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, August 31, 2022

NPR Books Examines Gen Z's Role in Driving Romance to the Top of the Bestseller Lists [w/ extra generational context]

NPR has a great deep dive into the mainstream popularity of Romance right now and why it is especially appealing to Gen Z readers. 

There is a ton of useful appeal information with actual quotes from readers. If you work at any public library right now, this is worth your time. You can read or listen here.

But I would also like to add more context to the mix. 

Back in 2019, Library Journal did a "Generational Reading Survey" where they broke down each age range and used data to make some useful generalizations about those readers. You need to log in or use some of your monthly free article to read the series, so I am going to reprint the entire article on Gen Z below because it adds even more useful context to the NPR article

Here is the link to all of the articles in the "Generational Reading Survey" series. I would read some of the others pieces with your free monthly limit since I am giving you the Gen Z one here. They are all worth it.

[Remember, if your library has a print subscription, you can activate a digital one].

Here is the Gen-Z article without the pull out charts.

by Christina Vercelletto 
Aug 30, 2019

What comes to mind when you picture a generation of readers that is frugal and thinks there’s nothing like that new book smell?

If you chose Baby Boomers, think again. It’s Generation (Gen) Z, as its members revealed in the second installment of Library Journal’s Generational Reading Survey of consumers who read for pleasure. (For the first installment, on millennials, see “Millennials Are Social Readers | Generational Reading Survey.”)

Generational definitions are far from an exact science; the start and end dates for Gen Z vary from source to source. LJ aligned those in this report with the Pew Research Center data, meaning those born after 1997, and further restricted the survey to those aged 16 and up.

This burgeoning generation of teens and new adults doesn’t remember a life without streaming media. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson loomed large in their childhood. They’ve been the subject of much hand-wringing over the impression that they want nothing to do with anything that isn’t their phone.

A Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data finds that Gen Z is the most diverse American generation ever. They’re on track to be the most highly educated as well. The oldest members of Gen Z are enrolling in college at a notably higher rate than millennials did at the same age. Their high school dropout rate is much lower, too. Also, they aren’t moving as frequently. In 2018, 11 percent had a different address from the previous year, compared with roughly 17 percent of millennials and 20 percent of Gen Xers. About 40 percent are in the workforce or want to be: 16 percent work part-time, 15 percent work full-time, and nine percent are unemployed and looking for work.

To qualify, respondents had to have read at least one book for pleasure in any format during the previous 12 months. Some 72 percent of respondents passed that screening question—the same as for every generation, so fears that digital natives don’t read have proven unfounded, at least in this survey, contradicting recently released findings from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Survey for Public Participation in the Arts. However, within that 72 percent, 48 percent say they read less now than they did three years ago, 34 percent read more, and 18 percent read the same amount. Only Gen Z readers in urban areas and those with full-time jobs have a higher percentage of respondents who read more books now than they did three years ago.

We set about uncovering Gen Z’s reading, book procurement, and sharing habits; their relationship with libraries; and more. Here’s what they told us.


While friend and family recommendations continue to top the list of ways to find new titles, social media is Gen Z’s second choice, at 43 percent, making it the most likely generation to use social media to find out about new books. As to which platform, Instagram was the winner at 59 percent, followed by Facebook at 46 percent (for all older generations, Facebook is number one). Interestingly, these patterns vary by gender; while male response rates were low, those who did weigh in were more likely to use Instagram and Snapchat than women were, and much less likely to use Pinterest.

While YouTube is not strictly considered a social media channel, YouTube influencers collectively ranked as the third most often cited public figure, group, or brand that drives reading choices, after Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. Number four? “My mom.”

Despite—or perhaps because of—this reliance on reading about books on social channels, Gen Z is judicious about posting about books there. A little more than a third of Gen Z readers are “very likely” or “likely” to rate or review that book online or to post their thoughts about it on social media, slightly down from millennial rates.


Forty percent of Gen Z reader respondents say it is either “very important” or “important” to them that the books they read reflect their own cultural background, identity, or personal values. And the percentage rises to 44 percent among Gen Z readers of color, 51 percent among urban Gen Z readers, and 53 percent among readers with children. Those for whom it is “somewhat important” accounted for another 28 percent.

Of those for whom it is important, eight percent report struggling to find such books (11 percent for people of color). While that percentage may seem low, it is double the percentage for the entire sample across all five generations. Comparatively, Gen Z has a much harder time finding books that reflect its myriad identities, probably because of its greater diversity. Of our respondents, 54 percent are white, 17 percent are Black/African American, 13 percent are Hispanic/Latinx, six percent are multiracial, and five percent are Asian. (In the Pew data for the generation as a whole, 52 percent are non-Hispanic white, 25 percent are Latinx, 14 percent are Black/African American, six percent are Asian, and four percent are multiracial.)

Gen Z also has the greatest gender diversity, with the highest number of all generations identifying as a nonbinary gender, at 1.2 percent. As one respondent commented when asked about the range of books available, “Genderfluid isn’t represented anywhere!”

Another respondent noted that an increase in overall diversity in books doesn’t help much if the relatively few with diverse narratives don’t happen to be the type that appeal to you, noting, for instance, “There aren’t many books in the kind of genres that I like with relevant Mexican cultural background.” In a similar vein, one participant expressed this frustration: “There are rarely any good books that star a strong, black female lead in love or with badass powers.” Yet another bemoaned that the diverse stories out there are more or less hidden, adding, “Stories about black girls like me aren’t promoted enough—you have to look.”

When it comes to “windows”—books that reflect cultural backgrounds, values, and personal identities different from their own—60 percent of Gen Z readers are interested; though the number is higher for women (63 percent) than men (47 percent).


Our data revealed that Gen Z readers visit their local branch as often as other generations do, but they’re borrowing fewer books, instead using it primarily as a “third space.” Some 52 percent say they go to read or study, 40 percent because “It’s a comfortable place I’m familiar with,” and 36 percent because “It’s a relaxing place to unwind and spend some ‘me-time.’” Some 62 percent possess a library card, and 59 percent have visited a library in the last 12 months—the same percentage as Baby Boomers. While 36 percent said they got the books they read from the public library, only 22 percent of Gen Z readers borrowed from the library at least monthly in the last year. But that doesn’t mean book goals are off the table: 43 percent say they come because they’re looking for a specific book, and 38 percent want to browse. One fifth of respondents use shelf browsing to find their next read, 18 percent use library displays, seven percent use staff recommendations, and four percent use the library website, newsletter, or online catalog. (Only 28 percent have used the library’s website or app for any reason.) Another 30 percent come for tech resources.

If they’re not getting their books from the library, where are they getting them? When respondents buy books, Amazon was chosen by fully two-thirds as their source. However, purchase and library borrowing are far from the only ways in which Gen Z readers acquire their next read. Some 51 percent borrow books from friends/relatives, 42 percent receive them as gifts, and 27 percent use free online reading platforms like Wattpad.


Our Gen Z respondents prefer reading fiction nearly two to one over nonfiction. Their go-to genres differ markedly by gender, though. Women’s four favorite genres are, in order, romance, fantasy and young adult fiction (in a virtual tie), and mystery/suspense. Men, meanwhile, gravitate to fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and mystery/suspense.

Gen Z readers estimate that 65 percent of the books they read are fiction, and 35 percent, nonfiction. Cooking, biographies/memoirs, and history are at the top of their list of preferred nonfiction subjects. Gaming nonfiction is particularly popular with Gen Z men.

Of fiction genres, young adult, fantasy, romance, horror, and graphic novels are at least ten percent more popular with Gen Z than they are with the overall sample. Poetry is also at least ten percent more popular with Gen Z than in general, perhaps owing to the rise of social media “Instapoets,” while historical fiction, mystery/suspense, biography/memoir, and history are at least ten percent less popular.


Despite the ongoing narrative of the digital native generations, when it comes to reading long-form content, Gen Z—like millennials—still prefers print books. Hardcover is the most read format (79 percent, compared with 32 percent for ebooks). When they do read digitally, a whopping 77 percent of Gen Z respondents do so on their phone. Some 74 percent read paperbacks and 27 percent prefer them. When asked to name their preferred format, only eight percent said ebooks, compared with 39 percent for hardcovers. If price is not a factor, the preference for hardcovers goes up to 59 percent. The primary reason given for this preference is “the smell and feel of the book,” an explanation chosen at much lower rates by other generations. Some 19.4 percent listen to audiobooks; 7.4 percent prefer them, rising slightly to 7.8 percent if price were not a consideration. Of these, 78 percent get audiobooks from Audible; 38 percent get audiobooks from the library.


Perhaps owing to low starting salaries and high student loans, Gen Z is price-driven: when it comes to buying a book, price is the number two consideration at 62.7 percent, second only to the content sample at 67.8 percent. That puts Gen Z’s price sensitivity even higher than that of “Depression babies,” the notoriously frugal members of the Silent Generation. Similarly, when it comes to borrowing from the library rather than purchasing a book, the “book is too expensive to buy” was cited by a majority, 55 percent. Nonetheless, 49 percent say they’ve later purchased a book that they first borrowed from the library, and 76 percent have later purchased books by the same author. On average, respondents purchased 5.3 books in the past year and borrowed 2.7 from the library and another 2.8 from other sources.


As with millennials, relying on the library’s digital presence, tools, and collections to attract and serve Gen Z patrons would be a mistake. While it’s true that the ubiquitous presence of digital channels is baked into their discovery, purchase, and recommendation behavior, the things they value most about the library are essentially core library services at their most traditional: physical spaces and hardcover books. That doesn’t, however, mean that either the spaces or the titles need be old-fashioned; indeed, they should be anything but. Designing welcoming spaces where Gen Z feels equally comfortable coworking and concentrating is key.

It’s telling that even such a price sensitive generation buys twice as many books as it borrows from the library. And when respondents were asked why, one major answer was that the “library doesn’t have the book,” cited by 29 percent. In urban settings, that number rises to 37 percent! To make sure libraries have the books Gen Z wants in stock, focus on the genres of particular interest to them—not only chart toppers like fantasy, but emerging differentiators like gaming and poetry—and make sure YA and graphic novel resources are shelved where they’re available to adults, not just to teens. Most important, build a diverse collection that reflects this most diverse demographic, and make sure your library displays, policies, and programming are on the same page.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Podcast Recommendation: Reading Glasses

The other day I was chatting with my Booklist editor, Susan Maguire, about Reading Glasses, a library adjacent podcast. Susan wanted to have Mallory and Brea on her podcast and I was helping to connect them. 

That is going to happen soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to remind you why you should listen to this podcast every week with this post from almost exactly a year ago when I appeared to promote my new book.

[Side note: We chat about Horror RA and this is the perfect time to begin prepping for spooky season. I am actually working on a presentation on that topic right now. Details 9/7].

New episodes drop on Thursdays.

Here you go....


Becky on Reading Glasses Podcast and Why You Should Listen Even When I Am NOT a Guest

Recently, I got to chat with Mallory O'Meara, author of The Lady From The Black Lagoon [one of my favorite reads of 2019] and co-host of Reading Glasses podcast

Each week they take a bookish topic and often also talk to an author. Recent topics include, discussion of ISBN, how to find the most comprehensive lists of upcoming books [this week's topic], discussions of tropes, how to write a review of a book you hated, and more. As I told Mallory before we started recording, Reading Glasses is the most librarian of non librarian book podcasts. I have been a listener for years and appreciate how they articulate the tips and tricks of bookish people and explain the behind the scenes info, clearly and for a general audience.

To be fair, they do a MUCH better job than we do, as a profession, communicating bookish topics to avid readers. So, my advice, if you aren't already listening to Reading Glasses, start with my appearance and subscribe. Yes, you may know just as much as they do about some of the topics, but explain it as readers to readers. 

See below to listen to my appearance or click here. And become a regular listener of this weekly podcast.

And while we are on the topic, make sure you have pre-ordered O'Meara's upcoming book-- Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Using Awards Lists As A RA Tool: Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize

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.  

Earlier this month I had a post about the Center For Fiction's First Novel Prize. In that post I talked a lot more about using not only this prize as a tool but the category of "debuts" in general as a very useful tool to make displays and serve readers.

Today, I have another HUGE debut award announcement-- The Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize. It is for books published in the UK in English. 

Please combine this announcement with the post about the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Let's start the week with fresh voices!

Friday, August 26, 2022

RA for All: Greatest Hits: Make Your Own Bestseller Lists

I have been getting more emails in the last year from new readers to RA for All who have asked for me to gather up a few of my "greatest hits" posts to share again. Yes, people know they can search the archives and use my extensive tags to pull things up, but I get it. Some of the most evergreen advice should be easier to access.

So starting today, I am going to be more conscious of doing a series of "greatest hits" posts and tagging them as such. I will try to do one a week, but we will see. I will also create a page for easier access as well. I have had a draft of that page ready for months but haven't acted on it yet. I have even set a weekly reminder to do these posts. I am committed to finally making this happen.

And until I get that Greatest Hits page up and running, you can use the "greatest hits" tag.

Let's begin with a popular Call to Action post from 2017 that is easy to implement immediately. 


RA for All: Call to Action-- Make Your Own Best "Seller “ Lists

Readers of this blog know that at the end of 2016 I was focusing on challenging the perceived notion of what is “best” in a series of webinars and posts which you can pull up here. But for new readers here is a quick synopsis of that argument from my notes for the PLA Webinar I delivered on the topic:
We are going to rethink the entire concept of BEST lists are and repurpose them as sure bets lists. And we are going to get EVERYONE in on the action. Do not underestimate how much fun it is for staff from all over the building, public service and behind the scenes, professional librarians, clerk, HR people, AND PATRONS to share what they love with everyone. And don’t underestimate how useful collecting these “best” books is for you as you help leisure readers all the year through, 
That is from the intro to my hour long talk on how to crowdsource and collect your library’s “best” lists. During that webinar, one of the tips that I gave very quickly has stuck with me and I wanted to elaborate on it today because I think it is not only easy to do, but it could become one of your best RA  and marketing tools.


I was reminded of this suggestion last week when the New York Times announced that it was going to get rid of a number of their more specific best seller lists. Like many of you I loved those lists. I was able to get an idea of well received titles in a variety of less popular genres and formats like graphic novels.

But this is not a post to complain about The NYT cutting bestseller lists. No, I am not about complaining, I am about offering solutions.

Which leads me back to today's call-- CREATE YOUR LIBRARY’S HYPER-LOCAL BESTSELLER LIST.

The NYT lists were great but they are national and very limited in scope. What you need to help you figure out what is most popular at your library is a variety of best seller list, and I suggest you use the way the NYT used to do it as your model. Plus, it is very easy to do AND it is great way to engage some of your nonprofessional staff in doing next level RA.

Let me explain. By now every public library has some kind of ILS that can easily be mined for useful circulation data. Running reports on materials is something that is done regularly by most public libraries. But generally these reports are run by the tech services and or circ staff for very specific purposes: missing reports, overdue materials, billed, clearing the hold shelf, identifying titles for potential weeding, etc....

But, we could just as easily be running reports on more positive things like the items that are most checked out, or as we need to rebrand them as-- THE LIBRARY’S BEST SELLERS LIST!

Patrons know what best sellers lists are; they already use them to help identify potential books to read. Best sellers are implicitly deemed as “good” by patrons because why else would they be best sellers? I know this logic is not always true, but it is how people think and we need to use that to our advantage.

So, let’s make our own lists about what is “best selling” at the library, especially now that the news is saying there will be fewer best seller lists available. Jump in and fill the void, even if that void is only a perceived one and not an actual one [because seriously, how many patrons actually looked at all of those lists online; we did, sure, but mostly they were used by us and the publishers for marketing purposes, so they could call something a "NYT Best Seller.”] And we can make as many as we want by running quick and easy weekly/monthly reports using our ILS.

Here are some easy to pull up lists in most ILS:

  • General Best Sellers-- most checkout out of the week overall or broken down by each service area; so Adult, teen, kids, fiction, nonfiction.
  • Format Best Sellers-- most checked out videos, audio books, streamed, download, Large Print.
  • Genre Best Sellers-- as long as you have the genre noted somewhere in the item record be it in a subject heading or in it’s own field, you can easily do this.
  • Want to promote the non-traditional things you check out like technology items [Go Pro cameras, Rokus] or maker items like sewing machine, art kits; some libraries do fishing poles and art. Whatever. Do a Best Seller lists of unexpected items. People might not even know that you have them.
  • And my favorite.... Make some Backlist Best Seller Lists. For example, the most popular adult items checked out this week which were published before 2000. Or whatever your parameters. These are great to remind people that it is not only the newest 3 James Patterson books that are being checked out.

Who cares that there is no “selling” here. Don’t say most checked-out. Patrons know you are not selling the books, but calling the most checked out titles “Best Sellers” lends them more cache, it makes them cooler, and makes the library seem more like the rest of the book world.

Post them in the building and online. Change them out weekly or monthly, but change them regularly. Post them next to other, more well known best seller lists on one bulletin board. Put them at the applicable service desks. Hey, even put them at a desk that isn’t for those items, like the adult Best Seller list at the children’s desk so busy parents can get some popular reading ideas for themselves quickly.

You will draw interest not only to titles that may not make the more traditional best seller lists, but you will be engaging the community by allowing them to see what is most popular without sacrificing anyone’s identity or personal information. When people see what is popular in their library, you will be providing the content for opening lines in conversation amongst people in the community. And isn’t that one of our main goals-- engaging the community.

From a selfish standpoint, collecting and creating these lists will serve you well too. You will have a frequent snapshot of what is circulating the most which means you can work on more targeted displays and “while you wait” lists to help patrons. And if you do collection development too-- you will have more helpful information as you work of adding and deleting items.

Plus, the marketing potential is enormous. People will see how much you actually provide for them, especially if you make a variety of lists. Who cares if number 10 on one of your best seller lists only circulated 1x that week or month? No one needs to know the details. They just need to know that you have it and people have wanted it.

Finally, pulling the reports and sorting through the data to create these lists is a great way to engage staff who don’t normally get to work with leisure readers in person, like tech services. They can now be a part of a vital RA activity that actively assists patrons. They will also be more cognizant of what needs to be included in bibliographic records; for example, diverse books information or specific genres that are popular and are not tagged.

You can also have non-professional staff who want to do more to help readers, but still need more training and experience work on this activity. May be they can’t run the reports, but they can use the data to update lists, make signs and displays of the lists, and then use them to provide suggestions. It will help to create a RA culture throughout the library.

So get out there and start creating you library’s “Best Seller” Lists.

For past Call to Action posts, click here.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

PLA's 2021 Public Library Staff and Diversity Survey Report With Webinar Explanation

 Announcement from PLA:

The Public Library Association (PLA) has published the 2021 Public Library Staff and Diversity Survey Report! Read the report to learn about the latest nationwide trends in beginning librarian and library director salaries; traditional and emerging staff roles; staff diversity, recruitment, and retention efforts; and information about public library equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) goals and activities. The survey is the second in a rotating series of three national surveys exploring public library roles, services, and resources to provide actionable data for decision-making and advocacy. The report is available to everyone on the PLA website.

This is a must read for anyone who works in a public library in America. Click here, use the links above, or click on the cover below. 

But wait, there is more:

And finally also from PLA:

Participate in the 2022 Survey This Fall

The 2022 PLA Annual Survey, Public Library Services for Strong Communities, will open next month. All US public libraries are encouraged to participate so the field can better understand current trends in how libraries meet the needs of their communities.


All libraries have free access to view key metrics and their own survey responses when they participate in PLA surveys. The PLA Benchmark tool has visualizations and peer comparison data for public libraries to use in planning and advocacy. Subscribe for upgraded access to the interactive data dashboards and to explore the full results from the 2021 Staff and Diversity Survey. All libraries that complete the 2022 survey will receive a 10% discount on an annual Benchmark subscription and a chance to win free PLA 2024 Conference registration!


Learn more about PLA surveys and research at the PLA Surveys and Data page. If you have questions or require assistance accessing your library’s Benchmark account, please contact plabenchmark@ala.org

We need as many libraries, from all locations and sizes, as possible to participate in the 2022 survey because as much as I find the 2021 results intriguing, I think 2022 is going to be more useful for us to see what is going on after the upheaval of 2020.

Click here to read the report

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Kelly Jensen Explaining the Current Debate over Parental Rights and Censorship on PBS News Hour

I have been sharing Kelly Jensen's* Censorship reporting via Book Riot on the blog regularly. But often, there is so much news she needs to give you each week that the news roundups can be overwhelming. 

Well, last night, Kelly appeared on PBS News Hour-- a national program-- and in a little over 6 minutes, she gave you all of the talking points you need to understand and explain the current situation.

You can click here to either watch her or read the full transcript.

And the fact that there is audio, video, and text of Kelly explaining this all with one easy link makes for an even more useful resource for you. Feel free to cut and paste her excellent, succinct, and incisive comments and use them as you own sound bites [with citation, of course]. But also, listen to her to fully explain the issue, what is at stake, and how things are different than in the past.

If you have had a serious challenge and/or you have a tenuous and shaky situation with your own library boards, I highly recommend taking 6-7 minutes at your next board meeting to show this clip. I truly believe that this excerpt could go a long way toward preventing a rogue board member.

As I said in my talk Monday, we need to switch gears from reactive to proactive. Kelly has been proactive all along. This segment, if shown in advance to your board, can also be a proactive measure.

Again the clip and the transcript are here.

Please find 6-7 minutes today to watch it for yourself as well.

[*Please note, Kelly and I work together on Summer Scares.]

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Happy Book Birthday to a Surefire Library Sure Bet: Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste and a Chance For You to See Us Talk About it Live

Today, Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste is released into the world. Now, followers of this blog know that I have LOVED every book Kiste has written. The Rust Maidens was my top pick as the head juror for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel the year it was in contention, and I was so happy to read her name off and present her with the award in person at StokerCon in Grand Rapids that year. Boneset & Feathers was also one of my top reads of 2020.

But both of those were with small presses. Reluctant Immortals is her first Big 5 release and it is with Joe Monti at Saga [imprint of S&S], the man who edits Stephen Graham Jones.

Reluctant Immortals is not a readalike to Jones' work, but the hallmark of Monti's superior editing skills can be seen in this book, specifically in how the plot unfolds at a compelling pace, but without sacrificing details; details that make the book more enjoyable, richer, and somehow, every single one of them matters in the end, which is so satisfying. 

I reviewed this book in the June 2022 issue of Library Journal and I loved it. You can see my full review with bonus info below or here, but before we get to that I have news!

As part of Kiste's virtual book tour, she asked me to moderate the virtual event at Old Town Books in VA. This event is on Tue, Aug 30, 2022, 7:00 PM EDT and it 100% free to sign up at this link.

Click here to register

If you are attending for yourself, please consider buying a book from them as a thank you.

But let's chat about library copies for a moment. See my details review below, but this is one of those rare gifts that we get as library workers helping leaguer readers at the library, a surefire sure bet option. This is a book about characters from beloved books that is EXCELLENT and gives the source material an entirely new perspective. Anyone who likes Dracula, Jane Eyre, or just books about books-- and as you all know this defines a majority of those who use our services-- will love this book. You need more than 1 copy for sure. This will be read year round and can be added to your sure bet lists immediately.

I also think it is a great choice for all book discussion groups. Just the discussion of how she used the exiting tests and characters to enhance her story is discussable, but then the layer of how she is using this story to tell the story of forgotten women everywhere and anywhere is great discussion fodder as well. In fact all of her books are about giving women the agency the world denies them.

Sign up to join us. We'd love to see you there. And also, check out my draft Library Journal review of Reluctant Immortals plus extra content here and below:

Review in the June 2022 issue of Library Journal

4.5 stars.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Unapologetically feminist, excellent world building, character driven.

Draft review:
1969, sunset, the Hollywood sign, a beautiful young woman, Lucy, is fighting to bury an urn containing Dracula’s ashes, her roommate, Bee by her side*. These women live in the shadows and yet, are known to all, cursed victims of the evil men whom history has rehabilitated into romantic heroes. Nearly a century later, Lucy recounts how their nights are spent: controlling Dracula, keeping the rot at bay**, resisting Rochester’s pull, battling PTSD, and going to the drive-in. Their routine while stressful was working, until Jane Eyre shows up, begging Bee for help, sending all on a road trip to Haight Ashbury as Lucy and Bee fight to save other women from their own terrible fate. This is a fast paced and fun adventure that both honors the beloved source material and manages to insert something unique into the conversation. An ode to forgotten women everywhere, a tale where every detail satisfyingly matters as readers rush to the emotional conclusion.

Verdict: Kiste’s Big 5 debut brings her award-winning, femist fueled Horror to more readers. Those eager for new Dracula or Jane Eyre framed stories will eagerly request this, but do not pigeon-hole the appeal here as fans of titles like Due’s Immortals series or DeMeester’s Such a Pretty Smile will also be pleased.

Every details matters here-- in a good way. Kiste builds a world for the reader that is very convincing and original and she does it methodically without sacrificing the extremely compelling pacing. The end has details that were included and referred to throughout, details that define the rules of the world she has created, details that end up being very important and make the ending better.

I make a point to call out the world building here because it was not an easy task. Not only is the entire book framed around Dracula and Jane Eyre-- well known Gothic novels-- but also all other fan fiction or adaptations ever written about these works and their characters. That is a lot to deal with, and yet, Kiste manages to honor all of that and create something new and unique. Impressive. 

But the overall theme here-- this is an ode to forgotten women everywhere-- those living on the fringes and those who have been he victims of the violence of men. It is a tale as old as time-- men who take what they want and the women who have to pay the price, except in Kiste's novels-- the women fight back. 

What is remarkable here, and with every Kiste tale, she can tell a deadly serious story about violence to women that is also a lot of fun. It is terrifying-- both the monsters and the real life horrors, but it is also a fun read. You root out loud of Lucy and Bee. Even though, Lucy herself, is a monster too.

Narration is all Lucy which I liked. It centered a tale that could have bounced around too much. I liked the addition of details about Lucy and Mina's friendship [Dracula] and Bertha and Jane's relationship [Jane Eyre] but I LOVED the cross over--how all of the main players from Dracula and Jane Eyre interacted with each other in 1969 and how they all have unique relationships and connections to each other in this time frame.

Speaking of, setting the entire story in both Hollywood and SF during the summer of love was brilliant. A lot of the unbelievable supernatural occurrences made more sense in both of those settings. 

Readalikes: I have many. Any Dracula or Jane Eyre framed titles work. But I thought a lot about Tananarive Due's Immortals series mixed with The Merry Spinster by Lavery as well. I also always suggest Andy Davidson to fans of Kiste. They both write original, character centered Horror that pays homage to the genre's traditions while creating something wholly new and immersive.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Materials Challenges and Your Library From the Trustee Table: New Presentation

Today I am debuting my presentation about why Library Trustees should not, and technically cannot, ban books.

I am hoping to give this presentation far and wide to as many library Trustees as possible, but first I need to test drive it.

Speaking of that test drive [at Noon Central today], you can find the details here and I believe the recording will be free to all at this link after the event as well.  This is all part of Wisconsin's annual Trustee Training Week where they offer an hour long webinar for trustees every day [M-F] from Noon to 1pm. I have presented for this event previously as well.

From that page:

Materials Challenges and Your Library from the Trustee Table 

Monday, August 22

Presenter:  Becky Spratford

Regardless of whether or not your library has had a request for reconsideration of library materials, the increase in challenges is dramatic, and quite frankly, upsetting. Becky Spratford, an expert in serving leisure readers through the public library with over 20 years of experience as a locally elected library trustee, Reaching Across Illinois Library System board member, and Illinois Library Association Executive Board member, will walk you through everything you need to do to prepare for a request to ban titles at your library. From the steps you need to take right now, to how to properly handle a challenge from your seat at the trustee table, Becky will help you to put the emotions aside and protect intellectual freedom.

Here is the link to my slides and here is the link to the handout I made of the links to make it easier for the Trustees to access more information .

If you are interested in having me come to your board meeting to present this, let me know. To keep the price down, I may consider providing you with recordings for them to watch and then simply charge you $100 for me to come to a Board meeting the answer questions live. You can always find my contact info by clicking on my logo.

But first, I need to see how it goes and make any changes after the fact.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

RA for All Long Weekend

It is last hurrah time at the RA for All homestead. We have both offspring home [can't say children because one is an adult and the other will be one in 6 months] and the final year of high school begins for the youngest on Monday. So, I am taking some time off the next two days and will be only answering emails, reading submission for the HWA's Dennis Etchison Young Writers Scholarship [we got 27, yay, but can only pick one, boo], and spending time as a family. 

I'll be back Monday and it will be worth your wait as I am giving a brand new presentation to the Library Trustees of the state of WI where I make it very clear that not only should they not be banning books, but that legally, they really can't at all. 

It was a difficult presentation to make, not because of the subject matter, but because I only get 50 mins to make my case to them and I know how important it is that I use my time wisely.

If you were looking for a new post today, good news, I have a #HorrorForLibraries giveaway of one of MY FAVORITE Horror novels of the year on the Horror Blog. This is for all of your readers who miss old school Stephen King, but this is set in the forests of Georgia. I gave it a star review in the current issue of Booklist already.

Click over there to enter. You enter once, you stay entered until you win.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

10 Books To Introduce Readers to Disability Literature via Book Riot

While I am an advocate for diversifying our suggestions to readers at all times, I will admit, I am not great at including books featuring people with disabilities. 

But, that is what we have resources for, to help us do our jobs better. And as I say on my Ten Rules of Basic RA Service page [in the "5 Resources You Cannot Live Without" section after the rules], Book Riot is my favorite place to go for timely and diverse lists for all ages of readers.

Recently they had this excellent list of 10 Books to Introduce Readers to Disability Literature. Like all Book Riot lists, it is diverse in every way-- fiction and nonfiction, people with different disabilities and races. 

This post was also part of Disability Pride month in July, and the post has many more links to help you even more. So below, I have posted the introduction to this 10 book list with a link to the full article.

So far this Disability Pride Month, we talked about a book lover’s guide to Disability Pride Month, different things to keep in mind when reading disability literature, and various ways folks can be a good ally to disabled people on the internet. All of these things are important to keep in mind, but if you’re new to disability literature, you probably still have some questions. 

If this is your first time observing Disability Pride Month, I understand that it can feel overwhelming. “Disabled” is really just an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of conditions, lived experiences, and communities. How do you know what terminology to use when? What is the difference between deaf and Deaf? What’s the difference between disability rights and disability justice?

While you might feel flooded with disability lit recommendations at the moment, here are a few books that I think will help you learn some key points about the disability community. While disabled people write in every genre, I’ve chosen mostly nonfiction books to give you a baseline from which to start. But rest assured, there are always more great books by disabled authors out there just waiting for you to read them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

New Issue of Corner Shelf

Click here to read the newsletter 

Today I am reposting the 
editorial intro and link to the latest issue of Corner Shelf, the place where readers' advisory meets collection development

Click here to read it all, or see the link below Susan Maguire's intro.

Hello Shelfers!

Sometimes something happens somewhere on the internet, some ripple in the matrix, and a backlist book comes to the fore again. I'm talking about TikTok, and I'm talking about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Sometime last year, BookTok discovered Taylor Jenkins Reid's juicy 2017 novel about a movie star legend who recounts her life story—framed by her seven husbands—to a young journalist. The book itself will not be news to most of you—library workers have been lauding TJR forever—but its sudden resurgence was a surprise. Why this book? Why that time?

The answer is . . . I don't know. There are plenty of books that are memorable, glamorous, heart-wrenching, and unputdownable. I've long ago resigned myself to the fact that I can't predict what's going to capture the internet's imagination at any given time. The good news is, libraries are in a good position to capitalize on BookTok discovering backlist titles, since we've already got them sitting on our shelves. 

(In fact, I totally checked TSHoEH out of my local branch of the Chicago Public Library and read it this weekend.)

(The book is absolutely as addictive as BookTok says it is.)

(Not that you need me to tell you that.)

But maybe some of you are not content to sit back and let #content happen to you; you're making it happen yourselves. Have you (or your library) ventured into BookTok? If so, I'd love to hear from youfor an upcoming Notes from the Field!

Until then, I'll just sit back and watch for the internet's next literary zeitgeist (ahem, Colleen Hoover).

Happy reading!

—Susan Maguire 
Senior Editor, Collection Development and Library Outreach, Booklist 

Click here for the newsletter.

Monday, August 15, 2022

LibraryReads: September 2022

   It's LibraryReads 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 LibraryReads 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 LibraryReads 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.
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.

And finally, here is LibraryReads' extremely helpful Resources page.

Now let's get to that list.... 


September 2022 LibraryReads List!

The Marriage Portrait: A Novel

by Maggie O'Farrell


"In 16th-Century Italy, teen Lucrezia de Medici passes from her father's control to her husband's, with neither considering her a person with a right to her own life. O'Farrell's poetic writing pulls

you into this tale based on the likely subject of Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess." For fans of Geraldine Brooks, Isabel Allende, and Hillary Mantel.

--Diana Armstrong, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

NoveList Readalike: Matrix by Lauren Groff

And now the rest of the list...

The American Roommate Experiment: A Novel

by Elena Armas

Atria Books 

“The follow-up to The Spanish Love Deception has all the makings of a great rom-com: a good slow burn, forced proximity, a mix of steamy and funny scenes, and two leads that are easy to root for. Recommend to anyone in need of a delightful contemporary romance in the vein of The Bride Test and Get a Life, Chloe Brown.”

—Danielle Willett, Grace A. Dow Memorial Library, Midland, MI 
NoveList read-alike: Circling Back to You by Julie Tieu


Bindle Punk Bruja:  A Novel

By Desideria Mesa

Harper Voyager

“Luna is both a daughter of Mexican immigrants trying to establish herself in the 1920s Kansas City underworld and a bruja, an earth witch who can read emotions and bend others to her will. Complex character relationships enhance this entertaining historical fantasy. For fans of The Chosen and the Beautiful and The Gods of Jade and Shadow.”

—Gwen Inman, Anne Arundel County Public Library, Annapolis, MD 
NoveList read-alike: Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

The Bullet That Missed: A Thursday Murder Club Mystery 

by Richard Osman

Pamela Dorman Books

“The Thursday Murder Club crack open the decade-old death of a journalist who was hot on the trail of a fraud scheme when she was murdered. Another hilarious mystery featuring the quirky (but highly effective) quartet and all their friends. For fans of Julia Chapman and
SJ Bennett.”

—Sarah Walker, Indianapolis Public Library, Indianapolis, IN 
NoveList read-alike: The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood

Ghost Eaters: A Novel  [My Star Review]

by Clay Chapman

Quirk Books

“Chapman puts a new spin on ghost stories with a tale of a drug that allows people to be ‘haunted’ by dead loved ones. Featuring a strong subplot about the roots of colonization, this excellent horror novel examines being addicted to grief and the lengths some go to hang onto those they love. For fans of Paul Tremblay and Grady Hendrix.”

—Rosemary Kiladitis, Queens Public Library, Corona, NY 
NoveList read-alike: Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

The Kiss Curse: A Novel

by Erin Sterling


"Gwyn owns the Graves Glen's witchcraft shop, and life is good until Wells Penhallow comes back to create havoc at the school and in town. Sterling is very good at the love/hate relationship with a great pinch of wit, and the spell is cast for a fun romcom. "

— Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Library, Austin, TX 
NoveList read-alike: Witch Please by Ann Aguirre

A Merry Little Meet Cute: A Novel 

by Julie Murphy


"Christmas movie star Bee is forbidden to disclose she is also an adult film star. Co-star Nolan is trying to prove he can be a responsible actor. Sparks fly, they cannot keep their hands off each other. Murphy's diverse characterizations paired with Simone's off-the-charts sexy scenes makes for a romantic and steamy happily-ever-after, brimming with sex and body positivity."

—Alicia Ahlvers, Henrico County Public Library, Henrico, VA 
NoveList read-alike: The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish

People Person

By Candice Carty-Williams

Gallery/Scout Press

“Dimple Pennington might have accidentally killed her ex and reaches out to her four half-siblings —all raised by their mothers and sharing a neglectful father—in a panic. They learn the kind of family they can be as they deal with the fallout and their abandonment issues in this dark comedy.”

—Julie Graham, Yakima Valley Libraries, Yakima, WA 
NoveList read-alike: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Spells for Forgetting: A Novel 

by Adrienne Young

Delacorte Press

“Another stunner by Young! When August Salt, the love of Emery Blackwood’s life, returns to clear his name after being accused of killing Lily Morgan fourteen years ago, dark secrets arise in Saiorse Island. The prose flows like the magical elements throughout.”

—Suzy Card, Grapevine Library, Grapevine, TX
NoveList read-alike: The Orphan Witch by Paige Crutcher

Ways We Hide: A Novel 

by Kristina McMorris

Sourcebooks Landmark

“When World War II starts, Fenna Vos is recruited by MI9 to use her skills to make escape aids. Based on true events about one woman's journey, this is a thrilling look at a little known part of the war effort, with well developed characters and terrifying adventures.”

—Melanie Liechty, Morgan Library, Morgan, UT
 NoveList read-alike: The Rose Code by Julia Quinn

The LibraryReads Hall of Fame designation honors authors who have had multiple titles appear on the monthly LibraryReads list since 2013. When their third title places on the list via library staff votes, the author moves into our Hall of Fame.

Click here to access the Hall of Fame Archive with annotations and readalikes 

Back to the Garden: A Novel 

by Laurie R. King


Drunk on Love 

by Jasmine Guillory



Killers of a Certain Age 

by Deanna Raybourn


Lucy By the Sea: A Novel 

by Elizabeth Strout

Random House