From childhood to motherhood, Julie Bogart has remained true to the love of her life: the library.
My first car accident occurred in the parking lot of a library. I had barely earned my driver’s license a few hours earlier. I hopped in my Mazda GLC that evening for a joyride—straight to the public library. So excited to visit the stacks inside, I hurriedly parked, misjudging the space and clipped the fender of the neighboring car. I got a tongue lashing from the owner, naturally—though the damage was insignificant.
But what stays with me more than that humiliation on what should have been a day of driving triumph is that my first choice destination when exercising my new-born 16 year old freedom, was to drive to a library. Libraries were a haven and a place of intellectual adventure in my childhood.
I remember the delicious sense of “shopping” that libraries provided. My mother took us weekly to pick books—and we were allowed to check out as many as we liked! I would examine the spines for provocative words like: “Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack” and colorful book covers like Garth Williams’ illustrations for the Little House books.
In the 1970s, we still used card catalogues made of paper. It was a point of pride with me that I could navigate that system at a young age (by 10) and locate a book by its digits with decimal points. Perhaps that introduction to the secret society of proficient library users contributed to my love of research-based writing. The first time a librarian showed me how to use microfiche (slides that keep copies of newspapers, academic journals, and books from decades gone by), I felt the thrill of membership to a society of scholars.
Fast forward a few decades and it’s no wonder that I gathered my five small children, bundled them in boots and coats against the cold Ohio winters, and invaded our local library every single week. Not content to check out one or two titles per child, we brought two laundry baskets with us to cart our book hauls home. Yes, there was the time when a stack of 20 CDs went missing in our rambling house to the tune of a fine over $100.00 (one hundred dollars I didn’t have). Still, we rejoiced in spring when the CDs reappeared like tulip bulbs, having been hidden under a sectional and blanket. We were refunded our fine and the librarians, forgiving as always, reassured us that they were glad we were back.
My two oldest kids got to participate in a poetry club for junior high kids. Each week, on Wednesday nights, the library turned their meeting room into a low-lights, coffee shop atmosphere with candles and colored table cloths. A microphone stood on a platform and kids between the ages of 11 and 15 took turns reciting original poetry (a poetry slam!). After the first meeting, my kids were highly motivated to write their own poetry. Until that night, their themes had consisted of skateboarding and ballet. This time, their poetry took a dark turn. One wrote from the viewpoint of a child in a wheelchair and the other discussed the pain of losing someone to suicide. I was startled! They each told me in their own way, “I didn’t know poetry could be about hard real life things!”
And that’s just it. Libraries are this incredible gift to our communities—a place where children discover more of the world as it is, aided by research tools, friendly staff, and a wide selection of books there for the borrowing. Libraries offer read aloud storybook times for toddlers, sometimes poetry slams for teens, and book club meet ups for adults. In our increasingly digital world, it’s so nice to know that down the street, there’s a collection of people dedicated to creating a space for research and reading, for community and collaboration.
As a home educator for seventeen years, I can’t think of a place that offered us more. The library stood as a weekly highlight—a day in the week where my children felt the thrill of independent learning. They’d peruse the stacks, sample a book in their hands, lean back in a beanbag chair to start the next book in a series, and check out a pile of them, confident that they had made good intellectually stimulating decisions for themselves. Three cheers for the library! (Just be careful when you park.)
There’s nothing quite like delving into a novel when you know you can count on several more volumes to hold your attention. The idea of getting know a character – or characters – over the course of not only multiple novels, but multiple years makes for a unique reading experience. Picking up a new novel in a beloved series is like meeting up with some old friends – there’s a kind of well-worn familiarity that can’t be replicated. Luckily, if you too have the urge to dive into a long-running series, we have a few favorites to get you started.
Bones Never Lie
You likely know Temperance Brennan from the long running TV series, “Bones.” If that is your only exposure to the brilliant forensic anthropologist, do yourself a favor and pick up one of the novels that inspired the series. With eighteen novels and counting, Kathy Reichs has more than proven that she knows her way around a suspenseful plot.Add in an engaging cast of characters and one of the best protagonists in thrillers fiction and you’ve got a recipe for success.
The Cold Dish
Walt Longmire is one of my favorite fictional detectives; he’s a laconic and tortured cowboy with a stiff moral code and a weathered view of the world around him. Craig Johnson has carved out an interesting niche that combines classic Old West and cowboy tropes with hard-boiled noir. It’s an interesting combination that sets the Longmire Mystery series apart from the wealth of other crime fiction crowding the shelves.
There’s been real boom in quality urban fantasy the last few years, but Jim Butcher’s wizard-turned-private-investigator will always be my go-to. With Harry Dresden, Butcher puts a fantastical spin on the classic hard-boiled detective mystery. Dresden finds himself caught up in all facets of murder and mayhem in his beloved Chicago — supernatural and otherwise — and his wisecracking, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants style has kept me entertained across fifteen novels as well as various short stories.
Her Royal Spyness
Rhys Bowen’s A Royal Spyness Mystery series is one of my favorites and at twelve novels, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into. Set during the 1930s, the mysteries center around a Lady Georgiana, who is 34th in line for the English throne with a penchant for finding herself in inexplicable situations.
Jack Reacher might just be the most badass, no-nonsense hero in suspense fiction at the moment and Lee Child’s lean and visceral thrillers are truly edge-of-your seat affairs. Reacher is an ex-military policeman turned drifter with a very particular and dangerous sort of skills. He makes his way around the country like a sort of modern-day knight, always finding someone in dire need of his help.
Pietr the Latvian
When it comes to long-running series, Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret is difficult to top. With seventy-five novels featuring the genius Parisian sleuth, there’s plenty of mystery to be enjoyed.Maigret is a dogged and occasionally misanthropic detective who navigates the underbelly of a Paris that seems to be set in a state of perpetual gloom. These tightly woven, densely plotted mysteries are well worth digging into.
The Bone Collector
Lincoln Rhymes is one of the more interesting characters in recent thriller fiction. He’s an extraordinary forensic scientist and criminologist who also happens to be a quadriplegic with control of only one finger. Rhymes makes his way through the often startling grisly crime scenes with a host of high tech gadgetry. His investigations always prove to be just the sort of high-wire suspense that all-night reading sessions require.
Y is for Yesterday
It’s hard to top Sue Grafton’s dogged ingenuity. The twenty-five novels in her Kinsey Milhone/Alphabet series are a master class in sustained suspense and clever plotting. Grafton created one of the all-time great literary detectives in Kinsey Milhone — a hard edged and resourceful private investigator who Grafton insisted on thrusting into ever more dangerous situations.
44 Scotland Street
You likely know the prolific Alexander McCall Smith for his bestselling No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and while we most definitely recommend that one as well, 44 Scotland Street is another long-running series that is well worth your time. Set in McCall Smith’s beloved Edinburgh, the series centers on the residents of 44 Scotland Streetand their assorted love triangles, mishaps, mysteries, and various goings-on. And i’s all told with McCall Smith’s characteristic warmth, wit, and keen perception.
All hail the mighty crockpot. Within this humble appliance bounties of chilis, soups, stews, and roasts slowly cook to feed batch cookers and kitchen newbies alike. You may have already seen our roundups of great books for the air frying and instant potting contingents, so if you’re looking for your next appliance-centered boost, look no further than these fantastic crockpot cookbooks.
CROCK POT: 1001 BEST CROCK POT RECIPES OF ALL TIME BY EMMA KATIE
Let’s start with this massive collection. Emma Katie’s work is the de facto epic of crockpot cookbooks, and in a just universe would be regarded similarly to the works of Shakespeare and Homer. Katie’s recipes are concise and no-nonsense, and several of them appear per page. Anything from appetizers, soups, and sides, all the way to the main course can be found here, and in spades.
THE NEW INDIAN SLOW COOKER BY NEELA PANIZ
Paniz admits in the introduction to this cookbook that she had some skepticism about how well one could make Indian food in a slow cooker. “The slow cooker would be a new route to a crucial destination,” she writes. “I didn’t know if it could be done.” Thankfully, she pulled it off, as this cookbook is a great resource for homemade Indian cuisine. As it turns out, chutneys, curries, and dals are all achievable using your crockpot.
THE SUPER EASY VEGAN SLOW COOKER COOKBOOK: 100 EASY, HEALTHY RECIPES THAT ARE READY WHEN YOU ARE BY TONI OKAMOTO
Vegan food rules. Don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise, even if you’re not vegan yourself. In this cookbook, Okamoto addresses two criticisms often lobbed at vegan eating: making vegan food is time consuming and expensive. Starting with vegan basics like how to perfectly cook beans, the book evolves to include more complex dishes. It is also a handy reference guide for smart choices at the grocery store and slow cooker care. The recipes it contains will certainly satisfy anyone who tries them, regardless of their meat-eating status.
THE MEAT LOVER’S SLOW COOKER COOKBOOK BY JENNIFER OLVERA
And now a counterpoint. If you’re a meat eater, this collection of slow cooker recipes is indispensable. Olvera’s tome has serious meat on its bones, offering instructions on many dishes, from stew to brisket. Whether you’re cooking beef, pork, lamb, poultry, or seafood, you’ll find something delicious here. (There’re even a few vegetable recipes!) Look, life is about balance, so I think this cookbook is a great companion to Okamoto’s vegan dishes.
THE FRENCH SLOW COOKER BY MICHELE SCICOLONE
Scicolone’s The Italian Slow Cooker and The Mediterranean Slow Cooker are two of the best crockpot cookbooks, but The French Slow Cooker is my personal favorite. Despite French cuisine’s notoriously challenging reputation, here you will find simple and accessible ways to prepare many of the cuisine’s mainstays.
FIX-IT AND FORGET-IT BAKING WITH YOUR SLOW COOKER BY PHYLLIS GOOD
Baking purists may scoff at the idea of baking in a crockpot. But for those of us not quite up to Paul Hollywood standards in the kitchen, there’s something undeniable about the idea of baking cake this easily. Good’s series of crockpot cookbooks also includes diabetic friendly recipes and a five-ingredient collection.
THE ASIAN SLOW COOKER BY KELLY KWOK
Kelly Kwok, founder of Life Made Sweeter, endeavors to empower her readers to make quality dishes Asian themselves, forsaking the old pastime of ordering takeout. Whether it’s noodles, rice, beef, chicken, or soups, Kwok provides great crockpot recipes spanning Chinese, Korean, and Thai cuisines. Note that not every recipe in this book involves a slow cooker, though the ones that don’t are single-pot meals.
50 SIMPLE SOUPS FOR THE SLOW COOKER BY LYNN ALLEY
It’s okay that winter is pretty much over. Soup is always great. Find me sipping clam chowder at the height of summer. For any time of year, this is a great collection of soups you can batch cook in your crockpot. The enchilada soup is delicious, and there are no fewer than three different ways to prepare black bean. Dive in, and bring a ladle.
THE TEX-MEX SLOW COOKER BY VIANNEY RODRIGUEZ
Tex-Mex is a singular cuisine, and Vianney Rodriguez wants to help people make it as easily as possible. This collection puts the crockpot into high gear, churning out pico de gallo, mole, tequila-spiked queso, and more. Coupled with personal anecdotes from the author about some of the dishes, this is as engaging a read as it is a useful one.
SLOW COOKER REVOLUTION BY AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN
America’s Test Kitchen is simply delightful. Whether it’s their public access TV show, YouTube channel, or oeuvre of cookbooks, ATK is entertaining and informative for aspiring kitchen savants. In Slow Cooker Revolution, they offer their contribution to the world of crockpot cookbooks. You may use it as a guide to everything from sauces to pork loin to marmalade.
It can’t be overstated: the crockpot is a beautiful invention. By simply dropping some ingredients into it and returning a few hours later, one has an entire culinary world they can access, with little to no advanced kitchen knowledge. All hail!
The Marian Anderson String Quartet (MASQ) creates new and diverse audiences for string quartet concerts.
In 1991, MASQ won the International Cleveland Quartet Competition, becoming the first African American ensemble in history to win this classical music competition. To highlight their achievement, MASQ asked the renowned contralto, Marian Anderson, for permission to use her name as their own. Miss Anderson responded with heartfelt approval.
In 1993, the Marian Anderson String Quartet performed at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center as part of the 52nd presidential inaugural celebration. MASQ has given performances at the Da Camera Society, the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
For more about MASQ, visit http://www.marianandersonstringquartet.com/about-masq/
Marian Anderson String Quartet made possible with support from Chamber Music America through its Residency Endowment Fund.
I like my job as a librarian and there are a few tasks I especially love. One of them is readers’ advisory. The other, a sort of branch of readers’ advisory, is when patrons come to me and say: “There was this book I read several years ago. I don’t know the title, and I only know a little bit about it. Help?” And it’s a more common problem than you might think. One of my favorite things is finding the book in question and watching the joy and amazement come over the reader’s face. It’s at this point that, when they express their surprise that I found the book, I note that I didn’t go to library school for nothing. (Which then leads into something like, “Librarians have to get a master’s degree?” and there’s a whole thing about it—but I digress.) If you want to know a bit about how the magic happens, read on to find out how to find a book you’ve forgotten.
There are a number of strategies when it comes to how to find a book you’ve forgotten. Plenty of folks enjoy the rush as much as I do and there are online resources that will join you in your quest. Goodreads’s “What’s the Name of That Book???” group is an active and popular place to throw your enigma to the pros. You can also try Facebook’s Library Think Tank, which is a general gathering place for librarians and library staff, but accepts all library lovers and will happily pounce on such a question. Then, there’s “What’s That Book Called?” on Reddit. Finally, you could also join the top tier of Book Riot Insiders and ask on the Insiders-only forum.
If you’re intent on figuring out how to find a book you’ve forgotten yourself, though, try these strategies.
WorldCat bills itself as “the world’s largest library catalog.” Essentially, libraries give access to their catalogs to WorldCat, which then makes it searchable for anyone. Access and searching is free, and it can helpfully let you know if the book you’re seeking is available at a library local to you. With WorldCat, depending on the details you know about your book, the basic search might be enough. Chances are, this will yield too many results. This is where the filters come in handy.
If you know for sure you read the book a particular year, consider filtering out all books after that year. When someone tells me they know the book was published in, say, 2008, I usually put a buffer around it. Frequently, readers are totally sure about a thing that isn’t actually accurate. It’s easier to rule things out than imagine things into existence, so add a couple of years on either side for better searching. You can also select “Print book” to rule out other formats, since that’s most likely what you’re looking for. Use the filters to narrow your search as much as you can, but try to keep a buffer when possible.
When the filters don’t get the job done, try switching up your keywords. A decent thesaurus can help you out with that, though often, you’re better off trying to come up with your own. Book cataloging, for the most part, is done by humans—while machine learning is all well and good, it can never exactly match human thinking patterns. Related keywords rather than exact synonyms sometimes yield a better result, so even if something seems a little off the wall, give it a shot.
Another fun trick with WorldCat is using subject headings. Especially if someone has already suggested a title that isn’t your book but has similar themes or concepts, this can be a great way to narrow your search. Go to the page for the suggested title, and under the “Subjects” category, find the topic that makes the most sense for your forgotten book and click the link. This will provide you with a new search based around that subject heading. From there, you can go back and narrow again using the filters.
Essentially, your goal when searching is to boil the book down to its most essential self. If you can derive any kind of theme or subject from memories of the opening scene, for example, you’re in decent shape. Sometimes this is something you can do quickly. Other times, it takes some angling and reframing of your memory of the book. With practice, this gets more intuitive, so don’t give up! Instead, when you get stuck, take a few hours or days away from your search and come back to it with a fresh mind.
Big Book Search
For when you can only vaguely remember what the cover looks like, try Big Book Search. If you can include a keyword from the title, you’ll be more likely to find what you’re looking for. However, if you really can only remember images on the cover, you still might have luck. The website’s interface is about as basic as it gets, so if you’re someone who likes a more detailed search method, Big Book Search might not work so well for you. On the other hand, it’s one more place to try a search for that forgotten book.
Google is vast. But once in a while, it yields just what you need. I’ve typed seemingly nonsensical keyword strings into the search box and got lucky. (Pro tip: include the word “book” in your search somewhere; sometimes adding “young adult” or “juvenile” is useful, too, if your book is one of those.) I typically don’t spend a lot of time searching with Google, however. Because there are so many more results to sift through than with World Cat, it often takes more time than it’s worth.
That’s All, Folks
Because the searching process is something that isn’t an exact science, it’s impossible to put together a guaranteed-to-work step-by-step guide. It’s a fun challenge to take on now and then and practice definitely helps. You might help out some of the folks in the Goodreads group until you have your own need for that practice in the meantime.
I have a new book coming out in October. While I feel I have talked about it nonstop, I still find many people I know or who are familiar with ask me about it and are surprised to learn it’s happening so soon (the book is called Don’t Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start The Conversation about Mental Health and is an anthology that features essays and art about mental health). This is only made more complicated because, as someone who works in a world of books, I’m always working months ahead of time when it comes to reading. But what about when a book is coming out in a couple weeks or hit shelves in the last few days, weeks, or months? I’ve put together a handy little guide to how to support a book or favorite author.
This guide is meant as a way to spread the word about a book you love or you want to get more attention, and all of the tips are pretty easy and straightforward. Some will cost you a little bit of money while others are completely free and will cost little more than a few minutes of your time.
Whatever your investment, here are a few ways for how to support a book or favorite author.
PREORDER THE BOOK
You’ve likely seen authors talk about preordering their book. Preordering is simply placing an order for the book through your favorite retailer before the book is published. Some places guarantee that whatever the lowest price the book comes to between the time of order and publication date is the price you pay, so it doesn’t matter if you want to get it a little cheaper.
Why does preordering matter?
Books that are sold during the first week of a book’s publication show to a publisher there is interest in the title. Those preorders are counted toward first-week sales, so it can give a huge boost to a title when many orders are placed before the book’s publication date.
If there’s interest in a book and it’s shown clearly from the start, the chances of your favorite author getting another book deal increases. It’s also possible that with an increase in preorders through bookstores, more copies of that particular title or that author’s titles may be available in store. More in store placement of books means the chances of the book finding a new readership increase. As much as everyone wishes that every book were in bookstores—independent or chain—it’s simply not the case.
Many public libraries have forms either on their website or in person which allow you to recommend books for their collection. If you do a search of the library catalog and notice a new or upcoming title isn’t listed, drop a recommendation.
To make this process as seamless as possible, when you submit the request, make sure to include why. Note the author’s previous books, and include book reviews for the new title if you have them (places like Kirkus Reviews have their reviews online and often, they’re published weeks or months in advance of the book). You might also find it worthwhile to explain that you read the book and loved it and think readers who like a certain genre or similar author might, too.
There’s no guarantee the book will be purchased by the library, but it will show interest to the purchasers. This gets the book on their radars to look up. In my own experience working in libraries, so long as someone wasn’t abusing the system—requesting a ton of titles all the time, requesting their own books, etc.—I tended to purchase all books requested, since I knew they’d be borrowed by at least one person.
Cost: Nothing but a little of your time!
BORROW THE BOOK FROM YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY
One of the tools that librarians use when making purchasing decisions is the circulation records of previous titles. This is why every James Patterson book is on standing order; his books circulate very well, and thus are automatically purchased when a new book comes out.
If you love a book or an author and prefer to borrow, rather than buy, books, take the time to get it from the library. The library’s purchase and your borrowing do make a difference to an author or a book.
Although it’s not always guaranteed, if you are able to put a hold request on a book before it’s available, that might help libraries make a decision of whether or not to purchase more than a single copy. Books which are showing a lot of activity, like multiple holds on a single copy, suggest that the popularity and interest is there and the library should consider purchasing another copy or two to fulfill the interest.
You may think that not buying the book and instead relying on the library doesn’t help a book or author. But it does! Libraries make a huge difference for those books and authors.
Cost: Nothing but your time (and maybe overdue fines if you, like me, are terrible about due dates).
ATTEND AN AUTHOR’S EVENT
Is your favorite author having an event that’s easy for you to get to? Take the time and go. It’s not always easy to do, but if the means are there, take advantage. A packed audience for an event is a sign to the bookstore that there’s interest in the author—as well as similar authors—and thus, they may have the opportunity to return with future books.
It’s not always necessary to buy the book when you attend an event, though it’s always nice to purchase something when you attend an event. Buy a cup of coffee in the cafe, a cool pair of socks from their sideline items, or even a book that you’ve been meaning to buy. This is not necessary, but it is a nice thank you to the store for hosting the event.
Of course, if you can buy the author’s book, do that. Consider gifting it to a friend or family member if you don’t need it because you’ve already preordered it or because you’ve borrowed it from the library.
Also? Authors love looking at an audience of people there to hear about their work. Your presence is welcome, and know that when you talk with them afterward or ask a question during the Q&A portion of the talk, they’re so thrilled to hear from you. You are why they have the opportunity to be there, and that doesn’t get forgotten.
Authors list their events on their websites, as well as across social media. But you can also keep an eye on local bookstores for their upcoming events and attend those that sound even remotely interesting to you—you may discover a new favorite by simply taking the chance. Plus, it’s fun to get out of the house for an hour or two in the middle of the week if you can.
Cost: Whatever you choose to purchase from the event.
LEAVE REVIEWS ON CONSUMER WEBSITES
Have you seen the meme circulating about how, when a book reaches 50 reviews on Amazon, it’s included in more of their promotional materials? If not, take a peek over to the left.
It’s hard to determine if that’s true or not, but I can say from my own book writing experience that once I hit 50 reviews, I definitely saw my book popping up in more of the “You might also like” features other similar books.
If you’ve loved a book, one of the most powerful things you can do is drop a review on consumer sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters, Target, Walmart, and more. These reviews are super helpful for browsers considering a purchase, and even something as simple and straightforward as “This book was excellent, and I would recommend it for people who like books that are (insert genres or styles) or television shows like (name show).” If you write one review, you can copy and paste it across a couple of different sites.
One of the tips I have from doing this is to spend 10 minutes once a month drafting a few reviews of recent reads and then dropping them all at once. This makes it part of a habit, and it’s one that doesn’t require much time.
If you’re feeling really motivated, you can drop reviews on places like Goodreads or your library’s catalog, too. Those help people find a book and consider whether to buy or borrow it.
Cost: A few minutes of your time.
RECOMMEND THE BOOK ON SOCIAL MEDIA, YOUR FAVORITE BLOGS, AND TO FRIENDS IN PERSON LOOKING FOR A GOOD BOOK
Do you use social media or keep a blog? Writing about the books or authors you love or sharing short reviews and images really does make a difference. It gets the book on radars of other readers, as well as those who might not generally call themselves readers but like you and are therefore intrigued.
One of the things that’s worth doing is seeing if there’s a hashtag related to the book. Many publishers and authors choose a hashtag for the book, and if it’s not on the book itself, do a quick search to see if there’s a hashtag with the book’s title or the author’s name. When you do something on social media with the book, include those tags. It’ll help your voice be amplified and allow those who find out about the book from you an opportunity to discover more about the book.
Never overlook the power of talking about the book to people you know, too. In the course of a day or week, it’s likely that if people know you’re a reader, you’ll get asked for a good book. Here’s your chance to highlight a recent favorite title or author and spread the word.
The same principles that make consumer reviews powerful are those which make your personal recommendation in your own personal spaces powerful. Maybe even more so, since your name and face mean something to the people who care about you, and your seal of approval for something means just that much more to them (Think about it: you might peruse reviews of a place to get your car fixed for hours, but if your best friend says she loves a certain shop, you are more likely to go to that shop than the one which had 100 five-star reviews).
If writing reviews on your blog or on social media isn’t your jam, think more creatively: share quotes from the book you’ve loved or simply take a picture and share it. Maybe you’d like to connect it to a favorite TV show or song and talk about how and why they remind you of one another. Be as creative as you’d like—every voice matters in getting the word out, and sometimes, it’s those creative, clever things that can have the most power. Perhaps you won’t convince someone to buy the book for themselves, but you might convince them that it’s a book someone they know would love, ultimately leading them to gift it to someone else. That is power.
Cost: Your time!
None of these are brilliant suggestions for how to support a book or favorite author, but they’re all tried-and-true strategies. They’re real, tangible ways you as a reader and book lover can do work that makes a powerful and lasting difference.