With roughly a million books published just this last year, it might take a long time to sift through that enormous haystack before you find that very special needle. Of course, you could ask Google, Siri or Alexa, but you’re more likely to get an article about choosing a book than you are an actual title. And if your “smart” device does eventually get you to a book title, it will most likely just be sponsored content – or another way of selling you something you probably don’t want or need.
There is a better way – and it’s FREE! It's called Book Hunters
The fancy library term for this process is, “Reader’s Advisory.” And in a nutshell, it’s a qualified professional, drawing from a lifetime of personal and professional experience for the sole purpose of helping you find your next favorite book. Or, to put it more clearly Diana Tixier Herald, author of Genreflecting says that Readers' Advisory is "the act of putting people together with the books they love."
Here at Harris County Public Library, we call it “Book Hunters” and it’s a service we happily provide to patrons of any age. The way it works is simple. Just access Book Hunters through the home page of our website (or CLICK HERE) and fill out a simple form.
Next, your request will go to a person whose genre expertise is most closely matched to your request. Yes, an actual, live human being!
I was able to track down some of these professional Book Hunters in the wild and got them to share some of their thoughts and feelings on the art and science of reader's advisory.
Mary - When I make a book suggestion based off a genre I'm passionate about, it's so satisfying. It's that "Yes! My years of reading have paid off!" feeling. I love helping someone find something they might potentially enjoy just as much as I have. I would consider myself an expert in the genre of fantasy (not to be confused with science fiction!). What I love most about the genre is that it's always filled with hope. The stakes might be dire, and the journey long and exhausting, but it always has that hopeful feeling that light will triumph over darkness, good will win over evil, etc. Dragons and magic are fun to have in stories, but the never-ending optimism is really inspiring, especially when our own world doesn't always feel that way.
Casey - When someone asks for a recommendation in a genre I love like queer fiction or non-fiction, it's like being a tour guide to a place that I'm passionate about. I know all the nooks and crannies and when someone else is interested, I get to show them all the places I know and love and point out things they might have otherwise missed. It's sharing a little piece of yourself.
Christine - I have been a Book Hunter since the program began, and it's one of my favorite aspects of my position related to readers' advisory. I absolutely love the challenge of finding items that meet a child's needs and interests. Creating a personal reading list is really meaningful because I know that it's often the first step in helping a child become a lifelong reader.
Anjela - I love the challenge of helping readers find their next great read! With the number of choices available on our shelves, readers can become overwhelmed and struggle to find books that interest them, so being able to help them is a rewarding experience. I specialize in Young Adult literature. I love that YA has such a depth of diverse stories and authors that appeal to teens and adults.
Aleca - Every Book Hunters request is engaging and fun, but there’s an even greater sense of connection and happiness knowing someone out there is experiencing a genre I love through the titles I recommended. I particularly enjoy historical non-fiction, especially narrative and immersive titles that bring the past to life and emphasize how similar human experiences are throughout history.
Laura - When I get to make a book suggestion in a genre I’m passionate about I feel sorry for the other person because of the flood of books I’m about to add to their TBR (to be read) pile! When I’m enthusiastic about something I want to make sure I don’t forget any books I think they’ll love, so I sometimes have a hard time limiting myself to 5 books! Romance or novels that have strong romantic elements are typically my favorite because I really like happy endings – especially after the main characters have fought epic space battles, triumphed against evil, controlling family members, survived dangerous adventures, exorcised ghosts or battled corporate marauders to get there.
What are you waiting for? Your next favorite book awaits at, BOOK HUNTERS