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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Reading Reality
Blog URL: http://www.readingreality.net
Your name: Marlene Harris

Let’s start with your origin story - how long have you been blogging about Fiction, and why did you start?

Reading Reality’s sixth anniversary is coming up on April 4. I actually celebrate a Blogo-Birthday on April 4-5, as my own birthday is April 5. I’m a bit older than 6, though.

I began Reading Reality when we moved from Gainesville FL to Atlanta. We came for my husband’s job, but 2011 was still during the Great Recession. I wanted something to do that would still connect with books, and would keep me busy and intellectually stimulated. One of the things I enjoy about working in libraries is being able to help readers find books they will love, and Reading Reality is an extension of that.

The blog was originally called “Escape Reality, Read Fiction”. I got that from a t-shirt. But when I started doing library consulting, “Reading Reality” sounded a bit more like the name of a company, so that’s what stuck. Occasionally people still ask me about real estate in Pennsylvania.

Are there particular subgenres that you prefer or find more interesting at the moment? Are there any trends that you are excited to see come or go?

My go-to genres are science fiction and fantasy, but I also read a lot of romance and a fair amount of mystery. I’m pretty eclectic. I particularly like the places where genres mingle, so things like science fiction romance and historical mystery always get me reading. When I’m in a reading slump, I turn to urban fantasy and that brings me right back to the joy of reading.

As far as trends go, I’m kind of sorry to see steampunk fading a bit. I loved that blend of historical, SF, fantasy and often romance. The best of the breed were generally terrific and terrifically inventive.

Do you find your background as a librarian influences which books you choose and how you review them? And, are you still involved in the library community?

I am still very involved in the library community. I am currently the librarian at TAPPI, the Technical Association for the Pulp and Paper Industry. They have a small but significant collection of materials in the industry, and I answer research requests and provide document delivery.

I’m also a member of the American Library Association Notable Books Council, a committee that has picked the best literary fiction, nonfiction and poetry every year since 1944. And I review for Library Journal.

Some of the books I choose to review are for my library interests, but most I pick just because they look either intriguing, fun, or both. Being a librarian, having done readers’ advisory work, does influence the way I review. If there are “read-alikes” for the book I’m reviewing, I make sure to give them a mention, no matter when they were published. And if I’m reviewing a book in a series, I always tell readers whether or not they really need to have read the rest of that series, of if they can just jump in anywhere. Discovering that you are reading book 5 of a series and are completely lost is a VERY disappointing experience.

Aside from your reviews, you have a variety of different features on your blog – which is your current favorite?

I like different features for very different reasons. Blog Hops are terrific for getting traffic. I do Stacking the Shelves and the Sunday Post because they help me stay organized. I hope people enjoy those features, but they do serve a function for me as the blogger.

My favorite features have been Amy Daltry’s semi-regular guest reviews. She picks interesting books, including a lot of genre classics, and she writes a terrific review, whether the book is terrific or not. She’s clear and honest about what she likes and doesn’t like in a book, and it is great to have the opportunity to feature a reviewer whose perspectives are different from my own.

The most fun feature I have is one that I wish I was able to do more often, and that’s joint reviews with either Cass or Amy. It is particularly fun and frequently hilarious when we are able to write together in real time.

Which upcoming book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about reading and recommending to your followers? And are there any covers on NetGalley that you’re loving?

Cass and I have a joint review for Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop coming in March that made both of us ROFL. It’s not that the book is funny, it isn’t and it’s not intended to be. But we love to out-snark each other.

I’m very excited to read In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen. I’ve heard such marvelous things about her work, but this is my chance to get in at the beginning of one of her series.

My favorite upcoming cover is Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James. The joke going around Facebook among librarians is, “What, only 12?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

Evidence of a life either misspent or well spent with books, by someone who can’t resist sharing.

Your favorite character in a book or series:

Sherlock Holmes. I have an absolute weakness for Holmes pastiches, and I love Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series.

Your favorite 2 authors for Fiction titles:

Only 2? Inconceivable!

Science fiction: John Scalzi
Fantasy: L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Mystery: Louise Penny
Historical Mystery: Charles Todd
Science Fiction Romance: Anna Hackett
Fantasy Romance: Jeffe Kennedy
Romance: Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle

And to finish off our interview, if you could go on a road trip with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and where would you go?

John Scalzi, hands down. And conveniently, he is still alive. I would love to go on a book tour, or even part of one, with him. I’ve heard him perform at several, and he’s always both thoughtful and funny, as he is on his blog at Whatever, although the ratio of thoughtful to funny there is slightly different. And I’d get to quiz him about his upcoming books. And possibly meet his current cats, the Scamperbeasts.

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

January 2017

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in January that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site.

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

 

Additional LibraryReads Titles:

Her Every Fear: A Novel by Peter Swanson
(William Morrow • 9780062427021)

Hearthstone by Katharine Elle White
(Harper Voyager • 9780062451941)

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

Favorite of Favorites 2016

LibraryReads has announced their Favorite of Favorites list of books from 2016 that librarians across the country love. You can Request or Wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the monthly LibraryReads list via NetGalley!

Additional LibraryReads titles, not currently available on NetGalley:

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
(Harper • 9780062491794)

The Nest  by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
(Ecco • 9780062414212)

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Lamp

Reader Spotlight

We’re excited to be spotlighting Charmaine Atrooshi, who works in the Homebound Services department of the Ottawa Public Library. She is passionate about social justice, and providing equitable library services in order to build strong communities. She has been in her current role for the past seven years, and spends most of her days providing readers’ advisory services to her homebound customers. She believes robust readers’ advisory skills and services are important in public libraries as they help to connect people, and provide access to library materials that help us relax, learn and escape….. Charmaine holds a Master of Arts in Legal Studies (Carleton University), Bachelor of Arts Honours in Law (Carleton) and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology (Carleton). She is currently pursuing an MLIS online with the University of Alberta, and is looking forward to fusing her legal background with librarianship.

A nice place to start is with your library origin story – how did you become involved with the Ottawa Public Library (OPL)?

I started working for OPL as a summer student while I was completing my first undergraduate degree. My role was to provide children’s programming in rural library branches. I later applied for a paging position, was hired on permanently, and here we are now, 11 years (and several different roles and degrees) later! Public libraries are a dynamic place to work—they are constantly changing, innovating, and creating new ways to reach out to their communities in order to construct services and programming that are relevant to their needs. Every day brings something new and exciting!

Can you describe what Homebound Services does, those who use it, and why it’s essential to your community?

Homebound services is a department that selects and delivers library materials to OPL customers who have difficulty accessing a library branch on a regular basis due to age, illness or disability. The majority of our customers are older adults and seniors. We offer two types of services; one is a home delivery service where library materials are selected monthly by staff and delivered to their door, and the other is a mini library service where we bring a selection of library materials to various retirement residents for the residents to peruse and select from. We have around 500 customers that we select for monthly, as well as approximately 150 mini library customers. OttawaHomeboundServices

Services like these are really important in our community as they help to remove barriers to access, provide equitable library service, promote information literacy, and are a means of connecting customers with the resources, materials and services they require. We encourage our customers to contact us with feedback on their selections, and to request titles/authors they enjoy.

Has having access to digital galleys/proofs impacted your collection development strategy? Has it also affected the types of titles you recommend to your customers/patrons?

Having access to digital galleys assists greatly when it comes to recommending and selecting titles for our Homebound customers. Many want to hear what the next ‘big thing’ is, and to find read-alikes for their favorite authors, and they look to us for feedback. Reading the blurbs on NetGalley and having the opportunity to access some of these materials ahead of time is great, as it helps me keep my finger on the pulse of publishing trends—so when someone asks me for the next “Girl on the Train” I can provide some great suggestions for new thrillers!

OPL has a centralized content services department that is responsible for the materials selection for all 33 Ottawa Public Library branches (plus Homebound and Bookmobile Services). They do a great job of providing us with materials that are relevant to the needs of our Homebound customers, and are always open to suggestions for items we think our customers would enjoy.

Do you have a favorite moment when you provided someone with a book?

Years ago, I read a book from NetGalley called Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. Calling Me Home
I loved it so much—Kibler painted such a vivid, incredible (slightly heartbreaking) story and I knew that this was something that many of our Homebound customers (and colleagues) would enjoy. I sent this title to many of our historical fiction/family sagas customers in hopes they would enjoy as much as I had—and I was right. A few people who we rarely heard from contacted us to say how much they enjoyed this—and would like more by this author (unfortunately, she hasn’t published anything else yet – but we found some read-alikes in the interim). One customer at a mini library enjoyed it so much, she gave a mini book talk to the other residents in the room- encouraging them to read it as she enjoyed it so much! It was a great feeling!

Which upcoming book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about recommending?

Jojo Moyes- Paris for One & Other stories (as we have a big Moyes following) and Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter. I don’t read a lot in the science fiction/fantasy type of genre, but Crouch had this way of sucking you in right from the first chapter. I couldn’t put it down—it was a refreshing shift from what I normally read and I think many others would also find this book captivating! Mini libraries are excellent opportunities for recommending titles and having readers’ advisory conversations—these chats help us all to expand our reading horizons and try new titles/authors/genres that we may not have picked up otherwise.

Paris for One     Dark Matter

What is the most requested title in your library?

We have had a lot of requests recently from our homebound customers for Jojo Moyes and Louise Penny titles as well as Giller Prize winning authors.

And to finish up, what is the last book that made you smile?

I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster
I Regret Nothing  

Thanks so much Charmaine, for spending time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out the Ottawa Public Library and their Homebound Services

Would you like to nominate someone to be featured in our Reader Spotlight series? Fill out this form!

*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

November 2016

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in November that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site.

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

Additional LibraryReads Titles:

The Fate of the Tearling: A Novel by Erika Johansen
(Harper • 9780062656285)

I’ll Take You There: A Novel by Wally Lamb
(Harper • 9780062290427)

Moonglow: A Novel by Michael Chabon
(Harper • 9780062225559)

Normal: A Novel by Warren Ellis
(FSG Originals • 9780374534974)

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

October 2016

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in October that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site.

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

Additional LibraryReads Titles:

News of the World: A Novel by Paulette Jiles
(William Morrow • 9780062409201)

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

September 2016

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in September that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site.

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

Additional LibraryReads Titles:

The Bookshop on the Corner: A Novel by Jenny Colgan
(William Morrow • 9780062467256)

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
(Harper • 9780062491794)

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

August 2016

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in August that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site.

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

Additional LibraryReads titles:

First Star I See Tonight: A Novel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
(William Morrow • 9780062405616)

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

July 2016

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in July that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

June 2016

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in June that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

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