As a librarian – or, more accurately, as a certified, professional, pathological Book Person - I spend too much time pondering what book I should read next. It almost always feels like one of my life's most pressing questions. The right book can introduce fascinating new ideas, boost my mood, or maybe even change my life forever. The wrong book will stay on my shelf, taunt me for not finishing it, or distract me from picking up something I'd like better. It's a big choice!
I might take my reading decisions a bit too seriously, but I know I'm not the only person desperately seeking that perfect next book. I talk to them every day at work! Part of my job at the BPL is to work at the New and Novel desk: the Central Library’s one-stop-shop for your book-related needs. At the desk, I help folks find call numbers for the books they are looking for and place holds for books that aren't on the shelf. My fellow librarians and I are also trained to provide reading recommendations. In the library biz, we call this "reader's advisory." Normal people don't call it anything - they just want some help narrowing down the thousands of books on our shelves to one: the book they should definitely read next.
Anne Bogel isn't a librarian, but with her skill in reader's advisory, she missed her calling. On her charming podcast What Should I Read Next?, Anne - blogger, author, and general Reading Queen - invites a guest for a one-on-one bookish chat. While she occasionally hosts a minor literary celeb (like my nerdy idol, Gretchen Rubin), most of her guests are regular folk who simply like to read. In each episode, Anne asks her guests to talk about three books they loved and one book they hated. Then, Anne works her magic and suggests three new books based on her guest’s preferences. It’s a simple concept that leads to lively, thoughtful conversations. And, you know, more books to add to your own exquisitely-tended "to read" list.
Anne does a good job of tailoring her selections to her reader’s tastes, but she does tend to recommend a certain “flavor” of book. If you enjoy listening to What Should I Read Next? you might like a contemporary or classic fiction read that’s a bit literary, but not at the expense of rich characterization or a compelling story. If you are in the mood for nonfiction, you might also like an approachable true story about a tough, emotional subject.