. These are the terms other readers want to use to remember something about the book. You can click on any of those to find other books which share that tag from readers across the Goodreads community. One of my favorites is "cover love," because people absolutely judge books by their covers. I have multiple posts about that here (that post links to all of them).

Now, I am going to be honest, it is uncomfortable at first when you try to suggest books you haven't read or didn't enjoy for yourself. But, like everything we do, it takes practice (the 10th rule of my basic RA service).

To get more comfortable and have meaningful practice, I always suggest that you take a favorite book-- all time favorite or recent favorite. Look it up on NoveList and Goodreads. See what appeal factors NoveList attaches to it. Play around with clicking a few to see what else pops up. See what lists or articles it appears in. Then go over to Goodreads and look at those 4, 3, and 2 star reviews. Read what people say. Check out the shelves people have tagged the books to.

All of this will help you to get a better sense of who likes the book and why. Some of their reasons may be different from yours. And some of the 2 star people may dislike the book for the exact reasons you loved it. All of this gives you a sense of how these resources work to help you suggest books to their best reader. Since you enjoy the book, you have a frame of reference. 

Repeat this a few times with different books. As you get more comfortable, try a book you didn't enjoy but you know is popular and look it up. Then also try a book you haven't read but again, you know is being checked out and enjoyed by others. 

All of this practice will make you a pro at suggesting books to their best reader whether you have read the book, liked it, or none of the above. And once you are comfortable suggesting books to their best reader regardless of your experience, the entire world of publishing opens up to you, and as a direct result, to your patrons as well.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Best Books 2022: LitHub's Ultimate Best List

This post is part of my year end "Attack of the Best Lists" coverage. To see every post in my "Best Books 2022" series you can use the best lists tag 

Yesterday, one of my favorite best lists dropped-- Lit Hub's annual data crunch, of best lists from 29 major outlets. They make a list of the books that got the most "best" nods so you can get a sense of a consensus. And the outlets they check are both literary and populist.

I do not love this list for just  the obvious reason that it gives you a sense of the overall "best" books but I also use it to build my annual "Year in Review" presentation that I give for PCI Webinars. More on that in January.

But that is next month, for today here is the Ultimate Best Books of 2022 via LitHub compiled by Emily Temple as described below at that site:

Click here to see the list on the LitHub site

Another year of books comes to a close, and with it, the obligatory frantic listmaking—which at its best may inspire reminiscing, reconsidering, and excellent gift-purchasing, but at its worst may inspire hurt feelings, overwhelm, and doom-scrolling. But I’m not here to judge, or to save us. I’m just here to count.

So here at the end, as is annual Literary Hub tradition, you will find the big list of lists—aka the biggest popularity contest in books (probably). This year, I worked through 35 lists from 29 publications (yes, there are even more lists out there, but we’re all going to die some day), tallying a total of 887 books. 84 books were highlighted on 4 or more lists, and I have collated those for you here, in descending order of frequency. Read, enjoy, and try not to feel bad

Click here to read the list, as well as to see the 29 publications consulted at the end of the list. And of course, since it is a Becky favorite, access to previous year's Ultimate Best Lists is in the article itself-- linked above and here by me.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Attack of the Best Lists 2022: Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books and Insert Your Library Here

This post is part of my year end "Attack of the Best Lists" coverage. To see every post in my "Best Books 2022" series you can use the best lists tag 

Library generated best lists are one of your best end of year tools, especially when you use the largest library near your physical location as a guide. Why? Here are a few reasons:

  1. Library generated best lists reflect the opinions of actual staff and readers. What did staff most enjoy and what was popular? It is not just critical acclaim or sales data. Remember bestselling mainstays like Daniel Silva, Louise Penny, and Colson Whitehead were extremely popular in libraries well before they became household names. Library workers and patrons often know what is popular and good long before the rest of the world catches up.
  2. Library generated best lists take into consideration all ages of readers because they serve all ages of readers.
  3. Library generated best lists always have genre choices because library workers know patrons love genre-- especially Romance and Crime Fiction.
  4. Library generated best lists ALWAYS consider local or regional authors which is why I advocate for you to prioritize using the best list from the library in the largest city closest to you [in the same state if possible]. 
  5. Library generated best lists are not commercial in anyway. There are no publishers submitting books to their sites. No one is buying ads to be include. There are no links to encourage those using the list to buy the titles. 

I could go on, but you get the point.

I am very lucky that my local large library system is the Chicago Public Library [there is a great branch 5 miles from my house, 2 turns to get there!] whose annual BEST OF THE BEST BOOKS is one of the best library generated best lists available anywhere. You all should use it.

From the BEST OF THE BEST 2022 landing page:

Chicago Public Library recommends the Best of the Best, our selections of the very best books published in 2022. Every year, our librarians evaluate the year’s new books and select the very best for Chicagoans — making these the only booklists for Chicago, by Chicago. Happy reading!

The list goes on the have books for Adults, Teens, Kids [down to birth] and this amazingly easy backlist access right at the bottom of the main page:


Everyone everywhere can and should use this resource to help patrons, but I also want you to use this list as an inspiration to create your own best of the best. As CPL says about their lists [above], "making these the only booklists for Chicago, by Chicago. "

Yes, your library is not as large as CPL, but you easily can do a version for your community by your community. And you most definitely should NOT go at it alone. Get the entire staff involved.

Now I know you are thinking: "Becky, I am so overworked already. I do not have time to organize this."

Ahh, but you don't have to do much. Also, you should not try to emulate CPL, but rather make it your own. And I would suggest NOT limiting to titles that came out in 2022 or you will have less buy in.

Here is how you begin to create your "Favorite Reads of 2022" list at your library for your patrons.

Send out an email to all staff and ask them a few leading questions to make this process easy. I suggest using both of these:

  • What is the most fun you had reading a book this year?
  • What book surprised you the most this year?
Again make it clear that these items do NOT have to have a 2022 copyright nor do the titles have to come from the area in which the person works, and furthermore, they do not need to limit themselves to one or two-- let people go at it with their passion. Don't gate-keep the responses. Use them all no matter what your personal opinion about the "quality" of the title included happens to be.

The goal here is the have as many staff members participating as possible. The only rule is that it has to be something that you have in your collection. This also serves as a reminder to staff and patrons that "BEST" does not have an expiration date.

Also these questions work very well because they invoke an immediate emotional response. I know because I use them in my presentations as a way to get people in the correct frame of mind for the training I am about to provide. 

When you ask someone to name a "best" anything, they overthink it. Asking for most fun and or biggest surprise allows for a wider variety of responses, ones that are more personal and less self conscious.

Send out that all staff email this week and ask people to reply by the first week of January and watch the responses roll in. Your library's best list made by your community for your community will build itself. Gather all the responses and build a physical display, hopefully one that offers titles from across your collection in one place [so not just the youth books in the youth section, for example]. Add hyperlinks to the catalog and make a list for the website and social media. Print one out for patrons to take. Go one step further and put said print out [with call numbers] in every book on the hold shelf. 

Not only will everyone on staff who chooses to participate have fun, but it is a wonderful team building exercise as you will all learn something new about each other through an activity that is directly tied to your brand-- Books.

And your community gets it's own fancy best list just like the citizens of the big cities get.

But one last caveat, in order to make sure the list is intentionally diverse, you as the person curating it for your library is responsible for filling it with titles by marginalized voices. Make sure you have at a minimum of non 33% non white, heterosexual, cis, abled-bodied people. If you are having trouble filling it, check out my "best lists" tag and use those titles. Tomorrow, I will have another excellent list that combines all of the best lists which you can use to fill out your list. Or, check your closest large library system for their suggestions. Those will be diverse and they are still local.

Finally, don't forget, by doing this list this year that means next year, when you do it again, you have just doubled your options of "best" books because you can post the backlist. 

Thanks again to CPL for making one of the best "Best" books list of the year, once again. Use it to help readers and as an inspiration to make your own version.

Friday, December 16, 2022

We Are Not Okay: A Call to Action for 2023 From Danielle Borasky, NoveList VP

Below is the text of the email Danielle Borasky, NoveList VP, sent out. She always has a year end message and this one was particular important for me to share with all of my readers.

Click here to access the formatted and more aesthetically pleasing letter if you would like.

I would personally like to thank her for letting everyone know how they, leaders in the RA world, are working toward helping us all. I hope we can use her example to move all of our services forward as well.

Full disclosure, a class I am being paid to give with Robin is linked below. Yes, I am part of their overall plans to be more inclusive and to set the example for other libraries to join that mission, but that is not why I am passing this message on. I know Danielle personally, and we have been in conversation about many of this issues and initiatives for years-- even in the early days of the pandemic. I know they are a fee based database, but I vouch for her and the team she leads. They want to be a part of the solution and I am proud to be part of their team.

Even of you are not a subscriber to NoveList, there are things you can take away from this message to lead your service to readers into 2023 and beyond. 

Also, click here to see NoveList's 2022 Year in Review report as well. It is always important to look back as you look forward. In fact, this reminds me to remind all of you that I always post my goals for the year on this blog, preceded by my own personal assessment of the previous year's goals. Currently those posts are set for 1/9 and 1/10 (after my New Year's vacation).

Now, here is Danielle Borasky with her Call to Action for 2023.

To our NoveList Community, 

We knew that the COVID years were rough, but we’re now learning just how rough and realizing that there are significant long-term impacts. Depression and anxiety are on the rise, and people are stressed out in ways they never were before. Learning took a hit, and math and reading levels declined sharply, to levels last seen 30 years ago. Disparities that already existed before have further widened.  

As the parent of two young adults, I’m truly worried. Will they be able to see a brighter future ahead? Will they be resilient enough to find creative, new solutions to the challenges we’re facing? It seems like we’re all going to need some help in finding our way forward. 

The noted decline in reading proficiency should be worrisome for all of us, but especially for those of us who work with readers. We know that reading is so much more than just the ability to understand words on a page. Reading is also about finding inspiration from new ideas and combatting disinformation. It’s a pathway to understanding others who are different from yourself. Reading has the potential to open both hearts and minds. 

The organization I lead, NoveList, is committed to being part of the solution as well. At NoveList, we know that putting the right book in the right person’s hands at the right moment can be transformative in that person’s life. We know the act of reading can inspire, teach, grow, and so much more. It’s also a long game — it can take decades to see the result of a life changed by books. But that possibility is what keeps us committed to helping libraries connect readers and books.  

At NoveList, we understand the power of many hands together and are committed to working with all of our partners and library advocates to make progress. We have a bunch of new initiatives that we’re excited about, but I’ll call out a few here that I think speak to our intentions: 

There is so much more to do, and we’re ready to work at it. Happy Holidays to you and your readers! See you in 2023.   

Danielle Borasky,Vice President of NoveList