RA Ready: A Beginner’s Guide to Genre Fiction | Readers’ Advisory

There are few things more satisfying for a librarian than uniting a reader with a great book (or two or ten). But many library staffers experience anxiety when asked to recommend titles in genres they don’t read themselves and with which they are unfamiliar.

There are few things more satisfying for a librarian than uniting a reader with a great book (or two or ten). But many library staffers experience anxiety when asked to recommend titles in genres they don’t read themselves and with which they are unfamiliar. In these terrifying moments, some may cast a glance around, hoping to spot the resident sf aficionado or dedicated romance buff. In the absence of a knowledgeable colleague, eyes may turn desperately to the New Releases or Staff Picks shelves. Resources such as NoveList can be a lifesaver—provided the library has a subscription and if the patron has the patience to wait for a search to be performed. Other resources that cross genres include Goodreads and of course LJ and the other professional review publications, plus general interest publications targeted to book lovers.

In a 2014 survey developed by LJ with NoveList and the RUSA/CODES Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Committee, the first most commonly cited cause of RA anxiety is keeping up with books and genres, a problem cited by 21 percent of the librarians. Second, at 17 percent, was discomfort with unfamiliar genres. Combine that with the 23 percent whose library provides no training or support for RA, the 42 percent who had no RA class in library school, and the 14 percent who cite “time to train in RA/read.”

For all those people, the following toolkit was designed specifically with genre-newbies in mind. Not a horror fan? Never read a Regency love story? Don’t know the difference between an Orc and a Dementor? Fear not. RA experts with deep knowledge of some of the most popular genre fiction categories (sf/fantasy, romance, horror, thrillers, mystery, and young adult) here offer a crash course in the top titles, series, and authors librarians need to know. For more advice and recommendations, be sure to check out Neal Wyatt’s “RA Crossroads” and “Wyatt’s World,” two long-running RA columns on libraryjournal.com.—Kiera Parrott

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