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Speed Reading for Readers' Advisory

Librarians are always asked if they can recommend "a good book." For many, this is not a problem, providing that the librarian has read something that the patron also likes. But, the reality is that there are too many people and too many titles for any one person to be able to read and make recommendations consistently. So, what is a librarian to do?

There is an important distinction to be made between the words recommend and suggest. If you have read a book, you can recommend it. However, if you have not read it, but have a sense of the book through speed reading techniques, then you can suggest it. The difference between the two terms is significant. You do not want to be in a position of putting peoples faith in your suggestions at risk once they find out that you have not actually read the book. Therefore, here are a few suggestions to help you speed through all those best selling novels that you may want to suggest to your patrons.

First, read the first chapter all the way through. This will give you a sense of the author's writing, pacing, and style. It will also allow you to discuss the opening of the book with a patron. Next, read a chapter in the middle of the book. At this point in the story, you should be in the middle of the action and able to see the development of the plot somewhat as well as the pacing/tension, etc. Lastly, read the last chapter. Know how the book ends.

This will not allow you to discuss the book in its entirety, but you will be able to suggest titles depending on what type of books the patron seeks. I would challenge you to make speed reading another tool in your tool box, and not the tool box itself. It would be wise to read at least one book all the way through by prolific author(s) in each genre and subgenre so that you can understand what the buzz is about.

Finally, talk to your regular patrons, book group members, and other voracious readers in your life. Ask them who they like to read and why. Listen to the answers. Listen for appeal factors. You may find new favorite authors that you will want to read all the way through!

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Content copyright © 2013 by Christine Sharbrough. All rights reserved.
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