Library Hack: What Should I Read Next?

Posted on December 11, 2014 at 6:00 am

By Cara Strickland

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I would walk into my local library and make a beeline for the children’s section. In that library, there was a children’s librarian sitting behind a special little desk. I would walk up to the desk and smile as though I were going to see a friend, because I was. This ritual was repeated often. I was a voracious reader.

I would hand over the book that I had just finished and ask for something similar or different. I’d ask her to tell me the next book in a series I was working through, or help me find a new one to comfort me, after I’d finished a gripping saga.

Then, as now, I would browse the shelves and find things for myself. I look for recommendations from friends, or covers that seemed interesting. I was not a helpless library user; I knew how to read the numbers on the spine of the books in the nonfiction section, and when I needed a book from the adult area. Still, there was something lovely about the engagement with someone else as I chose my next book. Reading is a solitary activity, most of the time. It is nice to know that others are in it for the journey.

There might not be a special desk in the children’s section (or even an information desk as you walk in) but our librarians and staff members are still happy to help you figure out what you’d like to read next. Who knows, you might even discover a new favorite author, or book.

Library Hack: What Should I Read Next? by Cara Strickland | Spokane County Library District

Think of this as your guide to using the library to find your next read.

Book a Librarian

One of our best (and most little known) resources, in my opinion, is Book a Librarian. You can request help with just about anything you’re working on, at a time and library location that works best for you.

While you might use this service to figure out a new electronic device (or how to download library resources onto it) you can also use it a bit like a personal shopping session. For example: you might know that you enjoy books by Tom Clancy or J.K. Rowling (but you’ve finished all of the books by that author). You can let your librarian know ahead of time that you are looking to fill that gap in your life, and they can prepare some ideas for you.

Even if you don’t have an author in mind, but are looking for more books in a genre, or time period, this service will work well for you (and you can make an appointment whenever you find yourself in need of a recommendation).


Also in our Digital Library, you’ll find NoveList, which gives you all kinds of ways to search and browse book categories. You can look for a specific age group, genre, or find a readalike (librarian lingo for a book with a similar feel or theme to one you already like) for lots of specific books.

You can also type in some keywords like “1930s London.” When I search for that phrase, I get 273 results (many of which look interesting, and like they match my search criteria). You can further limit those results by publication date or age group, and by clicking on the side categories, you can find all of the “love stories” under genre, or the “suspenseful” or “bittersweet” books under “Tone.”

I could spend hours on this website.

On our website, you’ll also find a full list of the titles our book clubs are reading. You might just find the perfect read for your book club, or find that you want to join one of ours.

Library Hack: What Should I Read Next? by Cara Strickland | Spokane County Library District

In the Library

If you’re actually in one of our libraries, you’ll find recommendations everywhere. We try to pick out interesting books that you might not otherwise see in your travels through the library. We will often do displays for holidays, or summer activities, or another theme devised by one of our staff members.

Just inside many of our doors, you’ll find a collection called Books to Go (bestsellers with no waiting list). You might say that other readers have helped recommend these to you with their purchases.

And don’t forget the people! Most of our library staff members are readers, too. We’re always seeing new things come in, and watching older things surface. We might not always be able to talk as long as we’d like, but our staff is always happy to talk about their latest read, and recommend one you might like, too.

I hope these tips help you in pursuit of your next good read (or listen, or watch).

Cara Strickland

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