Librarian myths

I used to work in a public library with a woman who didn’t read fiction. At all. Yet she was able to suggest book titles, new authors, titles-that-might-be-like-the-one-you-just-read to readers who wanted advice. She listened to reader’s feedback, kept up to date with reviews, and crucially, judged a book by its cover. Her book-enjoyment strike rate was pretty good.
I think her lack of experience actually helped. She didn’t have all the fears and doubts that plague those of us who read a lot.

This is what I imagine happened when someone asked her for advice on what to read next.

Reader: Hi. Can you suggest a book that I should read next?

Her: *thinks* Yes I can.
Her: Sure. What kind of books do you like to read?

Reader: Um, well I read [TITLE] recently and really enjoyed it.

Her: *thinks* Everyone has read [TITLE] recently.
Her:  There are a lot of people reading that book! So you like [GENRE]?
Her:  *thinks* [COVER] [COVER] [TITLE] [REVIEW]

Reader: Not usually. I don’t like [CHARACTERISTIC OF GENRE]. But I really enjoyed this one. Do you have any more like that?

Her: Yes, why don’t you try [TITLE]?

Reader: Thanks!

Her:  You’re welcome! Come back and let me know what you think.

This is what happens when someone asks me for advice on what to read next…

Reader: Hi. Can you suggest a book that I should read next?

Me: *thinks* That’s a wide open field buddy.
Me: Sure. What kind of books do you like to read?

Reader: Um, well I read [TITLE] recently and really enjoyed it.

Me: *thinks* Everyone has read [TITLE] recently.
Me: There are a lot of people reading that book! So you like [GENRE]?
Me: *thinks* [TITLE] [TITLE] [TITLE] [AUTHOR] [AUTHOR]

Reader: Not usually. I don’t like [CHARACTERISTIC OF GENRE]. But I really enjoyed this one. Do you have any more like that?

Me: *thinks* oh god.
Me:  *says cheerfully* Probably! Was there anything about it that you really liked?
Me: *thinks* [TITLE] [TITLE] [AUTHOR] [AUTHOR] [SERIES]

Reader: I really liked the way it was written. I didn’t like the [DIFFERENT CHARACTERISTIC OF GENRE].

Me: *thinks* FUCK.
Me: *says cheerfully* Okay, let me think about this.
Me: *thinks* [TITLE] That’s pretty heavy going. [TITLE] Teenage? Nah. [TITLE] Not in this weather! [AUTHOR] Mmm, risky. [TITLE] I LOVE this book!
Me: Well, you could try [TITLE]. It’s about [PLOT], is pretty [ADJECTIVE], much like [TITLE]…?

Reader: Oh. I was hoping for something more [DIFFERENT ADJECTIVE].

Me: *thinks* FUCK.
Me: Oh, okay. Well try [TITLE] then.

Reader: Thanks!

Me: You’re welcome! Come back and let me know what you think.
Me: *is nibbled at by the mice of doubt for the rest of the day*

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2 thoughts on “Librarian myths

  1. snail says:

    Oh yeah, I often get stuck in that circular thang of "oh this title, or maybe that title and then there’s this other title, but actually no"…then I sort of slide vaguely off into the distance.

  2. flexnib says:

    I thought it was just me!! Because I am not a public librarian, I don’t do this as part of my job, just for family and friends. I’m glad I don’t have to do it as part of my job, because I would drive myself bonkers!

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