Thursday, April 20, 2017

Week 16 Prompt

How have reading and books changed since you were a child?

First, I think that there is a much greater variety than when I was a child. Audiobooks are becoming more popular. There has been a rise in graphic novels. What graphic novels include has expanded. Graphic novels used to mean super hero comic books. While that is still very true, there are also full length novels. There are adaptations of typical novels. There are nonfiction graphic novels. The variety and availability is astounding. There are also ebooks now. You can get ebooks from a variety of vendors and read them on a variety of devices. They are also more accessible. Not only in terms of being able to get them, but also in the sense that people with disabilities have more options. There are applications that will read text on a page. You can enlarge the font on many devices. Some even let you change the background color. You have the ability to look up a word right there in your device rather than having to run to the dictionary (if people even keep those in their homes anymore). The sheer amount of ways that people can read and obtain books has grown.

Second, I think book use in schools has changed a lot. Over the last three years, I have held various positions in elementary and middle schools. When I was in school, we were always reading a book together as a class. It allowed us to discuss the book. It allowed students with a lower reading level to still be able to enjoy the book. It helped to show students that reading can be very enjoyable. It seems that most schools and classrooms have lost that. The amount of testing that takes place has grown. The importance of standards has made it so that reading as a class is more of a luxury in most cases. This means that the students are expected to read more on their own. I think that his means less students ultimately read or listen to a book. I think that it means that the discussion of novels has decreased and the variety of books that students are exposed to has lessened. I am afraid that this results in less lifelong readers. Maybe that is just me being paranoid, though.

What do you see for reading, books, and publishing in the future?

Unless the way our school systems are evaluated changes, I don't see the use of reading and books in schools changing much. I think that it is a result of our focus on standardized testing that has caused this. I really hope that doesn't mean that less children will grow up reading frequently, but it is a possibility.

I think that there will always be people that read and people that don't. It is a personal preference. I would like to think that the variety of ways to read will get more people involved in reading, but that may not necessarily be the case. If you aren't looking at books in general, you aren't going to pay attention when the formats of books change. There will always be some fluctuation, but I don't think there will ever be a time when reading is in danger. With the amount of public libraries, publishing companies, authors, and reading advocates, there is no way that books will get set aside altogether.

I think that it is very possible that the format and variety of books will continue to grow. How can it not? As we as a society grow and change and learn new things so do our ways to communicate with each and express our ideas and feelings. How they will change is a mystery, but I do believe that change and expansion are inevitable. I don't think the typical, physical format will ever be done away with, but there will be other options besides what we have today. People like the variety.

Week 15 Prompt

I am currently in a small library. We have limited space. The only displays that we have aren't even really displays. We keep the new books wrapped around the side of the circulation desk. This does attract a lot of attention. I really wish that we had more room to do displays since they seem to be the most beneficial for reader's advisory. We have books set up here and there, but not enough room anywhere to do anything themed. We do a few spotlights and some pairings.

If we had room to do displays, that would be my biggest choice. I would do them based around a certain theme. It could be genre, it could be topic, it could be character-related, it could be what the staff are reading. There are so many options available when it comes to displays. You are able to change them as frequently as you like and hit different things with each one. It allows for a lot of versatility.

We have started doing some lists, but there is the space issue there as well. We keep a best-sellers list and have posted some read-alikes for popular authors. I feel like annotated lists would be a better bet since it allows the reader to get an idea of what the book is about. There you have to compromise space, though. You can't fit as many books on an annotated list as you can on a read-alike one.

We have tried bookmarks, but they don't really seem to be a hit with our patrons. It is something that they just gloss over at the circulation desk. It is probably because we always have bookmarks setting out.

In a perfect set up, there would be ample room for displays.

As far as online goes, we do have a Facebook page and a Goodreads account. Through Facebook, we share the new titles available. Through Goodreads, we provide different bookshelves based upon genre and other topics. If we had a bigger online following, this would be much more helpful. Unfortunately, our online presence doesn't get as much traffic as we would like. The majority of our patrons fall into the senior citizen age range and tend to be less likely to check online resources. For a different community, though, this could be a good way to get reader's advisory out there.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Week 14 Prompt

To Separate or Not to Separate: GLBTQ & African American Fiction

I am currently working in a very small, rural public library. The majority of our patrons are very conservative. The majority of them are also senior citizens. Our biggest book circulations include Christian fiction, gentle reads, cozy mysteries, and crime novels. At my library, I could not justify setting aside a separate area for these topics, partially because our collection of them are not even substantial. There isn't any demand for these topics. Does that mean that I purposely don't order them? No, of course not, but they get added if they fit the genres that are frequently checked out.

I have mixed feelings about separating these topics in general. Depending upon your patronage, separating these topics could either increase circulation or decrease circulation. For my library, I think that people would feel self-conscious if browsing sections labeled like this, similarly to how they might feel looking at the YA section. Because these aren't common books for most of our patrons, being singled out so blatantly could have a negative effect on circulation of these materials.

I have mixed feelings about separating these topics in general. I understand that promoting books with GLBTQ and African American characters can be empowering and bring a lot of attention to these books. At the same time, though, isn't our overall goal to be inclusive of all types of people? Would putting them in the spotlight help or hinder this goal?

Ultimately, I think the best decision would be to stick to displays. Libraries could display books specifically of these "genres". This could create some attention and allow for perusal without setting them completely in their own area. I also think that it is important, though, to make sure you include these types of books in your regular displays. They contain a variety of genres. It would be easy to find a GLBTQ or African American book that fit in with a genre, appeal, or topic specific display. This would help patrons to consider them as typical books. By using both of these display methods throughout the year, I think that you would be able to do the best of both scenarios for these "genres".

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 13 Prompt

Justifying YA and Graphic Novels in the Library

In a lot of the classes I have taken there has been a huge emphasis on the mission statement. Your library's mission statement should be able to support everything you do in a library. This includes providing young adult and graphic novels. Mission statements tend to be very broad. The simple phrase "providing recreational materials for all age groups and interests" can be a simple enough way to justify including young adult and graphic novels in your collection. 

I think it is very important to provide a wide range of materials to your patrons. Some people would never pick up a young adult or graphic novel unless given the chance through proper display placement. It is healthy to have a variety in the materials you provide.

What it really comes down to, though, is your community. Each community is different. Your collection should reflect your community's needs. I think that these collections are worth investing in at any library, but the amount of time and money spent investing in them will depend on your community and patrons. If you get a lot of young adults traffic or you are trying to increase young adults traffic, then you will most likely spend a lot of time and money on your young adult section. If you get a lot of requests for different graphic novels or the latest volumes in a series, you are going to want to focus time on that section. If they don't seem to be circulating much, though, maybe you only need to stick to adding the best sellers and/or award winning titles. Or maybe your young adults really stick to one genre, so you would need to focus your time on that. 

I guess my bottom line is that I think it is important to provide these different genres, but to what extent is dependent upon your individual library. Knowing your patrons' preferences and having a mission statement that supports the growth of these areas will help you justify having young adult and graphic novel collections at your library should you run into any complaints or questions.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Week 12 Prompt

Where is the book on the narrative continuum?
Mixed (combines highly narrative moments with periods of fact-based prose)

What is the subject of the book?
The book focuses on the decline and fall of the Romanov family, both from the viewpoint of the Romanov family and their poverty-stricken people, all while somehow being able to make you connect with both vastly different sides.

What type of book is it?
This book is kind of a mixture of a biography of the Romanov family and a historical look at Russia's people during that time period. Maybe historical isn't the right word. It describes the experience of various civilians during the Romanov rule and its demise. They are typically from someone's point of view; like an individual, mini-biography of different Russian citizens.

Articulate Appeal
What is the pacing of the book?
I would consider this book to have a measured pace. I like that there were breaks between where the book switched back and forth between the Romanov family and the people of Russia. I think that this made it easier to read and kept it from feeling slow.

Describe the characters of the book.
Of the Romanov family, the book focuses on Nicholas and Alexandra,the tsar and his wife. We see the circumstances that they went through, how that influenced their decisions, some glimpses of their personality through outside sources, and a bit into their emotions. There are also several short stories of different Russian peasants. Each of these tells a set of difficult circumstances that the peasant encountered. The author writes in a way that allows us to connect with all of the characters, whether royalty or peasant.

How does the story feel?
This book definitely has a dark and grim feel. The time period was not an easy one and the author makes sure that you understand that.

What is the focus of the story?
The focus is the experiences of both the royalty and the peasants leading up to and during the fall of the Romanov family.

Does the language matter?
I think that the language used makes it feel less like nonfiction. The author uses adjectives well. There is not a dense vocabulary (though it does include some Russian words). There are quotes from other people. This all makes it an easier nonfiction read.

Is the setting important and well-described?
The setting in a typical sense is not essential, other than it happened in Russia during the late 1800s and early 1900s. What is important here is the time period and what the people experience rather than it takes place in such-and-such city.

Are there details and, if so, what?
There are dates listed when important. Most of the details are narrative in nature. They describe the daily life or important events in people's lives. There are quotes throughout.

Are there sufficient charts and other graphic materials?
There is a family tree and a map at the beginning of the book and pictures throughout.

Are they useful and clear?
Yes. I flipped back to re-examine the family tree and map multiple times. This helped me to keep track of the people and the geography that were being discussed. The pictures help to give you a feel of what the people were like and dealing with during this time period.

Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding, or experience?
I think that this book is meant to stress experience. We are looking at the collapse of the Romanov family. We are meant to see why it collapsed and experience the life that the different people involved experienced in order to help us understand why it happened.

Why would a reader enjoy this book?

  1. Experience driven
  2. Dark and grim feel
  3. Easy-to-read language

Literary Annotation: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Details -
  • Title: Station Eleven
  • Author: Emily St. John Mandel
  • Publication Date: June 2, 2015
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • # of Pages: 352
  • Setting: mainly Canada and U.S., before and after a pandemic
Synopsis -
Station Eleven follows the lives of five individuals before and after the pandemic of the Georgia Flu. Each of their journeys are connected. We get to see how the world looks differently to each individual character and their reflections. During their lifetime, a flu like no other has hit the world, taking countless people with it. The survivors are left with little more than their own skills and what they can scavenge. Will they be able to start over? How will this effect their lives? What is important in the world anyway? Follow an aging actor, a paramedic-in-training, an artist, a dear friend, and a traveling Shakespearean actress to find out what drives them and how they cope. 

Fantasy Characteristics -
  • Typically award-winning (while this did not win, it was nominated for two awards)
  • Character-centered (story focuses on how the individuals cope with their lives rather than specifically what caused these conditions)
  • Thought-provoking (characters reflect on the important aspects of life and how it has affected them rather than their emotions)
  • Story is layered and includes background details (all characters have some important connection to the character Arthur, also focuses on past and present situations and making sense of them both, isn't really a straight storyline and jumps between moments in their lives)
  • Characters are very introspective
  • Darker tone (post-apocalyptic world)

Read-a-Likes -

Awards or Lists -
National Book Award Finalist
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist

My Thoughts -
I enjoyed this book. I love to see things from different characters' perspectives, especially while trying to see the connection between each one. I liked seeing the different points in each character's life. I wasn't sure about it when I first started, but the last line of chapter two had me hooked. It reads, "Of all of them there at the bar that night, the bartender was the one who survived the longest. He died three weeks later on the road out of the city." At this point, I had forgotten that it was based around a pandemic. I was very much intrigued and loved the style of writing. The bluntness of it after these characters had been sitting around talking just appealed to me. It is definitely a very thought-provoking book. There are a few things that frustrated me, but only because I like to have things wrapped up somewhat at the end. One of the characters, Kirsten, cannot remember the first year of her life on the road after the pandemic. We never get to see that part of her life. There also isn't really any conclusion. The people go on as they were, trying to build a life. We don't get to see what the world ends up like or see any connection outside of North America. These things were slightly irritating, but I was okay with it because it doesn't really fit in with this genre anyway. Bottom line: If you are looking for a book that will leave you thinking afterwards, read this. If you like plot-driven stories with tidy endings, don't read it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Week 11 Prompt

Personal Preferences
I typically go with what is the most convenient. I have no problem with eBooks. I like that they are much lighter in my purse. I don't go anywhere without a book, so this can make a big difference. I like the immediacy of eBooks. I do not like the long wait lists that come with the more popular eBooks through my library's lending system. (They use OverDrive.) If it is a book that I am going to permanently add to my collection or read over and over, though, I want the physical book. There are times where I just want something familiar. For those books, I want the physical copy. I love seeing them placed on my shelf. If it something that I don't know I will love yet or am impatient to read (and the library doesn't have it available in any format and waiting 2-3 days to get it from Amazon is unbearable and I can't go to my local bookstore because it is completely unorganized and half an hour away), I am okay with purchasing an eBook. While permanent collection is compromised of more physical books, I wouldn't put myself in Camp Anti-eBook.

I can definitely say that I am in Camp Don't-Even-Suggest-An-Audio-Book. I understand their merits for other people, but they are definitely not my cup of tea. I am very much a visual learner. Pretty much my only experience with audio books dates back to elementary school. The teacher would occasionally make us follow to a recording of a book that the class was reading. I hated it. I always finished reading before the narrator. I despised the chiming sound that mean you had to turn the page or that the chapter was finished. I felt like the background noises meant to coincide with the text's descriptions just completely threw me out of the experience. Not everyone shares my preferences, though. I get that and in no way do I think that they are useless.

Initial Thoughts
With my personal preferences, I did not at first realize the implication that format could have in this case. They are still the same book after all, right? The only things that I could come up with are the advantages for people with disabilities. For the most part, there is a lot that you can alter about an eBook. If you have trouble reading small print, you can make the font larger. If some colors are harder to read, there is the option to alter that. If the font itself is unbearable, you can change that. Don't have a reliable way to get to the library? Check out an eBook. Do you rely on a transportation service due to mobility issues? Check out an eBook. Will you end up pulling your hair out if you try to go to the library with your crazy children who have to touch everything and need your undivided attention or will run around? (I've totally been there.) Check out an eBook. Work during the hours that the library is open? Check out an eBook. There are so many advantages to this format.

After the Readings
I never thought about the fact that you can't see how much is left could make a difference. I am afraid that is all I will think about from now on. (Thanks a lot, Dunnebeck.) I can definitely see how that could be an important appeal factor. If your excitement (or dread) builds up as you see the end of the book approaching, then the eBook format probably isn't for you. I have run into the problem of trying to find a specific part in a book for reference. If you need to remember exactly which character they are talking about, for example. Skimming back through to find that spot is definitely much harder in an eBook. On the flip-side though, attaching notes and highlighting is much easier. EBooks allow you to look at a list of the notes and highlights that you have made and go back to those spots specifically. This could be an advantage for someone who takes extensive notes during a book. (I occasionally do this if I am reading for an assignment or trying to find out who the murderer is in a mystery. Have you ever read The Westing Game? It is one of my favorites from middle school and definitely one that could require note-taking depending upon your style.) You also have to consider how easy it is to physically read an eBook. Reading an eBook makes it much easier to read at night because you don't need as much light, but at the same time it can be very hard on people with sensitive eyes to read on a back-lit screen. I never really thought about how all of these factors could relate to reader's advisory until this week's reading.

Audio Books
Initial Thoughts
I honestly don't know much about audio books. I am overwhelmingly a visual learner, so I haven't had an personal experience with them myself. I can understand their value for people who learn or pay attention better when presented with things in an audio format. I also hear a lot about people who travel a lot or are taking a long road trip using audio books. Audio books could also be beneficial for those patrons who have a visual impairment.

After the Readings
I knew nothing about audio books before reading this week's article and blog post. I never even put any thought into the narrator; I assumed that the book was narrated by the author. Are the narrators featured just as highly (or more so) than the author on the case? Do certain narrators stick to certain genres? Just from the different descriptions of narrators I can understand the importance of choosing the right one. It needs to match both the tone and mood of the book while also appealing to the listener. Patrons can have preferences between male and female characters, reading pace, and voicing characteristics. I assume that there are narrators with different accents as well. This could have an effect on whether or not a listener enjoys the audio book. Then there is the format of the audio book. You have tapes, CDs, and streaming. I know that you can get audio books through Amazon's Audible and that OverDrive provides streaming audio books. It seems that a lot of people use audio books in a vehicle though. Would it be practical or even accessible to use these in the car? They would need to consider what they would be using it on. How are audio books formatted? Is there a track for each chapter or does it just go from beginning to end? Do they all have cues at the end of each chapter? Are there some that use multiple narrators in order to voice different viewpoints? I didn't realize just how much I didn't know about audio books. This reading left me with a lot of questions. I can definitely understand how their is more to reader's advisory of this format than simply whether or not you like to listen to a story rather than read it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fantasy Annotation: King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Details -
  • Title: King's Cage
  • Author: Victoria Aveyard
  • Publication Date: February 7,2017
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • # of Pages: 528
  • Setting: future North America, new countries: Norta, Piedmont
Synopsis -
Background: In this future world, the population has become split between two groups: red bloods and silver bloods. The silver bloods have special abilities based upon their familial ties, such as control over fire, water, or plants. The silvers have risen to power and nobility, now ruling over the different countries that make up what used to be North America. The main country in focus is Norta. Reds are not so fortunate. They face poverty, hunger, and conscription into a never-ending war with the neighboring country of Lakeland. There is no chance at changing; you are either a wealthy silver or a poverty-stricken red. Or so the world thought until Mare Barrow came along...

King's Cage is the third installment in Victoria Aveyard's best-selling series, Red Queen. Mare Barrow has just surrendered herself to the terrifying and cruel king Maven in order to save her friends and family. She finds herself as Maven's prisoner, isolated within his castle. Thanks to his unhealthy obsession with her, Mare learns more and more about how Maven became the kind of person he is while also trying to pick up hints at what advances the Scarlet Guard is making. Through Cameron, a newblood character introduced in the second book in the series, we get the inside scoop on the Scarlet Guard's movements. Will they be able to rescue Mare? Is that even their focus? Where do their true loyalties lie? What are Maven's ultimate plans for Mare? Will be able to face down the uprising that the Scarlet Guard has started? Through the multiple perspectives of Mare, Cameron, and later the silver Evangeline, we see the story told from the viewpoints of three strong, female characters and the impact that each has on the fate of Norta.

Fantasy Characteristics -
  • Includes elements of magic (silvers' and newbloods' special abilities)
  • Focus on relationships and emotions (We learn a lot about how Mare feels and see how that affects her actions.)
  • Setting is focused on reality, but altered through a great time advance in the future
  • Contains romantic interest without that being the focus
  • Battle of Good vs. Evil told over a series of books
  • Follows the same storyline throughout the series, rather than focusing on different adventures in an installment
  • Optimistic for victory, but not accomplished without loss (Mare loses people who are important to her throughout the series in a variety of different ways.

Read-a-Likes -

Awards or Lists -
This book has high reviews from many reputable sources, such as Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. It is much too new of a book to have won any awards. The Red Queen series has been on the best-sellers lists and each book has received praise.

My Thoughts -
This is my jam. YA dystopia/fantasy books with strong females characters that struggle with their emotions and flaws are one of my favorite types of books. I have read every single read-a-like on the list for this annotation (The Maze Runner is the only one without a female protaganist.). I have devoured each of those series just like I have the Red Queen series. I really liked that this time around we got to see into Cameron's and Evangeline's thoughts. It allowed the reader to see the same story from multiple perspectives and learn more about the characters. For some reason, I was under the impression that this was the last book. (Maybe because it seems like there are soooooo many trilogies lately.) Because I was in that mindset, I kept looking at how many pages I had left thinking that things would never be wrapped up nicely. It ended in a way, though, that sets itself up for a good transition. The war has not ended, but there is a plan and new alliance in place. Mare is left dealing with a difficult personal situation at the end of the book. It left me very impatient for the fourth book in the series. I feel like everything is at a tipping point and the characters are going to have to make some hard decisions in the next installment. Bottom line: if you like fast-paced, character driven, fantasy novels, then read this series.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Club Experience

The book club that I am focusing on was held at a local public library near the end of February. The book that was featured was A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. Having not read this book myself, I played the role of observer.

Before attending this book club, I tried to do some research on the book club itself. Other than where it is held and what the current month's book was, I couldn't really find any information on their website or in their newsletter. From attending, I didn't glean much more information of exactly how the book club works. At the end of the meeting, the next book's title a reminder was shared for the next month's meeting and book. How they chose the books or dates, I have no idea. I assume that the dates are chosen on a schedule. The dates for both February and March were on Monday evenings about three fourths of the way into the book. Unfortunately, the calendar on the library's website did not give much information beyond March. I was hoping to see if the date was on a particular day each month and what their upcoming books were, but that information was not provided. I very much got the sense that the attendees were regulars and knew the ins and outs of how the book club worked. As a new face, I would have liked a little more explanation on what exactly the plans were.

The two book choices that I was able to find were A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman for February and Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser for March. I decided to read the synopsis for each of these books to see if there was a particular type of book that this club leans towards. February's pick is a New York Time's best selling book about a man who is more than he seems. From first observation, the main character is a cranky old man with an unfriendly attitude. Upon further investigation by a new neighboring family, the reader learns more about his sad and endearing history. The book is described as heart-warming. In comparison, March's book seems to have a much grittier and darker feel. It follows a sixteen-year-old, independent, and courageous girl in her journey to save a baby from a criminal home. While the setting and tone seem much different than A Man Called Ove, both seem to have strong characters with deep personalities in settings that are not ideal. Having only two books to go by, I would say that this book club most likely prefers books that focus on characters rather than plot.

The book club was held in the meeting room of the public library. There was a staff member who seemed to be the facilitator. She greeted each member as they entered and began the discussion. She started with a synopsis of the book and then opened up a question to the rest of the members. The members were all middle-aged to seniors with a good mixture of men and women. They took turns politely answering the questions and starting their own discussion. The library staff member did not answer or respond to any question directly unless the discussion was at a low point. When this happened, the staff member would share her opinion or open up the discussion with a new question. While all members participated, there were a few that were more vocal than others. While they each brought their own ideas to the discussion, I got the impression that they all typically carried similar views. The library that I participated at is in a small, rural area. The fact that the members seemed to share views did not surprise me very much. They all are from similar backgrounds and of similar ages. Overall, the discussion happened very smoothly without many pauses. The members were polite. The atmosphere was friendly. The only off-putting factor was that, as a new-comer, the familiarity between members and lack of inclusion for me. If I had read the book, this may not have been the case. I think I would like to participate in this book club in the future to see if it feels different being an active participant.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Special Topic: Graphic Novels

What are graphic novels?
Merriam-Webster defines a graphic novel as "a story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book". Graphic novels utilize a series of panels that typically include graphics, speech bubbles, and thought bubbles in order to tell a story. Graphic novels require the reader to not only read the text, but also to read the illustrations. Graphic novels can come in both fiction and nonfiction formats, as well as a variety of genres. Graphic novels are seen as a format rather than a genre. ("GET GRAPHIC: The World in Words and Pictures". n.d.)

Common Types of Graphic Novels
  • Manga - a Japanese form of comics that are read from top to bottom and right to left
  • Superhero - think Marvel and DC
  • Nonfiction - comes in a variety of topics though autobiographies, biographies, and historical events are most common
  • Adaptations - popular novels converted to a graphic novel format (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Hobbit)
Since Graphic novels are a format rather than a genre, the genre appeals apply here too. Does the reader want somethign that is face paced and has a hero like those found in the action genre? Superhero graphic novels or Seinen manga graphic novels may be up his or her alley. Does the reader want a thought-provoking story line, like in literary fiction? An adapataion of a classic nove, such as A Wrinkle in Time, may fill that need. Does the reader want a book that focuses on relationships and romance with easily identifiable characters? A Josei manga novel may be what he or she is looking for. (Saricks, 2009) The same is true of all other genres. These different characteristics can  all be found in graphic novel format. The reader, though, must show in interest in that format.

Visual Focus
Graphic novels have a way of showing, rather than telling, a story that is better suited for some readers. Rather than having to try to picture the scenario or setting in their head, graphic novel readers are able to see allof the details on the page. This allows the reader to focus their visual skills in concluding what is happening rather than their reading comprehension and abstract thinking. (Kukkonen, 2013) Graphic novels leave visual clues that lead the reader toward a certain point. These visual clues help to keep the reader in suspense and anticipate what might come next. (Kukkonen, 2013) This means that a reader who has an eye for these type of visual dtails would be more likely to enjoy a graphic novel than a person who sweeps over the illustrations quickly.

Struggling Readers
Struggling readers may find typical novels intimidating. The speed at which a graphic novel can be finished can help to boost students' confidence levels. (Alverson, 2014) For these readers, graphic novels can serve as a bridge or stepping stone into the typical novel. ("GET GRAPHIC: The World in Words and Pictures", n.d.)

Graphic novels also provide ample teaching benefits. If you would like to know more about the benefits of using graphic novels in an educational setting, check out the resources listed below by Alverson and GET GRAPHIC: The World in Words and Pictures.

Alverson, B. (2014, September 08). Teaching With Graphic Novels. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from
GET GRAPHIC: The World In Words and Pictures. (n.d.). Retrieved March 08, 2017, from
Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2017, from 
Kukkonen, K. (2013). Studying comics and graphic novels. West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell.
Lee, S. (2013, November 17). Stan Lee on what is a superhero. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from
L. (n.d.). LibGuides: Graphic Novels and Manga: Manga. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from
Saricks, J. G. (2009). The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction (Second ed.). American Library Association.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Week 7 Prompt

I did not realize that fake memoirs were a thing, but I can't say that I am surprised. So many movies have the description "Based on a true story." It is a selling point. People like the idea that what they are reading or seeing is true. From the marketing stand point, I get it.

I do not understand how someone can morally make the decision to sell works of fiction as nonfiction, though. That is simply lying to every person who reads your book. It is making up stories about people you have come into contact with for your gain only. It is disrespectful to people who have actually been in those situations, especially the title listed on the Wikipedia website where someone fabricated Holocaust experiences. That's just despicable. No one should wish themselves into those situations.

Last semester I took S672 Seminar in Literature for Youth. The focus of this particular seminar was nonfiction. We talked a lot about authenticity. There are things to look for in nonfiction to further support their claims. There should be citations. Direct quotes are good to include. Primary documents help to support the text. These are all things, both as librarians and as readers, we should look for in a nonfiction book. While a memoir isn't quite the same, I do think that they could include specific dates, photographs, quotes from other people, and, in some cases, supporting documentation for the events that they claim have occurred. When it comes to emotions and thoughts, of course, we will have to take the author at his or her word.

That got me thinking: Who should be in charge of ensuring that a memoir is truthful? Obviously, I would hope that the author would only include facts, but we see that this isn't always the case. Does that job fall to the publishers? The readers? The booksellers and librarians? Who should be held responsible?

For myself, I think that the publishers should at least be our first line of defense. They should provide enough fact checking in order to be reasonably sure that the majority of the memoir isn't false. Publishers, though, are in the business to make money. Do they fact check and ignore the findings if they think that a book will sell well? Do they simply not fact check and take the author at his or her word? Simply from reading The Smoking Gun's article about A Million Little Lies, we see that one of these scenarios has to fit as least some publishing companies.

The job of fact checking seems to fall to the reader. Not everyone is going to have the skills or tools necessary to do this. We typically rely upon authority figures, such as libraries and reviews. With libraries, that can be tricky. It is our job to provide books that patrons want to read as much as it is to provide accurate information. If a book is listed on best sellers lists, praised by experts, and requested often, do we order it despite the lack of supporting evidence that it is true?

I am peeved that Oprah Winfrey endorsed this book without someone having fact checked it. Her book club has a huge following. Her choices are influential. It should have been her administration's responsibility to ensure that a nonfiction is actually true before endorsing it. Just from reading The Smoking Gun's article, there are several portions of this book that seem outlandish. Did no one stop to think that it might be better to fact check this book before promoting it? Or was it a matter of money at play again? People with this much influence should take their responsibility more seriously.

This whole topic upset me. I suppose that the best thing for us to do is try our best to provide our patrons with accurate materials and opportunities to show our patrons how to examine materials themselves.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mystery Annotation: Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley

Details -
  • Title: Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
  • Author: Alan Bradley
  • Publication Date: September 20, 2016
  • Genre: Mystery
  • # of Pages: 326
  • Setting: 1950's Bishop's Lacey, England
Synopsis -
In the eighth installment of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce novels, Flavia has made her way back after being kicked out of a Canadian boarding school. Upon arrival, she finds that her father has contracted a serious case of pneumonia and is in the hospital, her sisters are as unwelcoming as ever, her live-in cousin is just as insufferable, and her poor pet chicken has been butchered. This is not the reception for which she has been hoping. She immediately wishes to set out to see her father, but is delayed time and again by the matron's insistence that he receive no visitors. She instead sets out to on an errand for the vicar's wife and stumbles upon the corpse of an old man. With the use of her budding deductive skills and affinity for chemistry, this young and spunky heroine sets out to solve the mystery of his death, all while dealing with her own dysfunctional family dynamics. 

Mystery Characteristics -
  • The plot focuses around a crime; in this case (and most mystery books) the focus is on a murder.
  • The story focuses on our young (12 years old) investigator, Flavia.
  • Contains interesting supporting characters in the form of both suspects and series characters.
  • One in a series, containing both enticing mysteries and interesting character life, which keeps the reader returning to learn more.
  • The investigator genuinely enjoys solving crimes (in Flavia's case, she particularly enjoys happening upon dead bodies and is intrigued by the chemistry that takes place there).
  • The author sets the frame and setting to attract readers.
Characteristics of Amateur Detective Subgenre
  • The main character "falls into" the case when she attempts to deliver a letter and find a corpse instead.
  • The main character has a contact with the police department. Flavia frequently shares her findings with Inspector Hewitt and looks up to him. She wants to impress him.
  • Plot has a gentler tone.
  • The investigator is not formally trained since she is a 12-year-old girl.
Read-a-Likes -

Awards or Lists -
This book has high reviews from many reputable sources, such as Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews. For his Flavia de Luce series, Alan Bradly has won numerous awards, including:
  • Debut Dagger Award of the Crime Writers Association in the UK
  • Agatha Award for Best First Novel
  • 2010 Dilys, awarded by the International Mystery Booksellers Association
  • Spotted Owl award, given by the Friends of Mystery
  • 2010 Arthur Ellis Award, given by the Crime Writers of Canada for Best First Novel
  • titles on ALA's best books lists and New York Times Best Sellers lists

My Thoughts -
This is one of the series that I follow. I would definitely call it a "cozy" mystery. It is leisurely paced and is about more than just the murder, though that is the main story line. The main character, Flavia, is also dealing with a lot in regards to her family. The entire series is told from her perspective, which gives you a really good view into her personality. It is easy to fall in love with her wit and humor and somewhat sad to see her family dynamic. The way that she handles various situations is endearing. The series also gives some insight into the personalities of her family members and neighbors as well. Her love of chemistry and age definitely make her a unique heroine. The murders in each book are complicated enough that I never guess how all of the pieces fit together, but I do make some correct guesses. The murder mystery part of it is fun, but Flavia is definitely why I keep returning to this series. I fall in love with her character again during each book. In order to really enjoy it, though, you need to be in the mood for something a little bit slower. Don't read this when you are in the mood for a fast-paced, action packed novel; you won't do it justice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Week 6 Prompt

This is totally late, but hopefully someone will enjoy it anyway!

For Week 6's prompt, I have chosen to focus on Gentle Reads. I really like the initial description used in our textbook: Warm Milk. When I think of Gentle Reads, I think of books that are meant to help you relax. Nothing is rushed. Everything works out in the end. They may even be a bit funny.

Two times of year come to my mind when I think of Gentle Reads: summer vacation (beach reads) and winter break (cozy up with a blanket and hot chocolate reads). Both are times of year that people most wish to relax and take it easy. I think that a display during each of these times of year would do best. You wouldn't necessarily name your display Gentle Reads. I am thinking more something along the lines of "Relax on the beach or by the pool with...." and "Snuggle up with your blanket, hot chocolate, and one of these cozy titles." I would set up a reading corner near these displays meant to show that same scenario. You could use beach chairs, sunglasses, and sand toys for the summer reading. For the winter display, you could set out blankets, pillows, slippers, snow globes, and even hot chocolate. You could give a short description of each suggested book and why it would be perfect for these take-it-easy times of year. Making the displays / reading corner eye-catching would draw more patrons in to read the blurbs.

I also think that it would be a good idea to incorporate one of the suggested titles in with the monthly book club. You could start with these lists to choose a book and then make it into a display for the entire season. This will give automatic recommendations to your book club members who enjoyed the book you chose to focus one.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Week 5 Prompt

Romantic Suspense Novel Reviews
These reviews are not professionally written. They contain numerous typographical errors. Both reviews state their opinions without really giving supporting evidence from the book. They both give a pretty good summary, but I don't really trust their reviews. The Amazon review gushes without giving supporting details. The blog review is wishy-washy. He or she says that they enjoyed the book, yet thought the plot was odd. Other than it was focused on Christmas, the blog poster doesn't really say what made it odd. There is not enough supporting details in order for me to take these reviews seriously.

From these reviews, I also do not get the feeling of a romantic suspense novel. There are no elements of suspense noted.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
These reviews are much more professionally written. There are no "I" statements. The different aspects of the text, such as the focus on humor, are backed up by examples from the text. The reviews focus on the aspects of the text rather than the reviewers feelings about the book. Because of this, it feels much more like a recommendation than simply someone's opinion. The reviewers weaved a summary into explaining the feeling of the book. I would be much more likely to add Angela's Ashes  to my library than The Billionaire's First Christmas. In fact, I think that I will check my catalog now to see if we have a copy.

Book Review Bias
It definitely seems that there are biases when it comes to choosing books to review professionally. The books that you see reviewed are typically either literary fiction, popular authors, or more socially accepted genres. You don't see many reviews of romance or romantic suspense featured in Kirkus. I think that this may come from the idea that all romance and romantic suspense novels are is fluff. I assume that reviewers typically review genres that they enjoy and not many reviwers prefer these genres.

As far as how it affects my book ordering, though, I am not sure that it does. Honestly, our patrons read romance, cozy mysteries, and Christian fiction more than any other genres. Because we know this, we have an automatic order set up with book vendors for these genres. Do I specifically go looking for these types of titles to add? No. We already get new ones in regularly. I focus my efforts on finding reviews for those genres that we do not have on automatic order.

Negative Reviews
I am not quite sure exactly how I feel about negative reviews. I think that they are important. A review should be honest. I do not think that it is okay to pay someone to only say nice things about a book if they don't have only nice things to say. That much I know. When it comes to whether or not to publish those negative views is where I am on the fence. Personally, I want to read honest reviews whether they are good or bad. It is frustrating not to be able to find a review for a book. If the company's sole focus is only to recommend books, though, I am not sure that it is necessary to publish negative reviews. If a book has an overwhelmingly negative review, the company will obviously not want to recommend it. I do think that it is important for people to know this about a company, however. They should be forthright with what you expect to get from their reviews. If they don't post negative ones, it should be common knowledge.

My Use of Reviews
I use reviews both when ordering books for my library and my own personal use. I stick to the big names: Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. I also check the Amazon description for the book. Sometimes reviews from other magazines, newspapers, and authors are listed there. The more good reviews that the book can brag about, the better.

When ordering for the library, I am more professional when it comes to book reviews. I look at the big names and see if it has won any awards. When looking for myself, I do these things, too. I also, however, look at personal comments in Amazon and Goodreads. I don't read through them thoroughly. You are more likely to find spoilers that way. I glance over the top few reviews to kind of get a feel for how the book was received.

Kirkus Style Review - A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin follows a series of characters in the fight for the throne of the kingdom before the oncoming winter.

With winter comes great despair and hardships. Throughout the realm of the Seven Kingdoms, various parties have different views of who would best rule for this oncoming time. Throughout multiple perspectives, we see that the fight for the thrones is fought with more than simple swords and shields. Secret battles, attempted murder, political intrigue, back-stabbing actions, and many other attacks are used to gain the advantage. Stuck in the middle of this complicated situation is the Stark family of Winterfell. George R. R. Martin weaves the various members of the Stark family, among many others, into the thick of the struggle for the throne. Every member of the Stark family plays an important role in this struggle, from 7-year-old Bran to head-of-the-household Ned. Even with a multitude of different characters, each one is well-developed. The various story plots interconnect between key figures and help to develop a complex and real story. The depth that Martin produces in both the plot and the characters provides for a world that the reader can immerse themselves into, as long as they can keep track of who is doing what.

This book, while creating an in depth and complicated world, is not for light readers. Serious focus is required in order to fully enjoy and understand this first novel in the series A Song of Fire and Ice.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Secret Shopper

The library that I went to serves a single town. It has one branch and only had one desk. All queries are answered at this one desk. While there was no signage promoting reader's advisory, the librarian was very friendly and willing to help.

I asked specifically for a literary fiction recommendation. (That is the only genre annotation for which  don't have a book picked out.) She gave me a puzzled look at consulted her computer. I told her that it was for an assignment. She seemed to consult Google and then switch to Goodreads. Google gave her fairy tales and fables. Through Goodreads she was able to find some actual titles that would fall under that category. She did consult a decent tool in searching Goodreads, but did not have ask the necessary questions in order to narrow down the choices for me. She gave me a list of titles. After it seemed that was all she was going to do, I told her thank you and that I would review the titles and come back. During the reader's advisory interview, she did ask me what I liked to read. There was no follow up, however, and she did not learn much about my reading tastes.

While I wouldn't exactly call this experience unsuccessful, it was not what it should have been. I walked away with a list of titles to look into, but I still don't have a book lined up for that category. Knowing the community that this library serves and its size, I believe that this transaction was not very successful due to lack of experience. I doubt that they get many reader's advisory questions in general, and probably even fewer asking for literary fiction. Lack of knowledge and training is most likely what made this transaction less successful than it could have been.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Romance Annotation: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Details -
  • Title: The Notebook
  • Author: Nicholas Sparks
  • Publication Date: January 5, 2000
  • Genre: Romance
  • # of Pages: 206 (Kindle edition)
  • Setting: 1946 & present-day-ish New Berne, North Carolina
Synopsis -
The story begins with an elderly man in a nursing home. He finds his way to a woman's room who has Alzheimer's. Throughout the day, he reads to her from a notebook about the love between Noah and Allie. They fall in love as teenagers, are separated, and think each has forgotten the other. Through this story, we learn of their timeless love. Later on, we learn more about the elderly gentleman and lady that we meet at the beginning of the story. We reminisce with him through his life's memories. This couple shows the reader the possibilities that an enduring and passionate love can have on a life.

Romance Characteristics -
  • Contains the tone and mood of a romance in that it focuses on emotions, feelings, and thoughts of the characters.
  • The characters exhibit qualities of easily identifiable types: Noah is strong and rugged while Allie is beautiful, strong, and bright.
  • The story contains both outside circumstances that force them to part (Allie is forced to move with her parents at the end of the summer) and a misunderstanding between protagonists (Allie never receives the letters that Noah sends).
  • The language is that of a typical romance novel. There is a lot of poetry and descriptive language.
  • The focus is on the characters and their emotions rather than the plot.
  • The focus is on the romantic relationship.
  • Fast-paced in that it was an easy book to read through quickly.
  • Results in a "happy" ending; Allie remembers Noah on their anniversary night. They spend that night together like they used to be.

Read-a-Likes -
*Disclaimer* Since I do not have much experience with this genre, these read-a-likes were gathered through reader's advisory resources.

Awards or Lists -
While this book has not won any awards (to my knowledge), it was turned into a major motion pictures. The movie was nominated for and won many different awards.

My Thoughts -
I have mixed feelings about this one. The initial portion of the book that goes through Allie and Noah's past was not for me. I found it all too neat and cliche. There was some eye-rolling involved. I had a hard time relating to it. It was all love and understanding. Where was the anger? Where was the frustration? Why was everyone so understanding? No one would be that understanding in real life. The second half of the book, however, got to me a bit more. The second portion was told from Noah's point of view in the present day. He thought back through memories with his children and with Allie. He reread letters that they had written to each other. He dealt with the difficult feelings that come with a loved one with Alzheimer's. This I found much more touching. To imagine the pain that someone must go through in that situation was heartbreaking. Overall, I thought it too idealistic. I am not a big romantic, though. I don't believe in love at first sight; I believe that love takes work and sweat. This book made love sound like something that easily and naturally came to two people. I know Nicholas Sparks is a popular author, but I don't think he is the author for me or that romance is the genre for me.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Week 3 Prompt

Reader's Advisory Prompt Questions

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!

I searched the keywords Anita Blake in NoveList. The first two results were Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. The first result was a novel series; the second result was a graphic novel series. Looking at the details for both, I concluded that the patron was most likely looking for the next novel, rather than graphic novel, because the graphic novel series did not go up to four volumes. The next novel is the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton is The Lunatic Cafe based upon publication date.

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.

For this question, I looked up Prodigal Summer in NoveList to find its writing style. It was described as descriptive, lush, and lyrical. I searched by those appeals and added in a fast-paced. One recommendation would be Yellow 
Emperor's Cure by Kunal Basu. It contains the same writing style elements as well as a fast pace. Its genre does fall under the historical fiction category, though. Another option would be The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Galbadon. This book combines the writing styles descriptive and lyrical with a fast pace. It is also character-driven in the storyline like Prodigal Summer. This book falls under the categories of historical fiction and mystery.

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!

I searched the key words "ancient Japan" with the writing style selected as richly detailed. Some of the first titles that came up were part of a mystery series. Since the patron wanted to focus on historical fiction and did not mention series at all, I found the best result with the search to be The Teahouse Fire by Avery Ellis. It's writing style is richly detailed and is about turn of the century Japan. This book should be packed with the details that the patron asked for as well as a focus on the historical side of Japan.

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?

After searching NoveList for Well-Schooled in Murder, I found that this book is actually the third book in the Thomas Lynley Mysteries series by Elizabeth George. My first suggestion for this patron would be to read the first book in the series, A Great Deliverance. If the patron were to show resistance to continuing with this author/series, I would recommend the Ruth Rendell's Chief Inspector Wexword mysteries series. The first in this series would be From Doon with Death. This series/author has the same writing style as Elizabeth George and focuses on murder mysteries where the characters play a main role. I found Ruth Rendell by doing an author read-a-like search.

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 started with looking at The Walking Dead. The top read-a-like for this book is The First Days by Rhiannon Frater. It is the first book in the author's series titled As the World Dies. It share the same genre, pace, and tone as The Walking Dead while also containing zombies. I then decided to look at World War Z as well, because (from watching the movies and television show, which I know isn't exactly accurate to the book) I think that these two books have a different feel to them. I wanted to provide a couple of options that might work. The top read-a-like for World War Z is I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. While this book doesn't exactly contain zombies, it does contain people who are altered by a virus that exhibit zombie-esque behaviors. It also shares the same genre, pace, tone, and writing style as World War Z.

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.

This question is a bit tricky. Literary fiction can have a wide range of writing topics and styles. If the patron is interested in something on the classic literature side, The Great Gatsby may be one that he or she is interested in checking out. Life of Pi by Yann Martel was also made into a movie five years ago. If you want something more face paced and thrilling, Room by Emma Donoghue was made into a movie about two years ago. Some of my personal favorites (though the movies are slightly over five years old) are The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Both The Help and Water for Elephants would also fall into historical fiction. Water for Elephants and The Time Traveler's Wife have themes of love. It really depends upon what subject matter you are looking for. (Some of these books were found through using the genre filters Books to Movies and Literary Fiction. Some were found through a literary fiction list on GoodReads.)

7. I love thrillers but I hate foul language and sex scenes. I want something clean and fast paced.

For this one, I had a hard time finding a setting on NoveList. I tried finding lists on GoodReads, but that didn't result in much. So, I resorted to Google. I searched the term "clean thrillers" and it took me to a discussion on GoodReads. I looked at the recommendations there and then compared them to the book results in NoveList. I found Mary Higgins Clark to generally be considered a clean author and her profile on NoveList put her in the thriller/suspense genre. Her newest book is The Sleeping Beauty Killer, but she has oodles of books. 

Personal Tools
When it comes to looking at books for my personal reading, I tend to use GoodReads. GoodReads has a recommendation tool, but I tend to find that it doesn't always provide recommendations that I am interested in reading. Instead, I will look at a book that I have read already that I want a read-a-like of on the GoodReads site. Once you are on that books profile page, they have sections to the side and under the synopsis that are titled "Readers Also Enjoyed" and "Lists with This Book". They may also have section where other books in that series are listed and/or other books written by that author. I find that these are more helpful than the recommendation tool, because they come from other readers. GoodReads also does a yearls award for many different categories. If I am stuck on what to choose, I will look at their awards for the most current year. Before I choose a book, I skim a lot of the reviews. I do this both on GoodReads and on Amazon. Once in a while, I might check out the New York Times Bestsellers lists for inspiration or the website I really like the format of Your Next Read. It provides the recommendations in a web like format. You can then click on the different books to learn more information and get further recommendations based off of that book. It creates another web for each book you choose. They also have lists if you don't have a particular book in mind.