Hey folks, you’ve got to check out Novelist if you can. This is a super, super database for book lovers but the catch is that your library has to have a subscription to it. If they do, you’re good to go. If not, make sure and ask them about it next time you go to the library and let them know you really want this. So… below you’ll find some examples of questions we get at the library a lot and how we might be able to find answers, or at least some good leads, on Novelist.
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!
a. The Lunatic Café is the next book in this series. I did a “series” search, found the correct series, and then scrolled down the list checking release dates. Easy to use search feature!
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.
a. After searching by both title and author, as well as the advanced search feature, I couldn’t really narrow down the pacing aspect of this question, but the top read-a-like numerous times was Anthill by Edward Wilson.
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!
a. I was able to do some searching around and utilize the limiting features to narrow down the ideas to historical books set in Japan with very detailed writing style. The number one pick is The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet, and I see Memoirs of a Geisha listed a bit further down. From this point we’d have to have more discussion to help the patron decide exactly what she’s interested in.
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?
a. There are 2 ways to approach this question. I did a search for read-a-likes for that specific title, which returned a nice selection offering titles by Martha Grimes, Dorothy Sayers, and so on. A search by author read-a-likes suggested a list of 9 authors (none of whom was Sandford), so that gives us a direction to explore as well. I thought it was interesting that a book by Martha Grimes was listed as a read-a-like for the title, but she’s not listed as an author read-a-like.
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?
a. Some ideas might be Mutated by Joe McKinney or The First Days by Rhiannon Frater. A search by genre>horror leads to a list called “Creature Feature”. This in turn brings up a nice list of possibilities, and if the list is changed to the detailed view it offers a small blurb about each book so that one can easily see which books feature zombies. It can also be sorted by popularity which is helpful to discover titles that are currently hot. This patron sounds like somebody who’s into pop culture since those titles are definitely in demand due to their TV/movie counterparts, so popularity may strike a note with this guy. The best strategy I found was to search for “World War Z”, which brings up that book along with a list of read-a-likes, but then scroll down and use the refiners to limit the search to horror, zombies, and zombie apocalypse. This returns a very specific list of books which looks like just what our patron is searching for. Top suggestions here would be Cell by Stephen King or Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne.
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.
a. How about The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers or Room by Emma Donoghue? Both are listed as literary fiction although Room is slightly more than 5 years old. I found these by searching the genre “books to movies” and then refining the search by literary fiction and sorting by date.
7. I love thrillers but I hate foul language and sex scenes. I want something clean and fast paced.
a. The sub-genre Christian Thrillers would seem to fit the bill here. When sorted by popularity the top choice offered is Unspoken by Dee Henderson. On the other hand, Christian doesn’t seem like exactly what this person is asking for, just less graphic sex, so if a quick browse through the Christian Thrillers doesn’t offer anything that my patron wants, I’d have to go to the Advanced Search option and use some limiters such as “thrillers NOT explicit” or similar. This brings back a nice selection of titles from authors like John Grisham, Newt Gingrich, and David Baldacci. In the menu on the left I noticed a sub-genre called “adult books for young adults”. These are adult/teen crossover titles and will likely be cleaner than regular adult titles.
So where do I find interesting new books to read? Well, first of all, I work in a library. One of the most fun things to do is: SHELF READING! When possible, I choose to read shelves in areas that have the types of books I like. I always find something cool. Read shelves, folks, and find those hidden treasures.
Next, I’m the Teen Librarian which means I have to read reviews and such to make collection decisions and I generally choose several to actually read so that I can booktalk them and offer good RA to teens. I’ve discovered that a lot of YA books are really fun and imaginative and I love reading them.
At my quarterly YA roundtable, we each bring book titles to share and recommend to each other and I’ve found a number of awesome books that way.
One of the MOST FUN ways to find books to read is when I visit a school classroom and I have the teens booktalk to me for every title I booktalk to them. WAY FUN, you’ve GOT to try it. I pick a couple of their suggestions to read and report back to them the next time I visit. Double benefit – I get to read something fun, and they feel valued.These are all variations of word-of-mouth type discovery, but sometimes I just want a new book to read and I’m out of ideas. In that case, I go to either Goodreads or Amazon, depending on my mood. On Goodreads, I can look and see books that I’ve put on my want-to-read shelf, but these are generally YA books and sometimes it feels like working. In that case, I head for Amazon. I put in books that pop into my mind that I liked, and look for Amazon’s suggestions. It’s a bit like diving down the rabbit hole, but I nearly always discover something new and surprising. The randomness of what other customers who bought my book also liked leads me to unexpected and interesting directions. Now that I’ve had a chance to try Novelist, I could see that becoming a core resource for me personally, because of the ability to search by mood. Love that.