Thursday, May 22, 2008

Readers Advisory

One of the things which I am supposed to do is advise people on what to read. For me, it is easy to recommend science fiction and fantasy, as well as some novels and books on the alternative energy. I also take the time to sometimes read things I don't like. I am not a fan of urban fiction, yet I tried to read Eric Jerome Dickey (I didn't like it), and Omar Tyree (I liked it).

When I started at my first job in Brooklyn, one of my first jobs was to read and discuss a list of books with other librarians. This was a sample of the most popular books including the classics, trashy novels, true crime, romance, and mysteries. It was an enlightening experience. I did not like reading much of the material, but I did it anyways. I would have never read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote if it hadn't been a book I was told to read.

I also admit, because of this, I have read romance novels (Elizabeth Lowell is one of my favorite authors), Westerns ( Louis L'Amour is my favorite western writer), and a variety of genres which I would have never read.

One of the things I do all the time is watch what people are checking out. This is a way to not have to read everything. People tend to read a specific genre, even if I haven't read the books, after a while, I begin to recognize the popular titles in a genre. For example, in urban fiction, I recognize Zane, Noire, Relentless Aaron, Michael Baisden, Terri Woods, even if I haven't read any of them. People ask for the same style of books over and over again.

In a similar manner, I also look at the new books when they come in. It gives me an idea of what is available immediately for people to check out. I check every other day to see what is on the shelf. Occassionally, I will also look at the books which have just been returned for the same reason.

In addition to keep up with what people are reading, I look at the New York Times Bestseller List and the Publishers Weekly Bestseller list. This is important. A lot of people are constantly looking for the latest bestsellers. Sometimes, I can even preempt the bestseller list figuring out which books might appear on the bestseller lists.

Books are advertised everywhere. There are numerous advertisements on the subways and buses if you go on mass transit. I have even seen a few billboards on the highways with book titles.

Another tool which we keep for readers advisory are bookmarks and sheets recommending specific genres. We have bookmarks for art books, mysteries, reference books, business books, and urban fiction. We also a full page list of African American authors. This way we can give readers a standard selection of items to look at.

Each type of genre fiction also has a trade publication attached to it if you want to keep up with a specific type of book. Romantic Times is the trade magazine for romance books, Locus Magazine is the trade magazine for Science Fiction and Fantasy. Also some ethnic or racially oriented magazines have bestseller lists. There is an Ebony bestseller list for African American books.

In addition, some publishers have imprints which are quite popular. There are the BET black romances, Arabesque Romances, Harlequin Romances, and The Hardcase Crime Series. Being aware of which imprints a person likes makes it much easier to find books. Usually there is a small symbol attached to the publishers imprint. Baens symbol is a rocket ship on the spine with the word Baen across the rocketship.

Also some publishers focus on a specific subject. For example, if I want a good travel series, I might look at Lonely Planet, or Frommers. If I wanted military science fiction, I would probably look at Baen Books.

In addition to imprints there are series which people will read, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Star Wars, Star Trek, Nancy Drew, R.L. Stine is practically his own imprint, Goosebumps, and others. The latest series which looks like it will be popular is the CSI (Crime Science Investigation) television series has come out with a series of paperbacks.

Paying attention to what people want to read is a decent part of my job and any librarians job. A few inexpensive trade paperbacks which include short annotated recommendations for genre fiction are The 100 Best Graphic Novels, Horror: Another 100 Best Books, Science Fiction The 100 Best Novels, Fantasy The 100 Best Novels, and The Crown Crime Companion, The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time. They may not be the most recent books, but they should contain at least a few book recommendations worth reading.


Anonymous said...

This was a great write-up for a writer to read, especially since we don’t get the gratification that other entertainers receive (like singers do) when they hit the stage. For us, the stage is the book shelves of stores that are cluttered with promotion and hyperbole. Wah-wah-waaaaahhh.
Meanwhile, relating to your blog, I am getting pretty much the same feedback that you do from readers. They want Zane, Relentless, Kwame'.

And it's not just vocal, I have SO MUCH VIDEO posted up on YOUTUBE. Testimonials from readers who live across the nation. I believe I have cornered the market where it comes to these testimonials. And, as much as it's flattering, it's also the redemption and the acknowledgement that (for me) fuels the ego, which edifies the talent, the focus and the concentration.
Yeah, call me narcissistic and an ego-maniac, and whatever; but this is me, the man who knows how to market like Puffy, without the Puffy money. The man with the know-how in the tech dept, as well as the talent dept, as well as the research and connectivity and experience and the wisdom to go with it. So, talk greezy about me if you will (says Relentless to the naysayers) but I'm doing this because I'm supposed to, because I'm capable, and because I'm so much different than average.
"The Last Kingpin" is my suggested reading from the catalog of Relentless books. It is engrossing from the first to the last page. It is relevant to the times, and it explores the illicit drug trade so much deeper and so much intimately than any other story on that industry. However, if you 'd like a lighter taste of a Relentless Aaron book, pick up Extra Marital Affairs or Lady First. I really buried myself in these books and gave way more value than you might otherwise expect from an (ahem) Urban Lit author. The next (new) book dropping is "Single With benefits" on St. Martin's Press this October.
Thanks for the love.
And props to the librarians out there who "know the deal."

Book Calendar said...

Thanks for coming by. I appreciate it. We have a lot of your books which people come in and take out. Your books are honest, a lot more honest than a lot of what is being written for people to consume. I like your truck. It has a lot of style to it.

Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

Hello, I don't see any other contact info for you-- so I'm querying you this way. Hope you don't mind. My name is Beth Fehlbaum. My debut novel, Courage in Patience, releases from Kunati Books on September 1, 2008. I am writing to request that you review my book or allow me to be a guest on your blog or site.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a family member, and I am also an experienced Language Arts teacher. I am passionate about communicating to readers that there is hope in the face of what seems hopeless, whether it is sexual abuse, racism, bullying, homophobia, or even censorship. My novel is a story of love, forgiveness, parental responsibility, and, most of all, of discovering what we are made of when we face our worst fears.

I am currently lining up blog and website "appearances"; I sincerely hope that you will consider hosting me. Please e-mail me at, if you have a date available from September 1, onward. We can agree on a specific date when you contact me. Thank you!

Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
Publisher's site:

Ashley Nicole Asher’s life changes forever on the night her mother, Cheryl, meets Charlie Baker. Within a year of her mother’s marriage to Charlie, typical nine-year-old Ashley’s life becomes a nightmare of sexual abuse and emotional neglect. Bundling her body in blankets and sleeping in her closet to try to avoid Charlie's nighttime assaults, she is driven by rage at age 15 to tell her mother, in spite of the threats Charlie has used to keep Ashley silent. Believing that telling will make Charlie go away, instead it reveals to Ashley where she lies on her mother's list of priorities.
“We’re just going to move on now,” Cheryl tells Ashley. “Go to your room.” Ashley's psyche splinters into shards of glass, and she desperately tries to figure a way out, while at the same time battling numbness and an inability to remember what happened when she blacked out after Charlie tackled her. She knew that when she awoke her clothes were disheveled and the lower-half of her body was covered in bright red blood-- but she has only a blank spot in the "video" of her memory.
When Ashley’s friend, Lisa, sees a note from Cheryl telling Ashley that Charlie would never “do those things to her,” and insisting that she apologize for accusing him of molesting her, Lisa forces dazed Ashley to make an outcry to her teacher, Mrs. Chapman.
By the end of the day, Ashley’s father, David, who has not seen Ashley since she was three months old, is standing in the offices of Child and Family Services. He brings her home to the small East Texas town of Patience, where he lives with his wife, Beverly, their son, Ben, and works with his brother, Frank. Its neighboring town, Six Shooter City, is so quirky, it's practically on the cusp of an alternate universe; a trip to the Wal-Mart reveals to visitors that "there's either something in the water..or family trees around here don't fork."
Through the summer school English class/ Quest for Truth taught by Beverly, an "outside-the-box" high school English teacher whose passion for teaching comes second only to her insistence upon authenticity, Ashley comes to know Roxanne Blake, a girl scarred outwardly by a horrific auto crash and inwardly by the belief that she is "Dr. Frankenstein's little experiment";
Wilbur "Dub" White, a fast-talking smart mouth whose stepfather is a white supremacist who nearly kills a man while Dub watches from the shadows, forcing Dub to realize that he cannot live with the person that he is, any longer;
Zaquoiah “Z.Z.” Freeman, one of the few African-Americans in Patience, whose targeted-for-extinction family inherited the estate of one of Patience’s founding families and has been given the charge to "turn this godforsaken town on its head";
Hector "Junior" Alvarez, a father at sixteen whose own father was killed in prison, who works two jobs and is fueled by the determination to "do it right" for his son, "3", and his girlfriend, Moreyma;
T.W. Griffin, whose football-coach father expects him to be Number One at everything, and whose mother naively believes that he is too young to think about sex; and
Kevin Cooper, a not-so-bright football player with a heart of gold, whose mother, Trini, a reporter for the local paper, is instrumental in exposing the ugliness that is censorship.
Every person in the class is confronted with a challenge that they must face head-on. The choices they make will not be easy—but they will be life-altering. With the exception of her mother and step-father, Ashley is surrounded by people who overcome their fear to embrace authenticity and truth-- the only way to freedom. But will Ashley have the inner-fortitude to survive the journey to recovery and the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Will Ashley find her voice, speak up for herself, and break the bondage of her abusive past?
Realizing "she's gonna need a lot more than we have," David and Bev enlist the help of Scott "Dr. Matt" Matthews, an experienced, slightly unconventional therapist who insists that Ashley can and must come out hiding in the closet in her mind.
The Chris Crutcher novel, Ironman, is taught by Beverly Asher in the summer school class. When T.W.’s overbearing parents read the book, they decide that the book should be censored, and they involve the pastor of Patience’s largest, most conservative church to lead the fight through the Purify Patience organization. Its mission is to cleanse Patience of Profanity, Promiscuity, and Parent-Bashing Pedagogy—all complaints the group has about the novel, Ironman. Its hidden agenda, however, is to return Patience to a time when "Patience was 100% white", "women knew their place","everyone had plenty of money", and "Christian values were taught in school."
The censoring, pseudo-Christian, white-supremacist, misogynist organization is exposed for what it is in a courageous move by one of its own (well..his mother threatens to twist his ear off if he doesn't speak up), isolating the pastor and causing most of his “flock” to deny they ever knew him. National and world press attention shine speculation on the dirty little secrets hidden in Patience, and its inhabitants are forced to examine their own values and beliefs.
Alone in the dark, Ashley must face her worst fears in a pivotal scene between her, Charlie, and her mother. Through this confrontation, Ashley at last finds the strength to advocate for her own right to exist in a world that is free of abuse. She, too, has found Courage in Patience.

Book Calendar said...

Hi, Beth, there are a number of places where you can go to;

This is one of them:

Muze's Musings offers Blog Tours.