Nothing makes me happier than a patron coming up to the desk, excited over a new book they discovered. Except, of course, when they come back and tell me how much they loved it! A love of books is a must for working at a library, and it then feeds into a new obsession: readers’ advisory.
Readers’ advisory is basically getting the right fiction or nonfiction book into a reader’s hands (or onto their e-reader). This can happen over time, with your librarian seeing what you check out and making recommendations occasionally based on that, or it could be a request from you at that time for them to find items based on your current wants and needs.
As a reader myself, I use readers’ advisory every day, whether I’m at work or not. Loving a book, then scouring to find out what others recommend reading next until the author writes another. Or (le gasp!) maybe the author no longer writes due to ending a series or retiring for various reasons.
Even the most voracious reader, however, doesn’t always have time or energy to go to the library, or maybe wants to be able to find books with ease. In that case, what’s needed is a simple lesson in readers’ advisory!
You start with a simple series of questions, trying to figure out what would satisfy that book tooth. (There’s such a thing as a sweet tooth, shouldn’t there be one for people who yearn for books?)
1) Mood This is the most important question. Do you want something by a tried and true author, or are you wanting to dip your toes into a new genre? Do you want something scary, romantic, hopeful, sad?
2) Content Do you prefer first, second or third person? A female or male protagonist? Tales set in a certain era or area of the world? Should the story have lots of characters or just one or two that take the main focus?
3) Length Are you wanting to settle down into a thick book or do short stories catch your fancy?
Should the book be fast-paced, or slowly draw you into the story with lots of details?
Sites to help you:
Goodreads: This is by far my favorite site to use, both to keep track of what I’ve read and what I want to read. There are always lists and suggestions for the next read, and reviews from readers. I rate books based on how much I enjoyed them, not necessarily for literary merit.
LibraryThing: LibraryThing is the next big …well, thing. It’s more complex than Goodreads, though at least you can upload your GR library to your new LT library. Each book page gives various info regarding reader reviews, conversations about the book, and a large amount of recommendations. There are also word ‘tags’, the most common word/s to describe what the book is about. This can range from “WWII” to “women authors” and everything in between. Clicking these brings you to other titles with the same tag.
FantasticFiction: The go-to place for your fiction recommendations. Each author has their own page with books listed by series, newest title, a short bio, and links to other authors that visitors also looked at. Genre lists give the top authors of that style, new and upcoming releases, and other related genres.
Stopyourekillingme: A comprehensive resource for those who read mystery, spy novels, suspense, and thrillers. They have over 5100 authors with lists of their books and series. You can search by author OR character, as well as see the winners of various Mystery/Thriller awards.
Bookseriesinorder: This site is necessary for anyone who starts a new series, wants to know what comes next, and when it’s coming out. Everyone hates picking up a book, then realizing it’s the third in the trilogy and the butler was responsible the whole time!
KCPL’s New Items feeds: The library’s website has the newest acquired of items, which you can even subscribe to! The lists you choose will be sent to your e-mail as they are updated.
Kenton County Public Library: As always, the staff of Kenton County Public Library is there during library hours to help you find that right book. You can call, e-mail, text, or even chat online.
Every so often, I’ll randomly pick a book off the new shelf, based on its title or cover. I’m an adventurous reader, always ready for something new. Others of my friends prefer to stay within their comfort zone. Both are perfectly fine. No matter if you read a book a day or a book a month, mystery or paperback romance, nonfiction or science fiction, never apologize for what you like. Every book is written for someone, and if it happens to fall into your lap, you are one lucky person!
-Jessica Johnson has been working at the Covington branch of the Kenton County Public Library for over 20 years. When not greeting patrons from the front desk or seeking out her next dozen books to read, she loves to knit, play video games, and spoil her cat, Herman.