DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Feb 25 2013

On Book Recommendations

by Jnai W

I realize that I’m at least a few years late to the party but I’ve just recently finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (loved, loved, loved it!) and am now tucking into book two of the trilogy, Catching Fire. I’ve been aware of The Hunger Games for the past few years because…well, it’s hard not to be when you work in a library. But for whatever reason I’d never gotten around to reading it. Recently, however, it became quite inexcusable for me to not read this book. In the case of The Hunger Games I ran out of excuses not to read it based on the recommendation of one of DCPL’s adorable teen patrons (yes, Readers, teens can be quite adorable!). Our circulation desk conversation had somehow turned to the Hunger Games series. I’d mentioned to the young patron that I hadn’t read the book yet but “I’ve heard good things”.

“Oh my gosh,” said the youngster. “You’ll love it! You’ll really love it!”

Her enthusiasm for this book was honest, overflowing and contagious, so much so that I’d decided that I would be reading this book at my earliest convenience. “Earliest convenience” is still slightly non-committal but at least now reading Suzanne Collins’ acclaimed trilogy was officially on my to-do list.  After talking for a while longer, I checked out the patron and wished her happy reading with the items she’d borrowed.  Perhaps half an hour later, the young lady and her mother returned to the library and presented me with their copy of The Hunger Games, suggesting that when I was finished reading it I could pass it along to someone else to read or donate it to the library. Ecstatic and touched by the gift, reading this book graduated from being a to-do list item to My Plans For The Evening. It took me three days to read it but only because I had to break for things like going to work and sleeping.

As a library worker, book recommendations from patrons are always welcome and appreciated. But nothing compares to when a teenager who’s normally too-cool-for-school cracks a smile at the mention of a book he likes.  Or when an adorable, gap-toothed kiddie-grin widens with the mention of each of Victoria Kann’s -Licious books (“Did you like Pinkalicious? Have you read Purplicious? How about Silverlicious?”).  So if there’s one recommendation from today’s post it is that it pays to pick your nearest youngster’s brain for an excellent book. May the odds of a great read be ever in your favor!


Sep 29 2010

Five Books

by Jimmy L

I found a great book recommendation site the other day called Five Books.  The concept is very simple.  Every day they find some prominent expert and ask them to recommend five books on their topic of choice (usually related to their area of expertise).  Topics vary as widely as “Faith in Politics” to “Football” to “Iranian History”.  The result is targeted, informed recommendations on important issues.

For example, veteran journalist and author of Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded and The Professor and the MadmanSimon Winchester chose Volcanoes as his subject, and he recommends:

  1. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  2. The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer Lytton
  3. The Crater by James Fenimore Cooper
  4. The Violins of Saint-Jacques: A Tale of the Antilles by Patrick Leigh Fermor
  5. The Twenty-one Balloons by William Pène Du Bois

As you can see, sometimes the experts choose academic or rare books that the public library may not carry (#3 and #4 above), but the library usually has enough to at least get you started on most subjects.  In addition to just a list of books, the site also includes an interview with the expert so they can explain the reasons behind each of their choices.


Jul 30 2010

ShareReads: Try It, You’ll Like It

by Lesley B

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

How do you decide you want to read a book? What is more likely to inspire you to try a book – someone else’s recommendation or a written review?  I used to rely almost exclusively on written reviews and I rarely followed up when someone told me how much they loved a book. That’s not to say my taste in reading is so lofty or refined. There are a lot of classics I’ve never gotten around to and I read a lot of what my old English teacher would call “junk”. However, I was a bit of a bestseller snob. If a book was popular with many, many people, I was less likely to read it and more likely to suspect it wasn’t very good.

At some point I realized I was in a reading rut. Sure, the Internet made it much easier for me to find reviews from people who liked the sort of books I liked.  (Put a list of your favorite authors into Google and see what comes up.  Any new names that pop up on similar lists are automatically writers to check out.)  It made it too easy. It felt like I was eating the same thing for dinner every night.

So I got over myself and tried something new to find my next book. When someone recommended a book and I felt that old impulse to reject their recommendation, I jotted down the title and read it.  Sometimes it doesn’t work, but more often I’ve liked the book. Taking other people’s suggestions, I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett (more humor and nuance than I expected), A Sudden, Fearful Death, one of Anne Perry’s Victorian murder mysteries (I enjoyed all the background information about hospitals in that era), My Life in France, Julia Child’s autobiography (her enthusiasm and determination are inspiring) and Emily Giffin’s Love the One You’re With (I assumed it was typical chick lit, but her characters are more thoughtful and real). The book club I joined did me a real favor by picking Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. I don’t know that I ever would have gotten around to reading this book otherwise and what I would have missed by not knowing the story of Janie and Tea Cake.

Try putting those author’s names into Google together and you get nothing; so if you are one of the people who suggested a book to me – thanks! And what have you been reading lately? Have you read books that surprised you? How do you usually find out about books? Do you use the bestseller lists? Share Reads is for sharing books, but I’m also curious about how someone decides to open that book up in the first place.