Tuesday, May 29, 2012

#2: What to read....what to read next....what to try while waiting

three pronged tornado funnel cloud formation
Possibly earliest photograph of a tornado

Libraries are a great resource for something called "Readers Advisory."  That's not a warning about looming dangers in a book, as in Tornado Advisory.  It is a spectrum of answers for the dreaded question, "What to read now?"  On one hand, this can be a rhetorical question, not expecting a real answer; on the other hand, it can become a great conversation over days or years of careful give-and-take between a patron's reactions to books read and a librarian's careful research into similar (or different) books to attempt.

To help librarians help you there are a few things to add after asking, "What shall I read next?"  These include:
1. several books you have read and liked (and maybe want more of),
2. a few books you did not like (and why),
3. what sort of book, story, character, or feeling you are in the mood for next.

Please don't think of it as homework, though the more thought placed in the answers, the more reliable a librarian's research into what titles to suggest may become.  If you want to delve into the analysis of books, this is where plot, character, setting, and pacing come into play.  As every person reads a book through a different life-lens, these analyses are not set in stone.  Each book may have several different "appeal factors" (genre, setting, pacing) and you see the one that interests (or disgusts) you at that time.

Sometimes I prefer a book that emphasizes pacing.  This may be Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Other times I can appreciate a book that explores, without any hurry, the internal monologue (see: Atonement by Ian McEwan).

Whether the sense of place, frenetic pacing, complex and dynamic characterization, or just what everyone else is reading is your cup of tea, ask a librarian--but be prepared for a conversation rather than a Google-fast result.

If you prefer the DIY (do-it-yourself) approach, there are many websites that can help as well.  For mystery fans, Stop, You're Killing Me! can help you recall your favorite character's author, or authors who write similarly to your favorite author.  If you prefer to know beforehand whether a book has mature language (or just how much), various aspects of romance (or how much from hand-holding to well beyond kissing), violence (implied or explicit and how much), and many more aspects look to All Readers.  With either site, look up books you have already read to see what volunteers have posted about them.  That way you will know what terms to look for (or avoid!) in searching for new possibilities.

Ruidoso Public Library hosts the World Premier of Camp Capitan, a local playwright's introduction to a CCC camp in the county and life during the Great Depression.  Two shows, Thursday, May 31, 10:30 am and 7 pm.

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