Friday, December 19, 2014

Your Next 5 from SPL

Even with lists that are miles long full of books to read, sometimes you're looking for just the right thing for just that moment. When you're looking for the next book to read and you're stumped, you can always talk to a librarian at your local library! You can also send me an email at and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Seattle Public Library also offers a free online readers advisory service, called Your Next 5. All you do is fill out an online form (your name, your email address, and a little bit about what you'd like to read or not read) and one of SPL's librarians will send you a personalized list of reading suggestions.

This is what the Your Next 5 form looks like.
Just fill in the blanks and get a personalized reading list in your email!
Here's the link to Your Next 5:

I submitted a request to SPL's Your Next 5 program and got a response just a day or two later from Misha, a Reader Services Librarian at SPL. Keep reading to see what I submitted to SPL and the fantastic response I received. I've added all of these books to my to-read list!

The information I sent SPL:
I'm looking for a few books that have love stories in them, but aren't *about* the love story, or at least have other significant plot points to propel the story forward.

Books I've liked that I think meet that criteria:
- Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
- 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
- Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
- All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
- The Scar by Sergey Dyachenko
- Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

I loved the stories in each of these. They were compelling and I felt invested in the outcome. They're all pretty big in scope (entire worlds hang in the balance), but that isn't necessarily important. I also liked the way each of these writers wrote; they're all pretty different, but I feel like they really care about how they tell their story, not just that they get it written.

I read a lot of fantasy/paranormal, but would like to explore new things too.

If you have some suggestions for me that don't have love stories in them (or push the boundaries of what "love" is... obsessive or unrequited or other ideas...), I'd still be interested in hearing those as well.

Please, no vampires or werewolves. I understand that sometimes they are unavoidable, but I'm feeling a little burned out on those two monsters at the moment.

Thank you!

PS - I have a blog ( May I post this Your Next 5 request along with your response?

From Misha of Seattle Public Library:
Hello Kristine,

My name is Misha and I am a Reader Services librarian. Thanks for using Your Next 5 Books!

Here’s your list in the catalog:

Thanks for being up front about wanting to share your Your Next 5 Books list. We love it when people spread the word about this service! I will admit it can be intimidating to make a list for a fellow, well-read librarian, but I sincerely hope that you find a book or two on this list that you enjoy and haven't already read.

Now, on to your list. You shared that you are looking for books with love stories where the love story isn't the only significant or compelling storyline. You gave examples like 1Q84, The Scar and Labyrinth. So, here is what I came up with:

You might think that with a title like Miles in Love, that this omnibus in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga might not be about anything else, but most Vorkosigan books have a number of other characters and storylines in their midst. If you have never read this series, you might want to start with Cordelia's Honor or Young Miles, but this is the omnibus that features a love story most prominently. Bujold weaves political intrigue, military action and well-developed characters in her fast-paced yet reflective science fiction series.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is about first love, but not in the ways that most coming-of-age novels explore it. The teenage voice is so authentic and the story has surprising nuances that I would hate to spoil by even alluding to them here. It is a stunning debut.

Since you liked Kate Mosse, you might like Kate Morton who also weaves parallel stories that are well-written, entertaining reads. The Forgotten Garden is a Gothic family saga that explores how the secrets of the past haunt the present.

Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice is a classic about a young woman who survives war in Malaya told from the perspective of her family's lawyer. There is a love story at the heart of this novel about perseverance and reconnection.

You asked for a book not about love per se but perhaps about obsession or a story that pushes the boundaries of what love is. Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend is the first in a quartet of novels (the fourth will be translated into English in September 2015) about the intense, complex friendship/rivalry between two women who meet and grow up in 1950s Naples. There is an intimacy and honesty explored through the narration that gives such a realistic portrait of these two women and their intricate relationship. Sometimes there is no deeper or more troubling love than friendship.

Some other books that came to mind: Ammonite by Nicola Griffith, Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker and A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O'Nan.

I hope that you find a book or author that you enjoy from this list (and haven’t already read!). Please feel free to let me know what you like and don’t like -- it will help me help you next time!

Happy Reading!
Reader Services
The Seattle Public Library


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