Friday, January 27, 2017

Secret Shopper for Reader's Advisory

Hello Everyone,

Here is the summary of the secret shopper assignment.


Blog Summary
My secret shopper assignment went well, but not perfect. I chose a small library that had only been open for just under an hour.  They library was not busy.  As instructed in the PowerPoint slides provided by Professor Cataldi I looked around for any signs for readers’ advisory.  I was not surprise that there were no signs.  With a library this small I did not expect them to provide a special section or person for a readers' advisory.  It would not make sense financially.  There was a reference desk, but no one was there.  

After looking around the library I went to the circulation counter and said “Hello.  I am interested in finding something new to read. Do you have a reader advisor available?” The lady, Lisa (no real name), smiled at me and apologized about not having someone in that position.  I asked if the reference librarian was available and unfortunately the person was not there. However, after informing me that she does not know how to do reader’s advisory she offered to help me.  I said “thank you” and followed her to the other end of the circulation counter.  She again informed me that she does not know how to advise people on what books to read, but is willing to try.  Over the course of our five minute discussion Lisa mentioned three times that she does not know how to do reader’s advisory.  At first I respected her refreshing honesty, however after three times of doubting herself I did not feel like I was in capable hands.  It was like she was setting herself up to fail.    

Lisa asked if there was a book title that I could give her.  I replied “I am looking for a certain genre.  I love graphic novels and have recently been on a horror kick.  I would like to find more graphic novels in this genre.”  Lisa quickly told me that she does not know anything about graphic novels and offered to take me to the areas where they are shelved.  As we walked toward the books Lisa told me that the branch manager Genevieve (not real name) orders the graphic novels and would be able to help me if I had any further questions. 

A few minutes later I walked back to the circulation counter and asked Lisa if the person who orders the graphic novels is available?  Lisa cheerfully said yes, and asked me to wait a few moments while she gets her manager.  Genevieve came to the circulation counter and asked “so, you are looking for a new graphic novel to read?” I replied “yes” and then she started asking questions.  Her demeanor was very friendly and inviting.  I did not feel uncomfortable asking her questions.  She started the question session by asking me what kind of graphic novel I was interested in.  I explained that I like a variety of different genres, but recently have been on a horror routine.  So, I was looking for more in that field to read.  Genevieve nodded her head and said “have you read any of the Walking Dead books?  They are popular right now.” I acknowledge that I have read some of the stories, but I was not in the mood for something so gritty and deep.  She acknowledged my response with a simple "ok" and asked me to tell her the name of a horror graphic novel that I like.  I answered her question with “well, I am a big fan of the Hack/Slash series.  I have read the omnibus series and I think that I have read the recent trade. Oh’ I can’t think of the name of the book; it came out last year and I am not sure if they have come out with any new ones.  Have you heard of the series?”  Much to my delight Genevieve has read some of the series and asked me what I liked about it.  I informed her that I like that the stories have a tongue-in-cheek cheesy kind of dark humor mixed with a 1980's slasher movie vibe.  I also like that the main characters of Cassie Hack and Vlad developed throughout the series. It is an involved series, but not a really heavy one. 

Genevieve asked if I had heard of Warren Ellis' series Transmetropolitan.  I informed her that I have heard of it by title only, but know nothing about it.  She explained the main story line to me and I informed her that it is too political and science fiction sounding for me.  I wanted something more in the line of horror.  She told me that she will check on the computer to see what is recommended.  I was about to ask her what website she was looking at and then a boy came up behind us and started talking to her.  Genevieve politely told the child that Lisa could help her at the opposite end of the circulation counter.  After that interruption she asked me a question about a book and I forgot to ask her about the website that she was using.  The question that she asked me was if I had read anything by Emily Carroll, especially the book Through the Woods.  I told her no and asked her to describe the book to me. After her description I told her that it sounds something like the early trades of Zenescope's Grimm Fairy Tales. She told me that she has read some of those trades and this book is similar in style and tone to those books.  I said that that sounds like a good book for me to read.
The reference interview only took about 10 minutes and while I found a book to read it was not what I originally asked for.  I wanted something more in the line of Hack/Slash.  She did not find me any books like that.  I was not sure if the latest book in the series was published last year.  She could have looked up the series at Amazon, Image comic book publisher, or a fan sight that lists different books in the series.  Maybe there are a couple of one-shot trades that I have not read.

A couple of book series that I would have suggested that is similar to Hack/Slash is the Army of Darkness and Evil Dead series.  These series are based on cult horror movies and have cheesy dark humor that would fit my criteria nicely.  There are currently two comic book lines featuring the character Ash from the movies; Ash and the Army of Darkness by Dynamite publishing and Evil Dead 2 by Space Goat publishing.  Of course, I suggest these books based that I have already read books from all three series, so I have prior knowledge of them.  Without being a fan of the books my suggestions would not have come as quickly or easily.

Genevieve did a good job with readers’ advisory and I would like to go back to her for assistance, however she did not get me a book of the specific criteria that I originally asked about.  I will take partial blame for this, because looking back I could have been more assertive and asked more direct questions.  It seems that I may have been too agreeable.  This is something that I will have to keep in mind when helping future patrons with readers’ advisory, because some patrons are shy and do not like to disagree with the librarian.  I have helped very few people at my job with reader advisory.  Usually, they just want to find out what other books the author has written. What I learned from this secret shopper assignment is that it is not easy to help someone find the perfect book.  Nor is it always easy for the patron to describe what they want.  For this assignment I knew what I wanted, but I had a hard time choosing the correct words to tell the librarian. This makes it harder for the book advisor.     


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Week 3 Prompt Questions and Answers

Below are questions proposed Professor Cataldi about readers advisory and my responses.

 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!

After checking Laurell Hamilton's website I found the series, however they are not numbered.  I can assume that they are in order, however to double check I went to GoodReads and found a list.  It states that The Lunatic Cafe is the next book in the series.  I also found the answer on the website FictionDB,

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.

Novelist gives some recommendations based on Genre, Character, Tone, and Writing Style elements with a bit faster read.  But I was not sure what book to choose based on author or book read alikes.  So, I decided to take it a step further and read more about the book Prodigal SummerAfter reading the summary of the book and some insightful reviews from the New York Times Book Review, Newsweek (both from Barbara Kingsolver's website) and Library Journal, Kirkus, and Booklist (from Novelist) I have a better feeling for this book.
So, in the end I would advise reading The Loop (1998) by Nicholas Evena, because it makes the patrons overall criteria and has a similar feel to Prodigal Summer book.

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!

After doing a search on Novelist for Japan as a subject and historical setting and richly detailed as search criteria I found the Sano Ichiro series by Laura Rowland.  The book is set in 17th century Japan with rich details makes this sound like a good fit.  I would suggest starting with the first book Shinju from 1994.

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?

Since the patron likes this author I would check and see if Elizabeth George has a website with a listing of her books, summaries and reviews.  After looking through her website I found that this book is part of the Inspector Thomas Lynley mystery series.  I would suggest starting with the first book in the series, A Great Deliverance.  If the patron wanted to know more about the the rest of the books in the series I would print up the titles and book summaries.

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?

Since the Walking Dead started as a comic book series I would verify that her husband would like comics/graphic novels.  If so, as a comic book nerd I familiar with graphic novels in the zombie genre so, I would suggest The 30 Days of Night series.  It is gritty and violent with a human survival element similar to the Walking Dead series.  

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.

I found this one really tricky.  I checked the Chelton list and found "Based on the Book" at Midcontinent Library.  This list can be broken down by years and that makes it helpful, however it does not break it down by genre.  I checked a few lists IMDB and they break it down by literary or classics and this can be broken down by recent years.  However, these lists only list the favorites of the person who made the list.  GoodReads also gives several lists, but I am not sure what the patron is really looking for.  So, for this question I would need to delve into the reference interview to find what the person means by the phrase "especially literary ones".  Does she mean classics like Jane Eyre and Alice in Wonderland or more modern stories like The Girl on the Train and Twelve Years a Slave?  From her responses I would be better able to assist with her finding a good movie to watch. 

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

After doing a search on Novelist for a book containing Pace: Fast & Tone: Chaste and Suspenseful the results came back with several choices, however the book that sounded most like a thriller is Lock & Key (2013) by Traci Hunter Abramson.  

Second, after you get a chance to do the readings and explore Mary Chelton's list of tools, I want to hear about how you find books to read. It could be a site or a resource you've just discovered or one you've used for years, one you use for yourself or for your patrons or family and friends.

I use a variety of sites to find books that I like to read or to order for my library. I like GoodReads, because the books are reviewed by readers. user reviews can be good, but I recommend reading the whole review for what it is, because sometimes someone will rate a book low because the book was damaged or late delivery, instead of reviewing the books actual literary content. Booklist, Library Journal, and the New York Times book reviews are good sources.  I also like to check out the ALA websites for award nominated and winning books. 

As a huge a graphic novel fan I like to browse title sections at publishers like DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, Devils Due, Zenescope, etc.  This gives me information about titles of graphic novels I have not heard of or forgot about.  From there I do some research into these books.  Also, local comic book stores are great for asking about what is currently hot in comics.
While professional reviews are great I like to search for book reviews on blogs from readers.  Similar to GoodReads these are often people who just love reading and will give an honest opinion about books.
After reviewing the Chelton handout I found some helpful websites that I like.  Here are a few highlights:,,, Novelist, Audio File Magazine, Christy Awards, Indie book Awards, Lair Graphic Novels, Monster Librarian, Cozy Mystery List, and more.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hello and Happy almost Friday.  Here is the list of genres and the weeks that I will be doing the book review and annotations.

Horror: week 6

Mystery: week 7
Science Fiction: Week 7
Non- Fiction: week 12
GBTQ: week 14

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Personal Reading Profile

I would love to say that I have read a lot of books (like a couple hundred) in the past couple of years, however I have not.  This makes me sad and irritates me.  I have been spending a majority of my reading time reading for class assignments and research.  However, those days are counting down.  I am so looking forward to siting under a tree with my wife, dog, and a large glass of ice tea reading a book. This is not to say that I have not enjoyed and profited from my time in the graduate program; I have very much enjoyed my time and the knowledge I have gained will not only help me in my current and future jobs (looking to hire a smart and friendly librarian look me up) but I will also profit from this knowledge in my personal life too.  However, I will be realistic and admit that I enjoy reading for enjoyment much more than for knowledge and sometimes these two mix into a brilliant book.

When I do have time to read I enjoy reading genres like horror, comedy, adventure, action, and suspense.  These genres most often are presented in graphic form.  I am a huge comic book reader.  My favorite characters are from the Batman Universe.  Yesterday, I finished reading issue #3 of the current Harley Quinn series.  While I enjoy reading from the big powerhouse publishers of DC and Marvel along with Dark Horse and Image the smaller companies like Dynamite, Zenescope, and Devils Due have some refreshing ideas and are more willing to try out ideas.

I have found that some of the best places to look for new, unique, and enjoyable comics are the indie publishers.  When I go to a comic book convention (aka get my nerd on) I am on the lookout for something new and exciting.  These are writers and artist whose books are not always available at Amazon or B&N; these are sometimes only printed in short order for the conventions.

To choose my favorite books would be impossible, because there are sooooo many great books I have read. However, I do have a favorite that tops them all: Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.  I like to and look forward to reading this book every year or so.  I have read it at least 12 times and each time I read it I find something different that I enjoy.  So, instead of listing my other favorites I will list the books I go to most often.

1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

2. On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio by John Dunning (1998).

3. Tune in Yesterday: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, 1925-1976 by John Dunning (1976)

Number 2 and 3 go together as an excellent source of information about Old Time Radio Shows (OTR).  The newer edition left out some of the shows of the older one, however expanded on information on certain shows.  As a huge OTR fan I often refer to these books for research and just for reading enjoyment. 

4.  Hack/Slash series. I put this on my list because this is a comic book series I would enjoy reading again.  This comic book series was created and sometime illustrated by Tim Seeley.  If you like cheesy 1980s slasher movies with a modern appeal and terrible humor this is a great series.  The main character Cassie Hack had really good character development throughout the series.  I would recommend starting with the first Omnibus.  For Christmas I got a 9 inch Cassie Hack statue (nerd alert 😄)

I am on GoodReads and would like to invite you all to friend me.  I have found some really good books from GoodReaders recommendations.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hello and Welcome to my blog about book advisory.  I created this blog for my graduate class S525: Adult Readers Advisory at IUPUI.