CLICK HERE for quick access to the materials for the 2016-17 Speculative Fiction Genre Study.
The website now features UNRESTRICTED access, including notes from our meetings; however, in order to attend the meetings in person, you must be a member of ARRT. Click here for information about how you can join.


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.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Searching by Themes in NoveList

Today I have an announcement from NoveList, one I have been waiting to share with you for a while.

For years here on the blog I have talked about getting to the “why” people like a book through appeal terms. It is not plot that determines whether or not someone loves a book. Nope, not even a little. Don’t believe me? Here’s an exercise I do with people in my training sessions:
Think about a book you love. An all time favorite or a recent good read. Now think about the plot, what happens in the story....
 Okay, now think about a bunch of books you have enjoyed over the years. Just let them come to mind. Now, stop. Raise your hand if every single book you thought of has the same plot as that first book?
I haven’t seen a hand go up yet....ever.

It is the things other than plot which dictate whether or not you like it. It is the overall feel of the book, its appeal. Those appeal factors are in the categories of pacing, character, storyline style, tone, mood, frame etc... Those  adjectives I talk about with my “three words” in my reviews. Those appeal terms are also something you can search by in NoveList

But there are things that do show up in many of the stories that a single person may enjoy. These are things that, while not exactly plot, do tie in with the plot. Things like “suburban malaise” or “friends to lovers.” Themes that frame a story and are specifically tied with the plot without completely defining “what happens.”

People have asked me for years in my training sessions how they can search for these. All I would offer was keyword searching to capture those themes as mentioned in reviews, knowing that this was imperfect because individual reviewers would use different phrasing; it would not be a standard language. However, for a while now, I have known that NoveList has been working on adding these themes to their databases, standardizing the language, and tagging everything to make it all searchable. Late last week, it was finally unveiled.

I have also added “themes” as a tag here on the blog and will write about themes and how to use them to match readers with books more often, especially now that I know there is a resource for it.

Even if you do not subscribe to NoveList, I think the concepts they present in the announcement below can be used to help you help patrons. Just thinking about theme as an entry point into a “good read” for a patron is another conversation starter for your RA interactions.

Here is that announcement with links to contact them for more information and it is reposted [with permission] below.


Product update: Themes

Magnified Appeal and Themes
Appeal terms are a signature feature of NoveList, and since their introduction in 2010 have been helping librarians and readers around the world find books based on style and mood. 

We like to think of appeal terms as the secret language of books, all the ways a book speaks to a reader and lingers long after it’s been returned to the library. Of course, great book recommendations aren’t about appeal alone. They’re about how all the elements of a story fit together and create something special. Appeal, genre, and -- the newest addition to NoveList -- theme.

Themes are popular and recurring plot elements found in fiction -- think ‘chosen ones’ in fantasy or fake relationships in romance. You’ll see them in NoveList with the genre and appeal terms of a book.
NoveList librarians have been hard at work researching and developing themes, and we can’t wait to see what books themes guide you to discover. 
We want your readers to be excited, too, so we also created a series of bookmarks in LibraryAware with popular titles, their story elements, and reading recommendations for those story elements.
As you’re browsing NoveList and discovering themes for your favorite books, we want to know what you think! Contact us with your feedback -- and if you come across a theme you find particularly exciting (“secret baby” is a favorite around here) share it with us on Twitter or Facebook

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Happy Birthday Arthur Conan Doyle

Today is Sherlock Holmes Day, and it’s being celebrated all over the world! That’s because it is Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday.

From the Sherlock Holmes Wikipedia page [which is an awesome resource/rabbit hole for info on its own]:
Though not the first fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes is arguably the best known, with Guinness World Records listing him as the "most portrayed movie character" in history.[1] Holmes's popularity and fame are such that many have believed him to be not a fictional character but a real individual;[2][3][4] numerous literary and fan societies have been founded that pretend to operate on this principle. Widely considered a British cultural icon, the character and stories have had a profound and lasting effect on mystery writing and popular culture as a whole, with the original tales as well as thousands written by authors other than Conan Doyle being adapted into stage and radio plays, television, films, video games, and other media for over one hundred years.
But, Sherlock Holmes is more than just popular, people all over the world, from all backgrounds have not only been drawn to him, but they have made him their own. And for many, Holmes is more than a fictional character, he is a real person.

A few years ago I had a chance to go to 221b Baker Street and visit the “world’s most famous address.” Holmes’ “home" is a museum now, and on the top floor they keep a binder with letters that real people have written to Holmes. The museum constantly rotates the letters so that the most recent are there for you to look at [they keep them all in storage and they have hundreds of thousands which have been sent to the address since the 1800s]. Seeing those letters, people asking for help with a mystery, telling Holmes what he means to them, and just expressing thanks was not only moving, but educational. 

Seeing how much this fictional character meant to so many people really drove home the theories I teach. Doyle’s Holmes was so vividly drawn that he is literally a friend to people, people who could never meet him. That is intense appeal personified. I was blown away by how a character, made up by a man, brought to life on the page, over a century ago could be so real. Even I could feel him when I was there. When people have strong feelings about any book [good or bad] I remind myself of that visit to 221b Baker Street and remember how fake things can become real. I will never forget that day and I am simply someone who likes Holmes, not an uber fan in any way [now my 15 year old daughter, she is in the uber fan category].

You can celebrate Sherlock Holmes anytime of year in the library-- he is that popular and you have that many items to make a display in each department - but today you can take advantage of the intense coverage like that over at Book Riot which has links, lists, and more from just about every conceivable angle. It will help you celebrate a little better.

I also highly suggest Leslie Klinger’s award winning work writing about Holmes and annotating his stories. 

Happy Sherlock Holmes Day!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Call to Action-- How to Identify Diverse Books Before They Are Published [via Kelly Jensen and Book Riot]

As readers of this blog know, I have been on all of you for a while now about not only diversifying your own reading, but promoting more diverse reads.

You can click here to see many of my rants about this topic. [I especially think you need to read this one] But, I have also been particularly on all of us about how we need to do better when it comes to Library Reads.

Here’s the hard truth about this “too many white books” issue-- librarians are over 80% white ladies. White ladies are the majority and if there is a problem here [which there is] then the only way to fix it is with those in that majority to take a stand. Marginalized people should not have to “fix” a problem the majority has created. In fact, I find it repulsive that we throw this issue back at marginalized librarians to handle it for us.

To be fair, I work behind the scenes with some of marginalized librarians to make sure I am addressing the issue appropriately [because good intentions are not always enough], but it is the white lady librarians who need to lead the charge and Kelly Jensen and I are ready and willing.

A few months ago, Kelly and I went out to lunch to work out a plan to combat this problem AND give you all the information you need to be successful executing the plan. We have both put our positions out in public; we have both made it clear that we are mad and fed up, and we have both implored you all to do better.  Well, today we have your marching orders.

Kelly offered to take the lead and begin this next step with a how-to post on identifying diverse books  on Book Riot because we are sick of all you all complaining that you can’t find diverse books.

We are specifically targeting the Library Reads nomination process to effect real change.  As I have said here and Kelly also says in her post, stop using the LR list to promote the big name titles people would be ordering no matter what.

While Kelly has taken on the topic of identifying new diverse titles, I have started a tangential discussion to help solve the problem on older books, books which are perfectly good to book talk except that you all tell me you can’t because you haven’t read them. My solution, “Use the Words of Others to Booktalk.”  Seriously, you can read a review off of Goodreads or Novelist of a “diverse” title and that’s a booktalk.

So Kelly gives you the new book info and I have the backlist. This means you can start today with older titles while you look forward to promoting new ones.

But we are not stopping here. Next, look for more conversations about this issue coming from me and Kelly. We are gathering your comments [and both of us have received many, some kind, and some less so] and we will have a series of conversations shared in print and in person where we can address frank and honest concerns and issues. But I promise you this, we will not make excuses for any of you, nor will we let you get away with making excuses for yourself.

So read Kelly’s post. The intro paragraphs and a link to the full piece are below. She even gives you access to the database she has created of the diverse titles due out in the coming months. That’s right, you can no longer use the I am too busy argument. Kelly did your work for you.

Read on, think about the books you are promoting and make sure they reflect all experiences, and remember, we, the majority of librarians, [even the well meaning ones, even me], we are the problem. Let’s start working on being the solution.





If your job is to serve your community—and frankly, the excuse that your community is “all white” is a lie you keep telling yourself, perhaps in part because you’re simply welcoming one demographic over every other one—then you need to be reading diversely. One extremely simple way to do this is to read diverse books with an eye toward elevating them to a LibraryReads nomination. The LibraryReads lists, as you should be aware, are then distributed to librarians throughout the USA, helping them to better select and highlight great books for their patrons.
But if the lists continue to be all or primarily white—and even more frustrating, highlight the books that any good librarian is going to buy anyway since they’re by heavy-hitting authors—then the list serves no purpose for you as a reader, for you as a reader’s advisor, or for anyone else who picks it up. It’s merely a popularity contest.
“I don’t have time to read diverse books” is a statement borne of privilege and laziness, plain and simple. You do. Perhaps it means you prioritize reading one title by an author of color per month over something else you can pick up down the road. Perhaps it means you challenge yourself to do something more radical, like read a book by an author of color every three books you read. These are extremely simple changes that will pull you from your comfort zone, make you a better reader, and make you better aware of the reality of the community your serving and in turn, better serve that community. 

Click here to continue reading...

Friday, May 18, 2018

Get in the Mood for Romance with The Corner Shelf

Many of you and your patrons will be getting up at the crack of dawn to participate in the Royal Wedding [I will be sleeping]. Romance is in the air and Susan Maguire has you covered with many useful and fun links in the latest issue of The Corner Shelf from Booklist.

There is an interview with Rebekah Weatherspoon about her romance website-- I love this resource because it is one of the only romance resources that breaks out the different tropes the way readers look for them, plus everything is diverse!

This issue also includes the video from an excellent live event about helping patrons find romance titles and a historical romance list without a single Duke.

Finally,  Susan mentions the ALA Annual Read N Rave panel which I can now announce that I will be a part of for the second year in a row! If you are in NOLA come see me on 6/25 at 10:30 am raving about what I have read.

Below is the intro from the newsletter with all the deals and links. Click here to see the entire newsletter.
In this issue, we've got an interview with Rebekah Weatherspoon, romance writer and founder of, which will become your next collection-development and readers'-advisory obsession. Then I made a list of the top 10 historical romances that aren't about, like, dukes and stuff. Not that there's anything wrong with dukes! (Happy wedding, Harry and Meghan! Call me!) And, yes, I also share the video of our live RA Conversation about romance and diversity, called "Everybody Say Love: Helping All Patrons Find HEA." 
And that's it! What are you guys reading? What are your patrons reading? Do you do summer-reading programs for adults or just for kids? Drop me a line at, and let me know! 
And if you're going to ALA, come to our Read 'n' Rave on Monday at 10:30. We'll be readin' and ravin'. 
Yours fondly,Susan Maguire, Senior Editor, Collection Development and Library Outreach, Booklist 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What I’m Reading: Three Completely Different [but all very good] Science Fiction Books

As I mentioned here yesterday, I have five reviews in the current issue of Booklist. Today I am posting the 3 Science Fiction ones. Beginning with the one that straddles horror and SF and then moving to the darker SF and then finally the lightest one.

As I looked at this progression, laid out in a single post, I was struck by how they present a snapshot of the wide range of writing styles and tones in SF. I personally liked all three very much but I also recognize that in most cases each has a different audience. But all 100% belong in the public library.

Note: like all my Booklist reviews, the ones published here are the unedited drafts [so they are longer] and I add bonus information.

Black Helicopters.

Kiernan, Caitlín R. (author).
May 2018. 208p. Tor, paperback, $14.99 (9781250191137); e-book, $3.99 (9781250191120)First published May 15, 2018 (Booklist).

Kiernan follows up the success of Agents of Dreamland [2017] and its mysterious hero “the Signalman” by by revisiting and expanding the World Fantasy Award Nominated novella where this secret agent first appeared, albeit only briefly. In this nonlinear, science fiction horror hybrid, populated by strong and brilliant women, Ptolema, an immortal assassin working for a secretive agency is sent to Ireland to find and destroy “The Twins,” while across the ocean a Lovecraftian creature is emerging from the ocean off the coast of Maine, threatening to destroy humanity, and, centuries into the future, the consequences of these two storylines are still playing out. But this novella is less about the intricate plot, although the action itself is intense and compelling, instead this book paints a cautionary, haunting, and menacing picture of a world that is falling apart at its edges, in places the average person cannot see, yet it is clear that this very real danger will eventually reach us all. Kiernan lures readers in with her lyrical language, juxtaposing gorgeous prose with scenes that are horrific, both literally and psychologically. The effect is stunning and uncomfortably satisfying. This is not a book for readers who want to know where the author is taking them, but rather those who are looking for a read that will immerse them in a rich, atmospheric and slightly terrifying world. Suggest to fans of the new spate of weird fiction such as critically acclaimed and popular works by Jeff VanderMeer, Victor LaValle and Carmen Maria Machado.

Further Appeal: This is a rewritten, prequel novella to Agents of Dreamland, and Agents” has been nominated for every speculative fiction novella award over the past year, so there will be interest in Black Helicopters.

This novella is weird, but in a good way. And it wasn’t just the storyline that was askew, but also the way the story is told. Each chapter begins with the date and where you are, but it really jumps around.  It was a bit confusing at first, but once I got in the rhythm and knew the characters [it moves pretty quickly], I was in the groove. This is a story that would not be as interesting if it were told in order, however. The fluidity of the timeline added to the anxiety and dread.

There are also a few frames that add interest: chess and paleontology. You don’t need to like or know about either but if you do, it’s a good draw here.

Kiernan is a genius; that is an accepted fact in the speculative fiction world. Her work with these novellas is simply putting that virtuosity on display for a new generation of readers.

On a side note, I got to sit with her and her wife at dinner for the Stoker Awards banquet. Kiernan was a guest of honor and had just given her papers to the Hay at Brown University [where Lovecraft’s paper are]. She is a guarded and quiet person but so very kind and brilliant. I had completely forgotten I had this novella on tap to review until I got home and saw it waiting for me.

Three Words That Describe This Book: fluid timeline, strong women, menacing

Readalikes: The three I give in the review above are linked to times I have written about those authors here on the blog. Those links lead to even more readalike options.

Also, those who are nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award most embody the way Kiernan writes.

It Takes Death to Reach a Star.
Jones, Stu (author) and Gareth Worthington (author).
May 2018. 306p. Vesuvian, paperback, $17.99  (9781944109523); e-book, $7.99 (9781944109530)
REVIEW. First published May 15, 2018 (Booklist).

It is the year 2251 and humans have barely survived the New Black Death [NBD] that swept the globe after WWIII. Civilization is now only in Etyom, a dark, freezing city in what was Siberia. There are two races of people living two very different lives. In the dark, frigid, walled cities on the ground live the Robusts, descendants of the poor who were immune to the NBD and live hand to mouth, surviving however they can, while up in the skies, on a series of “lily pads” lives the Graciles, genetically engineered descendants of the super rich, living in comfort. Readers enter this complex world effortlessly as they fall into step with Mila, a plucky, strong, and resourceful Robust and Demitri, a brilliant, scientist Gracile with heart who is hiding a dark secret. Their strong and engaging first person narrations alternate, telling the story from their diametrically opposed yet neighboring worlds, while the action and twisting plot, blending political intrigue and caper, keeps the story moving at a fun and brisk pace from the very first page. But there is also much to ponder here in this well researched tale; serious issues like the place where science and faith collide, human interference in evolution, and race and class biases. Cinematic, thought provoking, and immersive, this is a great option for fans of darker, grittier, and more science focused dystopias in the style of the Blade Runner movies or the novels of Philip K. Dick.

Further Appeal: This was a unique dystopia in that it had a very strong spiritual frame without being overtly religious and without making a judgment pro or con about that spirituality. It was refreshing in this time when things that bring up religion and spirituality usually have an agenda. I did not feel this book did.

The world building was also excellent without sacrificing the plot or the character development.

And the cast was very diverse in the Robust's world and not so much with the Gracile's [this is because they are genetically engineered to be so similar]. Like the very best SF of any era, this novel uses science to bring us to a world not possible yet, but uses that setting to make us ponder our current situations, issues, and problems. 

Three Words That Describe This Book: cinematic, thought provoking, immersive

Readalikes: Any darker, hard science dystopias like those I mention in the review would work well. I also thought of Seveneves by Stephenson while reading this novel.

Gate Crashers.

Tomlinson, Patrick S. (author).
June 2018. 416p. Tor, paperback, $15.99 (9780765398642); e-book (9780765398659)
First published May 15, 2018 (Booklist).

The year is 2345 and the American-European Union Starship Magellan, travelling at half light speed, its crew on a 60+ year mission, comes upon proof of the existence of sentient aliens in the form of a space “buoy”. Captain Allison Ridgeway and her crew work with a secret government team back on earth to figure out the technology of this alien craft and learn more about who made it. Of course, the secret isn’t kept back on earth or for that matter, in space, for long as politicians, bureaucrats, the military, and even some alien beings start to get involved. What follows is a political space opera, where humor and hard science play off each other with a colloquial ease as the reader gets to know a motley group of characters whose actions are the main engine driving this story. With a constantly shifting narration, that not only provides a 360 degree view of the issues, situation, and perspectives but also drives the compelling pace and the strong world building, holding us in place as the characters move through the universe, develop new technologies, explore new planets, and encounter new species, all the while forcing all, human, alien, and the reader, to think about our place in the universe, what we would actually do if we made contact with aliens, and how those aliens might in turn deal with us? It may sound like old tropes, but there are many new ideas here, ones to draw in genre fans both casual and serious. This is thought provoking, character-centered, science fiction with a sense of humor in the vein of Scalzi’s Collapsing Empire or Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series.

Further Appeal: I cannot stress how much fun this book was to read, but the humor was NEVER at the expense of the seriousness of the story. It did both very well. It is thought provoking and fun in equal measures which is rare.

The science was also good. It was plausible and interesting. Plus, the discussion of technology and how different beings figured out different things and when and how they use it-- all of those space set SF science details that make the story better were top notch.

I loved the characters. From the scientists back on earth to the aliens we meet to the earthlings on the ship, they were all great. The interplay between everyone was enjoyable too. And the entire conceit of the story-- how and why the aliens have left us alone-- was fantastic. It made so much sense.

I can’t stress enough how much this can be enjoyed by hard core space opera fans and newbies alike.

Three Words That Describe This Book: fun, thought provoking, character driven

Readalikes: I gave two choices above. Scalzi in particular is the king of this type of story and any readalikes for him would also work.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What I’m Reading: Cabin At the End of the World and Clickers Forever

I have 5 reviews in May 15, 2018 issue of Booklist but I am breaking them up because 2 are horror and 3 are SF.

Before I get to the reviews of the horror ones today I wanted to share that both of these horror books made me cry, and not out of fear, out of true emotional feelings. That is the sign of an amazing horror book. I am sharing this because you can use that extra info to help booktalk the titles. 

As always, here on the blog, I post the draft reviews [which are longer than the published ones] with extra appeal info, readalikes, and my “three words.” 

 The Cabin at the End of the World.

Tremblay, Paul (author).

June 2018. 288p. Morrow, hardcover, $26.99  (9780062679109); e-book (9780062679123)
First published May 15, 2018 (Booklist).

Tremblay is back with another thought provoking, page turning, horror novel that stabs readers directly in the gut, twists the knife, yet leaves them begging not to be let go. Wen is almost eight years old. She is on vacation, with her Dads, Andrew and Eric, at the end of a dirt road, on a lake in New Hampshire, with no one for miles. While catching grasshoppers on the front lawn, Leonard, a large man in a white button down shirt, approaches Wen, asking her for help to convince her Dads to let him and his friends into their home, for you see, they have come here, to this secluded place, with their menacing and crude weapons, to stop the world from ending, and Wen and her Dads are the key to humanity’s survival. What follows is an extremely intense, anxiety inducing thriller that puts the family in mortal danger while forcing them, and the reader, to tackle a universal dilemma-- how does the sacrifice of one balance against that of 7 billion others? Told from various points of view, including all members of the family, all are unreliable in the sense that each only understands part of the situation, but then again, the reader too is caught up in the emotional struggle not knowing what to believe or who to trust. Is the world really going to end? Does it even matter if you don’t have the ones you love most with you. The inclusion of flashbacks into the lives of Wen, Andrew, and Eric and the family they have built together despite the odds deftly builds their characters and amplifies the dread and terror which permeates every sentence. This is a novel with the heart and tone of The Road by McCarthy, but will also appeal to fans of Ruth Ware, Josh Malerman and Joe Hill.

Further Appeal: First, in case you missed it, this title made the PW Best Book of Summer 2018 list.

Right after I turned in this review, I got to meet Tremblay in person and he told me that this novel is what happened when he challenged himself to write a home invasion story that he would want to read. Well apparently, a lot of other people want to read it too.

Readers here on the blog know I read a lot of dark books, but this one literally kept me up and gave me anxiety nightmares. By the way, for a horror fan, that is a good thing.

Personally, I really enjoyed the flashbacks into Wen, Andy and Erics lives both before they met each other and after. They are the center of this story. And, this is a little mean spirited, but I love that there will be readers who get pissed at Tremblay for holding up Wen and her Dads as being the quintessential family that can save the world. They may not be “normative," but the thing is, they are quintessential. They have so much love and respect for each other. They are not perfect, but it is nice to read about a caring, loving family for a change. However, it is still a horror novel, so you have to be willing to read about a loving family going through intense trauma too.

Which is a good point, I should remind you that this is Horror not a typical suspense story. It is horror both for the speculative elements and because of how the story plays out. Be careful. You will have your heart shattered but, in the process, you be given a lot to think about. This is an original and just outright amazing cautionary tale for our times.

Three Words That Describe This Book: family-centered, thought provoking, menacing

Readalikes: As I say above, The Road is the single book that this is most like. But, I did think of specific titles by the other authors I mentioned in the review as I was reading Cabin at the End of the WorldSpecifically if you could combine, The Woman in Cabin 10, Bird Box and The Fireman into one tight package, that best describes what Tremblay has given us here.

I also think The Changeling by Victor LaValle could work for some. The Changeling is much more fantastical and epic in scope than Cabin at the End of the World but they both have an emotionally driven parent-child story at their center.

Clickers Forever: A Tribute to J. F. Gonzalez.
Keene, Brian (editor).
 Feb. 2018. 440p. Deadite Press, hardcover, $15.95  (9781621052746)
First published May 15, 2018 (Booklist).
In this tribute to Mexican-American trailblazing author Gonzales, who died of cancer in 2014, horror master Keene, used Gonzales’ first novel, the cult-hit, crabs gone wild, Clickers, as a framework, asking his fellow writers to contribute to a collection that would honor the author. The result is a moving, compelling, and just plain fun to read volume which seamlessly melds critical essays on, such as one by Jonathan Maberry on the history of the “munch-out” subgenre, personal recollections by the Gonzales’ closest friends on the author and his work, including more than one piece about his influence as a writer of color, and even a few unpublished works by the subject himself. But those are the book’s exoskeleton, the meat lies in the 20 brand new tales of terror, set in Gonzales’ worlds, spun by those from the current generation of horror, authors like Jonathan Janz, Matt Hayward, Adam Cesare, Amber Fallon, and Stephen Kozeniewski, stories that show admiration, yes, but also showcase these up and comers own talents. Just the authors listed in the table of contents alone will have readers dying to get their claws on this volume, but combined with the recent revival in popularity of pulp horror as chronicled in Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks From Hell, this a collection that libraries need to shelve. However, the best thing about CLICKERS FOREVER is that not only will readers come away from this collection with a desire to read more by Gonzales [and all the featured authors], but also, they will feel an affection for the man himself, a man whose works they might not have ever read, a man they almost certainly have never met, but a man whose loss they will nonetheless feel because they came into contact with this book.

Further Appeal: First, wowza! That cover. Perfect for displays.

So many authors contributed to this, but despite the fact that there is fiction and nonfiction mixed together, Keene created a unified volume that has an affection for Gonzales uniting the volume. It is a book that entertains, educates, and gives you all the feels along the way.

You want more inclusive titles at your library, right? Gonzales was one of the most influential horror authors of his generation period. But specifically, there are pieces here by authors of color who share what Gonzales as a peer and an influence meant to them.

Pulp horror is also extremely popular right now; the result of a combination of the success of Paperbacks from Hell  and Generation X nostalgia. Clickers Forever fits into this trend perfectly.

Finally, Keene is the executor of Gonzales’ literary estate and all of the proceeds of this book go to the late author's widow and daughter. Keene has also been working to get Gonzales’ backlist titles back in print. Click here to see those. Grab a few for your library’s collection. Your patrons will hank you.

Three Words That Describe This Book: episodic, heart-warming, pulp

Readalikes: Just look at the table of contents or go to the killer animals chapter in Paperbacks from Hell. That will keep you and your patrons busy for a good long while.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

New ARRT Romance Genre Study Notes

Yesterday I spent 3 hours talking about how you can help genre fiction readers find their next good read. I spent most of the time trying to remove the fear and trepidation we all face, especially with readers of genres with which we are less familiar. The knowledge I give you really is power because  it gives you the tools to help all readers.

One of my major suggestions was to create a genre work out plan with being a part of a group genre study as one of the options. For example, the ARRT Genre Study.

Speaking of... at ARRT we have just posted the notes from the last meeting and have the next assignment up.  You can be lazy and click the links I provided below OR you can visit our romance genre study webpage which has every meeting assignment and notes [as we get to them] OR  the page which houses the notes and assignments from past genre studies.
Love Stories vs. RomanceApril 5, 2018, 2-4 PM
Glenview Public Library
Contemporary RomanceJune 7, 2018, 2-4 PM
Lisle District Library
We highly encourage all of you out there to use our genre studies as a guide. Feel free to borrow our assignments, even use our notes and slides shows to guide your meetings. Or look ours over and go in a different direction, one that fits your group better. Whatever you decide, we want to be there to help you make the process easier, remove the hurdles of organization and information, so that you get started learning together.

All we ask is that you cite us as your source material if you use anything. That’s it.

Start getting back into genre shape with a few clicks today.

Monday, May 14, 2018

RA for All Roadshow Visits Western PA For Genre Training and I Made Lots of Updates for All

Today I am spending the day in Clarion, PA, about 2 hours northeast of Pittsburgh. I was invited by Oil City Library to provide a regional training for RA providers. These are all people who work in public service, so we will be doing some second level work. The goal of these regional trainings is to “train the trainers;” get the staff comfortable enough to bring back learning, activities, and information to their entire staff.

This visit is also coinciding with an overhaul of all of my programs. In the last few months I have given a serious update to every program I give, including a few changes to my  10 Basic Rules- replacing one of my 5 resources you cannot live without.

I have also revamped the handout of my favorite free genre resources. It is linked in both presentations, linked here, and has been permanently added to the 10 Rules page [at the bottom] for easy access at any time.

Below, is the schedule for today, with links to the three program handouts and slides. Please note, the 2 genre program are EXTREMELY notes heavy so that you can use them even if you do not attend these presentations in person. They are not as detailed as the talks I will give, but there are very good notes and lots of inclusive reading suggestions for every genre.

RA for All Signature Program: follows Becky’s 10 Rules of Basic RA Service [newly updated]

Demystifying Genre: Slide access here
Nothing is scarier than trying to help a fan of a genre you yourself don’t enjoy. You want to help that, for example, Romance reader find the perfect book, but you are having trouble knowing where to begin because...eek!... you don’t read Romance. You are afraid they will find out you are a fraud. How can YOU possibly help THEM?!? Never fear, in this program, Readers’ Advisory expert, Becky Spratford, will teach you the basic appeals of the major genres, give you the inside track on what a fan of that genre is most drawn to, and provide you with talking points to get your genres readers to tell you what they want. You will leave this webinar with the confidence and skill to help fans of every genre, regardless of whether or not you have ever read a book in that genre yourself. And that will leave a trail of happy patrons in your wake.
Staying in Genre Shape: Slide access here
Once you know what makes a mystery a mystery or a fantasy a fantasy and why a patron may prefer on of those genres to another, it is time to move on to the next step...keeping that genre knowledge up to date. Yes, Harry Potter will always be classified a fantasy and Agatha Christie a mystery, but within those larger categories there are smaller subgenres and trends that evolve over time. Join noted Readers’ Advisory Specialist and long time Genre Study coordinator, Becky Spratford as she gives you a work out plan for staying in genre shape. She will show you not only how vital it is to stay on top of the changes within genre fiction, but also how easy and, more importantly, fun it is to stay in genre shape. Together we will rethink the entire concept of genre and how we use it to help readers find their next good read.  

Friday, May 11, 2018

Library Reads: June 2018

I love the concept of Library Reads. I absolutely love it. Library workers get to read books before they come out and vote for their favorites. Among other things, the lists created shows the publishers that even though people get the books for “free” at the library, our opinion drives overall sales.

For a few months I have been pleading with you to use this list to promote books by marginalized voices. This month we have 2 clearly inclusive titles, and an international one. It’s better than it has been; it’s a start.

Besides the fact that all worthy books are not written by or feature white people, supporting more inclusive titles is where we can make a difference. Why aren’t we all going out of way to look for titles that don’t get recognition? Then we can show the publishers that we want these titles by promoting them ourselves. If we get our patrons excited about less mainstream [white-hetero] titles before they come out, the publishers have to pay attention.

We can do so much more to make changes in publishing and help our patrons find titles they would never know about without us by NOT promoting the big name titles.

We have more power than you think. Your choices matter. I often say this when I visit libraries in person, but it bears repeating here today-- By voting for a title for Library Reads you are not proclaiming to the world that it is THE BEST book you ever read. You might even personally enjoy a mainstream title coming out in the same month more, but that doesn’t matter. You are not voting for your personal favorite book. Use your vote to boost a title that is wonderful but may not have as a good a chance to stand out from the crowd without your help. That is the point of this venture. No one will hold you to this being your all time favorite book. [People actually worry about this; they have told me.]

Please also reconsider how you vote. Many of you have told me that you vote for the “Big” name titles and the smaller ones. THIS DOES NOT HELP. You are simply adding to the big vote getters total and diluting your vote for the diverse title. If every single one of my readers laid off of voting for the more mainstream titles and instead voted for a more diverse title, many of those mainstream titles would still get in, but maybe a few more marginalized voices would too. Can we try it?

And finally, stop blaming “Library Reads." This is on you. Every. Single. One. Of. You. Library Reads is simply the organization that facilitates everything. We are the ones who make the list. As I mentioned in this post last month, you need to own up to the fact that institutional racism exists and touches every one of us, even me.

Okay, so that’s my rant. And here’s the thing, people involved with Library Reads behind the scenes agree with me, but they are helpless because YOU HAVE ALL THE POWER. Please choose to use your power to make a difference.

Finally, later this month I will begin a series with Kelly Jensen of Book Riot where she will give you sep by step directions on how to identify better titles to read and therefore nominate. We have been working on this with the blessing of Library Reads Executive Director, Rebecca Vnuk.

Below is my standard Library Reads statement on how you can use it as a resource and how to participate, followed by the June 2018 list.

Today is  Library Reads day Library Reads Day means three things here on RA for All:
  1. I post the list and tag it “Library Reads” so that you can easily pull up every single list with one click.
  2. I can remind you that even though the newest list is always fun to see, it is the older lists where you can find AWESOME, sure bet suggestions for patrons that will be on your shelf to actually hand to them right now. The best thing about Library Reads is the compound interest it is earning. We now have hundreds and hundreds of titles worth suggesting right at our fingertips.
  3. You have no excuse not to hand sell any Library Reads titles because there is a book talk right there in the list in the form of the annotation one of your colleagues wrote for you. All you have to say to your patron is, “such and such library worker in blank state thought this was a great read,” and then you read what he or she said.
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.

June 2018 LibraryReads

Bring Me Back: A Novel

by B.A. Paris

Published: 6/19/2018
by St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250151339
“Intensifying psychological suspense. Twelve years after Finn’s girlfriend Layla disappeared, a discovery raises new questions.”
Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

There There

by Tommy Orange

Published: 6/5/2018 by Knopf
ISBN: 9780525520375
“A large cast of interwoven characters depicts the experience of Native Americans living in urban settings. Perfect for readers of character-driven fiction with a strong sense of place.”
Abby Johnson, New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, New Albany, IN 

Us Against You: A Novel

by Fredrik Backman

Published: 6/5/2018 by Atria Books
ISBN: 9781501160790
“The citizens of Beartown are about to lose their beloved hockey team and their rivals could not be happier. The narrator has you wondering who is going to die and why events occur as they do.”
Gail Christensen, Kitsap Regional Library, Bremerton, WA

The Word is Murder: A Novel

by Anthony Horowitz

Published: 6/5/2018 by Harper
ISBN: 9780062676788
“A playful commentary on the mystery genre itself and the first in a promising new series. The author, Horowitz, plays the part of the narrator, and gets caught up in solving a murder with Daniel Hawthorne, an out-of-work detective.”
Amy Whitfield, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, NC

Jar of Hearts

by Jennifer Hillier

Published: 6/12/2018 by Minotaur Books
ISBN: 9781250154194
“A suspenseful thriller told from multiple perspectives. A Seattle detective must unravel a web of secrets dating back to his high school days.”
Gail Roberts, Fairfax County Public Library, Fairfax, VA 

Dreams of Falling

by Karen White

Published: 6/5/2018 by Berkley
ISBN: 9780451488411
“Set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, this story does what Southern fiction does best: family, lies, and secrets. For fans of Patti Callahan Henry and Mary Alice Monroe.”
Leanne Milliman, Charlevoix Public Library, Charlevoix, MI 

The Kiss Quotient

by Helen Hoang

Published: 6/5/2018 by Berkley/Jove
ISBN: 9780451490803
“A wonderfully sweet and erotic romance featuring an autistic heroine who hires a hot male escort to teach her how to enjoy sex, but learns so much more.”
Elizabeth Gabriel, Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, WI

All We Ever Wanted: A Novel

by Emily Giffin
Published: 6/26/2018 by Ballantine Books
ISBN: 9780399178924

“Great storyline that is relevant to issues both facing young people today and the people raising them. The story keeps you guessing.”
Sarah Trohoske, Erie County Public Library, Erie, PA

Little Big Love

by Katy Regan

Published: 6/12/2018 by Berkley
ISBN: 9780451490346
“A portrait of a family and a boy’s search for the father who left them, told from multiple perspectives with authentic, likeable characters.”
Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis County Library, Austin, TX 

How Hard Can It Be?: A Novel

by Allison Pearson

Published: 6/5/2018 by St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250086082
“Kate is holding it all together, unemployed husband, kids, and parents. So, she reinvents herself as someone younger to secure a job with the hedge fund.”
Toni Nako, The Public Library of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH