10th St. Bookies–Reading Conversations

10th St. Bookies–Reading Conversations

What is a reading conversation? It’s a book chat! Reading conversations are how we help readers find their next book. Great books spark curiosity, start conversations, broaden perspectives, and entertain readers. Our readers love to talk with us about what they’re reading, and they look to us to help them find new reads.

  • Create reading conversations by asking good questions and listening to the answers. Customer satisfaction is more about the chat than the book. Listen, smile, help the reader explore.
  • Relax, there’s no such thing as the perfect book. Reading conversations aren’t an exact science with hard answers like reference. The goal is to open a customer to the possibilities waiting on the shelves or in the cloud.
  • Be confident! If you recommend several titles based on appeal factors, author, award lists, etc., you are bound to recommend something that the customer will like.
  • Ask “what are you in the mood for?” The answer may be different than “what was the last great book you read?”
  • Give options. Try to talk the customer into taking at least 2 books. This is also a good opportunity to state that it’s okay not to like a recommendation, or to put it aside and move on to something else. I often say to folks, “The price is right, try a few and your money back if you don’t like them.” 😉
  • Use the shortcuts that we’ve already prepared here at the library to your advantage—show folks our displays. Show them the curated book lists on Bibliocommons, or on the landing page of Overdrive. And so on. This is a good way to prompt further conversation, too.
  • Remember to tie into other media. What shows do they like? What music? Their answers might reveal appeal factors that could lead to new suggestions you wouldn’t have considered.
  • Find out if the customer wants to try something new, or stick with something they know they’ll like. If possible, give a mix of each when you recommend.
  • Again, it’s ok if the reader doesn’t like one of the books you recommend, really! There’s no lose here, if you’re talking with folks about books. Encourage the reader to let you know if they don’t like one of your suggestions, and why, because that provides clues that could help you find a book that they would like more. It’s an opportunity for another conversation.
  • Invite readers to follow up with you for another recommendation after they finish their books, and to tell you what they thought about the books they are taking home.

10th St. Bookies is a project of the Engaged Community of Readers Team. Online information will be followed by in-person reading conversations, trainings, and opportunities to engage with readers. Reading conversations are for everyone!

Resources for Further Exploration

Back to Readers’ Advisory Basics. Kathy Stewart, for NoveList.


Connecting Patrons with Library Materials: A Readers’ Advisory Crash Course. Readers’ Advisory Round Table, Iowa Library Association.


Book Lust: Readers’ Advisory. Nancy Pearl.


4 thoughts on “10th St. Bookies–Reading Conversations

  1. Debbie Stanton on said:

    Don’t forget to explore NoveList to learn more about appeal factors (https://ezproxy.tscpl.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,url,cpid&custid=s9092586&profile=novplus)

    A resource I use often is in NoveList under the drop-down menu “Especially For…” and choose “Readers’ Advisory.” They have a great guide called “The Secret Language of Books” that teaches you all about appeal factors — here’s the direct link:

  2. Kimberly Sain on said:

    Novelist Plus is my favorite for in-person book/author questions. When I show people how to find similar authors, titles, etc. based on their interests, they are usually thrilled to know they have easy access to this resource. I find it somewhat surprising that so many book enthusiasts don’t know about it.

    • Miranda Ericsson on said:

      Agreed, Kim, it’s such a great resource! They are worth following on FB, too, because they post a lot of great information for librarians.