Author Read-Alikes

Lately  I have been receiving many author read-alike requests from patrons. A useful tool for recommending read-alike authors is the Literature Map: the Tourist Map of Literature. The Literature Map is part of Gnod (Global network of discovery). It is based on Gnooks, Gnod’s literature recommendation system.

I really like how authors enjoyed by the same readers are grouped close together on the map, and the more often that they are recommended together, the closer they appear to each other. The map provides a wide variety of authors, and it is easy to see which authors are most similar and which are a little different. For example, I get many requests for read-alikes for Louise Penny.  Some of the closest authors on the map to Penny are Erin Hart, Elly Griffiths, and Charles Finch. These are  recommendations that work well and I am happy to recommend them to patrons.

However, it is also useful to note the authors that are placed a little farther away. Val McDermid, Laura Lippman and Maeve Binchy are not perfect matches, but they might be similar enough that the reader might consider them and be willing to try something new.

Another great tool (that I think we all probably use quite often) is NoveList. I love using NoveList for author read-alikes, mainly because I can access excellent printable lists. Why is this useful? Having something to hand to patrons is fantastic.  They have a list of potential great reads that they can explore at their leisure.

Here are some of the titles I have recommended for Louise Penny read-alikes:


-Sally Gwyn, Fraser Valley Regional Library






Quick Reads

Enjoyable as it is to immerse your self in an inches-thick book, having the time and focus to do so is becoming somewhat of a luxury–especially during the busy holiday season. Here are a few excellent titles to recommend to patrons that will only take a short time to read.


Vinegar Girl by the renowned author, Anne Tyler is a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s, “Taming of the Shrew”.  The story centers on Kate Battista, a preschool teaching assistant whose quirky personality always makes her presence known.  She is put to task when approached by her scientist father to help his lab assistant stay in the country by agreeing to marry him. The drama that ensues between all the characters is mixed with more humor and gentleness than the original version but still makes for a lively, interesting read!


Timothy Christopher Greene’s latest novel, If I Forget You, is a story of lost love. Twenty-one years after a love affair this memorable couple have parted; a chance encounter brings them back together.  Each has married, Margot still unhappily married and Henry, now divorced.  This love story is told in both past and present; each chapter brings a shift in time and delves into the different stages of a relationship. As the book evolves, each realizes that it is a love worth fighting for and one they do not want to lose again.  This novel confirms how the choices we make can change the path of our lives forever.


Jacqueline Woodson’s, Another Brooklyn is breathtaking! This unforgettable novel explores the beauty and hardship of girlhood in 1970’s Brooklyn. Woodson manages to bring four black girls, August, Sylvia, Angela and Gigi, and their separate home situations, to life in vivid color. The story follows their lives and struggles and the family conflicts that they all endure.  The friends share their hopes and fears and learn all about the complexities of youth, loss, friendship, family, race and religion.


Father’s Day, by Simon Van Booy is a beautifully written book about a little girl named Harvey. Harvey becomes an orphan at the age of six following a car accident that took the lives of her parents. Harvey is put in the care of her father’s estranged older brother, Jason, who has more than his share of problems.  An ex-con and recovering alcoholic he is now suddenly thrown into the most important role of his life so far, that of a legal guardian to Harvey.  Together they negotiate the map of life building beautiful memories while learning the importance of family.


The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, by Phaedra Patrick is a fast read with unforgettable characters that move through grief and the process of starting over.  After forty years of marriage, Arthur’s wife dies unexpectedly.  On the first anniversary of her death he decides to clean out her belongings.  It is here he finds a gold charm bracelet full of charms.  He makes it his mission to trace his wife’s life through these charms.  It is amazing what he discovers not only about her but also about himself in the process.

-Caroline Wandell,  Fraser Valley Regional Library




BC Reads

My father-in-law Frank loves to read  about the history of British Columbia. He enjoys wilderness adventure stories and pioneer memoirs.  While searching for a good read for him, I have discovered some useful resources to find books for library patrons who are interested in reading about BC.  

BC Booklook’s  Literary Map of BC is useful to find authors who write about a particular area of interest. The site also has links to BC author blogs, and archives of BC bestsellers.


Powered by 49thShelf, BC Books Online offers a user-friendly searchable database of books and eBooks written by BC authors. I was able to find many titles about Frank’s particular area of interest:  the Cariboo-Chilcotin. There are many reading lists based on subject, theme, and place.

Here are some BC reads that I have recommended over the years:


What are your favourite BC reads?

-Lori Nick, Terry Fox Branch, Fraser Valley Regional Library

RA in a Day 2016

A sign stating "Welcome to RA in a Day 2916" behind a silhouette of a microphone

Welcome to RA in a Day 2016!

The BCLA Readers’ Advisory Interest Group is proud and grateful for the success of RA in a Day 2016! Our warmest appreciation and thanks to everyone who attended the event, or who followed along on social media (#RAinaDay16). We would also like to thank our supportive sponsor Library Bound.

This year the event was held on October 18, 2016 in the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch. The Readers’ Advisory Interest Group would like to acknowledge that this event took place on the ancestral, traditional and unceded Aboriginal territories of the Coast Salish Peoples. Continue reading

Book List: Retro Reads

60th-logo-teal_smallBurnaby Public Library celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. We held special events throughout the year, including a Readers Advisory presentation called Retro Reads. Our staff selected books that were either written from the 50s until the 2000s or contemporary titles where the stories took place in that time period.

If you want to join our time travel adventure, here are some of the titles our librarians recommended (descriptions from publishers):

tuesday-nights-80 A debut novel that follows a critic, an artist, and a desirous, determined young woman as they find their way in the ever-evolving New York City art scene of the 1980s. (2016)

versions-usEva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. And then there is David, Eva’s then-lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first meeting. (2015)

cover-happyfamilyTrenton, New Jersey, 1962: A pregnant girl staggers into a health clinic, gives birth, and flees. A foster family takes the baby in, and an unlikely couple, their lives unspooling from a recent tragedy, hastily adopts her. (2016)the-prisoner-of-heaven-uk

Carlos Ruiz Zafón creates a rich, labyrinthine tale of love, literature, passion, and revenge, set in a dark, gothic Barcelona, in 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife Bea have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city’s dark past. The third book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. (2012)

In the summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parent’s divorce, she finds escape in dance—the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory. It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her mentor. (2016)


Flitting from war-haunted Oxford to the bright new shallows of the 1960s, Freya plots the unpredictable course of a woman’s life and loves against a backdrop of Soho pornographers, theatrical peacocks, willowy models, priapic painters, homophobic blackmailers, political careerists. (2016)


England, 1976. Mrs. Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands. And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined. (2015)


In the tradition of A Fine Balance and The Namesake, The Two Krishna is a sensual and searing look at infidelity and the nature of desire and faith. At the center of the novel is Pooja Kapoor, a betrayed wife and mother who is forced to question her faith and marriage when she discovers that her banker husband Rahul has fallen in love with a young Muslim illegal immigrant man who happens to be their son’s age. Faced with the potential of losing faith in Rahul, divine intervention and family, she is forced to confront painful truths about the past and the duality in God and husband. (2010)


A bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s. (2016)do-not-say-we-have-nothing

Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations–those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the mid-twentieth century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in one of the most important political moments of the past century. Winner of the 2016 Governor General Literary Award, also shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Man Booker Prize. (2016)  three-martini-lunch

In 1958, Greenwich Village buzzes with beatniks, jazz clubs, and new ideas—the ideal spot for three ambitious young people to meet. Cliff Nelson, the son of a successful book editor, is convinced he’s the next Kerouac, if only his father would notice. Eden Katz dreams of being an editor but is shocked when she encounters roadblocks to that ambition. And Miles Tillman, a talented black writer from Harlem, seeks to learn the truth about his father’s past, finding love in the process. Though different from one another, all three share a common goal: to succeed in the competitive and uncompromising world of book publishing.  (2016) attachments

Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke. When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories. By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself. (2011)


An imaginative novel about a wealthy New England family in the 1960s and ’70s that suddenly loses its fortune—and its bearings. (2016)

Our Shared Shelf – Emma Watson’s Feminist Book Club

I’m pretty sure you and I relate to Emma Watson’s most remarkable fiction character.

Hermione Granger, the bookworm witch turned into feminist activist.

The bookworm witch turned into feminist activist.

The 26-year-old actress was appointed as the United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, when she helped launch the campaign HeForShe, advocating for gender equality.

At the beginning of 2016, Watson launched a worldwide book club on GoodReads called Our Shared Shelf. The group has over 140 thousand members across the globe! With the help of a handful of volunteer coordinators, the group engages in frequent and lively discussions about feminism, human rights, cultural differences, etc.

Watson picks a book every month (though she created a poll for members to choose the book for the summer – July and August). She managed to interview a few of the authors, soliciting questions from the members. Some of the interviews are available in videos. Volunteers have started to translate the transcripts of interviews so members that don’t read English can read the interviews.

Here’s what the group has read so far:


February color-purple
“I am trying to choose works that cover as much ground as possible and are diverse… I’ve heard amazing things about this book from a person that I trust… The musical is currently on Broadway (starring Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks) and a film was made of the book in 1985 by Steven Spielberg. It was Oprah Winfrey’s film debut and introduced Whoopi Goldberg (I love both of these women). I’m excited to read it and maybe do some watching too.”



“This month’s book choice is in honor of bell hooks who interviewed me for Paper magazine this month. Maya Angelou said of bell’s work, “Each offering from bell hooks is a major event, she has so much to give us’. I love hearing from bell, I am pretty excited to start “All About Love: New Visions”. It’s been on my list for a while.”


“I read it on a plane from London to New York and I laughed out loud and cried so much I think the whole of my cabin, airline staff included, thought I was losing my mind.”


“The story is about the author’s relationship with artist Harry Dodge, who is fluidly gendered. It’s about their romance, the birth of their son, the death of Harry’s mother and their changing bodies, as Maggie becomes pregnant and Harry undergoes surgery, but it’s also about inclusion and the powers and shortfalls of language.”


“As Iran enters another important period of change, with relations re-opening with much of the world, I think this is a particularly good time to pick up Persepolis. Satrapi’s deceptively simple, almost whimsical drawings belie the seriousness and rich complexity of her story–but it’s also very funny too.”

July/August hunger-modern-girl


“Half the Sky depicts, in eye-opening detail, the various cultures and customs that suppress women and gives a voice to those individuals who need to be heard the most. Traversing through Africa and Asia, Kristof and WuDunn introduce us to some incredibly strong women and describe their stories of suffering and survival.”