Blog post by Tara Kehoe
On January 28, “Find Your Next Great Read Online” was presented by Tara Kehoe, a readers’ services librarian at the Talking Book and Braille Center. If you have any questions or follow up with Tara, please feel free to email: Tara and/or follow Tara on goodreads.com and Twitter @TaraKehoe1. A recording of the webinar is available here.
The purpose of this webinar was to show attendees a variety of quality online resources that can be used to find good books. Many people read books that are popular (“buzzed”) and/or bestsellers. Many people read the book suggestions that pop up from an Amazon search. These are fine ways to find books, but not the only way. Just because a book is popular does not necessary mean that you will love it. We learned that many web sites (like Amazon) bring up book suggestions because they are paid by publishers to do so, in the hopes of making more sales. Here is an article on paid advertisement from Intelliverse.
Strategies for Finding Books
All readers are encouraged to visit their local public library, as it a great way to find books! But, you cannot always make it to the library and sometimes you have to visit remotely. We explored some great examples of online library resources; using a few of our local New Jersey libraries as examples of Catalog exploration, Recommendations, Lists, and Blogs. Attendees are encouraged to visit their local library’s web page to explore, and it is highly recommended to establish an account using your library card. This makes it easy to place books on hold from the library’s online catalog, track checked out books and due dates, etc.
A helpful tool to keep organized is goodreads.com. This is tool wherein it’s possible to maintain lists of books you want to read, books you have read, and you can rate and review. You can read others’ reviews and you can link to friends’ accounts and share book recommendations. The New Jersey State Library Book Café is a group you can join on goodreads. Library Reads is a similar site. To answer a question that came up during the session that I did not have time to address; it is possible to use goodreads to track books that you have loaned out to others. Under the section “my books”, under “bookshelves”, select “add shelf” and name it whatever you like (for example “lent out” or something). You can shelve your books under as many shelves as you like, such as “read, lent out”.
NoveList Plus is a database available through the New Jersey State Library. From the New Jersey State library page you can access NoveList Plus (under “research tools”, “databases”, then use the alphabetical selection to choose “N” and select NoveList Plus from the list.) NoveList Plus is available for free with your library card remotely by entering your barcode (or from a public computer located in the New Jersey State Library). NoveList Plus is a huge resource! You can use it to find title, author, and series read-alikes. You can explore genres and access book lists. NoveList Plus offers a downloadable guide to their appeal terms, which can help to narrow down reading interests. NoveList K-8 is available as well, which offers similar resources for picture, chapter, and middle-grade books.
Many Great Websites!
Literature map is a fast and easy way to find similar authors. For help in getting the correct order of a series try Fantastic Fiction. Tip: if you get no results for a fairly popular author or title check your spelling! Many of these sites are unforgiving of misspelled names and titles.
Online professional reviews are a good way to help find books. The New York Times Book Review and Kirkus Reviews are a good start-off point. There is also NPR’s Book Concierge, which uses an alternate format to compiles their picks for the best books of the year.
We discussed some tips for using social media to choose books. All sites mentioned are free and easy to sign up for. The most popular social media site for organizations today is Facebook. Almost all public libraries have a Facebook account. If you use Facebook you can follow (“like”) your library and any other library out there that has cool stuff of it! If you do not use Facebook you are not going to be shut out of specific information, Facebook has more to do with the delivery of the message. So, you make it your own. One example we looked at was the Piscataway Public Library Facebook page.
Twitter is another good way to find books. I included a helpful guide to using Twitter. A fun feature of Twitter is that you can follow favorite authors, and sometimes if you send them a tweet, they respond.
Is Social Media information overload? Try some of the meta sites, they will collect what they find on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. and send it all to you in a digest format. Check out Social Media Snapshot from LibraryLinkNJ for a good example.
There are so many resources out there! Do not get overwhelmed—find your favorite resource(s) and explore!
Some other links that we did not have time go over in depth, but may be helpful are below.
Blog of wonderful Young Adult book recommendations and reviews:
More Book Discovery Tools:
- Book Riot
- Books on the Nightstand
- Epic Reads
- Library Reads
- Reading Group Choice
- Shelf Awareness
- Smart Bitches Trashy Novels
- Wrapped up in Books
More Book Review Resources: