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March 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
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Booklist Editors Recommend
Whether you’re a librarian helping a patron find read-alikes, or you’re looking for a good book for yourself, Booklist Editors Recommend is the key to your next good read.
In Booklist Online, you can generate read-alike lists by matching Library of Congress subject headings, but we wanted to go further, offering personally selected suggestions from our editors based on their own deep reading experience and reviewing expertise. Getting these recommendations into Booklist Online has been a huge challenge, since they all have to be created by hand. We’re adding new links every day and currently have more than 25,000. All of the editors have been involved in this process, and each editor has a different style. According to Booklist Online Senior Editor Keir Graff, “There are many ways to approach link-making. On unusual subjects, there may only be a few related reviews inBooklist Online, and it’s helpful to bring them all together, as it may take users a number of searches to retrieve them all. On common subjects—say, football—it’s essential to have some lists that group the best histories, biographies, how-to guides, and narrative nonfiction. These lists can sometimes be made through straight searching, but often it’s a combination of the editor’s knowledge, searching, and the intangibles captured in the words of the review.”
Adult Books Associate Editor Donna Seaman says, “The lists that are the most challenging are for literary novels, subtle works full of ideas, varied settings, unusual predicaments, and diverse characters. Novels beyond category. One recent novel I had a lot of fun thinking up ‘similar’ titles for is Cristina García’s A Handbook to Luck. For a nonfiction title, I enjoyed finding good matches for Richard Preston’s amazing The Wild Trees. There are many tree titles out there, but I was looking for books with particular resonance, aesthetic appreciation matched by science and passion and environmental sensitivity.”
YA Books Editor Gillian Engberg describes her approach this way: “In hand-picking our links, we can roam across genres and connect themes in a way that a computer program might find illogical. For instance, in choosing links for the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award book American Born Chinese by Gene Yang, I was able to select graphic novels and books about graphic novels, for readers who are interested in the format, as well as historical fiction about the lives of Chinese immigrants in North America and contemporary novels about teens living with immigrant parents. We’re able to consider a book’s potential appeal to readers from many different angles—subject, genre, setting, theme, style—and find links that cover a range of titles that are both broad-reaching and specifically targeted to readers’ interests.”
When all is said and done, readers’-advisory work is an art, not a science, and we see the element of subjectivity in our lists as one of our greatest strengths. It’s what helps keep our lists fresh, inventive, and even, at times, a little quirky—and quirky is fine with us. Booklist Editors Recommend lists are a click away from Booklist Online reviews, using the Find Similar Titles button on the review page.
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