Still not sure how I feel about Christopher Hitchens.
I hate summer.

SALE on Real Stories reference books!

Anybody out there going to ALA Annual next week in Chicago?

If you are, please stop by ABC-CLIO's booth* at #1631 to see what they're offering in new reference books and products this year. And while you're there...pick up a sale flyer for ALL the titles in the Real Stories series of readers' guides. (And no worries if you're not going--next week I'll post a PDF for the flyer that you can print out and use when ordering.)

Normally the conference 20% off deal on products refers to books they actually have for sale AT the conference, but this flyer entitles you to 20% off ALL the titles in the series. So if you've been looking to beef up your nonfiction knowledge and RA services, or you simply want a great resource to answer your "what should I read now?" questions for nonfiction, now is the time to shop. With that in mind, let me take you through the titles in the series (in order of publication):

The Real Story: A Guide to Nonfiction Reading Interests** : I wrote this back in 2006, and it's technically part of the Genreflecting series of books, but it's a book that covers eleven different genres and reading interests, such as True Adventure, True Crime, and "Making Sense" (or "Big Think") books. The book is aging, of course, but I did make an effort when writing it to include a lot of "classic" nonfiction titles as well, to increase its long-term usefulness.

The Inside Scoop: A Guide to Nonfiction Investigative Writing and Exposés : The first book published in the series, also written by me. Covers my true love: Investigative nonfiction. Includes titles that would be considered journalism, character profiles, current affairs, exposes, business reporting, and "immersion journalism." I also included lists of documentary movies and magazines which typically publish investigative features.

Real Lives Revealed: A Guide to Reading Interests in Biography : There's only one word for this title, by Rick Roche, and that is mindblowing. Roche provides lists of perhaps the most popular nonfiction books out there, biographies, and puts them in helpful categories (think ready-made booklists and lists for book group consideration!). The book is huge and fascinating reading in its own right, and Rick provided tons of read-alikes for tons of very popular titles. He also wrote beautiful lists of prominent biographers and biography series that readers might not know about otherwise (and which could certainly help you train RA staff members on biographers and biographies with very little effort). When it comes to biographies, he's done all the work for you.

Women's Nonfiction: A Guide to Reading Interests : A superb volume, written by Jessica Zellers, listing nonfiction books that most particularly "speak to women's experiences." This is a valuable grouping, because library catalogs do not do a good job of classifying books as "women's interest." Zellers lists titles that focus on women across biographies, memoirs, personal growth, history, adventure, feminism, and society. This book would be particularly useful for librarians looking for titles for women-themed book groups, or for any academic library focusing on women's history. It's also fun to read--Zellers has a writing style I like to call "sparkly."

Life Stories: A Guide to Reading Interests in Memoirs, Autobiographies, and Diaries : Maureen O'Connor took on the daunting task of listing and classifying memoirs and autobiographies in this volume, and wow, did she know a nice job. I personally know how hard she worked on this title and how comprehensive she made it, taking a rigorous approach to including books that were most likely to show up in the majority of library catalogs. Whatever interests in memoir you have--adventure, celebrities, the creative life, the working life (my favorite), the inner life, history, war stories, and survival (among many more), O'Connor teased out the best titles in every category, and provided tons of "read-alikes" for all of them.*** She also provides very helpful lists of memoir writing awards, titles that have been controversial for their amount of truth and facts (or lack thereof), and classics.

 And now we get to the two newest titles in the series:

Food Lit: A Reader's Guide to Epicurean Nonfiction : By Melissa Stoeger, this is another invaluable reference source because it pulls together all sorts of nonfiction titles it would be VERY HARD to find otherwise. Stoeger identifies all types of books that will appeal to "foodies," across genres such as memoir, biography, travel, adventure, history, science, and investigative writing, as well as including new categories like "narrative cookbooks" and "food essays." Her annotations and read-alike lists will not only make you want to read all these books, they'll make you hungry, too (which shows the skill of her writing). And she provides AWESOME resource lists of popular cooks and their books, other foodie formats like magazines and food documentaries and cooking shows (fantastically helpful for library patrons looking to find new cooking shows to watch), and novels which particularly focus on food.

Going Places: A Reader's Guide to Travel Narrative : Another reference book that should blow your mind, Robert Burgin's guide to travel books (one of the most popular nonfiction genres around) not only lists tons of classic and current travel books (and huge lists of read-alikes), he also assigned each book copious subject headings and all the locations where the authors traveled, meaning you can use the extensive index to look up all the travel narratives that focus on specific locations. Sure, you can look up places in library catalogs, but can you separate out the travel guides, history, and other books with that subject heading from the travel NARRATIVES? Burgin has done all that work for you. This is a book that is a must-have for creating reading lists, and your patrons might also personally love to take and create their own travel reading lists. (Plus, Burgin was the Real Stories series editor before me, so he really knows his stuff about ALL nonfiction, meaning a lot of his read-alike suggestions include other types of nonfiction books and a lot of novels.)

Whew. I kind of forgot myself how many great tools are available in this series. So why buy? Well, sure, you can Google all sorts of book lists for free. But I ask you: is it very easy to search for such lists of NONFICTION titles? Do you always even know where to start? AND: if you're looking for staff training tools to help readers' advisors and library staff learn about nonfiction categories, these might be very useful for that. Not to mention, your patrons might appreciate being able to check these out to create reading lists of their own.

Okay, enough cheerleading. Have a great weekend and a great conference, if you're going to be there.

*Full disclosure: I am the series editor of the Real Stories series (and the author of two books within the series), which is published by ABC-CLIO. So yes, I'm biased, but I still say they're great books!

**I'm taking you to these books' Amazon pages, which also list reviews each book has gotten, so you don't just have to take my word for it about the quality of these books.

***All of these books include comprehensive lists of similar books, or "read-alikes," based on subjects and appeals like characterization and writing style, by design.