book life

My love/hate relationship with BookTube

So as I stated in my last post, I recently discovered BookTube. I am both intrigued and annoyed by the phenomenon of BookTube. I love it for showcasing lots of great books, and getting the enthusiasm from other book lovers rubbed off on you. But there are a couple of things that really get under my skin about the BookTube community (at least what I have seen of it thus far):

“This book is SO GOOD. UH. SO GOOD. I JUST LOVE IT. And this cover is GORGEOUS.”
This is about 90% of the reviews I have seen. Just unleashed giddiness. But as a potential reader, I would like to know WHY do you find it a good read? What is the plot? Did characters stand out? Was the writing evocative? What other books are like it? What kind of reader might like this book? As a book professional for a number of years, I find this extremely lacking, and not good sells at all. If a publisher or author is sending you a review or even finished copy of a book, I would think you owe them a little more time and space in your videos. Which leads me to my second point…

“LOOK AT ALL THE BOOKS I GOT.”
I get book hauls. I do. But these BookTubers… they seem more materialistic than anything. They get sent books for review, sure, but they also buy books like crazy, and might buy three copies of the same book because they want the UK cover and the new reboot cover in addition to the one they actually read. Some people are book collectors, and I get it, but I also get annoyed with all these book haul videos that number DOZENS of books that these BookTubers cannot possibly read. I just seem them as greedy teens who are being reckless with daddy’s money. YES, I do see a number of review videos, but that leads me to my third point….

All YA. Almost nothing but YA.
I like YA. I do! But I’m very selective with the YA I read because I find much of it fluff, and I’m in charge of Adult Fiction purchasing at my library, so that’s what I pay the most attention to. So I get bored super fast with the majority of BookTube videos that just gush about YA titles. Where are the literary fiction BookTubers? If they do go into literary fiction, it’s mixed in with YA, and it’s frequently something like, “what classic books should I read?” *sigh* Again.

I wish there were more vibrant librarians on BookTube. Book professionals who know how to book talk, and have some method to the madness of book accumulation. Avid readers of adult fiction who can speak more authoritatively about it than just on dead white guys. Librarians who know their stuff, yet can also command a video camera with enthusiasm like the best young BookTubers. Many librarian book talk videos are of poor quality, and have not particularly inviting women (not many guys in general) talking about books. That’s also boring. And after a few solid updates, they stop having the time or energy to keep producing and uploading videos. Many of the reader’s advisory librarians are busy doing their jobs, or posting useful blog links, and are thus not able or equipped to make BookTube videos. But it’s still my wish.

Le sigh. I’m not the kind of person to actually make this change, I just know what needs to be done. That can be an annoying position for everyone. But I hope some more outgoing and experimental librarian tries to tackle an unexplored area of BookTube!

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book life

BookTube and September Haul

Do you know about BookTube? I only recently discovered it. It seems to mostly be young ladies in their teens or early twenties to make videos about the stacks of YA novels they just got, and gushing about how beautiful the covers are. I think it’s neat (if somewhat overwhelming), but I would be more into it if there was more… uh… grown-up(?) content to be had. More literary fiction, maybe some subject non-fiction. So I briefly entertained the idea of starting a BookTube channel myself doing that very thing. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided against it because A) I don’t think I look very good on camera, nor do I have camera equipment besides a webcam, B) I don’t know if I want to make the “brand” commitment and stick to it, and C) that’s a lot of content creation, and I don’t know if I want to dedicate some of my free time to doing something that will inevitably stress me out. So I’m backing off the idea of BookTube and going to see about doing more on the Twitter side of the bookish social media, and maybe use this blog as more of a platform for what I would put in a BookTube video without the anxiety of being on camera and working in a medium I’m not as familiar with.

So, in the spirit of BookTube, I thought I would do a “September Haul,” here on the blog! (Because, gosh, my TBR is sinking under the weight.)

September 2014 Book Haul

Continue reading “BookTube and September Haul”

book life, library life

Reading Lists

Book-Journal-Books-to-Check-OutUp until recently, I have not kept track of my reading. No completed lists, occasionally a list on a lone page of my Moleskine notebook of “To Be Read” (TBR), but nothing formal for sure. Once I became a librarian, I started to think that perhaps it would be a good idea to keep track so I could recall certain titles during reader’s advisory chats – that is, when someone comes up to me and asks what book they should read next.

I’ve had a GoodReads account for a few years, but for awhile didn’t take advantage of it, and it wasn’t exactly fitting my needs. Plus I wasn’t reading a whole heck of a lot at my last job, so it didn’t seem necessary to keep a reading list anyway. (I have since started updating it more regularly. We’ll see if I can keep it up.)

That changed when I assumed my currently position, where one of my primary job duties is ordering the adult fiction titles. Something shifted, and suddenly I was reading voraciously again! I started to keep a running list on Google Docs, the most recently read on top, formatted into four lines:

Title
Author
tags/keywords
a short summary/who I would recommend it to/my reaction

So far this year, I have found this running list super helpful. It’s available online so I can access it at home or at work, and occasionally I’ll print it out so I can have quick access to it at my desk. (As much as I like the Cloud and digitizing, there is something to be said for having a print copy of something.) I also highlight the titles of certain books that I feel have a wider appeal that I could recommend to a variety of patrons.

Book Riot recently posted about how managing editor Amanda Nelson tracks her reading. She uses a Google Docs spreadsheet (available to download though the link) and uses it to also track the diversity of her reading habits. I contemplated switching over to this method, but ultimately decided I’d rather have my little bit of metadata to jog my memory. But I do applaud the effort. For someone in her position, I think it’s very valuable to be aware of the diversity of a reading list.

Related to all this, last year a new program called LibraryReads got started. I love it – librarians from around the country contribute to a monthly list of the top 10 best books being published in that particular month. It’s a great collection development tool, and is great marketing for our patrons. I’m a big fan. The program hinges on librarians reading digital galleys, or digital advance reader copies of books (ARCs) – publishers put these out either in print or digitally so reviewers can read the book ahead of time, and then tell people about it so there’s a certain amount of hype for when the book is actually published. I got my iPad mini at Easter, and so I finally had an eReader device I could use to take advantage of this program and read some ARCs!*

LibraryReads asks that all nominations for the list be made the month before they’re actually published. So if I wanted to nominate a book being published in November, I would have to read and submit my nomination by October 1. Then a few days after October 1 the list of top 10 books for November is compiled, and I can order the books on that list, and put out the marketing materials provided by LibraryReads so my patrons know about those titles. Hopefully I’ve read a book off the list, and can get the conversation rolling with that!

I quickly discovered that I was having trouble keeping due dates for these nominations together. I had been keeping a print planner, but a few months ago decided to switch completely over to Google Calendar (one less thing to carry, and my calendar is accessible on my laptop, iPhone, and iPad). So I started to keep a list of ARCs to Read as a task list on Google Calendar. And then it was only natural that I finally have a formalized (or, at least, collated) list of TBR that I also make a Google Calendar task list. I add in the notes area a quick summary, or reason why I want to read a particular book. My TBR list is quite long, at least 70 titles at the moment, so having a little reminder is especially helpful. (No, I doubt I’ll read all those books, as my TBR will continue to grow. But it’s good to have a deep well to draw from when I’m picking my next read.)

I use the app GoTasks so I have all these task lists at my fingertips. So far I have been ENORMOUSLY pleased with it – all of my reading logs are in one place, I don’t misplace book recommendations, and when I’m thinking about what to read next, I have a handy dandy list I can refer to, all ready to go.

So that’s how I keep track of all my reading! How about you?

*They don’t have to be digital ARCs, but those are the easiest to get ahold of, at least through the LibraryReads set up. I also win ARCs off GoodReads, or other mailing lists I’m on. Those print copies of ARCs are usually reserved for book reviewers and booksellers, and they do pile up fast! I’ll be doing a post at the end of the months of the print ARCs I acquired this month alone – quite a number!