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, March 31, 2023

What I'm Reading: The Ferryman and Evil Whispers

It's a busy publication month for my reviews. Yesterday, my April review column dropped. Click 

Today the April 1, 2023 issue of Booklist is live and I have 2 reviews, one by a Lifetime Achievement Award winning Horror authors and the other a long awaited new novel by a best selling authors. Both are great.

Below I have my draft reviews with extra info and of course, my three words.

To begin, I have Justin Cronin's brand new, eagerly awaited new book, a stand alone dystopian novel that well, read the review....

The Ferryman
By Justin Cronin
May 2023. 560p. Ballantine, $30 (9780525619475); e-book (9780525619482)
First published April 1, 2023 (Booklist).

Fans of The Passage series have been waiting for a new book by Cronin since 2016, but thankfully, it was worth it as he delivers a chilling, original, and immersive standalone science fiction tale perfectly rendered for our tumultuous times. Proctor Bennet lives on the island of Prospera, where everyone is protected from the horrors unfolding on the mainland. The people of Prospera are healthy and wealthy, everyone spends their time pursuing their passions, and when their time is up, they retire to the Nursery, an island where they are “reiterated,” their minds erased before being reintroduced back into society. As the head “Ferryman,” Proctor is in charge of this journey, until that is, he is called to the home of his estranged father to facilitate a rare forced retirement, and this unsettling and sinister dystopia begins to implode. At its heart, however, this is a novel about storytelling, a meticulously built tale that begs the reader to allow themselves to be swept away, greatly rewarding those who surrender and trust the designer to sail them to the finish. A  great option for fans of the accessible, compelling, and thought-provoking science fiction of authors such as Blake Crouch, Cherie Dimaline, and Neal Stephenson.

Further Appeal: 

A line I had to cut: While Proctor is the reader's guide, the narrative is greatly enhanced by the perspective of a few more key characters, so that as the unsettling and sinister dystopia begins to implode, every character and even the reader face an emotional moment of reckoning. 

I liked how Proctor is the only first person narrator but we get the perspectives of others. I liked it while reading and after the twist it makes even more sense. 

Even people who don't love dystopias will enjoy this because at its heart, this is book about storytelling-- the strengths and weakness of storytelling, the issues present author and reader and characters interact. But it  is also a highly entertaining well paced dystopian story. That interplay is very cool.

This is highly unsettling Science Fiction, a dystopia but with a bit more, and yet, firmly rooted in the genre tropes while still pushing their boundaries. Original and totally immersive, with so much to think about once you finish. But again, just read it. Don't try to figure it out; Proctor's confusion is our confusion. There is a puzzle to figure out and we only have the info that Proctor has. Trust Cronin to make it worth it.

Finally, the words designer and sail in the review above are key. This is not a spoiler before you read it, but after you read it, you will appreciate the word choice. I get 200 words, so I have to make them work double duty.

A few more random notes from while I was reading:
  • The less you say about plot here the better, not because it will give anything away, but because it is getting lost in the storytelling that will allow you to love this book– very much like Blake Crouch– who readers trust to take them to the finish. Don’t try to figure it out. JUST READ. Old fashioned in that sense and yet, the story is very much driven by right now. 
  • Takes on so many social, economic, and climate issues, without feeling like it is doing to much. Storytelling!
  • Original, thought provoking, and immersive, but most importantly, accessible, Cronin has delivered a standard bearer, a Science Fiction tale for our times, once that seamlessly incorporates many themes and concern of our very best stories. 
  • Unsettling from the opening prologue, setting itself up as a recognizable sinister, dystopian novel, 
Three Words That Describe This Book: compelling, immersive, thought provoking

Readalikes: Anything by Blake Crouch but especially Recursion w/ a touch of Seveneves by Stevenson and The Marrow Thieves by Dimaline. 

A few more readalikes: Paolo BacigalupiNever Let Me Go by Ishiguro, Wendig’s Wanderers, Margaret Atwood as well. Some have said Westworld and Lost as TV watch likes but I think those are not as wide in scope and themes as this novel.

Now for something completely different, a well executed. old fashioned, pulp horror novel, but with a twist.

Evil Whispers

By Owl Goingback

May 2023. 300p. Cemetery Dance, $18.99  (9781587678745); e-book, $4.99  (9781587678851)
First published April 1, 2023 (Booklist).

Robert, Janet and 10 year-old Krissy, have come to central Florida for a vacation at a remote fishing camp. On their first canoe trip, they discover an eerie swamp, a swamp that readers know, by way of a visceral and terrifying prologue, was the home of an evil Voodoo priest who was defeated but not destroyed in 1831 by the Seminole Tribe, setting in motion a tale of a vengeful ancient evil, the solitary Semiole Indian who has been left to protect the world from its return, and the young girl who is sucked into the horror. With multiple points of view and a strong sense of place, Goingback adds nuance to what could be stereotypical portrayals, all while the pacing and dread uncomfortably increases, until it bursts open in a horrific finale. Evil Whispers stands as proof that the classic, pulp horror storytelling style can not only remain vibrant but that it can also pay homage to its inspiration while actively casting off the racism and cultural appropriation that anchored so many titles from the Paperbacks from Hell era. 

Further Appeal: Owl Goingback is a HWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner, a Native American writer who paved the way for so many while writing award winning classics pulp horror. I love how he always takes the recast Native American trope and turns it on its head. Click here for a list of his awards and a bio. Goingback will be a Guest of Honor at StokerCon 2023 and will be appearing at Librarians' Day. Click here for more on that.

In terms of this book, it has everything great pulp horror has-- fast pace, shifting point of view (even to those about to die and only for that moment before they die), a complex and terrifying monster. Speaking of that monster, the reader knows exactly who that is with the terrifying prologue. 

Jimmy is the hero, he has agency, and he knows more than everyone else but everyone dismisses him because Native, even though his entire job is to protect the entire world from the "monster."

Speaking of that monster, the reader knows from the start in the prologue, who the extremely evil villain is and that he is in the swamp. We know what is coming as readers, an we can't wait to watch it all play out.

The pacing also harkens back to classic pulps: compelling in part 1 to set up setting and intrigue and danger and faster and faster pedal to metal in part 2.

Three Words That Describe This Book: strong sense of place, revenge, steadily increasing terror

Readalikes: Easiest to begin with the Valancourt line of Paperback From Hell and of course, Grady  Hendrix's Paperbacks from Hell

Also the old Leisure books line titles. I will use Brian Keen's Castaways as the example here. 

But really the appeal here is in the pulp storytelling from the marginalized perspective; adding new life to this fun storytelling style by allowing new voices to give it a try. The results are AWESOME. Other great examples:
If you take those last 2 suggestions and smoosh them together, you've got a perfect tonal and thematic readalike for Evil Whispers.

I know I have had a lot of reviews to end the week, but look at it as a windfall for  your collection development, not as an attempt to topple your TBR.

I am taking Monday off, so see you Tuesday.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

What I'm Reading: April 2023 Issue of Library Journal

Today, a few days early, LJ published my April 2023 review column Horror Review Column in Library Journal with my three words and links to my full draft reviews on Goodreads.

Side note:  I keep getting confused because I am currently reading for my June column deadline in a few weeks, but this is the April Column

First the STARS:
  • The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw [Visceral, Reclaiming a Myth, Lush]
  • Everything the Darkness Eats by Eric LaRocca [emotionally resonant, cosmic twist on small town horror, strong characters]

  • Bitters by Kaaron Warren [original, sinister, immersive]
    • Interview with the author in this issue [link coming soon] 


And the other 5 excellent titles:

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Middle Grade Horror For Adults via The Lineup

After writing for The Lineup last year, I actually signed a contract for 4 "From the Haunted Stacks" articles this year. The first just came out and it is all about the first ever Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Middle Grade Novel.

I introduce each of the five nominees and give you 2 adult comp titles, to help you match these awesome books with an adult reader. I also write about why MG is an awesome reading option for adults in general. 

Click here to read full article and see which title fans of Carrie should read, which is best for those who like Bird Box and more.

My next article for The Lineup will be a wrap-up of the Stoker winners like I did last year, here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Best Books: PW Summer Reads 2023

It's here! One of my favorite RA resources is back: The Publishers Weekly Summer Reads database. Yes it isn't April yet, yes it snows by my house in the last week, but we are already planning summer reading at our libraries, so why shouldn't PW get their Summer Reads list out too.

They also expanded "Summer" this year in terms of pub dates as well. As the editor explains in the intro on the main page:
The only mention of the pandemic in this little intro is in this sentence, and it's only in service of saying, well, let's not. Travel is back big time, and so is the classic dilemma of deciding which book or books to take along with you, whether you're headed to the beach for the day, the woods for a weekend, or across the ocean for as long as you can. That's where we come in, with picks from our staff experts for readers of all ages and interests. Our editors sifted and sorted through the titles hitting shelves from April to August and landed on these can’t-miss selections to jumpstart your season. So, get that trip booked and bookmark this page. We've got a lot of summer ahead. Happy reading! —Jonathan Segura, executive editor
This database is one of your best YEAR ROUND Resources hands down. Why? Well I am going to let a picture do a lot of the explaining.

Click here to enter the Summer Books Portal 

The Summer Reads database is more than the sum of its parts, those parts being the wide swath of categories offered. As you can see, they also make backlist access of every Summer Reads and year end Best Books list going back to 2012 easily accessible from the top of the page.


Nowhere will you find a resource that puts this many "sure bet" options in front of you so easily. There are literally hundreds of titles here, at your fingertips, both old and new, that you can confidently suggest to readers immediately. And so many readers. Readers who read across all age levels [down to infants] and in just about every genre. 

And, since every title is annotated, you also have a book talk [or annotation] for each title right there. You don't have to have read the book to suggest it. [Reminder: Use the Words of Others.]

I could keep gushing about how much I love this resource but I would rather you played around with it yourself.

Click through, check out the upcoming titles, but also look back at older titles, read the annotations, check genres you love and those you don't normally read, especially those you don't normally read because you will learn much about the current state of that genre [trends, popular authors] this year and going back a few years. You can both get access to some great sure bet suggestions AND brush up on your genre knowledge all in one place.

Spend some time really getting to know this resource. And then use it-- all of it including past years and both summer and year end lists-- to make your own lists for your readers. Make displays [digital displays too], make suggested reading lists by genre, by year, by whatever you want. Just embrace the wealth of information available to you with one click and help readers in ways they would not think to help themselves.

Proof reading this post before publishing it, I realize how many times I am repeating myself about using the entirety of the information that PW is making available here, but I also know from years of suggesting this resource to people that you don't all listen to me. And so, I will keep beating this drum of using best lists all year long and especially checking the backlist until I run out of breath [or strength to type].

Go check out this database of "sure bet" reads for any season, and keep it bookmarked for use anytime you need a solid suggestion [especially for those hard  to satisfy readers].

Monday, March 27, 2023

The Shirley Jackson Awards Get Even Better...They Have Added Me to the Advisory Board

Click here to enter the site

Yes, you read that right, I am now a part of the organization that administers my favorite literary award as I have joined the Shirley Jackson Awards as a member of their Advisory Board. This is not the jury which changes every year. From the website:


The Board of Advisors is one of the most valuable assets of the Shirley Jackson Awards. Members of the Board offer advice regarding general matters connected with the awards and, most crucially, recommend works for SJA consideration. In so doing, they provide vital support to the mission of the jurors: to read as deeply and widely as possible within the ever-widening borders of dark fiction. However, advisors may only recommend works to the jurors. Advisors do not nominate, vote on, tabulate, or otherwise administer the awards. Accordingly, works by members of the Board of Advisors are eligible for consideration for the awards.

The Advisory Board is an awesome group of humans, some who I know personally, and others who I have admired from afar.  They include:

  • Ellen Datlow
  • Liz Hand
  • John Langan
  • Sarah Langan
  • Stewart O'Nan
  • Faye Ringle
  • Me
  • Paul Tremblay
  • Ann VanderMeer
  • Kaaron Warren

You should also click through to see this year's jurors and the Board of Directors and everyone's bios. We are an interesting and diverse bunch, which is key to these awards because the awards themselves look at literature with a very wide lens, much like Jackson herself. Again from the website:

In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of horror, the dark fantastic, and psychological suspense.

These are not awards bound by any genre, rather they seek to find the best books that are darkly speculative and/or intensely psychological; books that defy conventions but are great.  

Being on the Advisory Board means I have two major responsibilities. The first is to recommend titles for the jury to consider. I have done that part of my duty. I sent in a slew of recommendations. 

The other responsibility is to promote the awards. And that I am already great at; I have been doing it for years. For example, here is an excerpt from my post last year when the nominations came out:

I am on record, multiple times, saying that  this is my favorite award. If I had to pick only 1 award for fiction, this would be it. And that is saying a lot because I have been on the juries for multiple awards and not this one.

But why this one? A few reasons,

First, the Shirley Jackson Awards are an excellent RA tool not only for the normal reasons I outline with the links to start this post, but also because they are an award that is NOT bound by genre. The entire point of the books that are nominated for and win this award is that they represent the legacy of Jackson, herself. Books that are darkly speculative and/or are intensely psychological; books that defy conventions but are great.  Each and every year titles are honored that are amazing reads but are almost always overlooked by genre awards, not because they aren't great [because they are], but because when push comes to shove, they do not fit as easily into the genre box as the other options.

Second, because books that win the Shirley Jackson Award already live on the fringes, the jurors and the titles they choose are more diverse than your average award.

And third, this award can be used as a "readalike" list on its own. Why? Because the main thing these nominated titles all share is a connection to Jackson and her brand of storytelling; thus, they all have an appeal connection that other awards can not promise in the same way. 

Which reminds me, the Shirley Jackson Awards not only have annual jurors who rotate every year but they also have a board of directors and an advisory board. You can access all of those people and their bios on this one page. Every single one of those authors is also readlaike option. 

And of course, the super easy backlist access of nominees and winners going back to 2007, all avaiable with 1 easy click. 

You want a display of weird, unsettling, and compelling titles, look no further than these tales, all of which are singled out for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. Those nominated for this year and all past years. There are so many options you will never run out of a suggestion for your patrons searching out this type of read.

Please make sure you are aware of the Shirley Jackson Awards and are looking here at the nominees from the last few years both to use as suggestions and to round our your collections. 

I will be posting about it even more than I already do now, and going forward because this appointment has not expiration date.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Reminder: Booklist Has Free Webinars-- Live and On Demand

Readers of this blog know that I am ar to the LibraryReads family. I promote their work and serve as an ambassador for the program. 

LibraryReads also works closely with Booklist, for who I am a frequent reviewer. On April 11th they have one of their semi-regular joint webinars promoting LibraryReads and pre-pub titles. Library Love of LibraryReads is Tuesday, April 11 at 2pm Central. Here is the description from the sign-up page:

Stunning debuts, moving memoirs, escapist fiction—you’ll find your next great read at our free, one-hour webinar on Tuesday, April 11 at 2 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. CT. Panelists from HarperCollins Publishers, Simon & Schuster, HTP Books, and Union Square & Company will showcase adult titles hitting the shelves this summer that are bound for success with your patrons and perfect for LibraryReads nominations!

Click here for more and to register

When I got the email about this upcoming event, I realized that it has been awhile since I posted about Booklist's Webinars, and I also know that I get new followers all of the time. So....please remember that you can find all upcoming Booklist webinars here

But more importantly than knowing what is coming up, you can have easy and free access to every past webinar at their permanent archive link here.

I regularly schedule myself CE days. Days when I will watch at least 2, hopefully more, webinars. And Booklist's webinar archive is one of the first places I go to find my training. And look, let's be real, if I consistently learn from these webinars, you can learn something too. 

One of the reasons the Booklist webinars are so good is because they stick closely to their mission:

"Booklist webinars are free, one-hour sessions geared towards exploring forthcoming titles from the publishing industry and trends in librarianship."

This mission for their webinars aims at the heart of what we do in our libraries and for our patrons, and Booklist is there for us with regularly scheduled content. Also, they serve all ages of readers and cover audio and graphic novels, so you get the full scope of leisure reading all in one FREE place.

Consider adding them to your CE plans-- for yourself and your staff. And sign up for the LibraryReads panel while you are on the page.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

New Resource Alert: The Readers' Advisory Guide To Romance by Robin Bradford

Many of you know Robin Bradford for the work we do presenting our Actively Anti-Racist Service to Leisure Readers training programs (which you can learn more about here). Robin is known for her collection development expertise, just as I am known for my RA expertise, but we are also nationally recognized and award winning genre experts as well. 

And now, Robin is joining me as an author in the Readers' Advisory Guide series for ALA Editions as the author of the brand new, fully updated Guide to Romance. It will be released any day now but you can preorder it here.

Robin has spent the last couple of years updating the VERY out-of-date previous edition of this book and it is now ready for the world to buy it, read it, and use it to help readers. There is no one else in the world that I would trust to get me information on Romance more than Robin. 

Please head on over to the ALA Editions Store and take a look for yourself.  have copied the information from the website below as well.

To celebrate Robin joining the RA Guide family, I am giving away a finished copy of my Readers' Advisory Guide to Horror, 3rd Edition over on the Horror blog. Click here for those details and to get yourself entered.

But back to celebrating this gorgeous and useful book. Just look at that cover. Robin told them she had no preference on the cover except for the direction that they could NOT use hearts. They did a great job!

Click here to order

Here is the information from the website about what you can find between the covers.

Use this handy guide to learn key factors in the appeal of this perennially popular genre, suggested authors and titles to have on your shelves, other collection development tips, and advice on connecting readers with books they're sure to love.

"Happily ever after" and all it entails keeps millions of romance fiction readers devouring approximately 10,000 titles published in the genre annually. Whether you’re already a devotee or a newbie in urgent need of some orientation, you’ll find this readers’ advisory guide the perfect tool for building and maintaining your library’s romance collection, answering patron questions, and leading fans of the genre in their exploration of new authors and titles. With panache and unbridled enthusiasm, Bradford

  • begins with an informative and entertaining overview of the genre's history, including a proposed working definition of "romance" and an explanation of why it matters;
  • sketches out the ways in which romance has expanded in terms of both content and formats;
  • provides guidance on discovering titles from both traditional and indie publishers, best practices for building a robust collection, and suggested resources for keeping up to date;
  • walks you through the myriad of romance subgenres, tropes, and common terms;
  • offers readers’ advisory interview tips for navigating fans’ spectrum of "sexpectations," from sweet to steamy, to assist with connecting readers with the perfect book;
  • shares advice for author visits and other library programming; and
  • includes a comprehensive index that will help you find the information you need quickly.

Table of Contents
Series Introduction
Introduction: Welcome to Romancelandia!

Chapter 1: A (Very) Brief History and Definition of the Modern Romance Novel
Chapter 2: The Ever-Expanding World of Romance
Chapter 3: The Challenge of Formats 
Chapter 4: Subgenres of Romance 
Chapter 5: Tropes in Romance
Chapter 6: Romance and Readers Advisory
Chapter 7: The S Word: From Sweet to Steamy, Talking about Sex with Readers
Chapter 8: Programming and Author Visits
Chapter 9: Staying Current with the Genre

Robin Bradford has earned a BA and MA in English, an MS in Library Science, and a JD, but has found a home in building reader-focused, popular collections in public libraries. She was recognized as RWA’s 2016 Librarian of the Year, a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2018, and is addicted to books and dedicated to helping others discover a love of reading. She has worked with authors to help get their titles into these collections, worked with librarians to push for equal treatment of genre fiction, and worked with readers so that they can find their favorite authors on their library's shelves.
Join me in congratulating Robin and consider adding a copy of this book to your library collections.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Display Idea: National Humanities Medals Winners

As I have talked about many times here on the blog and in my presentations, displays are meant to highlight books our patrons would not find without our help. 

Sometimes this means going out of our way to make sure the mosts popular titles and authors are NOT on display, but other times, this means presenting displays in ways that allow your patrons to see a wider range of your holdings in one place.

The awarding of the National Humanities Medals by President Biden is a great opportunity to practice the later. Since this has been in the news the last few days, it is in the back of our patrons minds-- bookish people register bookish news.

The list of recipients, here and below, are wide ranging and would never find themselves grouped together except on this stage. I love the breadth of experiences that are represented here. In fact, putting these winners together in one displays allows you to show your community the breadth of your collection. We are so obsessed with siloing our materials that when our patrons see materials from across service areas on one display, they will notice. This shows through example that we are there to serve all and work hard to have materials for them on a variety of topics.

You can pull books by and about all of these winners and in some cases, you can include films as well. Also some award winners allow a little more leeway. For example, Native America Calling is an online radio program and podcast, but also feature books prominently. Use this link to find some of them. Get those up on display as well. You don;t have to explain why the item you choose are there. Be more inclusive and expansive. Title it Showcasing the Work of the National Humanities Medal Winners, and fill away.

I know this suggestion will make some of you a little uncomfortable. Many library workers use very narrow categories for their displays. They want everything to be from one area of the library. And they don't want to branch out of the way they have always done things. This suggestion will cause some of you or your coworkers to get nervous. Others will say it is too much work.

But this is not more work, it is simply thinking more broadly about how and why we display items. This is actually easier than coming up with a topic and hunting for books to fill it. This is a news story that gives you the titles you need. And because this meal isn't hemmed in by a specific identity or genre, we get a HUGE cross section of items to showcase, together, in one place.

This type of display not only demonstrates the breadth of our entire collection but it also shows our patrons that we are willing to think outside the box, that we can help them in ways they might not think are possible. It may be a new way of displaying materials, but it will most definitely attract more attention and check outs.

Give it a try. You can also click here to see all award winners in reverse chronological order, in case your display gets emptied buy eager readers and you need more. 

Here are the 12 recipients of the 2021 National Humanities Medal, with their White House citations:

  • Richard Blanco: An award-winning poet and author, professor and public speaker, and son of Cuban immigrants, Richard Blanco’s powerful storytelling challenges the boundaries of culture, gender, and class while celebrating the promise of our Nation’s highest ideals. (Read profile.)
  • Johnnetta Betsch Cole: A scholar, anthropologist, and academic pace-setter, Johnnetta Betsch Cole’s pioneering work about the on-going contributions of Afro-Latin, Caribbean, and African communities have advanced American understanding of Black culture and the necessity and power of racial inclusion in our Nation. (Read profile.)
  • Walter Isaacson: Through the stories of our Nation’s remarkable citizens, Walter Isaacson’s work, words, and wisdom bridge divides between science and the humanities and between opposing philosophies, elevating discourse and our understanding of who we are as a Nation. (Read profile.)
  • Earl Lewis: As a social historian and academic leader, Earl Lewis has made vital contributions to the field of Black history, educating generations of students, while also being a leading voice for greater diversity in academia and our Nation. (Read profile.)
  • Henrietta Mann: The pioneering efforts of Henrietta, Ho’oesto’oona'e, Mann, led to programs and institutions across the country devoted to the study of Native American history and culture, honoring ancestors that came before and benefiting generations that follow. (Read profile.)
  • Ann Patchett: With her best-selling novels and essays, and her bookstore, readers from around the world see themselves in the pages of Ann Patchett’s books that take people to places of the heart and feed the imagination of our Nation. (Read profile.)
  • Bryan Stevenson: An advocate fighting tirelessly for the poor, incarcerated, and condemned, Bryan Stevenson follows the Book of Micah’s instruction to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly as he chronicles the legacy of lynching and racism in America, shining a light on what has been and all that we can be as a Nation. (Read profile.)
  • Amy Tan: By bravely exploring experiences of immigrant families, heritage, memories, and poignant struggles, Amy Tan’s writing makes sense of the present through the past and adds ground-breaking narrative to the diverse sweep of American life and literature. (Read profile.)
  • Tara Westover: Tara Westover’s memoirs of family, religion, and the transformative power of education, has moved millions of readers and served as a powerful example of how the humanities can set people—and a Nation—free. (Read profile.)
  • Colson Whitehead: With genre-defying craftsmanship and creativity, Colson Whitehead’s celebrated novels make real the African American journey through our Nation’s continued reckoning with the original sin of slavery and our ongoing march toward a more perfect Union. (Read profile.)
  • Native America Calling: Through its interactive shows on the radio and online, Native America Calling educates the American public about Indigenous issues while preserving Indigenous history and culture to honor their contributions that strengthen the sacred Nation-to-Nation relationship. (Read profile.)
  • Sir Elton John*: An enduring icon and advocate with absolute courage, who found purpose to challenge convention, shatter stigma, and advance the simple truth that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. (Read profile.)
     (*medal awarded separately in September 2022, during a White House event, “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme.”)

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Replacing the Now Defunct USA Today Bestseller List As a RA Resource

Readers of this blog and those who hire me to present know that I have been mourning the loss of my favorite bestseller list, the USA Today Bestseller list, which was discontinued on December 1, 2022. I loved this list because it gathered the top 150 books that sold in a given week without worrying about what category said book fell into, who published them, and for what age. Literally just the 150 best selling titles. It was an easy way to understand, at one click, what the most popular books were in the country at any snapshot in time.

I wrote about how I was trying to replace and replicate the same information back in February here. That post also talks about why bestseller lists are a great resource on their own. Click through for more on that topic.

But today, I have great news. I think I found another replacement for what the USA Today list did-- the only problem, it is only adult titles. I loved that USA Today considered children's as well. But still..

It’s Monday, which means it’s time to look at the books everyone has been buying lately! This is a simple question with a strangely complicated answers, because every bestseller list uses its own cryptic system of data points and criteria. That’s where we come in: we’ve looked at the four biggest bestseller lists and noted the overlap to get an overview of the biggest books of the moment.

To get these numbers, we look at the New York Times, both Combined Print & E-Book Fiction and Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction lists; Amazon Charts, both Fiction and Nonfiction; Publishers Weekly; and Indie Bestsellers, Fiction and Nonfiction, both Paperback and Hardcover. New additions to the list this week are bolded.

As I mentioned in this post back in February, we need to follow multiple lists in order to get the combined data The USA Today had provide for us in one published list: 

...you have to be even more aware because the landscape is fractured. You can use the NYT listsPW ListsAmazon listsBookshop.org, any and all. But it is hard to follow so many. I am settling on the PW lists as my default because they use BookScan data

But now, Book Riot is doing the adult version of what USA Today did for us. (I still recommend checking the the PW list of Top Ten Overall which includes all age levels in one list.)

But the weekly Monday post from Book Riot is a great way to get the adult info in one place. It is a way for you to see weekly, what is actually selling the most copies, and prepare for requests both with extra copies and to make "while you wait lists."

As you look at these lists week to week, make sure you are paying attention to more than just the individual titles and where they fall. Look for trends, assess which books are backlist, meaning they are probably in the media or being promoted on social media. What types of books keep showing up? Also make sure to notice how diverse (or not- because they are not) the lists are. [I also talked about this in February and gave you suggestions on how to diversify the "bestseller" lists as you present it for your patrons.]

The closer we get to seeing an actual "these are the most selling books in America right now" list, the better we can serve our patrons.

Here is the direct link to this week's post.

And here is the link to pull up all of the weekly posts in reverse chronological order.

Again, it is not as perfect as the USA Today list was. Here's hoping they reinstate that onet some day, but until they do, Book Riot is giving us a useful replacement.