Readers’ Advisory to the Rescue! (Exciting Conclusion!)
By Rebecca Howard
Tulsa City-County Library
What should I read next?
Fellow readers, I hope everyone had as many books on their night stand (or pre-loaded onto their e-reader) as I did this summer. So many amazing books released this season, and the fall previews have already begun. But for this article, we are going to look back a bit. In June, we invited you to fill out a brief profile about your reading tastes and interests, and I offered to share some suggestions for what you should read next.
Thanks to those of you who played along. We selected a reader who listed these titles among those she has recently read and enjoyed: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, Chocolat by Joanne Harris, and Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea. She was in the mood for something leisurely, lyrical, and thought-provoking with some elements of magical realism. She typically reads literary fiction, memoir, and mystery.
When readers give me multiple books they’ve enjoyed, I tried to identify overlapping appeal factors. Appeal factors include things like a book’s pace, focus, setting, writing style, tone or mood. All three of these titles have lyrical writing, descriptive and atmospheric settings, and a focus on character more than plot. To varying degrees, they all include a coming-of-age theme. Where the Crawdads Sing contains a mystery, and Chocolat and Into the Beautiful North have elements of magical realism.
For our reader who is grounded firmly on earth but wants to believe I’m suggesting the following five titles:
Southernmost by Silas House
A mid-life coming-of-age story, Southernmost follows the spiritual and physical journey of an evangelical preacher who is shunned by his congregation after offering hospitality to a gay couple who is displaced by a catastrophic flood. This is a quiet, thoughtful novel with a power that sneaks up on you as a reader.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
In this luminous novel, Hamid explores the topic of migration through magical realism. The writing is spare, and the effect is a book that is both timely and timeless.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
A lyrical and leisurely-paced book about a crime on a North Dakota Indian Reservation and a teenage boy’s attempt to find justice for his family.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Not quite the marshlands of North Carolina, yet the Brooklyn of the 1970s teams with life in Jacqueline Woodson’s coming-of-age novel. Told in vignettes that mirror the nature of memory, this novel reads like poetry more than prose.
Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia
Dreaming in Cuban explores the Cuban Revolution through the story of a family, specifically the voices of its women. Raucous, moving, heartbreaking, and funny, Garcia’s work has been aptly compared to that of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I hope that our reader finds some new favorites among these suggestions and that other readers who enjoyed Delia Owen’s phenomenal foray into fiction will also find something that piques their interest. More than anything, Readers’ Advisory is a conversation. I’d love to hear from those who try these titles—whether they are hits or misses! Now, go place your holds on those greatly-anticipated fall books.