Archive for the ‘Readers Advisory’ Category

The Librarian MAD MEN Connection

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 10.12.27 AMReaders who geek out on Mad Men already know Billy Parrott, the Managing Librarian of the Art and Picture Collections at the New York Public Library, from his contributions to #MadMenReading, his blog, The Man Men Reading List, and Pinterest board, all dedicated to the books featured in the series.

Now Parrott is partnering with AMC to create an official reading list and is capturing the attention of the media as the final season of Mad Men airs. The Guardian features Parrott in a lengthy piece on the key books of the series – including works by Frank O’Hara and Dante – while New York magazine asks Parrott to provide a run down of the best literary scenes from the show.

Taking the opportunity to plug the library profession, he tells The Guardian,

“This is what librarians do on a daily basis. Every morning, on the subway on the way to work, I look to see what others are reading, and I think about what else I might suggest for them if they came up to me in the library and asked for a recommendation.”

RA Help for New Terry Pratchett Readers

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.46.57 AMThe widely reported news of Terry Pratchett’s death is likely to send readers to the library. For those new to Pratchett, who wrote over 70 novels, many as part of the sprawling Discworld series, it can be hard to know where to start.

Readers’ advisors can turn to the A.V. Club’s well-considered path through Pratchett’s novels and consult BoingBoing’s posting of Krzysztof Kietzma’s handy infographic to the interrelated books in Discworld (unfortunately, it’s difficult to read. A larger version is available here).

BuzzFeed offers a ranked listing of his 30 best works while USA Today and Mashable suggest five starting titles.


Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 9.59.37 AMIt is the rare review that begins with such exuberant praise as “the most dazzling, most unsettling, most oh-my-God-listen-up novel you’ll read,” but that is the beginning of Ron Charles’s rave in yesterday’s Washington Post for T. Geronimo Johnson’s Welcome to Braggsville (HaperCollins/Morrow, Feb. 17; OverDrive Sample), a novel Charles goes on to claim will “shock and disturb” even as Johnson’s “narration has such athleticism that you feel energized just running alongside him — or even several strides behind.”

David L. Ulin of the LA Times shares Charles’s enthusiasm, opening his review with “when was the last time you were shocked by a turn in a novel? Not merely surprised or astonished but actually stunned?” and goes on to call Johnson’s novel “audacious, unpredictable, exuberant and even tragic, in the most classic meaning of the word.”

Welcome to Braggsville is an IndieNext pick for February, with the following recommendation,

“In Welcome to Braggsville, Johnson explores cultural, social, and regional diversity in a world increasingly driven by social media. His satirical and ironic style portrays a UC Berkeley — ‘Berzerkeley’ — student from Georgia who, along with his friends, goes back to his hometown to challenge an annual Southern tradition and inadvertently sets off a chain of events resulting in tragic consequences. Johnson’s creative language play envelops the reader in the Deep South with the impact of a razor-sharp Lynyrd Skynyrd riff.”

Johnson has jumped from a literary nonprofit publisher (Coffee House Press) to HarperCollins with his second novel (after his debut Hold It ‘Til It Hurts, which was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award). For your readers willing to be challenged, lift some quotes from Charles’s review, which also makes it sound like a strong book club candidate.

New for the New Year

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

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Need some titles for the tip of your tongue when people ask what to look for in the new year? Take a look at The Barnes & Noble Review‘s selections of “the most enticing new books slated to arrive in the first half of 2015″ and Entertainment Weekly’s “20 Books We’ll Read in 2015” (caution: as we noted earlier, some of the titles on the latter list won’t be out until the fall).

There’s not much agreement between the lists, with just three titles appearing on both lists.

Two overlaps are unsurprising, based on sheer name recognition — Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio, May 5) and Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child,(RH/Knopf; RH Audio, April 21).

The third is less obvious, James Hannaham’s Delicious Foods, (Hachette/Little,Brown; Hachette Audio, March 17). Entertainment Weekly warns, “Don’t let the appealing title fool you. This searing novel tackles death and big food corporations. Also, it’s partly narrated by crack cocaine. Yep,” Adds B&N, “James Hannaham kicks off his new novel (following his debut God Says No) with a teenager’s desperate escape from a twenty-first century slave plantation to which drug addicts are seduced to become captive labor.”

Check both lists. You’ll find at least one answer to the question, “Anything interesting coming out?”

RA Opportunity: SERIAL

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

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Serial, a nonfiction podcast designed by the creators of This American Life, has become such an obsession, that fans gathered for “listening parties” for the final episode of the first season in mid December. Since the episodes are posted at 7:30 on Thursday mornings, at least one of these events, held at a Lower Manhattan bar, was dubbed “Serial and Cereal” (with a splash of Jameson’s in the coffee).

The debut season, which began in October, focuses on a Baltimore high school student found guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend and sentenced to life in prison. Each week, Sarah Koenig, the host of Serial, examines the case and goes where the evidence leads, introducing a rich cast of characters and an immersive and suspenseful story that has become the most listened-to podcast in the history of the medium (see coverage in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Entertainment Weekly).

Libraries have responded to the interest. The Chicago Public Library offers a reading list that includes nonfiction and audiobooks, such as Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (RH/Spiegel & Grau, 2014; OverDrive Sample) andThe Skeleton Crew by Deborah Halber (Simon & Schuster, 2014; OverDrive Sample), also linking to the Serial site.

The New York Public Library highlights six books on criminal justice for Serial fans, including The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (The New Press, 2010; OverDrive Sample). Fanwood Memorial Library in New Jersey also offers listeners guidance for next reading choices, including Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (Random House/Nan A. Talese, 1996; OverDrive Sample) and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House/Modern Library [reprint], 2013 ; OverDrive Sample).

In addition, Business Insider recently posted a list of suggested true crime books (such as Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me [Norton [20th Anniversary Ed], 2000; OverDrive Sample]) while BookRiot offers a list of audiobooks to try after Serial concludes (including Mary Roach’s Stiff  [Norton, 2003]).

There will be more. A second season has been announced, thanks to listener donations, although the subject and release dates have not yet been announced.

The Nancy Pearl Bump

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 8.11.23 PMLibrarian Nancy Pearl highlighted five under-the-radar titles on Friday’s NPR’s Morning Edition (link to listen to it), causing one of the titles to jump 2,442% on Amazon’s sales rankings.

She begins with The Diamond Lane by Karen Karbo. First published in 1991, it was reissued this fall by Hawthorne books (with an introduction by Jane Smiley). Nancy calls it a “fabulously funny satire on sisterly love, on marriage, but really, [Karbo’s] sharpest barbs are reserved for life in Hollywood.” Nancy makes host Steve Innskeep laugh heartily when she reads a section.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 8.10.14 PMJudging from Amazon’s sales rankings, the title
that resonated most with listeners, is the final book she describes, The Unsubstantial Air: American Fliers in the First World War by Samuel Hynes (Macmillan/FSG, Oct. 2014; OverDrive Sample).

Nancy considers this one of the best of the many books that have come out recently about WWI.
“It talks about the war in terms of the young men who came from American colleges to fly and to
fight in WWI … Hynes was able to access a treasure trove of journals and of letters from these young men, many of whom had never been to Europe before … he writes in such a beautiful way … and does a wonderful job of honoring them.”

The other titles on her list:

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The Distance by Helen Giltrow (RH/Doubleday; RH Audio; Sept. 2014; OverDrive Sample)

“All the time I was reading this, I had to keep telling myself to breath because I was so caught up in the story.” She says it’s perfect for those who love Lee Child. (This was also a LibraryReads pick for September).

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer (Hachette/Mulholland; Hachette Audio, Aug. 2014; OverDrive Sample)

“A cautionary tale about the future … about a cabal of industrialists have decided to privatize information … It’s one of those books that when you’re reading it, you start feeling a little bit paranoid.”  (Time magazine also recognized this one, making it #6 on their Top Ten fiction list for the year).

Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot
by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
(HMH Books for Young Readers, Sept. 2004; OverDrive Sample).

This novel came out originally in 1988 and is written in letters between two cousins, one in London and one in Essex, in 1817. Although it is written for teens, says Nancy, it is “perfect for anyone who loves Jane Austen and doesn’t mind a little bit of fantasy.”

Readers Advisory:

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

9780804140232_8e1f2Among the titles on NPR’s just-released best books list is a title chosen by librarian Nancy Pearl, the debut novel, 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas. (RH/Crown; RH Audio).

Nancy also talks about it on her weekly Seattle NPR segment. You can hear the joy in Nancy’s voice as she describes this novel filled with “People  who are so real that you want their stories to go on and on and on — how often does that happen?” Seen through the eyes of a precocious 9-year-old wannabe torch singer, it is a “loving tribute to jazz and even more, to urban Philadelphia.”

OverDrive Sample 

The audio is an AudioFile Earphones Award winner. As the reviewer says, “Angela Goethals’s rich and resonant voice is perfectly suited to this stirring story about three characters and one important day in their lives.”

Nancy Pearl On the Past
and Possible Future

Monday, December 1st, 2014

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Recommendations from librarian Nancy Pearl on her recent Seattle NPR segments:

History Through The Eyes Of Poets — Nov. 26

Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew, Max Egremont, (Macmillan/FSG, 6/10/14)

Nancy recommends this title because it offers an on-the-ground view of WW I, through the eyes of the poets who were involved in it. Each chapter focuses on a year of the war, thus reflecting the changes in attitude as it grinds on.  In this 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war, she says it makes a great companion to The Great War and Modern Memory, by Paul Fussell (Oxford University Press, 1975).

The Dystopian Future — Nov 18

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, David Shafer, (Hachette/Mulholland Books; Hachette Audio)

Nancy calls this first novel, “perfect for a great fast moving yet intricate account of a possible future in which a very dangerous kabal plans to take over information.”  She says it has the same “intelligence, crispness and smartness” as Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon.

Readers Advisory: DIAMOND LANE

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

9780989360449_622e4 It’s gray and raining in Seattle, so Nancy Pearl lifts the mood by recommending on her weekly local NPR radio segment, a novel that is  “hysterically funny.”  Karen Karbot’s The Diamond Lane, one of her favorites, first published in 1991, was reissued this fall by Hawthorne books (with an introduction by Jane Smiley).

Even though some sections of the novel may show their age (people can actually smoke on airplanes!), she says it is a “totally modern satire on Hollywood, the relationships between sisters and marriage.”

Media Hit: LibraryRead’s September Pick

Friday, September 12th, 2014

9780385353304_db2df-2Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; Thorndike, Dec. 10), a LibraryReads pick for September, is getting enviable media attention. It is People magazine’s “Book of the Week” in the new issue; “Though it centers on civilization’s collapse in the aftermath of a devastating flu, this mesmerizing novel isn’t just apocalyptic fantasy — it’s also an intricately layered character study of human life itselff,” gets an A from Entertainment Weekly and the author was profiled by the  New York Times last week.

LibraryReads recommendation:

An actor playing King Lear dies onstage just before a cataclysmic event changes the future of everyone on Earth. What will be valued and what will be discarded? Will art have a place in a world that has lost so much? What will make life worth living? These are just some of the issues explored in this beautifully written dystopian novel. Recommended for fans of David Mitchell, John Scalzi and Kate Atkinson. — Janet Lockhart, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, NC

OverDrive Sample


Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

9780316231435_f1fc7Already having declared her love for Beth Macy’s nonfiction debut, Factory Man, (Hachette/Little, Brown, 7/15), in her summer previewNYT‘s daily reviewer, Janet Maslin, gave it a full review just before the holiday.

Her opinion is not dimmed. Saying this book, subtitled, How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — And Helped Save An American Town, is “in a class with other runaway debuts like Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers … Ms. Macy writes so vigorously that she hooks you instantly. You won’t be putting this book down.”

She also notes that, since the book is published by Hachette, it is another victim of  the Amazon/Hachette battle and will not be available for purchase on Amazon until pub date or on Kindle,  but ” it’s worth the trouble to read what will be one of the best, and surely most talked about, books of 2014.”

The Pearl Bump

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

There’s a rival to the Colbert Bump — the Pearl Bump.

T.S. SpivetThe three under-the-radar books that Nancy Pearl recommended on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday all made significant jumps on Amazon’s sales rankings.

The book she called “fabulous, fabulous,” The Selected Works Of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen, (Penguin Press, 2009) broke in to the top 100, rising to #80.

Meanwhile, Colbert featured an author on his show yesterday who hardly needs the bump, John Green. His book, The Fault in Our Stars, continues at #1.

Nancy Pearl On NPR — Summer Reading

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Nancy Pearl picks “under-the-radar” titles (e.g., you have a crack at finding copies on the shelf to recommend) for summer reading, on today’s NPR Morning Edition:

UnderstoriesUnderstories, Tim Horvath, (Bellevue Literary Press, 2012) — Nancy calls this her “favorite collection of short stories.” She cracks up host Steve Inskeep by reading from one of them in which a group of people are “trying to teach animals the concept of extinction because they are ‘tired of having to bail out endangered species. It’s high time they learned individual responsibility!'”

AstoriaAstoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival, Peter Stark, (HarperCollins/Ecco; March, 2014) — about the little-known story of expeditions sent by John Jacob Astor in an effort to establish a colony in the Pacific Northwest. Nancy says it’s great to read because it’s a “a period of history a lot of people are unfamiliar with, but more importantly… it’s really good reading.”

T.S. SpivetThe Selected Works Of T. S. Spivet, Reif Larsen, (Penguin Press, 2009) — Nancy often calls books “fabulous,” but she goes beyond that in describing this novel, calling it a “fabulous, fabulous novel.”

It was not under the radar when it was published in 2009. Reportedly acquired by the publisher for $900,000, it was heavily promoted and was an NPR summer pick that year.

A film adaptation by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie), renamed The Young and Prodigious T. S. Spivet, starring Helena Bonham Carter as Spivet’s mother, was released earlier this month in the U.K., but as yet has no U.S. release date, even though distribution rights were acquired last year by the Weinstein Co.

The Glass SentenceNancy recommends additional titles on the NPR Web Site, including the Y.A. title, The Glass Sentence, by S. E. Grove (Penguin/Viking Juvenile), saying it is “so wonderful. It has pirates, it has a chocolate-maker, it has a very brave girl, it has an evil woman who might not really be as evil as she seems. This author’s imagination is just amazing.”

You can meet that author next month during our Penguin Young Readers live online chat, moderated by Lisa Von Drasek.

Hot in Cleveland

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

When Wendy Bartlett, head of collection development at Cuyahoga P.L, Ohio, has a gut feeling about a title, she buys it in quantity, to be ahead of the demand curve. She lets the staff in on her thinking through her “Hot Title Thursdays” posts on the staff intranet, a clever way of ensuring the success of these titles, as staff in turn recommends them.

Conversely, Wendy relies on staff response when she just doesn’t see the potential in some heavily-promoted title (not a fan of The Night Circus when it was first announced, she asked staff to read galleys to tell her if she was nuts. They told her she was. She ordered more. Good thing; it went on to be a best seller).

We’ve asked Wendy to begin sharing her Hot Title Thursdays posts on EarlyWord. Below is the first, about a book that’s also been generating enthusiasm on GalleyChat. It’s coming out the end of July and is now available via NetGalley and Edelweiss (sounds perfect for the Memorial Day weekend).

Fortune HunterThe Fortune Hunter, Daisy Goodwin, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press; Macmillan Audio; Thorndike)

Wanna find out how the 1% lived back in the day?

Here’s your chance!

If you don’t think “gossipy page turner” when you think of historical fiction, you clearly haven’t read Daisy Goodwin. Her previous title, a debut novel, The American Heiress also did very well for us.

I’m happy to report that her new novel, The Fortune Hunter, is even stronger, particularly in terms of pacing, and will again appeal to a wide range of readers, from romance to historical fiction, to royal watchers, to the Downton Abbey crowd, and even to people who love travel.

Part of the fascination is that Goodwin has based the novel on actual historical figures in Victorian-era Europe, including Victoria herself. The main characters are Elizabeth “Sisi” Winterhalter, the Empress of Austria, Bay Middleton (yes, a distant relative of the current Princess of Wales), the Earl of Spencer, as in Diana’s great-great-grandfather…… get the idea. Sisi, a legendary beauty, travels Europe to alleviate her boredom. (The cocaine mixture administered by the Hungarian lady-in-waiting doesn’t hurt either.) She decides she wants handsome Bay Middleton, the best rider in England, to be her personal assistant for hunting season. But Middleton is in love with the heiress to the Lennox fortune—a young woman not wise at all in the ways of the world. It’s a love triangle, but also a clash of societal roles, classes and cultures. Fun, fun, fun. I read it in two sittings.

This one has a street date of July 29th. Get those holds in now! ENJOY!

GALLEYCHATTER: Eight Titles To Top Your TBR Pile

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Editor’s Note: We’re delighted to welcome Robin Beerbower as the regular “GalleyChatter” columnist for EarlyWord. Robin’s day job is as the  readers’ advisor and homebound services coordinator for the Salem [OR] Public Library. She has been a supporter of GalleyChat from its inception, calling those discussions “pure gold for selectors and readers advisors.” She’s enthusiastic about the importance (and fun) of reading books ahead of publication and tirelessly tracks down galleys, making her the local authority on new books. She is also very active on the Edelwiss Community Board, using it to spot titles and gauge developing buzz among librarians (you can join in; just register on Edelweiss and “friend” Robin). She plans to write regular roundups on the titles she discovers through the monthly GalleyChats, with regular updates on books to watch for.

From Robin:
Thanks to everyone on GalleyChat for their warm reception about my contributions to EarlyWord, and thanks to Nora for giving me this opportunity. The chats are  fast and furious with tweets flying everywhere. I’ll do my best to summarize each chat (for a full transcript, check our board on Storify).

GalleyChats are held on Twitter the first Tuesday of each month. The next one is on April 1. Please join us (details here).

Below are the titles that rose to the top of the TBR lists as we chatted last week. If you haven’t received print galleys of these titles, check for e-galleys on NetGalley and Edelweiss.

All The Light We Cannot See   9781616203214_95fa2

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner, May 2014; Audio exclusive from MidWest Tape), a historical novel set in occupied France during WWII, received high praise from a couple of chatters including Susan Balla, who called it “A once-in-a-lifetime book.” The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (Algonquin, April 2014), a moving novel set in a small island bookstore, also received an outpouring of love from multiple chatters. Vicki Nesting said she wanted to reread it as soon as she finished, and it has received “Much Love” from 47 peers on Edelweiss. Scroll through those reviews; you’ll be convinced (UPDATE: it’s the #1 title on the just released April LibraryReads list). Selectors, stock up on this one.

Bees Kristi Chadwick said the intriguing novel set in a beehive, The Bees by Laline Paull (HC/Ecco, May 2014), was amazing, and during the January chat, Wilda Williams from Library Journal called it “a Watership Down for insects.”

authorityTwo science fiction/fantasy books received several mentions. The e-galley of Jeff VanderMeer’s second book in the Southern Reach trilogy, Authority (Macmillan/FSG, May 2014), was well received by Megan McArdle, who loved the first book,  Annihilation. The Macmillan rep reported the good news that the third book, Acceptance, will be released next September. Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor (Tor, April 2014) was mentioned by multiple members with Jane Jorgenson saying it was the best fantasy she’s read in years. Addison also writes the Doctrine of Labyrinth series as Sarah Monnette.

Suspense thrillers were popular during the exchange with the third in the Keye Street series, Don’t Talk to Strangers by Amanda Kyle Williams (RH/Bantam, July, 2014), at the top of the list. Jane Jorgenson said  “It’s got good, claustrophobic, small-town feel – kind of reminds me of the mood of  True Detective (love).”  This has been a popular readalike series for Karin Slaughter and Lisa Gardner fans. Chevy Stevens’That Night and Chelsea Cain’s departure from the Sheridan/Lowell series, One Kick,(Simon & Schuster, August 2014) received nods from fans of their earlier books.

life drawing

My personal favorite of the past month was Robin Black’s Life Drawing (RH, July 2014), a gorgeously written suspenseful study of marriage and betrayal. Not exactly a Gone Girl readalike but just as compelling.

If you read any of these mentioned books, please let us know what you enjoyed by either entering your comments below or in Edelweiss.

Happy Reading!