As a librarian in a public library this is a very common question that can be asked day in and day out. How do you equip yourself to satisfy the client request? How do you choose books for book clubs that lends itself to great discussions? Being an avid reader myself I find this aspect of my work the most rewarding and I would like to share with you a few of the resources that I use to provide answers to questions where subjectivity plays an important role.
There is no resource greater than the books that you have read. Some of my favourite reads this year have been Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, Indelible Ink by Fiona McGregor, Wait for me: Memoirs of the youngest Mitford sister by Deborah Mitford, Major Pettigrews Last Stand by Helen Simonson, The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi, We have met the enemy by Daniel Akst, The happiest refugee by Anh Do….and the next one waiting on my bedside table is Super sad true love story by Gary Shteyngart.
Great resources include the catalogue, library reading lists that include mysteries, adventure, literature winners, Who else writes like…? , Fantastic fiction http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ , ABC Tuesday Book club, databases such as Novelist and Books and authors,
Also Time Magazine July 18, 2011, page 45 – 51, has an article titled The best pages to turn this northern summer from 23 authors we admire. Janny Scott author of A singular woman: The untold story of Barrack Obama’s Mother has recommended The hare with amber eyes by Edmund De Waal. It is a memoir injected with history which should make for an interesting read.
There is also a lot of information on the readers advisory Wiki http://readersadvisory.wetpaint.com/ and you can also go to the 2011 twitter reading group at http://readit2011.wordpress.com/ .
Also for the really keen visit red bubble to purchase a readers advisory hoodie/T-shirt at http://www.redbubble.com/people/nswrisg/t-shirts/6735341-ra2011-readers-advisory-seminar-2011 .
I must confess that at the moment I am just a tad addicted to Library Thing. You can catalogue up to 200 books for free and for an additional charge of $25.00 you can catalogue unlimited books for life. I find this a neat tool to catalogue all of my reads with ratings for each item. It is also a useful tool to find out what others are reading; in fact it is a great social networking site for readers!
Shoba Abraham - Public Librarian and ALIA Sydney Committee Member