Library Moments: How we Find our Next Read

Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: Hello, I am Erin Kernohan-Berning from the Haliburton County Public Library, and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or services we offer at the library.

According to UNESCO, hundreds of thousands of books are published in North America every year. The Haliburton County Library’s collection includes over 35,000 books with new titles coming in every week. With so many books to choose from, it can be a challenge to pick our next read. Today I have Bessie Sullivan and Sherrill Sherwood here to talk about how we choose our next book out of the overwhelming myriad of choices in front of us.

brokenBessie Sullivan, County Librarian: I tend to use book reviews to pick books.  There are two print sources that I rely on most heavily and they are Quill and Quire and Chatelaine magazines.  Quill and Quire reviews all things Canadian including: fiction and non-fiction, baby book and across age range and genres.  Chatalaine tends to review books that will appeal to women.  It is actually my favourite place to find my next read.  Not a month goes by that I don’t want to read at least one title presented to me.  My latest discovery is All the broken things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, I loved her first book The Nettle Spinner  and the description in Chatalaine made this one seem compelling too.  There are a couple of other ways that work for finding what I want to read next.  Goodreads is a social media site for book lovers, I have lots of success finding a book by seeing what my goodreads friends are reading and enjoying.  Goodreads also sends me a notice each month of any books being published by authors I have read before.  One other way I find very helpful is the library’s Nextread service.  From the library website there are eight lists that anyone can subscribe to from mystery to romance.  Once a month you will be sent a list of new reads and some old favourites.

Sherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: I have one way of picking my fiction reads and another way of picking my non-fiction reads. With fiction, it may amuse you to know that a pretty cover will instigate an investigation into the book’s basic plot. If that appeals to me, I usually ask Bessie, the one sitting here beside me, if she has read it and if she liked it. The majority of the time if Bessie has enjoyed it, I will too. This is a great way to discover good books, find a person that shares your reading taste. Another important feature for me with fiction is that I look to see if there is a lot of dialogue, since I like character driven books. With non-fiction, if I’m interested in the subject but don’t already know the author, I check the reviews on the back of the book to see if I recognize and respect any of the people giving the testimonials.

Erin: I tend to choose my next read from media interviews with authors. Whether on the radio or television, hearing an author talk about their work can compel you to seek out their latest book. I really enjoy non-fiction and I have found watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart a great source for my next non-fiction read. Books that The Daily Show introduced me to include The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan, Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newel Jr., I Am Malala by Malala Yousefzai, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. While a late night comedy show might seem an odd place to get book recommendations, Stewart’s author interviews benefit from the fact that by and large he reads each book featured on the show, or at least the lion’s share when he can’t. This makes his interviews informed, and free of many of the canned responses that tend to plague an author’s promotional tour.

diabetesOther great sources of high quality author interviews I’ve found include The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers and Writer’s and Company with Eleanor Wachtel on CBC, Fresh Air on NPR, and our very own Haliburton County Reads with Greg Roe on 100.9 CANOE FM.

When I hear about a book through any of these sources, I check the library’s online catalogue, and put a hold on it. If you see a book that you want to read but isn’t in the catalogue, you can request it from us through any one of our eight branches. We will do our best to find it for you! My next non-fiction reads, both found through author interviews with Jon Stewart, include ZEALOT: The life and times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris.

That’s all for this week’s edition of Library Moments. As always all of the titles discussed here are available from the Haliburton County Public Library. Thank-you for joining us on 100.9 CANOE FM.

*originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM January 12th – 18th, 2014.

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