Tag Archives: Heidi Schiller

Chick Lit with Heidi Schiller

Here is Heidi Schiller from North Vancouver City Library discussing Chick Lit at RA in a Half Day on Oct. 30th, followed by her Chick Lit takeaways:

Speed Dating Through the Genres – Chick Lit

Description of Genre:

Chick lit is genre fiction that addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly. Although it sometimes includes romantic elements, chick lit is generally not considered a direct subcategory of the romance genre because the heroine’s relationship with her family or friends is often just as important as her romantic relationships. Most chick lit novels are set in the contemporary world, in a big city, and include details about fashion and trendy restaurants/bars/hotspots.

The term gained traction in the 90s and was originally used by a New Yorker reporter to describe the trend of “girlishness” evident in the writing of female newspaper columnists, and has since been adopted by the publishing industry. Some argue the term is now dead, despite there still being a large audience for the genre. Publishers now use the term “women’s commercial fiction” or “contemporary romance”.

Covers are highly identifiable with bright colors and a cartoonish feminine pop art sensibility.

Important titles and authors:

Sex and the City (1996) by Candace Bushnell, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing (1998) by Melissa Bank, Bridget Jones’s Diary (1999) by Helen Fielding, The Nanny Diaries (2002) by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, The Devil Wears Prada (2003) by Lauren Weisenberger, Sophie Kinsella’s Shopoholic series, Marian Keys, Jane Green, Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin, Plum Sykes

More Recent Titles: Bond Girl by Erin Duffy, Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot, Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham (2013), The List by Karin Tanabe (2013),

Helpful resources (print & online):

  • Novelist: Search for Chick Lit and click on “Lists and Articles.”
  • Popular Chick Lit booklist on Goodreads
  • Chicklitbooks.com: blog with reviews
  • Chicklitclub.com: blog with news and reviews

-Heidi Schiller

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Challenging RA Questions

This year RA in a Half Day responded to some of the takeaways from last year’s event and included more interactive components and RA interview role playing. Tara Matsuzaki served as the master of ceremonies for a scintillating series of challenging RA questions presented as mock interviews. Questions were presented to the audience and every table was asked to come up with recommendations and ideas for how to solve their reading needs. Imagine a room of 70 talented librarians, MLIS candidates and library allies leaning in and sharing their collective skills and knowledge on readers’ advisory. It was a flood of ideas!

War Films for Dad – Heidi Schiller, North Vancouver City Library

Heidi Schiller acted the part of a patron looking for war films, especially from WWII, for a father who has already seen all the classics. The audience really picked up on looking outside of film towards TV series like Band of Brothers and Foyle’s War. The question also came up as to whether or not he would like a humorous adaptation such as MASH and how far outside WWII he would be interested in going. So some suggestions even looked at the similarities of war films based in the 20th century conflicts to films like Gladiator or Troy based on conflicts in much earlier eras. There were a lot of suggestions for where to find quality suggestion lists, from various library websites to even the genre page on Wikipedia.

Moving from YA to Adult Fantasy – Meghan Savage, Surrey Libraries

Playing the part of a teenage patron wanting to move out of YA fantasy literature into adult Fantasy, Meghan challenged the audience to meet her interest in stand alone novels or short series with a romantic flare. Neil Gaiman’s work came up immediately and universally as a great cross-over author from YA to adult fantasy. Kelley Armstrong was also mentioned as an author who wrote both YA and adult fantasy, though much of her adult works is more urban in focus. Sharron Shinn, author of several fantasy series with a romantic focus, and Jim Butcher, with a more adventure driven series, were mentioned as authors of series that can be consumed out of order without too much disruption of story lines. The point was also made that fantasy contains many sub-genres to consider.

Positive Graphic Novels to Teach – Robbie Burma, Vancouver Public Library

Robbie Burma offered the biggest challenge to the audience by playing the part of a teacher looking for sunnier graphic novels to suggest for a 12th grade general English curriculum. It proved to be proved to be a real challenge to rule out the grittier, more violent and/or darker graphic novels while remaining age appropriate and maintaining literary depth. The end result was the need to dig deeper into the patron’s needs and widen the collaboration by audience members as much as possible to get to the best suggestions. The most consistent mentions were for Escape to Gold Mountain by David H. T. Wong and American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.

Just a Good Book – Anthea Goffe, Fraser Valley Regional Library

It can be a stumper when the patron’s interests are really broad and vague so Anthea played a male patron just looking for any good read, fiction or non-fiction, but hopefully something that had a little literary merit balanced with a fast paced story. A few questions pulled out her appreciation of Hunger Games and Into Thin Air and her dislike of John Grisham and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The audience found this challenge great fun and indulged a taste for gushing about many great titles and authors ranging from Bill Bryson to Lee Childs and from Margaret Atwood’s series beginning with Oryx and Crake to The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J Maarten Troost.

Pre-loaded E-reader Gift – Barbara Edwards, Vancouver Public Library

Finally, Barbara brought in the factor of eBooks by asking for recommendations including both fiction similar to Amy Tan or Downton Abbey and some quirky cookbooks to pre-load on an eReader gift for her daughter-in-law. The issue of the eReader type was brought up both in the mock interview and by audience members. Issues included the inability of Kindle owners to download library eBooks in Canada and the quality of visuals for cookbooks on a black and white eReader. The existence of The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook seemed ideal, at least on a colour eReader, but the audience also realized a need to ask more questions about what “quirky” meant in relation to cookbooks.

Thrilling Speed-Dating Across the Genres

There was a whole new crop of genres to speed-date at this year’s RA in a Half Day. These excellent 10 minute overviews offered so much food for thought, we had to include a coffee break mid-way to give everyone time to digest it. But at least everyone was all topped off with ideas and ready to go for the Challenging RA Questions that followed.

These brief summaries will give you a taste of the speed-dating presentations, but there will be more complete reviews to follow. You can also contact us for a full copy of any of the genre presentations.

Noir – Marcus Mendes, Vancouver Public Library

Very first comment from Marcus Mendes on Noir fiction – Noir does not take place in polite society. Through a series of evocative quotes from great representations of Noir fiction, Marcus pulled out the key features of the genre from the swirling cigarette smoke and booze soaked stories to the charter types of the Femme Fatale and the Chump . The basic premise, though, is that things are going to go down hill, seriously and fast.

Chick Lit – Heidi Schiller, North Vancouver City Library

Heidi Shiller reacted to the previous presentation by immediately describing Chick Lit as the “arch opposite of Noir.” At its essence, this literature is addressing issues of modern womanhood in an often humorous and lighthearted. These books have an urban and modern focus (not to mention shopping!), but they also often include romance sub-plots while not being simply a romance genre because the protagonist’s relationship to friends and family are central to the story. However, there is some conversation over whether or not Chick Lit as either a genre or just a label for these titles is dying out.

New Adult – Tanya Thiessen, Surrey Libraries

Right away Tanya Thiessen addressed the fact that with New Adult RA, we have to be comfortable talking about sex. New Adult is a marketing term for (at this time) mostly eBook and online, self-published fiction with 18-25 year old protagonists often in college settings facing issues of identity development and exploring sexuality while still dealing with the fallout of difficult childhood experiences. All of this is wrapped up in a fast paced, emotionally intense story with a focus on a love (and sex) relationship. There are availability issues with these titles in libraries (being mostly eBooks and online titles) but many are available free or very cheap.

Self-Help – Jenny Fry, Surrey Libraries

A clear message from Jenny Fry’s presentation on Self-Help is that you can’t look in one place in your stacks to find it. From the 150s to the 650s, there’s Self-Help across the shelves so find out where the many varieties are at and what they focus on. Three key aspect of self help to remember in providing RA are the kind of tailored guidance, accuracy and included forms and features included. Jenny wrapped up her presentation on Self-Help with the perfect statement of Self-Help – “Life is your biggest DIY project.”

Graphic Novels for Adults – Matthew Murray, UBC – iSchool at SLAIS

According to Matthew Murray, you could just define Graphic Novels as comic book with spines (good audience chuckle on this one). However, you also have to remember that Graphic Novels are a medium, not a genre, so it includes materials in all genre areas. For Readers’ Advisory, its good to be aware of the publishers, because they tend to have a particular style, tone and quality that readers gravitate towards. In addition, ComiXology, while not available to libraries, does provide access to free digital editions of many popular titles.

Horror – Naomi Eisenstat, Surrey Libraries/New Westminster Public Library

The heart of the Horror genre, according to Naomi Eisenstat is emotional, the fright of the reader. While it can have many styles, even humorous, the menacing tone is consistent. Horror often includes elements of thrillers and mystery but there are often unresolved endings. Consider what kind of horror the patron is looking for, either in the storyteller or more violent style.

RA in a Half Day Takeaways

What happens when you corral 100+ excited and innovative librarians in one semi-cramped room in Surrey?

Well, for starters, you get:

Keynote speaker Sean Cranbury, waxing enthusiastic about how awesome libraries are. . .

 

 

 

 

Myself and Tara Matsuzaki promoting our favourite online RA tools and crowdsourcing others from the audience. . .

 

 

 

 

And genre superstars like Desiree Baron and Christine Miller enlightening our understandings of niche collections like Romance and Mysteries.

 

 

 

 

You also get a wealth of ideas from the collective genius of the audience. And as promised, here are the results from our crowdsourcing activities:

Popular Online Tools for RA:

(From Tara and my presentation):

(From participants):

What the BCLA RA Group should focus on for the Spring Conference and next year’s RA Half Day workshop:

Spring Conference:

  • Combine fictional genres with non-fiction subjects and do something similar (ie. “if you like these mysteries, you may like these true crime books”)
  • Invite the Dewey Divas to speak
  • Invite a local writer who supports libraries such as Bill Richardson or Gail De Vos to speak about graphic novels
  • RA for ebooks
  • Focus on a genre trend (ie. zombies, steampunk) and explain toolkit/RA for that genre
  • Focus on Goodreads/LibraryThing
  • Live “find me a book” 3 RA interviews with members of the audience
  • RA for “special users” (ie. the elderly—how to build lists and recommend titles, readability and literacy)
  • Libraries discussing the RA programs they’ve delivered
  • Repeat Speed Dating through the genres 

Next RA in a Half Day Workshop:

  • Half day preferred!
  • More time for each genre/expanded talks
  • Include Children’s, YA, NF, graphic novels, historical fic, humour, international or translated fiction, biographies, YA crossover, literary NF, gentle reads, inspirational
  • More audience sharing & participation, more stretch breaks
  • Include role play in RA service (RA interview)
  • Have participants send in their top 3 books—match them up with their opposites and have them try to recommend books to each other
  • Full day of speed dating—have the experts at the tables and the audience rotates
  • More RA tools (ie. blogs, NetGalley for ARCs online, Early Word for publishers’ information on upcoming titles)
  • Invite a speaker from Novelist
  • Larger, quieter room
  • RA Boot Camp
  • Include live audio-video conferencing/filming next time
  • Discuss crowd sourcing for good books
  • Discuss book club favourites

Thanks to all who came and participated, and stay tuned for more!

–Heidi Schiller

Book Blogs

One of life’s biggest tragedies has to be the fact that we are not able to read every book we’d like to. In fact, we can’t even come close.

I’m constantly doing “book triage” with the multiple holds that come in all at once. I know you can relate. For example, right now I must decide between Junot Diaz’s new book, two Booker Prize finalists, Alix Ohlin’s Inside, Emily Schultze’s The Blondes, and The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, by Shani Boianjiu – not to mention the two professional tomes I really should be reading. Sound familiar?

Because of this conundrum, I have found several book blogs exceedingly helpful in staying abreast of the buzz around certain titles I just can’t get to, and I’m going to share them here:

 

 The Early Word Blog: This blog’s tagline reads the publisher librarian connection, and I find it invaluable for keeping up to date on what’s new and buzzworthy in fiction, nonfiction and YA. The posts are snappy, short and dense with info. The blog’s major downfall is that it is very U.S. centric.  If you only bookmark or subscribe to one of these blogs, I’d suggest you make it this one.

 

Flavorwire’s and Vulture’s Book Sections: These are not traditional blogs, but you can subscribe to their Books feeds. These blogs are where I go for quirky publishing anecdotes and interesting news about literature and authors, with a decidedly pop culturish bent. I use them more for inspiration for my own blog posts, as well as a good source to find fun things to re-post on my library’s Facebook page, usually along with a question to engage fans.

 

Quill and Quire’s Quillblog: Lots of Canadian-centric book, library and publishing info. Also includes roundups of local literary events in various Canadian cities.

 

Reading Matters and KevinfromCanada blogs: Book reviews of mainly new releases with a Canadian bent. Right now, these two bloggers are engaged in the Shadow Giller Jury, an unofficial group of Canadian book bloggers who announce their own Giller winner the night before the awards ceremony. Sounds fun, right?

CBC Book Portal: Also not a traditional book blog, but you can add the book portal to your RSS feed and get regular post updates. I find many of the reviews of recently published Canadian fiction helpful.

 

So what did I miss? What are your favourite book blogs?

— Heidi Schiller

 

(Photo courtesy of John Haslam, http://www.flickr.com/photos/foxypar4/2423464715/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RA in a Half Day

Welcome to the first official post of the What Are You Reading Blog! Bookmark, subscribe and RSS us for weekly updates on Readers Advisory trends, topics, crowdsourcing, musings, and tales from the front line.

For our inaugural post, I want to shamelessly promote our upcoming workshop — RA in a Half Day, featuring:

* Keynote speaker Sean Cranbury, who will talk about the role of social media in connecting readers to books and building communities of readers,

* Online Bookmarking Tools and Tricks for Promoting RA, with Tara Matsuzaki and Heidi Schiller,

*  Speed dating through the genres,

*  A tour of Surrey’s new Central Library,

*  And delicious refreshements, including local chef-made parfaits and breads!

Here are the details:

When?
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
(*Doors will open at 8:30 am)

Where?
Room 120, City Centre Library, Surrey Public Library
10350 University Drive, Surrey, BC

*There will be a guided tour of this amazing new library after the workshop.

Cost:
BCLA Members: $30
Non-Members: $40
*Light refreshments will be provided.

Registration: Registration is currently open but will end on October 15, 2012.
Register here:  http://www.bcla.bc.ca/rasecrets

For further information or details, please contact Jenny Fry jjfry@surrey.ca or Robbie Burma Robbie.Burma@vpl.ca

See you at the workshop!

— Heidi Schiller

(Photo: On the Platform, Reading, courtesy of Moriza, http://www.flickr.com/photos/moriza/96724309/)