Sunday, February 26, 2023

Book Display Idea - Use a specific book : Wasps in the Ice Cream by Tim McGregor

 Growing up can be hazardous as noted by the many coming of age horror books. This popular theme is part of what makes Wasps in the Ice Cream by Tim McGregor such a great read. The listless summer of 1987 finds Mark Prewitt spending time with friends he's not sure that he likes anymore, working two part-time jobs to restore an old car, and mooning after one of the hot girls in school. The Farrow sisters are part of a strange, reclusive family, subject to rumor and the hatred of the other people in their small town. After he participates in a prank pulled on the Farrow sisters, Mark decides to try to make amends. He is drawn into their world, especially that of the middle sister, George. When their secret relationship is exposed, Mark has to choose between his friends and the world he and George have created. 

Beyond coming of age and the late 80's, the book also has themes of aliention and  small towns, outsiders, family secrets, alienation and disaffection. There are also Satanic panic vibes as rumors and stories about the Farrows swirl around the small town. A book list or display of read alikes can be created with any these ideas at the center. 

Coming of age in the 80's horror? Try putting up these titles on a display - 

  • The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay
  • Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman
  • Ghoul by Brian Keene
  • The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste
  • Straight on Til Morning and All Hallows, both by Christopher Golden
  • My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix 
I think that Ghoul and Rust Maidens are probably the closest read alikes. However, Whisper Down the Lane is about the Satanic Panic which somewhat mirrors the sort of rumors and panic that the Farrow sisters faced. Mercy from The Pallbearer's Club is another character like George who is a spooky outsider who is a possible threat to the protagonist. 

George is my favorite character in the book so I'm a little biased. I also loved Mercy in The Pallbearer's Club. A display that focused on girls like George might be popular given the hit series Wednesday. Other books with an outsider teenage girl coming of age include: 
  • Boring Girls by Sara Taylor
  • Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester
  • The Girls by Emma Cline
  • We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix
  • Jawbone by Monica Ojeda
If you want to use George Farrow as the center of your book list or display, you can tap some of the Wednesday Addams book lists online. There are some from Buzzfeed, Booktopia, and YA readalikes from Teen Librarian Toolbox

The small town 80's setting will make some of your patrons think of Stranger Things and there is nothing wrong with harnessing a pop culture trend to help draw attention to your collection's back list. There are plenty of lists with read alikes including from Book Riot, YA titles from Epic Reads, and Goodreads

The Farrows are a secretive family, Family secrets can help a book have a sense of dread. More books with family secrets are listed on: Goodreads, Novel Suspects, and Crime Reads

There are also non-fiction books including memoirs that you can add to a display. Don't allow yourself to be limited by genre. If you make your displays more open, they are easier to fill throughout the time the display is active. 

Here are some more lists with ideas for your book display:

Goodreads has a list of coming of age horror books. comes through with a list of Five Coming of Age Horror Novels
Small town horror books from Bustle and from Mid-Continent Public Library.
I won't link to a list but Stephen King's backlist is filled with small town horror. 

Monday, February 6, 2023

Book Display Theme- Black History Month

 It's likely your library has put up a book display or list related to Black History Month. If you look at the official US government site and review the exhibits page, you will see a huge variety of topics. There are exhibits on educators, visual artists, theatre, dress, folklife, colleges, literature, music and religion. Use these exhibits as a place to start your own displays and lists for Black History Month.

In addition to displays focusing on slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, use this month to introduce patrons to titles in your collection that can allow them to see parts of Black history that they might not be familiar with. There are topics like the Harlem Renaissance , Black cowboys, Black entrepreneurs, Black scientists, and more. GLAAD has information on Black LGBTQ history. Don't forget to see what your local history collection has about history in your city, state, or region. 

The most popular display I have ever put up in February was related to Black chefs, cooking, and history of food in Black culture. In less than a week, the display was empty, after being filled several times. Another popular display was biographies and memoirs. Choose a variety of people from many backgrounds and experiences. Use those faceouts to show the depth and breadth of Black history.

Fiction is something that sometimes gets ignored. Use a display of mystery, romance, science fiction, or romance to bring out your backlist and give it some light. There are plenty of lists you can start with online: 

BookRiot has 24 Black romance books add to your TBR.  
WOC in Romance has lists by trope and subgenre. 

The Los Angeles Public Library published a list in 2018 of Black mystery writers and their Black detectives. 
CrimeReads offers 25+ new releases from Black authors including mysteries of all kinds, thrillers, and suspense novels. 

The Toronto Public Library posted a list celebrating Black speculative fiction authors
Epic Reads has a YA focused list of science fiction and fantasy by Black authors
Essence offers a beginner's guide to Afrofuturism. 

The Root produced a list of titles by Black horror authors 
Goodreads has this collection of horror and thrillers by Black authors.
The Horror Writers Association has a blog which features diverse authors all year. 

Find interviews with authors, historians, artists and link to them on your social media. Include information about your online lists and collections. Don't forget your storytimes and youth events. Include a variety of books for youth of all ages in your displays. I haven't even mentioned things like graphic novels, movies, and music. 

I will end with a reminder that if you don't have enough to put up a display on a particular topic, it is a good time to review your collection and see what should be added. Also, use diversity and inclusion in your book displays all year. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Make a display or list based on one author - Colleen Hoover

 More than likely, you have books by Colleen Hoover on your physical and digital holds list. While you may not have the books in your building to include in a physical display, you can use read alike authors on your shelves to give back list titles some attention, bring attention to other authors that fans of Hoover would like, and advertise your holds list. 

Where to find suggestions? There are plenty of lists to get you started on your own display or post. 

Business Insider has a list - 22 books Colleen Hoover fans will love, from suspenseful romance reads to tearjerker YA stories. This list has suggestions from all over fiction and is diverse which I appreciate. It will also give you a taste of the different ways people can approach even a popular author like Hoover. 

A feature you can copy is Book Riot's book recommendation service - using email, online chat, or whatever your library can support even if that's paper requests. Their list of 10 Authors Like Colleen Hoover is another good way to recommend read alikes because it's broad enough that even if a particular title is checked out, recommending an author gives a patron many choices 

Other libraries make lists that can give you a good head start in creating your own display or list. The Topsfield Town Library has a list - Read this next: A Reading List for Fans of Colleen Hoover.  I love that it lists the titles by Hoover they own, points out part of their library you may have missed, and lists tone/theme/plot reasons why you might like the read alikes. 

The Harrison Public Library made a post of recommendations from a staff member that acknowledged the challenge of recommending read alikes from someone who writes books that are in different genres, subgenres, and have a different tone. Their post of Colleen Hoover Read-Alikes is clever and has a great graphic. 

Remember to credit your sources if you borrow an idea especially if it's online. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Book Display Idea: Use a specific title: White Horse by Erika T. Wurth

White Horse is one of NoveList’s Best of the Year titles for 2022. If you are following or promoting the NoveList 2023 Reading Challenge, it fills the January prompt.  Kari James is an urban Indian, working in bars, reading Stephen King, and listening to heavy metal. She spends her free time with her cousin, Debby, and at the White Horse, an Indian bar. Abandoned by her mother while an infant, Keri is forced to look into her past as well as her family’s past when Debby gives her a bracelet that was her mother’s. The bracelet seems to bring forth visions. It’s a horror novel with heart that dives into the pain and horror in digging up the truth.

It is another title that is a compelling story of women’s friendships and relationships as are The Bandit Queen and Bad Cree. A display filled with books that center the relationships between groups of women would be a great display to use for March and Women’s History Month. The books don’t need to have one tone as families and friendships are complicated. You can look at books like The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe, The Story Hour by Thirty Umrigar, and Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin for different takes on women’s relationships. This theme would also work for 

Another theme in the book is family secrets. Besides Bad Cree, there are also books like The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig, White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, Shelter by Jung Yun, and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng which include complex characters and families with secrets. Remember that if you are working with a them like family secrets or women’s friendships, you aren’t limited to one genre or even just fiction. Starting with a book display theme like that will make the display easier to create and keep filled. The object is to draw attention to hidden gems in your collection rather than to create a perfect display. 

Of course, White Horse is a great title to put on a display or list for a women in horror display as part of Women’s History Month in March as well as a display of Native American fiction or horror. Authors like Stephen Graham Jones, Ramona Emerson, Jessica Johns, Owl Goingback, and Daniel H. Wilson have all written recent, compelling horror novels. There are also authors like Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, Tommy Orange, and Cherie Dimaline who have written recent books that you can check out. Remember you can check your collection for non-fiction and DVDs that can be added. 

As always, using a book like White Horse to inspire a book display or list is a great way to see what you have in your collection, both in physical and eBook form as well as what you are missing. Remember to include information about your digital collection in a physical book display as well as links to your collection. 

Other Resources:
Brightly had a list of female friendships: Ups, Downs, and Everything In-Between: 11 Great Books About Female Friendships

Goodreads has a list of books shelved as female friendship books

From Book Riot, 12 Female Friendship Books for Galentine’s Day

Books on Goodreads shelved under Family Secrets.

23 Books with Family Secrets We Still Can’t Believe on Epic Reads. 

8 Novels About Family Secrets Lurking Right Under Your Nose on Book Riot

The Horror Writers Association has a series of interview with Native American Authors.

The Seattle Public Library has a list of recent novels on their Native American Fiction list. 

Books shelved as Native American Fiction on Goodreads. 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Theme to Explore - Blending Genre in Book Displays

 Setting aside any libraryland debates about genre spine labels, genre filing on the shelf versus interfiling and so forth, I thought I would talk about how to use books which cross several genres or are genre blended as a theme for an online list or book display. Many books have crossover appeal. You can use this to gently suggest to your readers that there are books outside their usual lanes that they will enjoy and perhaps create another entire world of books for that patron to explore. 

The easiest option is to do a "If you liked this... Try this" book display/list. You can go outside of the usual similar titles in the same genre and instead match up a memoir or biography with a fiction title. Pick someone who lived in the same era or a biography with a fictional depiction of that person. A recent idea from the news and popular culture would be a novel about the British royal family with a biography of a British royal. Pair a book like Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo with non-fiction books about Chicago, Chicago travel books, and DVDs about Chicago. 

The Chicago Public Library has a convenient list of fiction set in Chicago

This is a simple version of blending genres in a book display - pick a setting or character and grab materials from your location, regardless of genre of type. 

Another option using 
Children of Chicago?  It's also a police procedural so look for romantic suspense, mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction which are also police procedurals in part. There are plenty of titles in other genres which focus on a single police detective. Try adding them to a display. The fact that some are romantic suspense while others are historical mysteries shouldn't matter. Let your patrons explore and trust their curiosity. 

The truth is that while it was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for best novel, 
Children of Chicago is not only a horror novel. As was mentioned before it's a police procedural, urban fantasy, modern fairy tale, and serial killer thriller. There are plenty of books in your collection which share these descriptions. Gather them up and put them on a display. 

You can use this sort of display to introduce patrons to the idea of genre blending in novels. Use a picture of a blender on a sign and put up materials from your collection that cross genres. Romance fans are already familiar with this idea due to the proliferation of subgenres in romance  - romantic suspense, historical romance, inspirational romance and so forth. There are also mysteries which are also historical fiction, horror which is also comedic, and science fiction which has elements from thrillers blended in. 

One theme you can use is literary fiction/genre fiction. There are plenty of titles which combine aspects of literary fiction including complex language and a character driven plot. Literary fiction giants like Colson Whitehead (Zone One) have written horror while horror authors like Stephen Graham Jones and Andy Davidson would definitely appeal to literary fiction lovers.
While examples of literary genre fiction in all genres can be found, I would caution you that romance readers do expect a central love story and a happy (at least for now) ending. Books that have romantic elements could be called love stories on a display or list. 

Below I have some lists and articles that should help you in your exploration of genre blending and blended genres. Use them as a start to introduce your patrons to books outside their usual reads!

More resources: 

Goodreads has a list of genre blending fiction. 
Books shelfed on Goodreads as Literary Romance.
More from Goodreads with Best Literary Mysteries
Bookriot has several lists: genre-blending literary fiction, genre-blending historical fiction,      redefining romance in literary fiction, best literary mystery
ALA Publishing published The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Blends. 
This article from Writer's Digest talks about cross pollination which would be a cute theme for a genre blending display. has Five Genre-Blending Young Adult Books
Five Books in Which Unexpected Romance Sneaks Up On You from The Atlantic
The Millions has The Case for Genre Fiction: A Guide to Literary Science Fiction and Fantasy

Monday, January 9, 2023

Book Display Idea: Use a specific title: The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff

 The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff was published this year. It's a novel about women in a small village in India and explores issues of sexism, classism, caste, and friendship between women 

The publisher describes it this way: 

Five years ago, Geeta lost her no-good husband. As in, she actually lost him—he walked out on her and she has no idea where he is. But in her remote village in India, rumor has it that Geeta killed him. And it’s a rumor that just won’t die.

It turns out that being known as a “self-made” widow comes with some perks. No one messes with her, harasses her, or tries to control (ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for business; no one dares to not buy her jewelry.

Freedom must look good on Geeta, because now other women are asking for her “expertise,” making her an unwitting consultant for husband disposal.

And not all of them are asking nicely.

With Geeta’s dangerous reputation becoming a double-edged sword, she has to find a way to protect the life she’s built—but even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry. What happens next sets in motion a chain of events that will change everything, not just for Geeta, but for all the women in their village.

Filled with clever criminals, second chances, and wry and witty women, Parini Shroff’s The Bandit Queens is a razor-sharp debut of humor and heart that readers won’t soon forget.

The book has started to receive a lot of attention from book reviewers and was chosen as for the January 2023 LIbrary Reads list. It's a great candidate for a book display with it at the focus, advertising your holds list. 

The easiest option is to use non-fiction history and travel books about India as well as any DVDs of Indian films. Don't forget your eBooks and eAudiobooks. You can use a sign as well as a QR code to link to that collection. Try to find the widest variety of materials you have about the subcontinent. It's a very diverse place with a long history. You can also add books by Indian authors as well as books by Indian-American authors. You can use the popularity and publicity this book has received to shine a light on your midlist.

The book also features a group of women involved in small businesses, borrowing through a microloan program. The relationship between the women, both good and bad, is a strong plot theme. It's featured in other books including Bad Cree, also released this month (I'll focus on that title later in January). There are also plenty of romances with groups of women working around cultural limitations on what a woman is supposed to do or not do. Look at your collection, focusing on that plot point, and you will likely be able to dig out some titles which could benefit from some attention. 

Marriage and it's limitations and effect on women in particular is another (or additional) option. The women in the village have expectations placed upon them as wives; Geeta's relative freedom is part of what encourages women to ask her for assistance. The abuse faced by some of the women in another. Look for other fiction about bad marriages and women who try to escape. 

The dog Bandit becomes Geeta's confidant and housemate. Are there other titles you can think of that include a character with a pet who becomes a family member? You can have fun while also marketing your collection. If one of these ideas does not work because of the books you have available, try another. If the display empties out and you cannot fill it in the way you initially intended, pick another focus. This is why simple signage that can be used throughout the month or easily replaced is the best choice. 

Remember that it's not a homework assignment so there aren't really any bad choices as long as you are thoughtful about your selections so the display is as diverse and inclusive as possible. The purpose of displays or lists like this is to draw patron attention to titles they may not be aware of and would possibly enjoy. 

Monday, January 2, 2023

Book Display Idea: Use a specific title- How To Sell A Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

 This month Grady Hendrix's new title, How To Sell A Haunted House, is published. He is a best selling horror author whose books have a lot of crossover appeal to readers who don't necessarily seek out horror. Even if you have a holds list for the book, you can harness his popularity to draw attention to other titles on your shelves. 

First, as always, put up signage promoting your holds list. Don't assume that everyone knows how easy it is and what the notification options are. If you have any of his titles as part of your eBook collection, add information about that as well. The purpose of a book display or online booklist is to promote your library's collection. Don't get hung up on specific titles; it's not a homework assignment. Unless you post pictures online, no one is going to grade you. Just search for subject headings and look for titles that are close enough. It's a great way to become more proficient with your searching. 

Grady has a backlist which are the easiest titles to add to a book display or book list. Most libraries have copies of: Final Girl Support Group, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, We Sold Our Souls, Paperbacks From Hell, My Best Friend's Exorcism, and Horrorstör. Remember to check your collection for large print copies and audiobooks.

Because different readers will approach the same title from different directions, there are always a variety of ways to use an individual title as the basis for a book display. A blog post or online list can include several of the themes in any one book. Haunted house is the most obvious start as it's part of the title and is also a significant plot point. There are also plenty of films about haunted houses. 

Local haunted houses, ghost stories, and creepy buildings is a way to work non-fiction into your display/list. Add books from your local collection and more general books from non-fiction. For online resources, add links to reputable sites detailing local haunts and ghost tales. Every place has some local ghost stories. You can bring in a local historian to assist with a program about local haunts if you want to tie a program to the release. Remember horror is not just for October. 

Some Florida examples of local haunts?
 Campus Haunts: The spookiest spots at UF - hosted on the University of Florida's website, this is an article about ghosts and haunted places on the University of Florida's Gainesville campus. 
Creepiest places in Florida guaranteed to haunt your dreams - A Jacksonville TV station's roadmap for a haunted tour around the Sunshine State. 
Best Florida ghost stories from Tampa's most haunted places - A Tampa news story about the most haunted places in Tampa, Florida. 

I've set up displays with "Not So Happy Home Sweet Home" on a sign and included horror titles and suspense titles. The display focused on both haunted houses and dysfunctional families. A display like that would use another aspect of How To Sell A Haunted House - dysfunctional families and sibling relationships. 

Finally we come to creepy dolls, puppets and clowns. Some people have strong feelings about these creepy subjects so be forewarned. This is a great direction to go if you want to include DVDs as there are horror films with that general subject. It's also a way to make a companion youth display. While younger readers are unlikely to pick up Grady's new book, there are plenty of juvenile fiction titles that include creepy dolls and puppets. Look for read alikes for the Goosebumps classic Night of the Living Dummy. Putting youth materials outside of the youth services department is a way to remind your patrons that you do have them in your collection. Also, many kids love spooky books. 

More resources - 

RA For All Horror: Haunted House Label - Becky Spratford's blog focusing on horror. These are posts with a haunted house label including book reviews and read alikes. 
RA For All Horror - Bonus annotations: Ghosts and Haunted Houses - with the third edition of The Readers Advisory Guide to Horror, Becky added bonus content on her blog including book suggestions. 

The Readers Advisory Guide to Horror, 3rd Edition - This series is vital for anyone who does readers' advisory, especially in genres that you don't personally read. There is a lot of great horror content including suggested titles in subgenres, podcasts, horror movies, TV shows, historical information, and key authors. 

30 Haunted House Books That Will Give You The Creeps - Book Riot's 2019 list includes some classics, modern gems, and youth titles. 

Goodreads' list of haunted house books is 1700+ titles long 

Living Dangerously: 13 Haunted House Novels: This list from the NYPL is includes because it strays from just straight horror. It shows how you can mine your backlist and get those books circulating 

The 20 best haunted house films of all time: This list from Entertainment Weekly should give you a good start if you want to add DVDs to your display or list. 

Goodreads has a 6000 + list of books with dysfunctional families. 

8 Mysteries and Thrillers About Dysfunctional Families:  Book Riot's list includes some good examples from the most popular genre. 

Home for the Holidays: Eat Together, Stay Together: The LineUp had Mother Horror, Sadie Hartmann, put together a list of family horror books. 

5 Horror Books That Are All About Family: Tor Nightfire has a 2019 list of family horror. 

Goodreads' list of Creepy Dolls books 

String Pullers: 6 Books Featuring Creepy Dolls and Puppets: A Tor Nightfire list that again shows how broad you can go when featuring a theme in a horror novel. 

Toy Story in Hell: 10 Books Featuring Creepy Dolls: Another Book Riot list that does include some youth materials.