Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Books & Reader Advisory

Sure, I like books. I did not, however, become a librarian because I like to read. That's lame. In fact, I wouldn't even say "I like to read." Does that shock you?

Don't get me wrong - I like books and I like the stories in them. I just have a short attention span and reading puts me to sleep. It bores me after about five or ten pages. This is something I struggle with. It takes me usually 4-6 weeks to get through an average 300-page book because I pick at it a few pages a day.

How, then, do I manage to provide reader's advisory to my patrons? Here are some tips I use:

1. I read a lot of book reviews. I like to see what others have said about popular books and authors, so I browse through reviews on Library Thing, Amazon, Good Reads,, the New York Times, etc. When I'm talking to patrons I might use lines like "a lot of people are saying this book is a fast read" or "I've heard this book has a surprise ending" or "a lot of people who read so-and-so author have suggested this author."

2. Reading Group Guides are wonderful! They aren't reviews, exactly, but they do give a synopsis of the book and some information like characters, themes, settings, and discussion questions. You can really get a flavor for a book you haven't read by reading this kind of information. Many publisher web sites offer reading group guides, and the site is also wonderful. I become familiar with lots of books and authors just by reading the discussion guides.

3. Audio books have saved my life. Sometimes I'll just listen to one disc of a book to get the "flavor" of it. If I like it, I'll finish it. If I'm not crazy about it, at least I have an idea of what kind of story it is and can talk about it. I can listen to an audio book while doing other things (gardening, cooking, cleaning, driving), so the boredom by the act of reading itself is gone.

4. Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and other popular media are a great way to keep up to date. They review books and interview the authors. In a five minute segment of Regis & Kelly, I can learn enough about a popular new book to decide who I would recommend it to among my patrons.

5. And, of course, I keep up with bestseller lists, upcoming reviews in Publishers Weekly, and the pre-pub alerts in Library Journal. Awareness of what is out there is half the battle.

What am I reading right now?
Gone with the Windsors by Laurie Graham (print)
The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond (audio, downloaded from the MLC Digital Libraries site to my MP3 player)

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