RA Booklist 2017

Soon I’ll begin teaching my Readers’ Advisory Services course again. For you non-librarians, Readers’ Advisory (RA) is what we librarians call how we help people find books they want to read, so I help students figure out how to answer the question, “Can you recommend a good book for me?”

That’s a pretty simplistic definition of RA, because it does include more than just recommending books. However, one big part of the course is analyzing genres/categories of books so students are more knowledgeable and can feel confident recommending a variety of books.

To learn more about genres/categories of books, they read a variety of books in my course, and people always ask me for my booklist, so you’ll find it below. But just know, I don’t make students read every book on this list. They read a couple in each genre/category.

If none of these books appeal to you, don’t worry, I don’t like all of them either. Each of them represents the genre/category in a certain way so students learn about the variety in each group. If you don’t like cozy mysteries you’re not going to like the one under Mystery / Thriller (Mission Impawsible).

Literary Fiction / Short Stories

Wintering by Peter Geye
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Mystery / Thriller

Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Mission Impawsible by Krista Davis

Historical Fiction

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

Science Fiction

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers


Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Romance / Women’s Fiction

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell
I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan
Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni


Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward
Irena’s Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar J. Mazzeo
The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father by Kao Kalia Yang

Graphic / Comic

Saga, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq by Sarah Glidden
Patience by Daniel Clowes
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew

Young Adult Crossover

Naked ’76 by Kevin Brooks
The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

If you want other book recommendations, let me know.

Happy reading!


Ready Player One Jeopardy

I loved the book Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, so when when I had to figure out what science fiction book I was going to have my class read, it was a no brainer.

I suppose I should back up a bit. Right now I’m teaching a Readers’ Advisory Services course to library science graduate students at the College of St. Catherine. Yes, that means I have three jobs. No wonder I haven’t had a chance to take a course at The Loft and do some of my own writing.

But don’t get me wrong, I love teaching this course.

Readers’ Advisory is a librarian term meaning how we help library patrons find books they may like to read. The course is designed to give students a background in many genres, to give them tools to help people find books, and to emphasize the importance of highlighting books and reading by creating book-related events.

To get my students thinking about book-related events, I’m doing a bunch of different events in my classroom. I had an author speaker come in, we had a murder mystery party, and recently we played Ready Player One Jeopardy.

To give a short background of Ready Player One, you should know that it takes plays in 2044, where much of the world lives in the virtual world The Oasis. The Oasis was built by a Steve Jobs-like man who became a billionaire. When he died he had no heirs, so before he passed he designed a game inside The Oasis where people had to find clues and keys to become the winner and take over The Oasis and his billions. The whole world becomes obsessed in finding the keys, and in turn they become obsessed with the 1980s. The clues for all the keys are based on 1980s pop culture because this man was obsessed with the 1980s, the decade in which he was a teenager. So in 2044, everyone loves 1980s music, movies, television, and fashion.

To show the students that you can do things besides having book clubs and bringing in author speakers, we had a Ready Player One/80s party where we danced to 80s music, students came dressed in costume, and we played Ready Player One/80s Jeopardy.

Have you read the book? Here’s the Jeopardy board. Try playing it.

How’d you do?