By Olivia Buck
As a library employee, a recurring question that I get asked is “What should I read next?” There are all kinds of resources available to us to find the next book or readalikes. On Bloomington Public Library’s online catalog, we have similar titles and authors listed beneath the titles of books to give our readers an idea for their next book. There are resources available on our website like NoveList and a recommended books page. And of course, there’s always user-friendly Goodreads to help out. But what do you do when your avid reader has read all the books on Goodreads’ similar authors list and Novelist is coming up with the same suggestions?
I recently was in this particular situation, helping a parent find a new title for his twelve year old son to read. He had just finished reading I Am Number Four by Pitacus Lore and was looking for something to read, but all our copies of the next book in the series were checked out. I started with one of the most popular authors for kids his age: Rick Riordan. He’d read every book and loved them. How about Harry Potter? They owned the books, but he didn’t really seem to be interested in them. I was about to suggest the Ranger’s Apprentice, but his dad said that he’d read those too. Every suggestion I had offhand for new ideas that might interest him, he’d already read.
So, I turned to NoveList and Goodreads searching for his favorite authors and read alikes. I tossed out suggestions I pulled from the list, but one after the other, they were batted away. Always the same response: He’s already read it.
In other situations I might have asked a coworker what their thoughts were, but I was the only person there. I started digging into my own reading history and tried to remember the teen books that I’ve read. I pulled out The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, but fairy tale retellings weren’t his cup of tea. I suggested Renegades by Marissa Meyer as well, but all the copies were checked out due to the latest book having come out in November. I thought of the DC Icons series, suggesting Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo, but they were checked out too. How about the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini? He’d already read the entire series. His dad said that he liked historical fiction, so I suggested White Rose by Kip Wilson (our Bloomington Reads 2020 spotlight title) but all the copies were checked out. I suggested trying our ebook resources, but each of the titles were waitlisted on Libby as well. Striking out again and again, I felt at a loss. I’d reached the end of my ideas. Where else do you look if the kid has read it all?
After the fact, I asked a few of my coworkers, their thoughts. Had I missed some obvious reader’s advisory resource? Their ideas were much like my own. Check Goodreads and NoveList, suggest books you’ve read, ask other staff their reading suggestions. After speaking with our teen librarian, she suggested What Should I Read Next because it generates items by tags and you end up with a wider variety of titles based on your search. After having experimented with the website, I did find new titles and authors that neither NoveList or Goodreads suggested to me.
What resources do you use? Have you been in this situation before? How did you find the “next read” for the patron who has read it all?