By Lisa Kelly, Outreach and Publicity Manager

One of the most frequent questions asked of library staff is: “Which book should I read next? What’s good?” This question never fails to surprise me.

Lisa Kelly photo Janet Birckhead, Henrietta Dawson, Janice Grace and Cadene Patterson love to talk books at the library!

Why? Because I’m a reader. Always have been. I have the opposite problem: I have too many books stacked on my “read next” shelf. As library staff, I easily access an embarrassment of reading riches. It’s simple for me to select that next book, even if I choose it simply for an eye-catching cover or intriguing title. If we don’t own a book I want to read, we can usually get it from another library in our consortium, via inter-library loan (it’s a wonderful service – ask about it!) so most of the time I’m not even browsing our library shelves, but just checking out the books as they come in “on hold” for me.

But although it’s a foreign concept to me, there are readers who request help selecting their next good book. You may not know this, but there is a whole component of librarianship devoted to helping our patrons select books, called Reader’s Advisory. And so, when asked, our answer would be “What’s the last book you enjoyed? And why do you like this kind of book?” There are many, many book genres, divided into many sub-categories, but a few basic categories of fiction and non-fiction are: mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, magical realism, short story, horror, humor, biography, journalism, self-help, memoir and history. We staff members possess varied tastes in reading genres, so when we know what our patrons are seeking, we can provide personal recommendations.

Fantasticfiction.com is a wonderful resource for staying current with your favorite authors and series. This extremely comprehensive website has pages and pages of authors, old and new, with lists of all their books and series in order, including synopses of each, so you can follow your favorite authors and see if they have written a new book. Each author’s page also includes other authors enjoyed by their fans, a nice way to find new authors you’ll probably enjoy, because they’re similar. There are many other websites providing book recommendations. Ask the staff to share their favorite resources for Reader’s Advisory.

I thought it would be fun to share what some of our staff members like to read.

Janet Birckhead, Senior Librarian describes herself as a very eclectic reader but tends to read mostly non-fiction. Her favorite fiction genre is young adult dystopian fiction, particularly authors Margaret Peterson Haddix, Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth. What she likes about this genre is “seeing people triumph over difficult circumstances.”

Anya Wells, Library Assistant at the Elberon Branch Library, enjoys reading old-school science fiction. Her favorite authors are Russian writers who’ve never been translated into English, but chooses Ray Bradbury as her favorite American sci-fi author. Anya likes science fiction “because it gives me a lot of new ideas, and I like reading about new inventions that didn’t used to exist but have now been realized in today’s world and tracing that connection from the classic older science fiction.”

Anna Sweeney, Library Assistant, also chooses science fiction as her favorite genre, favoring the books of Orson Scott Card. “It’s the allure of what could be in the future, and there’s always a message about the dangers of future technology and the people in power who control it.”

Bunny Dawson, Library Assistant, likes reading James Patterson’s Alex Cross detective series. For her, the appeal is not necessarily the plot of each mystery or thriller, but following the development of the recurring main character from book to book. Bunny also enjoys biographies, and her favorites are the unauthorized biographies of Golden Age Hollywood celebrities from the 40’s and 50’s. “I’m fascinated with the ways certain celebrities lived their lives and reading about the unknown stories of their lives as their secrets are finally revealed.”

Cadene Patterson, Circulation Manager, prefers reading non-fiction. Science, health, and religion are her favorite subjects, but especially anything about health and human anatomy, explaining “I like knowing how the body works.”

Janice Grace, Local History Room Manager, enjoys the British detective novels of P.D. James and the forensic investigations of Patricia Cornwall, and requires a good plot to hold her interest, but also likes to read Anne Rivers Siddons “whose generational family fiction unfolds in epic dramas set in interesting, atmospheric places.”

Whatever your favorite genre m ay be, the Long Branch Free Public Library is sure to have a book you’ll enjoy reading next. Please visit the Main Library and the Elberon Branch Library and chat with the staff about what they like to read. We love to talk books and share our favorites! I promise you’ll leave with good suggestions and a book or two! Our new fiction and non-fiction is always displayed near the Circulation desks. In December, the Main Library is displaying the staff’s favorite books of the year.

We hope to see you soon.



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