Our Reading Lives

Using Readers’ Advisory to Recommend Your Favorite Books

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This is a guest post from Romeo Rosales, Jr., Assistant Branch Manager for the Pan American Branch Library in San Antonio, TX. He’s an author, librarian, historian, husband and father. Follow him on Twitter @Rrsls10.

One of the best parts about working in a public library is being surrounded by a “plethora” (say it like El Guapo from Three Amigos) of books. A common misconception about librarians, however, is that we read books all day every day. Not true! We don’t only sit behind a desk and read books while occasionally shelving them. Do I wish those were the only duties the job entailed? Of course, but that’s not reality. But since many people assume that is what we do, they come to us for readers’ advisory. This is where I take the opportunity to sneak in some of my favorite books, authors and genres.

One of my favorite genres at the moment is science fiction. There is much to be said about futuristic science, dystopian worlds, technology, extraterrestrial life and time travel. Who are my go-to authors you ask? Ernest Cline and Scott Meyer are my two favorite. Cline, in my opinion, wrote one of the greatest science fiction books in Ready Player One. Cline has a knack for taking you back in time (picture yourself in a time-traveling DeLorean) and making references to some of the greatest science fiction movies and classic arcade games that we once tried to master. What could possibly be better than that? If someone asks me for a good science fiction book, I tell them about Ready Player One. When they ask what a good gaming book is, I tell them about Ready Player One. It is basically foolproof.

Meyer on the other hand has written the amazing Magic 2.0 series. These three books are filled with time travel, wizardry, witchery, and science. Coming in at over four hundred pages per book, reading them seemed a daunting task, but the books are so fun and creative that they are quite easy to read. Books related to Harry Potter, you ask? Meyer’s Magic 2.0 series for sure. Books about magic and time travel? Meyer’s Magic 2.0 series of course. Again, foolproof!

I also very much enjoy anything regarding World War II and military history. Given that my grandfather and his four brothers all fought and survived WWII, it was easy for me to enjoy this genre. Stories about the war were not always relayed to me but when they were, I was sucked right in and I could not escape.

This genre is not for everybody. However, I make every effort to sway people’s perception about it being too boring, too old, or too violent. Give them the ‘Merica speech and their patriotism soars to Captain America level. But if that doesn’t work, simply explaining to them that we cannot forget this history or else we are doomed to repeat it might do the trick. That’s such a cliché line, but it works. I might recommend Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose (the HBO mini-series is just as good) or anything by renowned historian Paul Fussell. When I can, I’ll sneak in a war story my grandfather told me when I was a kid. It’s a sure way to hook them.

The questions about what books to read are endless. The queries that really grind my gears though are those geared toward matching books with movies. Of course the book is always better, so why would you need the movie? Not cool! Whenever I am presented with the opportunity to provide readers’ advisory, I inform people about what I like and what I want them to read. Readers need to broaden their minds and venture out of their comfort reading bubble so I am happy to provide them the opportunity. If you are going to ask me what my recommendations are, be prepared to hear about how awesome time travel is or how awesome the 28th Infantry division was during World War II.

Any questions?