Friday, April 21, 2017

Prompt Response 16: Future of Reading

How have reading and books changed for me since I was a kid?

I tell you what I no longer have to read books with a flashlight under the covers. I miss the thought of it but at the same time eBooks and audiobooks are just so convenient. I'm at a point in my life where I live in a teensy weensy apartment and I don't have the room to hoard so many books. Most of my collection is sadly boxed up at my parent's house for them to keep until I get into a house of my own. I hate it a lot. I love reading eBooks for the sheer convenience and it lets me still enjoy reading without having to clutter my already cluttered apartment. However, authors can't sign eBooks and I can't experience and gawk at pretty book covers. I can't wait to have that back in my life when I have a house and a personal library (right next door to my fiance's music man cave that he wants).

As an adult I read less for fun than I did as a child. Part of that is because graduate school as well as teaching (did NOT have time to read that year) prevented me from doing so. Now I'm working full time at a library, still going to graduate school, and planning a wedding so I'm still pretty busy. I expect that to change entirely next month once I'm out of school. I have a goal to read 40 books this year and I'm at a pathetic start. I pulled off 33 last year so I think I can catch up!

I think self-publishing is becoming a lot more accessible so I think we will start to see more of those emerge from the shadows, although it would hurt the publishers even more than they currently are with battling to figure out how to make a profit off of eBooks. I could imagine a lot of things happening. Books could become more expensive and valuable again (sad for my wallet, but I could see it happening). I couldn't imagine them becoming obsolete though. I don't think my brain could ever wrap around that concept.

I can see story telling and reading taking different forms. With the lastest expansion with Virtual Reality and how art is transforming with virtual reality software like Tilt Brush, it could be the same for books. What if we could read books in VR? Live out the story in the books in VR? Or be the main character in an RPG video game in a virtual world? We have an HTC Vive at work that we're testing for teens and the technology for this is here and I could easily see that coming into play for education, reading and creativity in 20 years.

 I feel like I will never stop reading and I hope that it's not going to be a rare thing. Yeah, I will probably still read a lot of eBooks, but I do want a big collection of physical books in my personal library, especially ones that my future children can access. My kids will likely have restricted 'screen time' but as long as the homework is done and it's not too late at night,  I'll never turn them away from a physical book.

Occasionally I may even pretend not to catch them reading with a flashlight under the covers.

Week 15 Prompt Response: Fiction Collection


First and foremost having attractive signage with minimal, easy to read text that indicate the collection throughout the building and at the reference desk would help advertise the collection and inform patrons of where they can find it as well as whatever information we think is necessary (example: where is the new stuff?). What I also will include under 'signage' is social media postings about the collection with similar information from the in-person signs, and include images.

Book displays

Book displays that cycle through new books, or highlight different genres, themes, and seasons that are centrally located or by the reference desk. This is something we should be expected to do anyway but I know how effective they can be because it's often very difficult to keep book displays stocked! Books with covers facing out are just more attractive to patrons and some just want to grab the first interesting thing that catches their eye. Some good fiction on a display is a great way to do that.

Aurasma/Book trailers/book talks

Aurasma is the most unique idea that I'm actually implementing in another way for the library but could easily implement to show off a fiction collection. Aurasma is an app that allows you to upload content to be displayed in augmented reality when the phone scans a 'trigger' image. In this case, the trigger images would be the covers of particular books. When the 'trigger' is scanned by your device, the content will appear in front of you, just like Pokemon would in the Pokemon GO game. In this example, patrons could scan the cover of a book, and a book trailer or book talk that I made (or if there's a good one on youtube, that would work as well) will appear to give reader's an extra special preview of the book. It saves them the trouble of googling it later and it's a fun new way to browse and kill time at the library. It also incorporates new technology. There would be signage by the fiction shelves as well as at the reference desk with instructions for patrons to download the app if they wanted to try this experience. Many companies have used Aurasma for advertising, such as Disney. Disney made one of their Star Wars Weekend T-shirt designs a 'trigger' image so Disney-goers could scan the T-shirt and see a cute little animation of Mickey wielding a light saber. I'm working on implementing it for a scavenger hunt that we do with kids throughout the year.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Week Fourteen Prompt Response

I don't think it's a problem to keep these collections separate. Where you put these collections and how it's presented to the public are what I think really matters. I believe it would be unethical to put these collections in the back dank dusty corner, poorly labeled in an area that is difficult to find. If you introduce it with an attractive display and highlight the culture and keep in in a spot that is on par with the rest of the collection then it is definitely okay. I know many patrons come to our library in particular wanting to look for books written by an African-American author. "Where are your African-American books?" is usually the exact question we get. Appreciation and demand for African-American literature is something our community at my library deeply cares about, so it would make sense for us to make a special place for it. It's become it's own genre, but can encompass any other genre we're already familiar with. It makes a lot of sense to me to keep all of these together and not spread out among the general collection from an organizing standpoint.

To address the point that it would disrupt a reader from stumbling upon a great book from these areas if they're separate from the general collection - I say maybe, if you're browsing independently. However, if these collections are given proper signage and located in a visible area that can help with this. Also, isn't that what reader's advisory service is for? We can direct patrons to try books from these areas if we think there's something in there that based on our RA interview they may enjoy.

A good example that I think will be done very successfully is that we're actually doing this right now where I work for our African-American collection. We're dedicating an entire reading room (it's a big library, so we are able to do this) to all of our books, DVDs, audiobooks, music, etc. that have been authored and created by African-Americans. We're calling the space the "Center for African-American Literature and Culture." When it opens later this year (the books have been moved but we're doing some remodeling to the space) we will be able to host programs, musical guests, community dialogue, and invite the public to explore the collection in it's own special place. I look at it as a celebration of culture, not segregation, although I know some may disagree.

LGBTQ I could go either way on, I don't think it's a problem to separate them for the same reasons that I'm okay with splitting up African-American literature. It's definitely a smaller category than African American literature so that's where I'm a bit hesitant - it has nothing to do with what the genre represents. LGBTQ can fall into a few other genre categories, but primarily romance and YA. I see no issues with a book display highlighting LGBTQ books from time to time - we should do that with just about anything. But I think separating these books may separate a decent chunk of another genre and I don't think it'd make as much sense for a smaller library than it would for a library that has a large romance collection and splitting the romance up into different types of romance may be beneficial they way they sometimes do in bookstores.

In addition, the way the Dewey system works, putting LGBTQ somewhere else from the rest of the collection could be more confusing than moving books from African-American authors which encompasses all genres and uses several different types of call numbers somewhere else. As a general rule of thumb, I think there are some criteria outside of ethical ones to determine if these genres are worth separating:

  • The size of the collection - how much of an impact will moving it make on the rest of the collection and will it take up a meaningful amount of space that it would get noticed? If not, perhaps frequent book displays every few months may be enough to draw attention to it.
  • The needs of the community. Do you have high demand for those specific materials?
  • If we separate, are we able to provide an area with proper signage and display the materials in similar professional, attractive fashion like the rest of the collection? 

I don't think separating is a necessary move, but I believe that if it fits the needs of the community and the library has the capacity to do it, then by all means go for it. Many libraries are well known for specific collections, so if there's a library with an amazing LGBTQ collection then it should be highlighted! 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Week Thirteen Prompt Response: YA

People should be able to read what they want to read, otherwise they wouldn't be reading much at all.

I enjoyed a lot of YA and juvenile in high school and have loved it ever since. However, I was a creative writing major in college and as such I had to take a number of literature classes. A literature class, for those who don't know, is like a book club on steroids. There's massive amounts of reading and then each piece gets dissected to death in class and you get graded based on how well you can break it down, how much you participate, and how much your professor likes your insightful opinions on it (I'm a little bitter because no matter how hard I tried, I was a solid B student in most lit classes). I saw things pretty differently from a lot of my classmates and I felt like I was one of the few people who didn't look down on YA and other modern "Garbage".  These people treated Faulkner and Hemingway like gods and wouldn't be caught dead reading anything with slang in the title. I hated those classes because it made me feel like there was something I wasn't getting - that my simple minded brain couldn't understand the deep meaning in these well respected works. I loved reading and writing, but I could not get behind the way my literature professors were trying to get me to think. I tried to like it - there was a number of things that I did like such as Heart of Darkness by Conrad, which surprised everyone including myself because it's a horrific story and most people hate it. I also love anything by Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters, Shakespeare, some stuff by Socrates, The Prince, and William Carlos Williams. But put John Donne in front of me and I'll promptly fall asleep - I really didn't understand the appeal Donne had for my fellow classmates.

There are some amazing YA novels out there that send strong messages and have beautiful writing and tone. I think a big part of what makes YA appeal to adults as well as teens is the pacing. As a full time worker and student, it's easier for me to read YA for fun that it would be to read a lot of adult novels. I enjoy a lot of adult fiction now that I'm older than most YA protagonists, however, I always come back to YA because not only am I a sucker for some teenage paranormal dystopian/utopian world building and innocent romance but because I want to make sure I relate to my patrons and what they are reading. I work in the children's area so I also find juvenile chapter books I find interesting. I've read half of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and still enjoyed it. I also recently read another juvenile book, The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black and it really brought me back to what it felt like reading Harry Potter for the first time.

I don't think there's anything wrong with adults reading YA or children's novels. Adults are busy and if they are actually taking the time to read it should be something that appeals to them that they can enjoy instead of trying to read something else because they think it's appropriate or good for them because society says so. I believe librarians should encourage adults to read YA if they want to. It can be tough sometimes because teens books are cataloged and shelved separately from adult books and is a shelving/cataloging nightmare to try to put the same book in two different locations. Where I work in particular, we may be unintentionally scaring off adults who want to read YA because I work at a large central library where we need to keep our children's area safe and our security team will kick out any adult who is there without a child. As library staff, we've tried to get security to be a little nicer because we know teachers often come without children to get books. We try to beat the security guards to lone adult patrons and politely ask if they're with kids or are looking for children or teen materials so that way we don't deter an adult from getting a YA book for themselves.

Think about it this way: when a lot of this classic literature was published, people of those times likely thought some of it was garbage too. Jane Austen would probably have been considered a YA author in her time. A hundred years from now students will be studying the Hunger Games and tearing it apart the way students today debate about what Fitzgerald was trying to say with the green light in The Great Gatsby.

Friday, March 31, 2017

YA Annotation: The Duff

Image result for the duff bookBook Information: Keplinger, K. (2010). The Duff. New York, NY. Little Brown.

ISBN: 978-0316084246

Bianca Piper is a regular girl with two awesome best friends. Bianca is not much of the social/party type, but tags along and hangs out in the sidelines while her friends tear it up on the dance floor. One night she's approached by the one guy from school who she deems to be the biggest playboy man-whore on Earth (she's not wrong): Wesley Rush.  He tries to hit on her two friends by insulting Bianca and referring to her as their Duff, or Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Bianca blows him off and tries to move on. However, trouble at home leaves Bianca finding herself turning to the one person she usually never wants to even be in the same room with to deal with her feelings. Bianca finds out that there may even be more to that jerk than meets the eye.  

Characteristics of YA:

  • Main Characters are within an adolescent age range (approximately 14-21).
    In The Duff Bianca and her friends are high school seniors.
  • The protagonist has a sort of coming-of-age experience
    In the story, Bianca learns that it's not the best idea to keep everything bottled up and escaping from her problems by having lots of meaningless sex (mostly fade-to-black stuff but there's still a ton of sex in this book for a YA). She also has to adjust to and help her dad through an inevitable divorce.
  • Setting, genre, and style can vary
    I've read a lot of YA. YA encompasses every genre under the sun that adults read, only it features a different target audience, so the protagonist is typically within the adolescent age range and deal with typical teenage problems, even in a high fantasy setting. 
  • The story tackles certain issue(s) that many adolescents experience (i.e. love, sex, parental divorce, LGBTQ, identity, friendship drama, moving, suicide etc.) 

    In The Duff, Bianca's mother surprises everyone by mailing signed divorce papers. The marriage wasn't exactly a happy one but it came out of the blue for Bianca and her father (the reader can kinda see it coming). This led to Bianca's father turning to alcohol to cope and instead of reaching out to her friends for help (these friends have also had experience dealing with divorce) she uses her worst enemy as a way to escape. Bianca also fights with her own self-image (due to Wesley being an asshole and calling her Duffy all the time - making her aware that she doesn't exactly fit the norm for what's hot).
  • Can be fiction and nonfiction
    This goes along with one of the previous points that setting, genre, and style can vary in YA. The Duff is realistic fiction. What's also interesting about this book is that the author of the book is really young and actually wrote The Duff at age 17, when she was also likely a high school senior. As an aspiring YA writer myself, I'm very jealous and if I had known that before reading it, it would've made the book appeal more to me. I think the author being at an age that the target audience can relate to would definitely appeal to another teen. 

As a personal note, I didn't think I'd like this book, but I did. The writing itself is really quirky and funny and sticks true-to-character point of view: Bianca doesn't mess around, so neither does the writing. The character development and dialogue are winners here. Don't watch the movie. After finishing the book, I went ahead and watched it and it tells a completely different story (and it's awful). The book is really about how Bianca handles her parents divorce and her other friendship/social problems - the movie focuses on what Bianca can do to "be pretty" and "not be the Duff anymore" and turns her parents divorce into a joke. The book = depth, character development, meaning. The movie = the screenwriters had to basically change the whole thing to get it rated PG-13.  

Read - A- Likes: 

The Earth, my butt, and other big round things by Carolyn Macker
Love and other Theories by Alexis Bass
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
The Queen of Everything by Deb Caletti

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Week Twelve Prompt Response: NF Matrix

Image result for rise how a house built a family

Title: Rise: How a House Built a Family
Author: Cara Brookins
Publication Date: January 2017
Number of Pages: 320
Geographic Setting: Arkansas, USA.
Time Period: Present day
Subject Headings: American Authors, 21st Century, Women Authors, Biography, Divorced mothers, House Construction
Book Summary: After escaping an abusive marriage, Cara Brookins had four children to provide for and no one to turn to but herself. In desperate need of a home but without the means to buy one, she did something unbelievable. Equipped only with YouTube instructional videos, a small bank loan, a mile-wide stubborn streak, Cara built her own house from the foundation up with a work crew made up of her four children. Through building a house together, Cara and her family could finally move on.

1. Where is the book on the narrative continuum?

Highly narrative (reads like fiction)

2. What is the subject of the book? This book is about overcoming a terrible situation by completing a task that is near impossible. It's about a family growing stronger after getting away from abusive husbands through building a house together.

3. What type of book is it? This is a memoir in narrative form.

4. Articulate appeal

  • What is the pacing of the book? It's a leisure pace and Brookins does a good job spacing out the good things with the tough challenges she faced so the reader doesn't get bogged down with depressing things.
  • Describe the characters of the book. This book is about the author, Cara and her four children as they build a house from the ground up. Cara is a computer programmer and aspiring writer who is trying to pick up the pieces after three failed marriages.
  • How does the story feel? Inspiring, shocking, thoughtful.
  • What is the intent of the author? To tell her story about how building a house strengthened her relationship with her kids and moving past the bad times.
  • What is the focus of the story? The focus of the story is on Cara and how she had to navigate through escaping her marriages, keeping her kids safe, and all in all how they went from a broken and scared family to one that has learned to be free and have fun together.
  • Does the language matter? Yes. Cara uses it pretty cleverly to distinguish chapters from building the house to flashbacks from her marriages. chapters labeled "Rise" are about the house, and chapters labeled "Fall" are flashbacks.
  • Is the setting important and well described? The setting is important because it led to Cara making the decision to build a house despite all odds as well as the description of how they built it and the work that needed to be accomplished is needed for the reader to grasp how daunting this task is for a mother and four children (one child being only two years old, so really it was a house building crew of four, not five).
  • Are there details and, if so, of what? Lots of details about the construction work, and detailed descriptions of her husbands and the expressions on her kid's faces.
  • Are there sufficient charts and other graphic materials? Are they useful and clear? None. None needed.
  • Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding or experience? Absolutely. They made many mistakes especially in the early stages of building the house, and Cara reflects a lot about why she stayed with certain husbands for so long, what held her back etc. 

5. Why would a reader enjoy this book? 

1. The experience (how does one go about building a house without any experience!?) 2. Details 3. Conversational tone

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Week 11 Prompt Response

I'm a big fan of ebooks and audiobooks. What may be one of the more difficult things to adjust to when analyzing and ebook versus a physical book is the length. The number of ebook pages can vary greatly whereas a physical book has a set number of pages. Ebook pages can vary for several reasons and almost always have more pages than the physical version. The biggest reason being it depends on the screen size of the device you are using. I read ebooks on everything, my computer, a tablet device, or even my little tiny phone screen. If I want to know my actual progress through the book I have to look at the percentage of the book that I've read so far. Physical books aren't measured by percentages. The books are of course, the same length no matter what medium you choose to read it by, however, depending on the type of person you are, you may find the pacing faster with an ebook because you get to turn pages sooner or get daunted if you are looking at the 'pages' you've read and still have several hundred to go. Since I still haven't mastered the science of ebook pages to figure out how long the book will be there are other factors I look at. I often look up the physical book to see what the page count is to get an idea of how long the book actually is. I also look at the table of contents in the ebook which can also help me evaluate how long it may take me to read the book. Finally, you just have to turn to reviews to see what the consensus is about pacing. At that point, how long it actually takes me to get through the book just depends on how good it is and how busy I am which I can't measure. Pacing and length are sometimes a big concern for readers so finding information about how many pages long the physical book is may help give readers a better idea of  how 'long' it is before they get intimidated by how many 'pages' are in the ebook version.

Being able to change the font, color, and spacing of the text something that I think helps pace. If you are able to read comfortably it puts less strain on the eyes and can make it easier to read. Making the font bigger or adjusting the spacing will add more ebook 'pages' so it may seem like your progress slows down, however if making those adjustments helps you get more immersed in the story it doesn't matter in my opinion. I usually change the colors at night when I'm reading in bed so that it helps my eyes adjust to the dark.  I love this about ebooks because I can read lying down without having to prop the book up in weird ways and not have to keep lights on so that way I'm not keeping anyone else up!

One thing we should consider when recommending and showing our patrons ebooks is formats available for reading. My library system uses Overdrive for ebooks which is compatible with the Overdrive app, any browser, and the Kindle app. It can be tricky because occasionally all three formats aren't available for a particular title (Kindle usually is the one left out if this is the case). If you have a patron who wants to use a Kindle format specifically, you got to watch out for that. This is most definitely a common problem for audiobooks on Overdrive. Certain ebook reading apps/systems have different checkout rules. For overdrive, I can always read the book in a browser whenever I want since it's not downloaded and my overdrive account always holds my place where I left off in the browser version. Overdrive will also usually let you choose between Kindle or Overdrive for downloading. You can only pick one of these, but even after you download it, you can still access the read-in-browser version. I often switch between the downloaded version and the browser version depending on where I want to read. The browser and downloaded versions aren't synced up, so if you switch between the two often you'll have to manually find your place because it will only bookmark where you last read in that particular version. Despite that small set back, I love that I can check out an ebook and literally read it anywhere I've got a device (and wifi depending on if I saved the book to a device or not).

I'm less familiar with audiobooks but have started to develop a love for them because I can also use Overdrive for audiobooks. I almost always download these to my phone so that way I don't use data when listening in my car, which is one of the ways I treat audiobooks differently than ebooks. I found the Reading with Your Ears article by Kaite Mediatore very informative because I know a lot of people listen to audiobooks more frequently and differently than I do so there are some major appeal factors that I didn't really think about. Abrdiged or unabridged? Favorite narrator? Music? CD or cassette (and now smart device compatible)? Is the patron using the audiobook for driving or reading alongside? I really think the good narrator and length really applies with the driving scenario. From personal experience, no one wants a dull narrator during a long drive. I use audiobooks in the car to calm the road rage and keep me awake, not put me to sleep!  Length is an appeal factor that I think applies a lot for a long road trip because I want the book to be long enough to cover the whole trip (with some extra length  to account for bad traffic), and hopefully finish or be nearly finished with the book by the time the trip is over. Since I'm still not very well versed in the audiobook world and don't know who all the best narrators are yet (I have had the pleasure of listening to a James Marsters audiobook and would love to listen to more like him) I will definitely be seeking as much information as I can out of my patrons to learn more about why they like particular audiobooks.

Mediatore, K. (2003). Reading with Your Ears: Readers' Advisory and Audio Books. Reference and User Services Quarterly, 42(4), 318-23. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Historical Fiction Annotation: The Fortune Hunter

Image result for the fortune hunterBook Information:
Goodwin, D. (2014). The Fortune Hunter. New York, NY. St. Martin's Press.

ISBN: 978-1-250-04389-4

Summary: The Fortune Hunter is the story of a Victorian love triangle in 1875. Elizabeth or "Sisi" is the illustrious Empress of Austria who is famed for her mystery and goddess-like looks. She is bored and in an unhappy marriage with Emperor Franz Joseph and seeks to lift her spirits by visiting England for hunting season. Enter Captain Bay Middleton, one of England's finest horsemen, although he bears the reputation of being a penniless ladies' man, a "Fortune hunter". Bay finds himself falling for the lovely and quirky heiress, Charlotte Baird and they soon become engaged. Sisi enlists Bay to be her pilot and guide her during the hunting season and he becomes absolutely enthralled by her beauty and their shared passion for riding and horses. Will Bay pursue a woman who is leagues beyond his reach and jeopardize his engagement?

Characteristics of Historical Fiction: 

  • Plenty of accurate historical detail relating to the setting, characters and/or events. 
    The Fortune Hunter should not be looked to as a source for history in chronological order, however Goodwin based her story on the life of many real people. Nearly all of the characters in this book were real and what was unknown about some of those characters, Goodwin supplied her own twist to their personalities to suit the story. Historical events that happened to Sisi in particular did happen, but not in the order that's described in the book.
  • Storyline focuses on a particular historical event or time period, or follow the life of a character (real or fictional). 

    This book follows the life of many real people during the Victorian Era, although their personalities may not follow the behaviors of who that person actually was - the most the author knew about was the life of Sisi.
  • Characters, regardless of real or fiction are depicted to fit the times, and their actions are shaped by the time period. 
    Since Goodwin didn't know much about many of the other characters outside of Sisi and Bay Middleton, she had to give some other key characters in their life, such as Bay's fiance, Charlotte Baird, traits and hobbies to fit the time period. Photography was becoming a new hobby, and so Charlotte is very passionate about photography and art.
  • Thick book, leisure pace. These take time to read. 
    This book is 475 pages and the pace was pretty slow. It wasn't a completely bad read, but if I'm honest, I preferred other historical fictions over this one. The plot is purely character driven and some of the characters weren't strong enough to hold everything together.
  • Language, dialect, and style may take favor over grammatically correct for a more 'authentic' style. 
    Since this is Victorian England the dialog and writing style is definitely more refined and fitting for the time period and shouldn't bother most readers. There are some books that I've read before where the dialect and misspelling of words for authenticity got in the way of enjoying the read for me.

Twain's End by Lynn Cullen
The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh
A Triple Knot by Emma Campion
The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn
Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

Saricks, J. G. (2009). The Reader's Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. Chicago, IL. American Library Association.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Club Experience

I attended a book club at one of the branches of my local library. It happens every first Monday in the evenings at 6:30PM and lasts about an hour. It wasn't difficult for me to find as they were meeting in the community room at the library. I hadn't read the book they were discussing, The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett, but I was still welcomed into the group and given opportunity to talk if I wanted. It was a small group, about 8 of us total counting myself and the lady leading it.

We each had a little paper name tag in front of our seat at the table to help learn names as they started the discussion. First they went around in the circle so that everyone who wished to had a chance to talk about their general thoughts about the book. This took about the first fifteen minutes or so, and it seemed like there were mixed reviews about the book. A few had a hard time getting into it at first, some liked the book, however it seemed that the common feeling here was that no one liked the main character. The discussion naturally seemed to continue on it's own, many of the readers had questions of their own that they'd like the group to discuss although it seemed that the lady facilitating had also prepared some questions just in case the discussion needed any encouraging.

For this book, however, there seemed to be plenty to discuss. They spoke about the characters as if they were real people and seemed to complete a character analysis on at least half the characters in the book to try to figure out their motivations. Two people seemed pretty riled up about how much they hated the protagonist and wondered why they were reading the book in the first place and they used plenty of examples from the book to back up their feelings. The people that enjoyed the book weren't able to defend the protagonist - the consensus was she wasn't a good person - but instead of disliking it they took it as more of an intrigue because the character clearly had a lot of issues. Even though I hadn't read the book it didn't take long for me to be able to follow along and not be lost in the conversation. This book seemed to have been the idea of the facilitator to read because she talked about having read the book years ago and had so many questions, so it seemed like a good title meant for deep discussion.

As the conversation started to dwindle down they facilitator passed around a sheet of paper so that everyone could write down book titles and authors they'd like the book club to discuss. Then later the club would vote from that list to assign books to later months this year. Next month the club will be reading a nonfiction book, so it looks like they are pretty open to a variety of titles and don't stick to a genre or type of book.

I haven't attended a book club since I was probably a kid. Going to one as an adult was nice and welcoming, although it did remind me a lot of a literature class (the book club was much more enjoyable).

Monday, March 6, 2017

Special Topics Paper: Reader's Advisory for Parents

I work with kids on a daily basis and so to tie that in with this class I chose to write about conducting Reader's Advisory with Parents. Working with parents can be very tricky and they often come up asking for books to give to their kids - especially teens. Teens can be so busy that they don't have time to come into the library, and sometimes they don't really want to read so parents are trying to make an effort to find a book that will get their teen to enjoy reading. Parents don't always have a great idea about this, and may not understand that their child might be really into graphic novels (as an example) and doesn't see the literary merit in them. Those are the parents who may be like "I want my son to read quality literature, like the Great Gatsby." It's difficult to find a way to please the parent but also find a book that the child will actually read and enjoy reading. I found an article from YALSA that addressed this topic really well. Who is the real patron in this situation? The parent? The Child? Both? What do you do when your patron isn't in front of you at the reference desk but by proxy (the parent)?

The YALSA article reminds the reader that parents are our allies in connecting kids with books and seeing the library in a positive light. That being said, it's top priority that despite how difficult it may be sometimes we need to make sure we provide our parents with excellent readers advisory service. We can steer our reader's advisory interview towards asking the parent questions about the child. What have they read recently? What books have they liked in the past? Does the parent know what the child read recently that they didn't like? Is there a particular reason why a parent is looking for a specific type of book or what about The Great Gatsby makes it a 'quality' book in their eyes? Understanding the parents rationale and as much information about the child's personality and preferences will help greatly with the search for book suggestions that will make both parent and child happy. I also found a great reader's advisory form online from a library that has great questions that could be asked in an in-person interview or a great way for the parent or even the teen to fill out and turn in if they have the time for the librarian to search thoroughly for book suggestions.

You can see the form here:

I also wrote a little bit about Reader's advisory for parents that are seeking materials on parenting advice and how uncomfortable it might be for a librarian who isn't also a parent. I delved into that topic as well because from my own interactions with parents in a library I can sometimes be automatically seen as an expert based on the fact that I represent the library. I'll have parents asking me all sorts of parenting questions and I have no real experience. What I learned for that is to make sure to weed and build a strong collection for parenting that embodies many parenting styles and cultures since it is so different.

Booth, H. (2006). Reader's Advisory by Proxy: Connecting Teens and Books through Positive Interactions with Parents and Caregivers. Young Adult Library Services, 5(1), 14-15.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Mystery Annotation: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Image result for the girl with the dragon tattoo bookBook Information: Larrson, S. (2008). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. New York. Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN: 9780307949486

Summary: Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist who is facing conviction from a libel case is hired by one of Sweden's wealthiest, Henrik Vanger. Vanger offers to provide Blomkvist with evidence to take down the man who Blomkvist lost his libel case against if he solves a missing persons case that has remained unsolved for over thirty years. The missing person is Harriet Vanger, Henrik's grand niece. Blomkvist is aided by Lisbeth Salander, a pierced and tattooed computer hacking prodigy. Together they discover that their case is much more corrupt and goes deeper than their one missing girl.

Characteristics of Mystery: 

  • Plot is driven by the solving of a crime. The detective (main protagonist) and the reader analyze clues and uncover the solution by the end of the book. Throughout the book Blomkvist and Salander examine the missing persons case of Harriet Vanger, who disappeared off of her family island when the bridge was closed temporarily. It's much more difficult to talk about a mystery without giving away spoilers! Let's just say that it gives the reader just enough to follow along and it's almost as if you are there side by side with the characters as you fit the pieces together.
  • Focus on the investigator and/or team with secondary characters playing an important role and can be occurring characters in a series. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in a trilogy (I guess there are four books now, but the fourth book was published by a different author since, unfortunately, Mr. Larsson passed away after publishing the third book). The books focus between the perspectives of Blomkvist and Salander.
  • Setting/Background details play a crucial role and can vary. The book takes place in Sweden, mostly on Hedeby Island (although other locations in Sweden make appearances in the book) where the Vanger estate resides. The details of the island and the layout of the property are crucial to the results of the case. In a lot of mysteries that I've read they tend to take place in a variety of locations - big major cities as well as small rural areas where there's hardly any technology.
  • Mood/tone can vary - sometimes witty and funny, or dark and gritty. There are books, like The Dresden Files that are dark and hilarious, filled with dry and witty humor. In the case of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, it is definitely dark and corrupt. Really heavy book that does a fantastic job showing the reader the horrors of assault and abuse of women.
  • Broad scope - can take place or revolve around periods in history/culture, various social classes, and various language styles. The author is Swedish, so it's no surprise the book takes place in Sweden. Since the case is so old, there is a lot of detail about life on Hedeby Island in 1966. However, a mystery can take place anywhere because in real life, crime can be committed anywhere. There is a lot of flexibility with this genre.
  • Pacing is compelling and always moving. Larsson gets the reader hooked into the book through Lisbeth Salander. We can sympathize with Blomkvist a bit, however, there's not a lot of reader buy-in for wanting to solve the case until Salander gets involved. It kept the pace ebbing and flowing at a good pace, slowing down when needed, but it was hard to put the book down. It's not a quick, overnight read because it's a thicker book, but I also really wanted to digest everything that was happening as a reader.


The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson (because after that, I want to read the next one).

Accused by Lisa Scottoline

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Snow Angels by James Thompson

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Prompt Response Seven: Andrew Luck Book Club

When thinking about celebrity book clubs, I remember last year when Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck announced that he was starting a book club.

I remember talking about this in a room full of other librarians and we were so surprised. Pretty much our team's MVP is taking the time to start a book club? There was no way he was actually in charge of it - maybe it was a PR thing. What kind of books does the guy read? All sports? We chuckled about it.

Boy were we a little judgmental when we should've been ecstatic. Reading the study about Oprah's book club got me thinking about something valuable that I had taken for granted. I got on google and found the official website for Andrew Luck's book club.

Andrew Luck Book Club

The first think you see are two book recommendations for February. I was surprised to see the first book was Number the Stars by Lois Lowery. Just underneath the books is a short video from Andrew explaining how the club worked. Each month he posts two books, one for 'Rookies' - books that he loved as a child, and one for 'Veterans' - what he's currently reading. To participate, all you need to do is read the book(s) and post on social media using his hashtag. The twitter feed is pretty active on the page, - people are reading and Andrew seems to follow along and participate as well.

I'd recommend watching the interview that Andrew says inspired him to start the club here. It starts talking about his love of reading around 3:30. You can see that the interviewers are making a big deal of his love of reading and making some misconceptions about the type of books that he could get his team to read and Andrew immediately jumps to their defense: "Not just sports books, don't sell the locker room short. There's a bunch of good guys in there."

I think celebrity book clubs can do a lot of good at building a community of readers and give fans a chance to connect with their role models through reading. I feel a little bad for not thinking too seriously about Andrew Luck's book club before because I think it's a phenomenal thing he's doing. People don't really consider sports players and fans very literary - it's a common stereotype and it's not good. The fact that a professional NFL quarterback is taking so much time to promote reading to not just kids- but to everyone is awesome and I think that kind of influence would encourage hesitant readers to read more.

The books that Luck recommends are impressive. I definitely had a fan girl moment when I saw one of the previous 'rookie' books he recommended was Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. He read that book as a kid? Me too! I loved that book!

Andrew Luck Book Club still seems pretty small scale- no where near the hype that Oprah's book club ever had. However, I know how much Indy loves the Colts so I see it making an impact here. Imagine if Lebron James started a book club and managed to put as much into it as Andrew Luck does. I think the reception would be insane. I did look this up to make sure he didn't already have one and that  "all the cool sports athletes have book clubs, DUH!" He doesn't, but I did see that he reads a lot as well and at least tells new outlets what he's been reading if asked.

(I know I didn't talk much about the article itself, but this was really where my thoughts were carrying me. I think I kind of mashed the two prompt choices together as this is more of a personal response.)

Butler, R. Cowen, B., & Nilsson, S. (2005). From Obscurity to Bestseller: Examining the Impact of Oprah's Book Club Selections. Publishing Research Quarterly, 20(4), 23-34. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Romance Annotation: Heroes Are My Weakness

Image result for heroes are my weakness Book Information: 

Philips, S. E. (2014). Heroes are My Weakness. New York, NY. HarperCollins.
ISBN: 978-0-06-210607-0


Annie was burnt out and out of options. Swimming in debt and not making decent work as a struggling actress and ventriloquist, she ventures to her late mother's cottage in the middle of winter on an island in Maine. To her disgust, she discovers that her neighbor for the next two months is none other than Theo Harp, a best selling horror novelist who she used to know... and he was the cause of very real terror in her life. Someone wants Annie off the island and while the answer should be obvious, Annie can't help but start to question her judgement about Theo. Is he the villain of her childhood? Or was her perception all wrong?

Characteristics of Romance:

  • Evocative, emotional tone
    This book has a surprising balance between following and breaking the stereotypes of romance. While there is a lot of emotional writing in this book that details the expected intense back stories of the characters and sexual tension, there are a lot of funny, childish tones as well. This has to do with Annie's current profession as a ventriloquist for children. She uses puppets to teach kids not to bully or do drugs and she's a excellent puppeteer. She converses with her puppets, who all have labeled personalities: her alter-ego, her hero, the villain, and the diva. She also brings out her puppets to communicate with a mute four-year-old. Some readers may find this weird for a romance, but I personally loved it.

  • Easily identifiable character types
    While Annie isn't described as strikingly beautiful, she's more of a Jane Eyre/Hermione Granger plain/unruly type: she is strong willed, funny, and smart, albeit taking a blow in her confidence due to her financial situation. Theo is tall, handsome, brooding, dangerous, and sometimes borderline creepy. I actually hated him at first, I had no idea how Phillips could possibly make this guy a character worthy of Annie because I really liked Annie. I will say, Phillips pulled it off and payed homage to classic Gothic romance novels (i.e. Wuthering Heights).

  • A misunderstanding between the protagonists or outside circumstances that force them apart. Followed by a satisfactory resolution 
    I can't say much without giving away spoilers, but this book contains a bit of both of these situations. There's definitely a massive misunderstanding between Annie and Theo, but it was completely intentional.

  • Engaging details of time and place
    The story takes place on Peregrine Island where the residents are all lobster fisherman. Everyone knows everyone's business on this island. While this island is beautiful and full of tourists in the summer, it is essentially cut off from the rest of the world in the winter, which makes it lonely, miserable, and dangerous.

  • Quick read, fast pace, but can be stopped and started easily
    I couldn't put this book down for a few reasons. Initially, I was just flabbergasted at what was going on. I had so many questions and was confused. If it weren't for the fact that I liked Annie and her puppets and that Phillips is incredibly good at weaving in suspense with her writing this book could've been terrible. The story is weird enough that I believe I could put it down and leave it for a week and pick it right back up and know what was going on. The pacing is a tad slow at first but picks up quickly after a quarter of the way through. I wouldn't say it's a quick read, unless you are very dedicated and willing to stay up into the wee hours of the morning like I was.

  • Descriptive Language/romantic/sexual interludes
    Phillips made the story seem very realistic. She paints a gruesome picture of the setting that I could easily imagine the misery of this island in the winter. There is also a lot of descriptive language in the romance/sexual department as well. Sometimes it's traditional and steamy, and in some cases it may get interrupted by the thoughts of a snarky puppet, which just makes the whole thing funny. 


Solsbury Hill by Susan M. Wyler
Inn at Last Chance by Hope Ramsay
The Billionaire Takes All by Jan S. Scott
The Night Remembers by Kathleen Eagle
The Girl from Summer Hill by Jude Deveraux

Saricks, J. G. (2009). The Reader's Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. Chicago, IL. American Library Association.

Week Six Prompt Response

Promoting Romance

I've seen a lot of the "Blind Date" book displays before where the librarians wrap books up in paper so that way no one can "Judge a book by it's cover". Then the readers pick books by only seeing descriptive words written about the book that gives the basics and enough to entice a reader. I actually want to take a similar "Speed Dating" approach to supplement this idea. I think it would be fun to do in February as a little program where librarian's or volunteers 'act' like the book to convince someone they would be a good read in an elevator pitch style and it would be a fun way for a reader to have a 'conversation' with a book. Readers could then pick their top choices and the books would be revealed at the end. I think there are many different ways readers can "speed date" with their books depending on the library and if we would want to make it a one time program or a come-and-go situation i.e. a display with wrapped books and instead of a few descriptive words, like the Blind Date idea, it's actually a conversational 'pick up line' describing the book. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Kirkus-Like Review: Matched

Image result for matched summary
Matched by Ally Condie

Matched is a story that combines the stereo-typical YA love-triangle story with an intriguing Utopian setting.

Imagine what it would be like if the government was in charge of arranging your marriage. Not only that, but the government also arranges every single aspect of your life, including the exact day when you die. 17-year-old Cassia Reyes lives in this type of "Society" where her entire life is planned out for her based on data the government collects on her and her family by constant surveillance. Once every child turns 17 they become "matched" with someone to be their future spouse when they turn 21. To her delight, Cassia learns that her match is her best friend, Xander Carrow, however, she gets suspicious when she sees another face flash on her screen that may indicate that someone else should be her match instead. This person is later discovered to be Ky Markham, who is an outcast in the Society due to a crime his parents committed. Therefore, he is not eligible to be matched with anyone. Sparks fly, and Cassia soon discovers that maybe this Society isn't so perfect after all. This story had so much potential. The setting is captivating because the government strives to keep the world devoid of all culture. Literature, history, art, and any other creative outlet has mostly been destroyed and paper is outlawed. The fact that you could get arrested for learning how to hand write on paper is so crazy that it's amazing. How does one even get their hands on paper? The mysteries about the Society and the government are what will keep one reading - it's definitely not the love-triangle.

Despite the characters being a dull drag, the real pull to this story is the too-perfect world.

Week Five Prompt Response

Romantic Suspense eBook: The Billionaire's First Christmas

I'm unsure about this book. Since it's so short, maybe if I read it for myself I would consider it, but the summary of the book and the reviews didn't have me fully convinced it was worth it. I felt the blog review was slightly more reliable than the amazon review, however I received helpful information from both. From the amazon review, it was clear that this book reads like a Hallmark Christmas movie and gives the reader some feel-good warm fuzzies. It was also helpful to learn that it's told in the POV of both characters and that there is a sequel. If I were to consider buying this I would likely want to see if I can locate the sequel and purchase it as well if a patron were to ask for it.

The blog review didn't mention the sequel, but it was a more critical review and confirmed the feelings that I had about this book. Reading the summary of the book told me that it has a very cliche premise - although given that it's a Christmas story this can usually be forgiven. Most Christmas romances are very cheesy and I'm actually a fan of a lot of them. As someone who would enjoy this kind of thing, I wasn't really too invested in the premise of this story so that's a big red flag if I were looking to buy. Just my opinion- I'm sure that some people would really like this book, and I'd at least be willing to pick it up and give it a try. I wish the blog reviewer would have gone into more detail about why the plot was "Odd". I can see why people would like this story based on these reviews, and may consider purchasing it because even though my personal opinion wouldn't go for it, I do think that based on these reviews that a lot of patrons would enjoy it as a quick read for the holidays.

Also, there's no way this is a romantic suspense...there's no talk of secrecy other than maybe the CEO's reason for why he hates Christmas? I don't get that impression, neither review mentions any element of unpredictability or leaving the reader lingering on a "will they? won't they?" thought. Maybe there is a little suspense here, but I don't think enough that would likely deem it a romantic suspense. Amazon even categorizes it as "Contemporary romance".

Angela's Ashes

I would love to add Angela's Ashes to my collection after reading those reviews. It's clear from reading the reviews that the author is capable of telling an account of real and gruesome circumstances while incorporating humor. I think the first review from Kirkus almost told me too much because I usually want to read the best bone-chilling moments for myself, but the information that the Kirkus review shared definitely made me want to read it. The end of the Library journal review did confuse me a little bit because it said the book was appropriate for 'any age'. Really? Kirkus and Booklist both mention that McCourt talks about sex a little bit in the book. I know it's nothing graphic, and maybe uses special wording to refer to those instances, but the contrast here between these reviews makes me unsure if this could be a juvenile (it was written in the POV of a child) or teen/adult book. I know that this book definitely falls in the YA/adult category, but for someone who previously didn't know that it may come across a little misleading.

I don't think that it's fair that more books are reviewed more so than others. I personally read a pretty narrow scope out of all of the books in the world so if I was purchasing for my library, I would want my collection to have a broader scope to serve a diverse public. I would need to rely on quality, honest reviews to make purchases so if I can't find enough reviews on certain genres that would certainly make my job more difficult. 

I think that positive reviews are a good thing, however I wouldn't trust a perfectly positive review alone. I would look for others that may share a more critical review. When I'm looking at a book I need to see the good (or fantastic!) the bad, and the ugly. I like Good Reads for this because I can usually find some thoughtful reviews from readers who either loved, hate or were indifferent about a book all in one place. I also like Kirkus because they are pretty honest as well. Sometimes those "positive only" reviews are nice because it means that at least someone saw some merit in a book, but if there's too much negative out there, it still might not be enough to sway my decision to purchase it. 

I do not buy for my library but I do evaluate books for programming and story times so I sometimes look for reviews. I use reviews a lot for personal reading especially with genres that I'm not familiar with. I mostly stick to Good Reads for personal use as well as some YouTube reviewers that I know share a similar taste with me.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Secret Shopper Summary

I had a satisfactory experience during my secret shopper assignment, however it definitely could've gone a lot better. The librarian at the reference desk was friendly and I got the impression that she genuinely cared that I found what I was looking for, however, I could tell she was inexperienced with Reader's Advisory. I wasn't asked any open ended questions, so I ended up subtly supplying useful information such as that I was looking for historical fiction similar to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It took the librarian a long time to locate a read-a-like list from Barnes and Noble and determining which books on that list were in the library's collection. Then she asked me if there were any that I liked out of those. Most of the books looked interesting but instead of being historical a lot of them focused on the time-travel aspect of the books and some were even a fantasy genre. I wanted something that took place somewhere in history and had some of the love story similar to Outlander. I did pick out two books on the list that she made a hold request for me.

Luckily, another librarian came to the desk and the librarian who was working with me (let's call her Jane) asked if she had any suggestions as well. The new librarian, I'll call her Sarah, asked if Jane had tried using Novelist. Jane hadn't heard of it and so Sarah took the time to show Jane how to use Novelist and came up with more read-a-like lists for Outlander. Unfortunately, neither librarian thought to ask me about why I liked Outlander to help them recommend books for me. I eventually did supply the information that I wanted a romance that took place in a historical era - but I wasn't sure if they took that information into account. Ultimately the books and authors that were recommended to me through Novelist I did find interesting and had hold requests put in for them as well. The librarians gave printed copies of the lists for me to have to reference and made sure that they had completely answered my questions before I left. I now have two books checked out from those recommendations and maybe I'll read one for the historical fiction genre annotation for this class. I wish they had actually 'interviewed' me, I think I caught them off guard with an RA question. However, they provided generally good service and I could tell they cared about me as a patron.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Week Three Prompt Response

1. I am looking for a book by Laurell K. Hamilton. I just read the third book in the Anita Blake series and I can’t figure out which one comes next!
The Lunatic Café is the fourth book in the series. I used Novelist to find this, I looked up the author and clicked on the ‘series’ tab and selected the Anita Blake series. The books are listed in order.

2. What have I read recently? Well, I just finished this great book by Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer. I really liked the way it was written, you know, the way she used language. I wouldn't mind something a bit faster paced though.

I would probably ask this person a few more questions about why she liked the book. Prodigal Summer is like a romance, but some of Kingsolver’s other books fall under historical fiction and other themes. The Poisonwood Bible by Kingsolver is a highly rated book on Good Reads and considered a better read  than Prodigal Summer, but it is 546 pages, so that may not solve the pacing problem.
From personal experience, I would recommend some Virginia Woolf titles, such as To The Lighthouse. Woolf’s style has beautiful, lyrical writing, and has a faster pace.  I’d also suggest Anthill by Edward O. Wilson and Daughters In Law by Joanna Trollope, which is somewhat of a family drama but has strong family themes with a rich writing style and see if some other titles that Novelist pulled up would interest this reader and go from there.
I spent a lot of time looking at books for this one since I can’t really ask more follow up questions here. I used a modge podge of Novelist and Good Reads to get my recommendations. I used Novelist to give me some similar authors and stories. I also tried the appeal mixer tool on Novelist which was extremely helpful.  Then I used Good Reads to look up the books to get some good plot information and the general vibe from reviewers to check on the pacing. I would definitely use the appeal mixer tool with this patron to see if there’s anything that sticks out.

3. I like reading books set in different countries. I just read one set in China, could you help me find one set in Japan? No, not modern – historical. I like it when the author describes it so much it feels like I was there!
The Pillow book of the Flower Samurai by Barbara Lazar would be a recommendation, as a well rated historical fiction romance similar to Memoirs of a Geisha. However, not sure if the patron is looking for any romance, suspense, adventure. I found 71 results on Novelist that look like well rated adult historical fiction novels that take place in Japan.  The majority of the results appear to be romance, but a variety of time periods from ancient Japan, WWII and more are well represented.

4. I read this great mystery by Elizabeth George called Well-Schooled in Murder and I loved it. Then my dentist said that if I liked mysteries I would probably like John Sandford, but boy was he creepy I couldn't finish it! Do you have any suggestions?
The Man with a Load of Mischief by Martha Grimes & Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. These books form their descriptions sound like they’d be more light hearted (so not overly creepy) but still a well-rounded page turning mystery.
I used a combination of Novelist and Good Reads again. Good Reads sometimes has better descriptions of the books than Novelist does.

5. My husband has really gotten into zombies lately. He’s already read The Walking Dead and World War Z, is there anything else you can recommend?
I am Legend by Richard Matheson. A movie was made out of this book and it is a bestseller zombie book like The Walking Dead and World War Z. Another lesser known title would be Blackout, by Mira Grant, which is a similar dystopian thriller.
Novelist provided some results that I was satisfied with in this case. Hopefully this patron will feel the same way.

6. I love books that get turned into movies, especially literary ones. Can you recommend some? Nothing too old, maybe just those from the last 5 years or so.
 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is one I can think of off the top of my head. It’s a bestselling book with a movie that came out within the last year. However, it’s more or less fanfiction.
Literary is still pretty broad so I’d love to ask for some subgenres that may be preferred. One of the most recent books that have been made into a movie is Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (2017 movie release). In March another movie is coming out for The Zoo Keeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman.
Other more recent books that are more “literary” may be The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, and Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. It would help if I knew if this patron had a preference with reading more literary classics that have been adapted into movies or literary books that have been published more recently.
I actually turned to google for this one since it’s easy to come up with a quick list of recent and upcoming book-into-movie adaptions. Buzzfeed has a useful article, as well as some other social news websites. 

7. I love thrillers but I hate foul language and sex scenes. I want something clean and fast paced.
I just read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton and it’s fairly clean. Mild curse words but they are seldom and no sex, unless you count one particular dinosaur on dinosaur mating scene that gets a three sentence mention. This person sounds like a big fan so I’d want to ask more about which ones they’ve already read so that way I don’t give her a list of all the clean best sellers if this person has read a lot of them.  Novelist has a selection of Christian thrillers, which are likely clean so I would ask of any of those sounds of interest. If not, the internet has very reliably recommended Mary Higgins Clark for clean thrillers. She’s very popular so if this patron has read a lot of Clark already then some read-a-likes Novelist recommends. The Good Reads discussion board was the place to go for looking for clean authors, as I was having a hard time with the authors that Novelist recommended. Sex is everywhere in thrillers. I did find Castle Cape by C. L. Withers which has glowing reviews on Good Reads and is from what I understand, very clean but fantastic thriller.   

How I find Books!
I use Good Reads and book lists that I find online for the most part. I also watch a lot of reviews/book talks on youtube from various users. If you look up polandbananasbooks on youtube I watch a lot of her videos because she reads a lot of YA (which is my personal cup of tea). She may be a little too energetic for some viewers though…she’s loud!  I do enjoy Novelist, although I don’t like that at least on my end I get timed out every once in a while and have to start over.  

Thriller: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Image result for jurassic park book

Book Information:
Crichton, M. (1990). Jurassic Park. New York, NY. Alfred A. Knopf. 
ISBN: 0-394-58816-9

Synopsis: Paleontologist Alan Grant and his paleobotanist graduate student Ellie Sattler, along with a consulting team made up of a cynical mathematician and a lawyer are invited by billionare and CEO of International Genetic Technologies or InGen to his private island off the coast of Costa Rica to visit and experience a new “biological preserve”. The team soon discovers the wonders of this mysterious island, but due to catastrophic circumstances and a bad storm they find themselves trying to simply survive the night, let alone avoid a global disaster.

Characteristics of Thriller:

·         Fast Pace
The entire 400 page book covers the span of a short twenty four hours, with a few short chapters in the beginning a couple days prior to set up the scenario. From there, it’s non-stop action and suspense. (I’ve seen the movie so I kinda knew what was going to happen, but it was still a page-turner)

·         Extreme detail and technical language
The scientific detail is impressive. I’m not sure what lengths of research Crichton did to create such believable geneticists, paleontologists, not to mention the mathematical theories (Chaos theory) and computer coding in this book.  That being said, there are pages and pages of details, graphs, and charts strewn throughout the text. Some of the science is surely fictional given that these scientists can clone dinosaurs, but the theory in essence likely came from legitimate scientific research on genetics and cloning. It wasn’t too technical; as a reader who knew practically nothing on any of these topics, I could follow along.

·         National/International ramifications Dinosaurs. Smart, fast, lethal, carnivorous dinosaurs that somehow are breeding when they aren’t supposed to, getting loose and might have even found a way off the island? Yes, I think that would justify an international crisis.

·         Strong, loner-type protagonists
The main characters in this book, Alan Grant (paleontologist), Ian Malcolm (Mathematician) and Timmy (child) fit this description pretty well. Not much is known about Malcolm and his cynical, “I told you so” personality makes him pretty unlikeable to most of the gang except for Grant and Timmy, who are the other intelligent main characters. Grant, with the most expertise on dinosaurs is definitely the loner-type who would rather be out digging for fossils than teaching classes at a university, which he only does the bare minimum for. Timmy is a dino-obsessed kid who would rather read books than play sports. He’s able to keep up with the adults and is smart enough to protect his sister.  It’s almost hard to believe how calm this kid gets when facing a Velociraptor or a T-Rex.

·         Weak secondary characters
These are most of the people that die.  A few of these secondary characters are likeable, and some make it out alive with a few scratches. Others are not so lucky, and quite frankly, most of them are so annoying that they deserve their fate. A common situation for these secondary characters is that there is only one person who knows how to do a particular thing, who ends up going missing, leaving all the other weak secondary characters to stand around being clueless.
One secondary character who is an exception to this rule is Ellie Sattler, who is almost a main character but doesn’t get enough page-time as the three male main characters above. She’s brave, smart, and puts up with a lot of sexist comments from all the male characters in the book (except Grant, who already knows she’s awesome). Unfortunately she spends most of the book taking care of wounded people and doesn’t get to say a lot. When she is given the opportunity to take action (after insisting that she do so despite male protests), she is marvelous.

·         Dark tone
The secrecy, illegal, unethical genetic research and shady business transactions that happen with InGen and other genetic companies the book describes create a very dark tone.

·         Focus on a profession
The main focus is on the Genetics and Science profession, however, this book does highlight several professions, including Paleontology, Mathematics, and Computer Science.

Read A Likes:
Relic by Douglas J. Preston
Fragment by Warren Fahy
The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
Chimera by Mira Grant

Utopia by Lincoln Child

Saricks, J. G. (2009). The Reader's Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. Chicago, IL. American Library Association. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reading Profile

Once I started working in libraries I finally had time to read for fun again.  Last year, I set a reading goal for myself to keep myself accountable to read while in the MLS program. My goal was 30 books and I ended up succeeding by reading 33. I've upped my goal to 40 books this year so I'm excited to keep going. I'm a hardcore YA reader, and I also used to read a lot of children's fantasy, such as Artemis Fowl, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Inkheart. In particular I enjoy YA fantasy, romance, distopian/utopian/paranormal setting stories. I have started to branch out into other genres, such as adult historical fiction, mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy. My favorite historical fiction so far (I haven't read much) is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I'm currently reading The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon in that series.

Making a list of favorites is one of the most difficult things me, but here is a glimpse at my top 5 favorite series (always subject to change):

1). Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
2). The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
3). Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (I've read the first four books so far)
4).  The Mortal Instruments series by Clarissa Clare
5). Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke

Favorite authors - might give some of a you a better idea of what I read:

J.K. Rowling
Jane Austen
Sarah Dessen
Cornelia Funke
Jim Butcher
James Patterson
Orson Scott Card
Eoin Colfer

Just off the top of my head.