Tag Archives: Readers’ Advisory

Romance Readers’ Advisory

Romance is one of the biggest genre in fiction. You got historical, thrillers, horrors, werewolves, vampires, cozy mysteries, fairies, modern-day, futuristic. The variety is simply endless. Romance novels follow the classic structure: lovers come together, they must overcome obstacles and then live happily ever after. Apart from that, anything goes. This immense diversity makes romance readers’ advisory quite challenging and interesting. But fear not, here are some resources to the rescue!

 

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Romance Readers’ Advisory: The Librarian’s Guide to Love in the Stacks by Ann Bouricius

This is a nice intro into the genre and its’ diversity.

 

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Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan

Funny, smart, and throughout. This is a great examination of the genre.

 

The RITA Awards

The RITAs are given every year to those romance novels judge to be the best of best in their categories. For romance novels, this is THE AWARD.

 

Smart Bitches Trashy Books

Great blog dedicated to discussion on romance novels. Make sure to check out their podcast too!

 

AAA

Another fantastic blog dedicated enterally to reviewing romance novels. It’s Power Search is particularly brilliant! You can search by author, title, book type and more.

 

Goodreads Romance tags and Book Lists

Goodreads never disappoints and it’s a great resource to check out read-alikes as well as book reviews.

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Books for Promoting Civic Literacy

With public libraries around the world looking at how to foster civic participation and increase democracy, I thought I would recommend a few accessible non-fiction titles related to civic literacy.

Enlightenment 2.0 by Joseph Heath

Enlightenment 2.0Winner of the 2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, this entertaining and stimulating book makes the case for improving our political culture by facing up to the way human reasoning actually works. Rather than focusing on simply trying harder to think rationally, as many books about critical thinking do, Heath argues that we should try to improve our “cognitive environment,” which can either support or hinder reasoned debate. The book is particularly suggestive for librarians interested in how libraries can contribute to the “institutional scaffolding” necessary for a fully functioning democracy.

 

Tragedy in the Commons Tragedy in the Commons by Allison Loat and Michael MacMillan

Loat and MacMillan, of the non-profit Samara, which is dedicated to increasing civic engagement in Canada, interview eighty departing Members of Parliament to take the pulse of Canada’s parliamentary democracy. While they provide a starting point for considering a number of issues such as party discipline and the proper scope of constituency work, this book is perhaps most useful for conveying what the life of an average MP in today’s political climate is actually like. (Hint: it’s more Veep than Game of Thrones.)

 

What is Government Good AtWhat is Government Good At? By Donald Savoie

Seeking to dispel knee-jerk scorn for government, Donald Savoie takes a look at what government does and doesn’t do well. The book reminds readers that governments provide public goods where there is little incentive for private actors to truly tackle a problem, in many cases of the “wicked” variety. Sadly, this means that government failure tends to be visible and frequent. Nonetheless, Savoie explains how our political institutions (such as the public service) are going awry in a hostile environment and what kind of reforms could turn things around. What is Government Good At? Won the 2016 Donner Prize for Excellence and Innovation in Public Policy Writing by Canadians.

 

Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of CanadaFinal Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume One: Summary by The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Prime Minister Trudeau has promised full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 calls to action. The first volume of the six-volume TRC report lays out the 94 recommendations for action, describes the history of residential schools, and conveys their damaging legacy.

 

 

Democratizing the Constitution by Peter Aucoin, Mark Jarvis, Lori Turnbull

Democratizing the ConstitutionThis book is another Donner Prize winner (2011). It is a valuable, readable resource for learning about the concept of responsible government and getting a solid grounding in some of the main features of parliamentary democracy. Arguing that the principle of responsible government has been eroded over time in Canadian politics, it proposes reforms that could restore the proper relationship between the Canadian prime minister, parliament, and the constitution.

 

What Women WantWhat Women Want by Deborah Rhode

This clearly-written book offers a whirlwind tour of public policies aimed at realizing gender equality. Rhode discusses a range of relatively familiar topics like pay equity, the division of domestic labour, and domestic violence. She also describes types of political action that have proven effective in winning change in the real world. Besides its pragmatic approach, what I especially liked about this book was the attention to less-commonly discussed policy ideas like public insurance for child support payments.

 

The Welfare State: a very short introductionThe Welfare State: A Very Short Introduction by David Garland

Canada is practically a socialist country, right? This brisk, well-written entry in Oxford’s Very Short Introductions series puts the Canadian welfare state in global context, explaining the three basic types– liberal democratic, Christian corporatist, and social democratic. (Canada’s is the first type – which is the least comprehensive.) Garland provides some surprisingly entertaining history as well, reaching back to the early days when Churchill described the “exhilaration” of social insurance that can “bring the magic of averages to the aid of the millions.”

 

Social Democratic AmericaSocial Democratic America by Lane Kenworthy

Could a liberal democracy like the United States (or Canada) become more like the Nordic social democracies of Denmark or Sweden? While there have been lots of great books written about inequality in the past few years, this is a personal favourite (even if it doesn’t foreground that way of phrasing the issue.) It is written in an amazingly clear and concise style (at a reading level similar to that of data journalism sites like Vox), laying out the extent of the problem, proposing solutions, and responding systematically, debate-style, to common objections. Some have been turned off by the book’s optimism; regardless, this is a must-read for understanding debates about the size and effectiveness of government programs.

 

Taxation: a very short introductionTaxation: A Very Short Introduction by Stephen Smith

There is no succinct book for a popular audience on Canadian tax policy debates along the lines of Slemrod and Bakija’s Taxing Ourselves or Bruce Bartlett’s The Benefit and the Burden for American readers. However, with economic inequality a major issue today, informed debate about tax policies and, perhaps more importantly, our overall tax system is extremely important (and is actually much more interesting than it sounds). This brief book published in 2015 does a decent job laying out the different aspects of tax policy, including different types of taxes, guiding principles like fairness and efficiency, and tax collection and evasion. No matter your opinion on taxes, this book is sure to illuminate aspects of the tax debate you hadn’t appreciated before.

Which books would you recommend for improving democratic participation and debate?

 

  • Joe H.

Water Cooler RA – NWPL Recommends

When in a reading rut I like to pick the brains of my colleagues. They are an eclectic bunch when it comes to reading interests!  Here is a selection of books staff at the New Westminster Public Library have recently enjoyed (and were gracious enough to share!) Let us know if you liked any of these, or had other titles to share, in the comments below!

strangersMy favourite recent read was Strangers Drowning by Larissa MacFarquhar. MacFarquhar is a profile writer for the New Yorker who specializes in sketches of intellectuals, oddballs, or both. In this book she explores the philosopher Susan Wolf’s idea of “moral saints”: people who try to make every act as virtuous as possible. The profiles of various extreme do-gooders are written with a light touch, describing many individuals who come off as both admirable and somehow disturbing (and in some cases actually destructive). Interludes between the profiles provide a history of altruism up to and including the present day Effective Altruism movement, which centers around utilitarians like Peter Singer.

  • Joe H.

Speak EasySpeak Easy by Catherynne M. Valente. It’s the 1920’s in the Artemisia Hotel and the party never stops. A mysterious door arrives in the closet of It Girl, Zelda Fair, and she enters the Underworld/Fairy Kingdom that supplies the fantastic, outrageous, and degenerate fun for the hotel upstairs. Valente’s prose is the real protagonist; the story is told in a voice that is alternately lush, folksy, sparkling, touching, and humorous.

  • Adena B.

 

 

redemption roadI just finished reading John Hart’s newest and very suspenseful thriller, Redemption Road. A cop convicted of murder is being released from prison and the young son of the victim meets him at a bar with a gun. Also in the mix is a police officer on suspension for shooting suspects in a kidnapping case. When there is another murder in town with the exact same MO all three get caught up in a dangerous game. Very well written prose.

  • Kris K.

 

Ten BillionI’m about halfway through “Ten Billion Tomorrows: How Science Fiction Technology Became Reality and Shapes the Future” by Brian Clegg. It’s a really interesting discussion of science fiction, the technology depicted in it, and how that technology has or could be developed in the “real world” (or, in some cases, why it most certainly won’t be).

  • Alicia D.

 

 

 

tearsI was very touched by Tears in the Grass by Lynda Archer. It is about an elderly Cree woman who is determined to find the child that was taken away from her after she was raped during her time at residential school. She kept this a secret her whole life until age 90, knowing she will not live for much longer, and enlists the help of her daughter and granddaughter to find her.

  • Jenny Z.

 

 

 

Shell CollectorThe Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr! this is his book of short stories before he hit it big with All the Light We Cannot See. There’s a great short story in there about how unspectacularly wonderful my hometown, Boise, ID is (Doerr lives there).

  • Molly K.

What’s the Appeal? Using Appeal Factors and Field Codes in NoveList

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I have to admit that I don’t use NoveList nearly as often as I could when delivering Reader’s Advisory at the library desk. I was intrigued to learn that NoveList has been developing their appeal factors to help you find just the right book for a patron. Their appeal categories include Character, Illustration, Pace, Storyline, Tone, and Writing Style. Each of these categories can be broken down further into a list of adjectives (for example, do you want “candid” writing style or a “spare” writing style?) Please note, I haven’t included links because you have to navigate to these pages through our own library’s NoveList site.

NoveList has some pre-set searches including “I’m in the mood for books that are moving and haunting” (try Girl at War by Sara Novic) OR “action-packed and fast-paced” (try White Ghost by Steven Gore). You can also try their appeal mixer. The appeal mixer is a lot of fun—I chose “Character-Complex,” “Writing Style-Compelling,” and “Pace-Fast-paced” and received 135 recommendations including Tana French, Anna Quindlen, and lots of Sherrilyn Kenyon (who I was not expecting and have not yet read…) You can also adjust the results for adults, teens, kids aged 9-12, and kids aged 0-8.

In addition to appeal terms, NoveList has two-letter field codes that enable you to do Boolean searches. For example, to find suspenseful literary fiction, type in “GN literary fiction AND AP suspenseful” into the NoveList search box. Be sure to capitalize the field codes (GN for Genre and AP for Appeal Terms) as well as capitalize the Boolean operators. This search resulted in 200 results including Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests and Emma Donoghue’s Room. They have list of all the field codes in a PDF here as well as a cheat sheet of the most commonly used field codes here.

When I receive requests about genres or styles that I rarely read, such as romance books without any sex, it’s good to know NoveList has field codes to help narrow down possible titles (“GN romance AND AP chaste”).

If you have access to NoveList at your library, explore the different appeal factors and field codes to see the types of searches that might help you solve those tricky Readers’ Advisory requests!

-Meghan S, Surrey Libraries

Book Club for Masochists

book club for masochistsMany members of the BCLA Readers’ Advisory Interest Group are part of the Book Club for Masochists, a group they started while attending SLAIS to “become […] better librarians by reading books [they] hate!”

The premise is a good one for pushing you out of your comfort zone: each month they select a genre and members read a couple of books from that genre that they will share with the group.

They’ve got quite a few genres under their belt now including:

Space Opera
Aboriginal/Indigenous/First Nations
Christmas/Holiday
Cozy Mysteries
Books in Translation
Religion (non-fiction)
Psychological Thrillers
Technology (non-fiction)
Gothic Literature
Historical Romance

Read about their feedback on books—what they recommend for a particular genre and what they advise avoiding. This is a great resource for encouraging you to read something new or for helping you find a book for a patron in a genre with which you’re unfamiliar. Be sure to tune into their very first podcast, published March 17 2016 on the genre of Historical Romance: http://bookclub4m.tumblr.com/

Has anyone participated in a similar-themed book club?

-Meghan S, Surrey Libraries

 

The Challenge of Reading Challenges

Our library celebrates its 150th birthday this year, and as a gift to the community we created a book of 150 reading challenges, which replaced the Adult Summer Reading club we have done in previous years. Our intention was to create a marketing piece for the library that would showcase our collections and share our enthusiasm with everyone who uses the library.  Erin Watkins, our Manager of Programs and Community Development, was instrumental in getting this off the ground.  Thanks, Erin!

This is what we discovered while putting the booklet together:

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Many hands make light work. We had staff from multiple areas of the library contribute ideas for the challenges, but we had one person compile them. This allowed for diverse interests, collection areas and material types, which we hoped would appeal to a broader range of our community. The challenges were meant to encompass all aspects of our library’s collection in as many formats as possible to inspire people to move beyond their tried and true reading, viewing, and listening habits. Literacy is not just about books, and having the challenges touch on multiple formats will give people a chance to explore areas of the library that they may have previously ignored or been uninterested in. Having staff from all over the library contribute really helped set the groundwork for the challenges. Having one staff member compile the results was a way to ensure we kept to task and made it to our goal of 150 challenges – one for each year the library has been in existence.

Enthusiasm helps! Staff enthusiasm for a project like this helps us all see how diverse our colleagues and their interests are, which makes the workplace a fun place to be. It also means that we are better able to use that knowledge in a readers’ advisory situation because if we don’t share the reading interests of the patron in front of us, we can certainly find someone who does.

More heads are better than one. Collaborative work meant that wrangling 150 challenges into a semblance of order so they could be put into a booklet was much more effective. It also established a way for us to riff off each other’s ideas and build on each other’s work. One of the most exciting aspects of this format meant we could move beyond the familiar territory of the Adult Summer Reading club booklist and offer book bingo, a crossword puzzle, and a drawing challenge as well.

We have built in social media components in terms of a section of the challenge being called “Share” where we encourage community members to share their challenges with us on social media, and we have already had some really fun contributions for community members.

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If you are thinking of doing something similar at your library, don’t hesitate! Not only will it reinvigorate your passion for connecting with library users, but it will empower you to learn even more about the collection in your own library and inspire your own reading/viewing/listening habits. We can’t wait for the conversations we’re going to have with our library users: in the stacks, at the desk, on social media – all about what we love to watch, read, and listen to. It’s going to be a great summer!

What are your plans for adult summer reading inspiration at your library? Comment below so we can all be inspired!

Shelley Wilson-Roberts is the Public Services Librarian II at the New Westminster Public Library.