This month marks five years since I started working at my library. Before that I worked for a couple of years at a large city library system, and spent some time years before then completing a work placement in a public library as well. Considering it all, I’ve now spent over 7 years in libraries.
And in all of these years (a small portion of my total years in public libraries hopefully), there is one question that I dread. “Have you read — ?” The blanks always refer to a bestseller, literary fiction, and/or bookclub choice.
The problem is – my current favourite author writes a series set during the Napoleonic war featuring an intelligent aerial corps made of of dragons.
No one has ever asked me what I think about those books.
To be fair, I have had one person ask me about what I thought about an author who writes gentle romances.
So, I rarely read bestsellers (only if they are non-literary fantasy), and I’ve never read a title that was in a bookclub kit at either of the library systems I’ve worked at.
As a result, I’ve had to come up with various responses to the dreaded question.
“Not yet, but I know that it is quite popular.”
“I haven’t had a chance to, but I know a lot of people who have enjoyed it.”
“No, but it is very well reviewed.”
I can then pull up some reviews as fast as possible , and give the patron some information about the title.
People love to discuss the books they love, and there is something very pleasing about finding a stranger who loves the same books that you do. While I may not read the same books that many library patrons who want to engage about books they are interested in, I do know how to utilize tools that can help them decide what they want to read next.
But I do hope for the day someone wants to ask me about Jim Butcher, Naomi Novik, or Seannan McGuire.