Friday, April 23, 2010

Lab: Reader's Advisory, Volunteer 1

The first person who volunteered to be a part of my lab was my mom. Since I knew her reading habits really well, I figured that this would be a pretty easy introduction to reader's advisory. For the most part, I was right.

The first question I asked her was: "What are you in the mood to read?" She said that she wanted to read a good mystery. I asked her to tell me about the last good mystery she read and what she liked about it so much. The last mystery that she really enjoyed was a Harlan Coben novel. She had read all of his work and wanted to find books similar to his. I started a search in NoveList and as I was entering Harlan Coben, I asked her if there was anything that she specifically DID NOT want in the books, such as sex, extreme violence, strong language, etc. She did not have a problem with sex or strong language, but she specifically did not want any story where a child was in danger or any violence towards children. I pulled up Harlan Coben and clicked on the Author Read-alikes tab. She seemed somewhat interested in Don Winslow's Neal Carey series, but really lit up at Sparkle Hayter's Robin Hudson series. She seemed particularly interested in it for the humor.

I found it interesting that she was excited about the humor involved because she had not mentioned that when we were discussing what she liked about Harlan Coben's mysteries. I don't know much about Coben's work, so I asked her if humor was something else she liked about his work. She thought about it for a minute and said that while she wouldn't have put humor high on a list of descriptors of his work, she did find his writing to be witty. I filed that away under "Things to Remember for When I Do This for Real."

After a few weeks, I checked back in with her to see if she had had a chance to read any of the books I had suggested. She had plowed through three of the Robin Hudson series and was reading one of Hayter's stand alone novels called Bandit Queen Boogie while she was waiting for the fourth book in the series to become available.

She was very happy with those books and I would consider this one to be a success, but I wondered if most of that was due to how much I knew about her reading habits and how easily she and I can communicate. The remaining four told me more about my skills and what I needed to improve.

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