The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
How Do Librarians Find Books to Recommend?
So, when someone walks up to the reference desk and asks - can you help me find something good to read? Where does a librarian even start when there are so many things to consider and books to choose from?
1. We start with a reference interview.
Basically, we ask a lot of questions to determine what someone really likes to read and go from there.
2. We utilize a lot of online resources for readers' advisory.
When I'm trying to find information related to a series, author, title or similar reads (aka: read-alikes), I typically use the following:
3. We read a lot of book reviews.
To stay current, or on top of what's popular, it's really important to read book reviews to see what the experts are recommending. There are so many great go-to resources that it's often challenging to keep up with them all. Check out these librarian favorites:
Where does the average person start when they're trying to find a good book?
The average person can use some of the same methods as a librarian to find a really good book to read. Ask yourself the following questions:
By exploring the books you really like and what you like about them, it will be a little easier to find your next great read.
Using Novelist to Find a Good Book
So, you finished that really engrossing series and don't know what to read next - sound familiar? Well, you could use Novelist to find similar books. For instance, they offer read-alikes based on titles, authors and series. They also use various appeal factors (or terms) to match up selections with the hopes of matching readers with their next great read.
What do you think of when you hear the word appeal? According to Dictionary.com, it means "the power or ability to attract, interest, amuse, or stimulate the mind or emotions." A signature feature of NoveList is appeal, which basically is like matchmaking between people and books. Appeal factors combine various story elements to help readers find that perfect book based on their preferred style or mood - it's the "chemistry of readers' advisory" says Novelist.
Appeal is a way of determining why people enjoy the books they read. Some readers already have a good vocabulary for talking about the books they love, while some do better in talking about books they never want to read again – but framing these conversations around appeal is the foundation for helping people find what to read next. NoveList uses appeal terms to augment other data about genre, subject, geographic location and reading level.
Learn More About Appeal Factors:
By using the resources above, let's find a few read-alikes based on a popular book:
"Less" by Andrew Sean Greer
This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018. It received starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly.
If you enjoyed this book, what should you read next?
Using the "readers' advisory" resources listed above, I found four similar reads (or read-alikes). Keep in mind, with readers' advisory recommendations you're taking a leap of faith. Basically, you're hoping a book you never heard of before will be interesting, compelling, and/or enjoyable to read.
We hope you find these tips and tools helpful in your next quest to find that perfect book to read. However, if you get stuck along the way, contact one of our awesome librarians - they really enjoy helping with readers' advisory. And in case you didn't already know, we have a great readers' advisory service called "Give 3 Get 3." Basically, tell us about three titles you really enjoyed and we'll send you back three more recommendations based on what you tell us.
But wait, there's more ... we also have a variety of book and movie lists on our website you may want to explore.
Photo credit: Photo of man flying next to bookshelf - "Just looking for a book" by Colin Payson via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license.