Finding your next great read

It was a question and a statement we got a lot at the libraries I worked at. “Can you help me? I just finished this awesome series and I’m looking for another book like those. Oh, and I’ve read everything by that author.”

I’d ask them a few questions (librarians will always ask a few questions to help zero in on what you might actually be looking for).

“What was it you liked about that series or that novel?”

“Are you looking for something that has a similar setting, characters, type of story?”

Then we would listen. In library-land this is known as “doing reader’s advisory.” In other words, helping a reader find the next great read.

You can ask yourself those questions, especially if you are searching your library’s catalog from home. You can do a keyword search. Say you really like Joanna Fluke’s Hannah Swenson Cookie Jar mysteries. Well, you could type in “baking mysteries.” I did. I found seventy titles. Many were duplicates, because a title being available in print, large-print, and other formats.

Right off the bat I’m suspicious of those search results because that’s nowhere near the number of baking mysteries a typical library would own. I look up a title, go to more details, and discover the category for that book is actually “baking-fiction,” not mystery. Below that might be another subject category, like “mystery and detective fiction,” or “mysteries.”

It can quickly get complicated. That’s where stopping by your local library to get some assistance, both with your next great read, and a lesson in how to do the searching in the catalog can really pay off. “It depends” is often all-too-true when it comes to trying to find a book by it’s subject.

However, there’s another resource you can use: NoveList. NoveList is available online at many, if not most, public library websites.

NoveList is searchable database of fiction and non-fiction books. You can look up a particular title and find out more information about it, including any reviews from various publications like Booklist or Library Journal. That’s helpful, but where NoveList can really help is with finding your next great read is in its ability to also display “read-alikes,” books similar in someway to the one you just looked up.

Right there, you will have more books similar in someway or ways to the book you just finished. Sometimes very similar in tone, storyline, characters etc.

You can also look through the subjects listed and click to find more books in that category. Often NoveList lists more categories for a particular book than your library’s catalog, simply because NoveList’s categories are compiled with different criterion and by different people.

Also, NoveList will display “Recommended reading” lists by subject on the starting page when you log in, providing some great lists to browse through. And remember, you can look for more information and read-alikes with any of those books as well.

Of course, your local librarian can show you around NoveList, and give you more tips and tricks.

It used to be that libraries stocked various genre guides, but alas, those have mostly gone away, replaced by NoveList as well as book lists your local library may have created which you can find on your library’s website.

I hope these tips are useful, and remember, librarians are here to help!

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