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.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Summer Reading Last Chances

I am getting a lot of requests from friends and family who want to squeeze in a few more books before the end of summer. These people have reading preferences all over the map, sort of like your patrons. I know people are coming into you libraries with the similar requests as well. The calendar will turn over to August tomorrow, remember. Kids are starting to go back to school. End of summer is on everyone's minds.

So here are a few books I have had great success handing out this summer to a wide range of readers as well as a few lists for you to peruse. My advice, take all of this information, and any other summer reads lists you have encountered, saved, or even used already, and make a "Last Gasps of Summer" display.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Using Awards Lists As A RA Tool: World Fantasy and British Fantasy 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.   

In the last week, 2 major Fantasy awards lists were announced. These announcements combined with the August issue of Booklist magazine with its spotlight on SF/F/H about to drop means it is a great time to promote your fantasy collections.

Those two awards are:

You should be looking at these award lists, and any other Fantasy award nominees from the last 2-5 years for your collection development, displays, and suggestions. You can click here for the Locus Online database of all speculative fiction awards to access more titles.

Fantasy is also a great end of summer display idea in general. As summer ends, people can still escape somewhere through a Fantasy story, whether they take a vacation or are staying home. Pitch it is as "escape" and get out a wide variety of speculative titles. Awards lists from the last few years are a great resource to help you have a wide assortment of titles for people to choose from.  

British Fantasy Award

World Fantasy Award

Thursday, July 27, 2023

New Book Alert with a Giveaway: 101 Horror Books to Read Before You're Murdered

Because I know some of you are too scared to click on the Horror blog outside of the month of October (and only then because you have to), I am cross-posting today's giveaway that is posted over there because it is VERY useful to every public library. In fact, I go as far to state below:

...this title is a perfect readalike for my book. They are a yin and yang. Hartmann's written for the reader, mine written for the library worker.

So please take a look and get your pre-orders in.

#HorrorForLibraries Giveaway 132: 101 Horror Books to Read Before You're Murdered

This week I have an ARC of a book I told all of you to buy 2 copies of for your libraries back in the June issue of Library Journal. Details below, but first, here is how you enter:

  1. You need to be affiliated with an American public library. My rationale behind that is that I will be encouraging you to read these books and share them with patrons. While many of them are advanced reader copies that you cannot add to your collections, if you get the chance to read them, my hope is that you will consider ordering a copy for your library and give away the ARC away as a prize or pass it on to a fellow staff member.
  2. If you are interested in being included in any giveaway at any time, you must email me at zombiegrl75 [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject line "#HorrorForLibraries." In the body of the email all you have to say is that you want to be entered and the name of your library.
  3. Each entry will be considered for EVERY giveaway. Meaning you enter once, and you are entered until you win. I will randomly draw a winner on Fridays sometime after 5pm central. But only entries received by 5pm each week will be considered for that week. I use Random.org and have a member of my family witness the "draw"based off your number in the Google Sheet.
  4. If you win, you are ineligible to win again for 4 weeks; you will have to re-enter after that time to be considered [I have a list of who has won, when, and what title]. However, if you do not win, you carry over into the next week. There is NO NEED to reenter.

Click here to see giveaway #131. Our winner was Aubrey from Meadville [CO] Public Library. Now on to today's giveaway.

Sadie Hartmann, otherwise known as Mother Horror has been a guest on this blog before. You can read her excellent, Why I Love Horror piece from back in 2019's 31 Days of Horror here or, even better, you can click here to see all the places where you can find her. 

On August 8th, here first book as an author (she co-edited this Bram Stoker Award Nominated anthology) comes out and it is PERFECT for all of your library collections. Here is the information from my Goodreads which also is the draft of my Library Journal review:

Rating is 4.5 out of 5

Review in the June 2023 Issue of Library Journal

Three Words That Describe This Book: Genre overview, participatory, conversational tone 

 Draft Review: Horror’s most well known fan, Hartmann presents a volume for readers and library workers to rejoice over whether they are established fear fiends or terror newbies. An excellent introduction lays out Hartmann’s mission, to take you on a tour through Horror as a reader, while also explaining her organizational process and demonstrating how to use the icons that serve as guideposts throughout. Most of the book is focused on specific titles, organized into five overarching categories each capped off with an original essay by the genre’s hottest authors. Within each section, Hartmann presents her conversational review of the titles, each on a single page with a sidebar summarizing the book’s appeal. Fun quizzes, illustrations that enhance the book’s atmosphere and tone, and more lengthy author overviews are also sprinkled throughout. The result: a gorgeously creepy book, told with an engaging and authoritative voice, diverse in every possible way. This book can be enjoyed from cover to cover or as a choose your own spooky adventure, but either way, it will entice all who encounter it to seek out more Horror.

Verdict: Horror’s popularity is on the rise and this book provides the widest possible view of the genre as it stands today and there are no repeat authors. Libraries should consider buying two copies, one for reference and another to circulate, and make extra copies of the reading checklist in the back to hand out, especially during spooky season. 
I couldn't put this in the magazine, but this title is a perfect readalike for my book. They are a yin and yang. Hartmann's written for the reader, mine written for the library worker.

And thanks to Page Street Publishing, I have 1 full color ARC to give to one of you. It does not have the index or the forward by Josh Malerman, but it has all of the content, including that awesome checklist.

Enter now and you are entered going forward, but also, get this book ordered so you have at least one copy ASAP. Again, I would suggest purchasing two. Two print copies of this book is still less than 1 of mine

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

What I'm Reading: This World Belongs to Us: An Anthology of Horror Stories About Bugs

Because Booklist Magazine's mission is to provide "prepub" reviews for libraries so they can get orders in before a book comes out, there are often many small press Horror titles that would be perfect for inclusion in the magazine, that I just cannot get my hands on in enough time for that to be possible.

However, because the editors realize that there are excellent indie press titles that would be great in libraries and because they know it is often hard for them to get us review copies far enough in advance for inclusion in the print magazine, they are willing to include these books as e-only reviews. 

This summer I have had some time to review of few of these titles for Booklist Online. 

Recently, the first of these went live on Booklist Online. As usual with my Booklist reviews, I am posing the draft language with extra appeal info here.

Please consider adding this book to your collections. Now that it has a review in a trusted source, maybe you will be allowed to go outside of your normal channels to procure it. Also, this one, an anthology, has big name authors in it, authors your patrons will be clamoring to read new stories by. One, V. Castro is a LibraryReads author and her story is one of the best in the volume. 

Enough preamble, here is the review.

This World Belongs to Us: An Anthology of Horror Stories About Bugs
Edited by Michael W. Phillips Jr. May 2023. 208p. From Beyond, $17.99 (9798987574317); paper, $13.9 (9798987574300)First published July 14, 2023 (Booklist Online).

Most humans are afraid of bugs at some level and editor Phillips is banking on that as he boldly and ambitiously launches a new micropress with a crowd pleasing volume of 19 original stories featuring well known, critically acclaimed horror authors like V. Castro, Cynthia Pelayo, and Kealan Patrick Burke. As one would expect, the tales induce terror through a variety of insects, from earwigs to worms to ladybugs and butterflies, but the stories also take on a wide range of tropes and frames as well from space horror to dark academia to fairy tales, cli-fi and body horror. Castro’s “Monarchs in Flight,” is the perfect example. A space explorer comes upon a new planet where enormous butterfly-like creatures live at the top of the food chain. Also of note “A Confession of Earwigs,” by Paula D. Ashe, a chilling, dark academia tale of love, revenge, and, of course, earwigs, told through emails and “The Seventh Instar” by Kay Vaindal a hilarious and disgusting satire of capitalism and global warming narrated by brainworms. Readers will immerse themselves in the full swarm of stories as they alternate between awe and disgust, always enjoying how it makes them squirm. Suggest with confidence to fans of the contributing authors and pair with other nature based horror anthologies like Fungi edited by Sivlia Morerno Garcia and Orrin Grey or the novels of Jeff VanderMeer.

Further Appeal: First, the TOC has names your patrons want to read more so they will be drawn to this anthology to read more by authors they know and like. Add to this, one of my favorite stories was by Paula D. Ashe, who in the time between me writing this review and it publishing, won the Shirley Jackson Award for her story collection. Now there would be even more interest in this anthology. 

This all is being said before I remind you....it's Bug Horror. Sells itself really. You can booktalk this one anytime of year to anyone who wants scary stories and isn't sure where to begin. All you have to say is, "It's a Horror anthology of stories by different authors and all of them feature bugs!" You will have many takers.

I like using anthologies for readers who want to give Horror a try because they will be exposed to more authors and more types of writing in one volume. I remind people that not all anthologies are meant to be read cover to cover by every reader. But when you are trying something out, having different voices will help you figure out what you like and don't like, and have examples to articulate why.

In this case, while I really enjoyed all of the stories, but it does need to be said that the level of violence ranges widely. Pelayo's story is extremely unsettling and more haunted and psychological, while Ashe's is in your face, violent, and even accusatory (which I loved), and Vaindal's is dark, dark humor and satire, sustained throughout as it grows more and more ridiculous but also more scary and satirical as well. Those are 3 very different stories in terms of the emotions they elicit.

But I also know there are readers who love Bug Horror, or even any Nature Gone Wild Horror, and this will satisfy that itch (pun intended) for those readers.

This is a brand new micro press, the editor, Phillips runs the press and is in my Chicagoland Chapter of the HWA. I know him personally. He is committed to producing a well edited product that will stand up to multiple checkouts. 

I asked him to provide me a copy to read with no promises of ever covering it. After reading the book, I was so excited to share it with as many people as possible, I worked to figure out how to get a review into Booklist (described above) so that as many of you as possible would hear about it.

Three Words That Describe This Book: unsettling, multiple frames, immersive

Readalikes: I listed a few that you probably have on the shelf in the review, but really, other works by the authors in this table of contents are a great place to find matches for your readers. 

And if you have NoveList search the "Nature Gone Wild" theme. Or click here for a list I have on the Horror blog.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

50 Best Mystery Novels of All Time by Gabino Iglesias for Esquire

Recently, author Gabino Iglesias, who you have heard about many times on this blog, had this EXCELLENT list in Esquire, "50 Best Mystery Books of All Time."

This list is useful to you for 4 reasons.

  1. The short essay that introduces the list is a must read because Iglesias takes a wide view of "Mystery" without sacrificing the key elements of the genre. In it he talks about how authors craft a mystery but also how reading one makes you feel. 
  2. The list itself is not your cookie cutter list of mysteries. In fact, it starts with Dracula. Again, wide view of "Mystery" based on a reader's opinion.
  3. It appeared in Esquire. It was not part of the traditional book media, but rather a more general popular media. This means a wider range of your patrons saw the list, and in fact, some people who don't generally come to the library may be drawn to us to seek out one of these titles because of the list.
  4. As a person of color, Iglesias did not submit an all white, male, straight list of books. So it is one of the few-- "Best of All Time" lists that you will find that is diversified. It also serves as an example to all of you excuse makers that this kind of diverse list is possible.

Okay, so that's why you need to click through and look at the list. But then what? Well build a display of course, make lists for your social media and online platforms using these titles. Double check that you own all of these books, in multiple formats, and that the print ones don't need replacing. For example, my copies of Dracula needed to be retired and replaced a few times in my 15 years at the public library.

But those are the obvious things. What you really have to do is use this list as a conversation starter because that is exactly what it is. Iglesias put this list together to start the conversation about Mystery, to broaden the definition, bring both more books and more readers into its genre fold. Embrace that mission and use it to your advantage with a genre that is already among our most popular.

So yes, post the list, but also, allow people to add their books to the conversation. Encourage them to use comments on social media to add to the list, but also, add those titles that you get suggested virtually on to your physical displays and online lists. Let your virtual commenters participate and show them you are listing by including their choices in physical displays. 

And with your in building display, ask people to leave a post-it note on a board or a slip in a box suggesting their "Best Mystery Book of All Time." Cross reference that with the online comments and make it all into a "Our Readers Favorite Mystery Books of All Time" display or online list.

Keep the conversation going. And keep it a wide as possible. Do not gatekeeper people and tell them their title does not fit the definition of "Mystery." Who cares? Do they think it is a mystery? Are they coming to the library to find more reads? You are there to help them. Show that you are listening, not gatekeeping.

And this list is a great place to start.

Monday, July 24, 2023

The Importance of Unimportant Books via Teen Librarian Toolbox

Today I am sending you to Teen Librarian Toolbox, a site I have referred you to before, for an important opinion guest post by author Darcy Marks entitled, "The Importance of Unimportant Books."

This title is the entire definition of RA Service. This is why we do what we do and why it is so important. This is why I spend my time traveling around teaching people how to match books with readers.  This is why money is spent to bring me in to lead those training sessions.

We are here to match people with the books that they will most enjoy based on what they have enjoyed before. Sometimes, a book that means the most to someone, that keeps them reading, is NOT the most award winning book, it may not even been a book that is that popular with others. But to that reader, it is THE book in their life. This essay explains that.

This is why when I do my RA Basics program, I ask people to think of a book they love. I don't ask for their favorite. I make that clear. "Favorite" often leads people to the more "important" titles. We have been conditioned by society to think that a book cannot be a favorite unless it has been deemed "important"by some measurable metric. But "love," love leads people to follow their heart. I can teach people how to match books with readers based on what they are actually going to enjoy much better when they are focused on what they love, not what others will think of them based on what they term their "favorite."

This essay gets to the heart of what RA Service is all about. It also serves as a great reminder that why we do what we do is so important. Often leisure reading, especially reading just for fun, is disparaged by others in the literary and library community. 

I help out at the elementary school library and one of the best changes that has happened there is a shift in checkout policy for the kids. It is a change that signals to them that their "want to" reads are more important than their "have to" reads. That change? They used to be able to check out 2 books. 1 "just right" book and 1 "for fun" book. And now? 2 for fun books and 1 just right book. Grades K-6. [And yes, both "for fun" books can be graphic novels because they count as reading. Stop being dumb by limiting those titles as inferior.]

But this change of showing the kids that the school wants them to read for fun, to choose their own titles, and to explore the collection as they want not as they have to, all of this is important because that book that we might think is unimportant, could become a book that they love, hold on to, and help them grow as both a human and a reader.

This essay is also a great reminder of why we fight for the Freedom to Read as others fight with more money to squash it. Any book has the potential to become important to a reader. We have no idea what that book will be. But if we don' have it on the shelf for them to find it, and if we don't have staff that prioritize matching books with readers based ONLY on if it will appeal to the reader (and not what is "worthy" of their time), we will be a society without readers. 

One of the best thing that came out of the pandemic closures is that people rediscovered leisure reading. We see that joy in #BookTok and in library stats. My library's total checkouts are, driven by the increase in e-matieral checkouts from the spring of 2020, an increase that settled down a bit lower than peak but WAY above where is was at the end of 2019.

Think about what I have written, read this TLT post, and think about your own "unimportant books."

Friday, July 21, 2023

Resource Alert: Where to Find Book Display Ideas by Lila Denning

Happy Friday. Earlier this month my colleague Lila Denning, had a great post on her blog which is all about Book Displays entitled, "Where to Get Ideas for Your Displays!"

In general, her site is an excellent resource for all of your Passive RA needs, but this post in particular answers a question I ge often. Thanks to Lila for allowing me to report it here for all of you. 

Check it out here or below. And, bookmark this site to use when you are looking for book display inspiration. 

Where to Get Ideas for Your Displays!

Many library workers are doing multiple jobs or working short staffed. The idea of creating different book displays every month can seem daunting. Never fear! You can borrow ideas from all of those marketing emails that publishers and vendors send you daily. Use the subject line and go from there. Don't feel as if you are obligated to include every book that was in the original list. The purpose of your book displays is to market your existing collection, not to exactly copy someone else's list.

I pulled some ideas from today's marketing emails and have suggested some titles and resources to get you started. What do they mean? What should you put on them? Whatever you have in your collection that will work. The idea is to market your collection and get books faced out where your patrons can see them. 

Wedding Themed Mysteries and Thrillers

Grief is a Complicated Journey 

The Music of the Night  - Phantom of the Opera inspired romance novels

Prioritize Your Mental Health - Mental Health Awareness Month

Historical Fiction Set in the 1960's 

Staff Picks: 10 Books We Unexpectedly Binge-Read

Summer Reading Camp

In addition to these, publishers were also encouraging titles to be nominated for both the Indie Next and Library Reads monthly lists. Either of these lists, the first curated by indie bookseller and the second by library workers, can be easily used as a book display. Use this month's list, last month's, the Library Reads Hall of Fame... 

Go out there and mine those marketing emails for ideas!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Resource Alert: Booklist's Annual Guide to Graphic Novels in Libraries and More

July is Graphic Novel time all over the place. First it is Comic Con time. It begins today and brings with it the Eisner Awards which are a treasure trove of GN collection and RA information. Click here for my post back in May about his year's nominees and the award in general. So be on the lookout for reports from the Con. With the Hollywood unions on strike, this year's Comic Con will have a bigger book based focus as well.

July is also the month that Booklist does their spotlight on Graphic Novels. Here is a list of the special content within the magazine itself:

Spotlight on Graphic Novels

Top 10 Graphic Novels: 2023

Talking with: Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

The World of Digital Manga: Titles Not (Yet) Available to Libraries You Should Know About

Top 10 Middle-Grade Graphic Novels: 2023

But wait, there's more! 

For the 5th time, Booklist has also produced a pull out special supplement: Booklist's Guide to Graphic Novels in Libraries and you can access that here as well.

And finally, I have a very special giveaway on the Horror blog this week.-- a signed ARC of Earthdivers, v1. by Stephen Graham Jones. Here is a picture of him signing that copy at ALA and you can click here for the STAR review of this Graphic Novel from the July 2023 issue of Booklist.
Click here for the details on how you can enter my #HorrorForLibraries giveaway.

Enjoy all the Graphic Novel love and info. Put up some displays, make some updated lists, and add to your collections. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

How to Take A Stand and NOT Allow Hate Groups to Use Your Programming Space

As part of the updates I am making to the Anti-Racist programs that Robin and I offer [See also this post last from week], I am going a bit off the traditional service to readers focus, but not that far off because it involves a question we get all of the time. Here is a version of said question:

You have great advice on how to deal with problematic titles and disinformation in the library, but we also need help with hate groups trying to use our meeting rooms? How can we firm up our programming policies without violating Freedom of Speech.

I will get to the easy policy fix in a moment, but first, the same advice we give for books works for these program situations. As I like to say, all opinions can be shared at the library but not all deserve self space. 

Going back to last week's post, let's begin with a less inflammatory example. A library is supposed to hold authoritative material. When Pluto was deemed, "not a planet," we all rushed to delete every book that listed Pluto as a planet from our collections. It was not a fact anymore. No one fought us on this. It was expected.

The same procedure should hold true for a more inflammatory example, Holocaust deniers. We should not have books on the shelf that say the Holocaust did not happen because it did. This opinion incorrect factually. Their claims that you should have their books because they have a right to free speech are not valid because it is irresponsible for us to shelve books that are not factual. 

[For reference, the entire Country of Austria passed a law to provide Holocaust Refugee Reparations Citizenship and I now hold both citizenship and an EU Passport as proof that it did happen and they are formally apologizing for it. Entire countries don't do this unless the thing they are apologizing for actually happened.]

Back to our collections. Our shelf space is limited and we cannot and should not fill it with books that are completely false when we don't even have room for all of the accurate books we would want to include.

It is important to not that using the words "false" or "misinformation" could be inflammatory, so we need alternatives. I tackled this very question with the Strategic Planning Committee at my library this past Winter. I wanted us to be STRONG against misinformation in our Mission Statement-- not just our collection policy-- and I challenged us to find a word to denote that but was less inflammatory and would not be twisted to be used by bad actors. Because if we call something someone disagrees with "misinformation," they could say we were discriminating against them and their views.

I give the team full credit on this one. We worked hard to get this right and I am proud of our use of "meaningful" in our Mission Statement:

We strive to enrich our community by inspiring connections, providing access to meaningful resources, and encouraging curiosity in an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.

People expect us to have meaningful resources. So you don't need that Holocaust denying book anywhere in your library because it is not meaningful.

Which leads to the next point that people bring up to argue with my previous point-- but Becky libraries need to be "neutral." It is part of our ethics. 

First of all, if we were neutral, we would buy every single book that is every published and never make a choice as to what to add(and we would never weed). Obviously we do not do this. Every single item that is added to our collections is a choice, made by someone trained to craft a library collection, but it is a choice. We use a variety of metrics and a collection development policy to guide those choices but because it involves choice and policy, it can never be neutral. 

Libraries are not and never have been neutral. We are not political. Neutrality is and never has been the goal. Contrary to popular belief, the ALA has never used the term "neutral." (For more on this from the ALA committee tasked with addressing this misconceptions, click here.)

However, one can see where the waters were murky and that place is with the ALA Code of Ethics. Principles 1-8 hug that neutrality line a little too close for comfort. In 2021 the ALA Council recognized this and took a stand by adding a 9th Principle, stating

We affirm the inherent dignity and rights of every person. We work to recognize and dismantle systemic and individual biases; to confront inequity and oppression; to enhance diversity and inclusion; and to advance racial and social justice in our libraries, communities, profession, and associations through awareness, advocacy, education, collaboration, services, and allocation of resources and spaces.

This 9th Principle clears up the misunderstandings of the first 8 and lands on the side of action, telling libraries that they must act again systemic oppression. 

Some library workers try to argue with me that they ignore the 9th principle because it "contradicts" the first 8, but to them I say that that perceived contradiction is the entire point. This amendment is the final statement and if your library follows the ALA Code of Ethics, which every library I have seen does by referring to I tin this policy manual, you now are required to fight oppression.

I have very little patience for our library colleagues who hide behind the language of neutrality because it is WRONG, it is also lazy, but fundamentally and most importantly it is incorrect. If you or your bosses are one of those people who lean on this language, I want you to really read this post. Sit with it and think about why you are incorrect. And if you still disagree with me, contact me, goodness knows you wouldn't even be close to the first person to object to me saying "Libraries are not neutral." I have had people reach out to chastise me for this belief, I have had them refuse to sign a contract to work with me because they must sign off on my EDI Mission Statement which proclaims this, and I have had people write those who have hired me angry letters. 

Complain all you want but you are wrong and hurting our profession.  The sooner you sit back and come to terms with your misguided views and do the work to move on, the better it will be for all of us. 

But Becky I thought you were going to talk about program room policies? Yes, I am getting there by way of grounding us in our core policies and principles as they relate to materials. Again as that 9th Principle of he ALA Code of ethics states (emphasis mine): 

We affirm the inherent dignity and rights of every person. We work to recognize and dismantle systemic and individual biases; to confront inequity and oppression; to enhance diversity and inclusion; and to advance racial and social justice in our libraries, communities, profession, and associations through awareness, advocacy, education, collaboration, services, and allocation of resources and spaces.

Everything I have written up to this point is building the case for what I am going to write next...

...We are obligated to say no to groups who would like to use our spaces if their mission is to be racist or homophobic. That 9th Principle includes our allocation of spaces, in other words, our programming space.

It is in black and white in the ALA Code of Ethics. Something every single library makes mention of in their policies of following. NOT standing up against hate groups is going against the 9th Principle which requires that you recognize AND dismantle systemic oppression. So, allowing Nazis into your spaces, for example, goes against the ALA Code of Ethics because by allowing them in you are supporting hate.

A more nuanced issue is the current, organized effort to spread hate by Kirk Cameron and his Brave Books publishing company. Click here for details if you are unfamiliar with the issue before proceeding. 

In both issues people say (to me and others), but Becky our Program Room Policy requires that we not judge a group who requests space. Or we have a statement that says the fact that we are hosting program does not mean we are approving of the organization hosting said program. And, the laziest of the arguments, we have to be neutral and or allow every request regardless of our personal opinions.

STOP. Last one first. Just like with books, we do not have to allow every request, Nothing in our rules or laws says as much. Now we cannot refuse people based on our personal opinions, this is true. However, if we are using the ALA Code of Ethics, which again, every library I have seen makes mention of following it in their general policies, our professional opinion would be to disallow groups that do not allow us to support that 9th Principle. 

This 9th Principle argument is a professional one. It is a policy reason to say no to any group that goes against our requirement "to recognize and dismantle systemic and individual biases; to confront inequity and oppression; to enhance diversity and inclusion..."

It is your library administration's job to apply their written policy in their action, so this should be plenty for any library to refuse Nazis or Brave Books or Antti-Trans groups; however, I suggest you also include an out clause as well, and I will use my library as the example.

We state that we follow the ALA Code of Ethics in our policies and made sure to vote to uphold these ethics since the inclusion of the 9th Principle in a public meeting. We also have a very clear statement in our Programs policy. You can read the entire thing here but here is the key statement for our purposes: 

Staff welcomes program suggestions and proposals, yet retains the right to determine which programs and events are scheduled.

In other words, the staff have an out clause. They can say no to whatever they want for whatever reason they want. Now, any person requesting programming space has a right to appeal if denied, but if your library is following the ALA Code of Ethics, you have that as your professional argument for denying them (if you can't find another one). Of course they can always go to your Board but that is another situation. [As a Board member myself, I can assist you there but this is a post for library workers, not Board members]. 

But adding this out clause is important because it mimics our collection policies (see it alcoves back to the beginning). We cannot add every book. We make professional decisions based on policy, and yet, we sill sometimes just don't add something because we just don' think it fits our collections. It is our professional opinion in the end that makes the final call. It is our job to make these decisions. Well, the same holds true for our programming spaces. We have policies that say how we decide, but ultimately, we are the experts. We have the final say. End of discussion. 

And before you come after me, as others have, that this is not legal. It 100% absolutely is legal. The above policy has been vetted by an attorney. The argument I am making to disallow certain groups is backed by the ALA Code of Ethics. Hiding behind neutrality and simply saying yes to a hate group because it is easier or because you don't want to be in the news... all of that is lazy. 

I am writing this detailed post today because I have be contacted by multiple library workers, from places big and small, and I have shared this advice privately so they can fight within their own organizations to make change. But, I know others need something they can point people to. I have worked to make sure my library has strong policies and language so that I can lead by example. 

If you need me to talk to your administration, first send them this post. Then email me or have them email me. I will speak to anyone about this topic for free. 

I appreciate your attention today as I went a little off topic. I will add this post, and last week's post referred to at the start of this post to my ActivelyAnti-Racist Service to Leisure Readers page for easy recall. Back to lighter fare tomorrow. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Shirley Jackson Award Winners

As part of my role on the Shirley Jackson Awards Advisory Board, I am tasked with spreading the word about this awesome award far and wide. 

As a reminder, I wrote about this award and why it is a great resource here. 

Here is the press release from the award announcement and the winners. After that repost, I will have some comments as well as backlist access:

Boston, MA (July 15, 2023) — In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, The Shirley Jackson Awards, Inc. has been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.

The 2022 Shirley Jackson Awards were presented in-person on Saturday, July 15 at Readercon 32, Conference on Imaginative Literature, in Quincy, Massachusetts.

The awards ceremony was hosted by Jeff VanderMeer, Readercon 32 Guest of Honor and past Shirley Jackson Award winner, and Ann VanderMeer, Readercon 32 Special Guest and a member of the Shirley Jackson Awards Board of Advisors.

The winners for the 2022 Shirley Jackson Awards are:


The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias (Mulholland Books)

Where I End by Sophie White (Tramp Press)


The Bone Lantern by Angela Slatter (PS Publishing)


What the Dead Know by Nghi Vo (Amazon Original Stories)


“Pre-Simulation Consultation XF007867” by Kim Fu (Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century)


We Are Here to Hurt Each Other by Paula D. Ashe (Nictitating Books)


The Hideous Book of Hidden Horrors, edited by Doug Murano (Bad Hand Books)

Okay, now comment time. 

First, this award never disappoints. The list of nominees was strong and represented the full breadth of dark fiction-- as the award promises to do-- and then the list of winners continues that promise. These titles are all unsettling in different and awesome ways.

Second, I have read and LOVED two of the winners (reviews linked above). The Devil Takes You Home was my favorite Horror read of 2022 and Murano's anthology was the first book he released from his new and impressive small press. Those links go to my LJ draft STAR reviews and more notes. I have many effusive things to say about both. But here is something else you need to know, besides being talented, both men are awesome humans. 

Third, Paul Ashe is a name you NEED to know now. I have read a few of her stories and she is for real. Every story I have read has impressed me. Every. Single. One. Get this small press award winner into your collections now. It was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award as well. It was not a surprise to me to see this collection winning here. It will not be Ashe's first award. 

Fourth, this is not the first time the SJA has had a tie in a category, but it is important to note that Sophie White's winning novel is NOT currently available with an American publisher. Interestingly, this is also not the first time that has happened. Most recently, Catriona Ward's Little Eve (link to my review) won the 2018 SJA after being published in England only, but then Nightfire released it as part of her multi-book deal with them last Fall. I hope Where I End gets picked up for American release and that I get to review it as well.

Speaking of past winners, the SJA website has all past nominees and winners, easily accessible with one click here. This award is useful for adding to our collections, making suggestions, and building lists and displays because it is a readalike award, not a genre based award. It is an award for a type of book, it honors a feeling, and it refuses to box itself in. In other words, it is an award that reflects a reading experience itself, which makes it easy for us to suggest all of these nominated titles to our readers. Check out the site and fill out your collections today. And click here to read more from me about how to use the SJA with readers.

And hat's a wrap on the 2022 SJA. On to 2023 when I will get to serve for the entire award year. I am VERY excited to get to be a part of the process from start to finish by nominating titles for the jury to read. I already have a list to pass on to them as soon as they are ready.

Monday, July 17, 2023

LibraryReads: August 2023

[Editors Note: Who said October is the Spooky Season? August 2023 is shaping up to be filled with scares.  There are 3 titles on the main LR list this month (out of only 10) and 1 in the HoF. Details with links to my reviews below]

  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.

New in February 2023-- a bonus pick with an annotation by a LibraryReads Board member. See this month's pick at the end of this post. It also appears on the PDF list for printing and displaying at your library.

Now let's get to the August 2023 list.... 

Happiness Falls: A Novel

Kim, Angie


During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, 20-year-old Mia is adjusting to lockdown and living back at home. When her father goes missing during a walk in a nearby park, only her younger brother, Eugene—who has special needs and does not speak—knows what happened. Readers will enjoy this delightful and thought-provoking look at family secrets.

Portia Kapraun, Delphi Public Library, IN
NoveList read-alike: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

And now, the rest of the list:

Family Lore
Elizabeth Acevedo

Woven with magical realism, this novel uncovers the buried secrets of Flor and her sisters as this Dominican-American family tries to find out why Flor is throwing herself a living wake. Poet Acevedo successfully translates her skill into fiction. Readers of her previous work will recognize her heart and style, displayed here in alternating narratives. A beautifully told story with all the complexities that make up families.

—Becky Phillips, Brown County Library, WI
NoveList read-alike: Enchanted Hacienda by Jennifer Cervantes

Vampires of El Norte
Isabel Cañas

Nena, a ranch owner’s daughter, and Nestor, a peasant, know their love is impossible, but they still dream of marrying one day. That is until one night a terrifying beast attacks Nena. Believing her dead, Nestor flees in panic. Ten years later Nestor is back to help defend against Texas invaders and the supernatural creatures attacking their village. Set in 19th-century Mexico, this vibrant novel combines historical fiction, horror, and romance to tell a thrilling story.

—Migdalia Jimenez Chicago Public Library, IL
NoveList read-alike: The Hunger by Alma Katsu

The Blonde Identity
Ally Carter

It’s the middle of the night in Paris and a woman wakes up with no memory. She only knows three things for certain: she has a splitting headache, the hottest guy she’s ever seen is standing over her telling her to run, and—oh yeah—people keep trying to kill her. The banter throughout and wrap-up at the end are perfect. Readers will hope for a sequel or even a trilogy featuring this cast of characters.

—Le'Trail Hall-Nance, Denver Public Library, CO
NoveList read-alike: Spare Me the Truth by CJ Carver

Kiss the Girl: A Meant to Be Novel
Zoraida Córdova
(Hyperion Avenue)

This modern retelling of The Little Mermaid has pop sensation Ariel figuring out the next step in her life, away from her controlling father. Eric and his band are trying to get their big break. When Eric meets Ariel, he doesn’t recognize her and offers her a job on his tour. Ariel accepts, seizing the chance to live in the real world. A story of life, love, and family—and making the choices that make you happy.

—Christine Markley, Kingsport Public Library, TN
NoveList read-alike: All the Right Notes by Dominic Lim

Whalefall: A Novel
Daniel Kraus
(MTV Books)

Jay, feeling guilty about his father's suicide, attempts a dive to find his father's remains. Swallowed by a hungry sperm whale, he has one hour to find a way out before running out of oxygen. A scientifically accurate, terrifying story for fans of Jaws, deep sea terror, survivors, complicated families, and explorations of death and grief.

—Lila Denning, St. Petersburg Library System, FL
NoveList read-alike: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store: A Novel
James McBride

In a small town where Jewish and Black Americans have prospered, four adults decide to help hide a young boy, which brings trouble to their doorstep. McBride has a gift for warm and witty dialogue spiced with scenes that both disgust and delight in their humanity. For readers of the character-rich stories of Amor Towles, Ann Patchett, and Jamie Ford.

—Kimberly McGee Lake Travis Community Library, TX
NoveList read-alike: Before All the World by Moriel Rothman-Zecher

The Witch is Back
Sophie H. Morgan

Emmaline has loved Bastian her whole life. When he disappeared shortly before they were meant to be married, he broke her heart. Now he's back and begging her to reinstate their engagement, for all the wrong reasons. Secrets, spells, heartbreak, and hope all come together beautifully in this charming tale! For readers who love Erin Sterling and April Asher

—Sharon Layburn, South Huntington Public, NY
NoveList read-alike: The Ex-Hex by Erin Sterling

Codename Charming: A Novel
Lucy Parker

Pet is a human rainbow—colorful, sparkly, and vibrant, while Matthias is the personification of still waters running deep. Opposites attract in this contemporary workplace romance featuring a royal personal assistant and a bodyguard. Quirky, giggle- inducing humor is balanced by sweet moments. This was so satisfying and such a joy to read!

—Laura Eckert, Clermont County Public Library, OH
NoveList read-alike: The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle

Mister Magic: A Novel
Kiersten White
(Del Rey)

When castmates from a children’s program are brought back together to record a podcast about the show, the group feel like they are back where they belong. But soon they begin to wonder, are they here by choice, or have they been lured into a trap much more sinister than could ever be imagined? A terrifyingly creepy and realistic tale.

—Ninoshka Aviles, Osceola Library, FL
NoveList read-alike: Burn the Negative by Joshua Winning

Board Bonus pick: 
The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp
Swann, Leonie
Soho Crime

Notable Nonfiction: 
The Girls who Fought Crime:The Untold True Story of the Country's First Female Investigator and Her Crime Fighting Squad
Eder, Mari

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 the Hall of Fame. Click here to see the Hall of Fame authors organized in alpha order.

The Invisible Hour
Alice Hoffman
NoveList read-alike: Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Dark Corners
Megan Goldin
(St. Martin's Press) NoveList read-alike:
Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little

None of This is True: A Novel
Lisa Jewell
NoveList read-alike: Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

T. Kingfisher
(Tor Books)
NoveList read-alike:
A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

Knock Out: A Hell's Belles Novel Sarah MacLean
NoveList read-alike:
The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley

Tom Lake: A Novel
Ann Patchett (Harper)
NoveList read-alike: Flight by Lynn Steger Strong

Cruel Seduction
Katee Robert (Sourcebooks)
NoveList read-alike:
Lore Olympus series by Rachel Smythe

Looking Glass Sound Catriona Ward (Tor Nightfire)
NoveList read-alike:
The Pallbearer's Club by Paul Tremblay

The Breakaway
Jennifer Weiner
NoveList read-alike: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center