True confessions of a readers’ advisor


People often ask for reading recommendations whether I'm on the job or off. It's part of my job description as a readers' services librarian. I haven't read every book I've suggested. For some, it's hard to fathom that you'd be able to suggest a book when you haven't even cracked the cover. Discovery, detective work, serendipity, daily conversations with readers, as well as diligent reading and keeping a close eye on publishing trends are the key ingredients to successful recommendations. Recently, I had the chance to put these skills to practice a bit closer to home.

About six months ago, my sister-in-law broke her ankle. Forced into putting her very busy work schedule on hold, she was relegated to join the ranks of regular physical therapy goers. "Please, please will you give me names of books so I can listen to them during my therapy sessions?"

I love my sister-in-law to pieces. She had never been much of a big recreational reader. No time. It always makes me a wee bit nervous to suggest books to people close to me. What if they don't like the books? Irrational fear for a librarian, right? (Insert "wink" here.) 

I started with titles like the much loved young adult novel "Eleanor & Park,"  the quirky "The Rosie Project," and "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry." When she liked Harold, I moved onto "A Man Called Ove" by Frederik Backman, featuring a curmudgeonly older gentleman who is jolted when new neighbors move in, disrupting his hermit-like existence. When she loved those books, I knew that "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" would be a grand slam.

After I found tears streaming down my cheek while reading Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See," I knew I had to suggest that she read it, too. I was a little hesitant because I wasn't sure she'd want a heavier book. I also worried about the personal part, "How could you not like a book I loved?" As a teacher of children with visual impairments, I knew she would be drawn to the blind character of Marie-Laure. Of course, she loved it. She moved onto the incredibly popular and disturbing "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins. After enjoying that one, she needed a breather. Onto JoJo Moyes! (Nope, I haven't read her books, but I know enough from reviews and cirulation stats to know that they might hit the mark.) "Me Before You," "One Plus One," and "The Girl You Left Behind" all won rave reviews from my sis-in-law.

Whatever kind of book you're looking for, we're here to help. Even if we haven't read all of the books in the library, we do have ways of finding and suggesting titles that just might be what you're looking for. Stop by the welcome desk, or check out our online form, Book It!, and we'll send you suggestions via email. 


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