April 2016 | Volume XXXIV, Issue 2 »

Real Time RA

March 21, 2016
Kara Kohn, Plainfield Public Library District

Patron Mike (fake name for privacy) likes urban fantasy and his favorite author is Jim Butcher, who wrote The Dresden Files, a series of contemporary fantasy/mystery novels. I suggested Simon R. Green's Nightside series. Mike loved them so much he got through the series quickly and was back for more.

Next I thought I would try Kevin J. Anderson’s Dan Shamble Zombie PI series. In addition to a solid mystery featuring a throng of supernatural beings, I thought he might get a kick out of the quirky characters, especially since Butcher’s Dresden Files features a talking, sarcastic skull named Bob. Seems like a slam dunk, right?

Mike finished Anderson’s Death Warmed Over but reported back that he really didn’t enjoy it; he felt it was too silly. I had only read book one of Mike’s beloved Dresden Files, so my next step was to read book two to get a better feel for the series to see what he likes.

After finishing Fool Moon, Mike and I chatted in detail. I explained how I was disappointed that there was so much action and fighting, and that was the biggest turnoff for me. His response: “Exactly! That’s what I love about it!”

This brief discussion about Fool Moon was so eye-opening. I had a much better grasp of what he liked. So even though there have been a few duds along the way, I know exactly what he does and doesn’t like now. Since our last conversation, he has really enjoyed my recommendations of Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series, Richard Kadey’s Sandman Slim, and Gregory Lamberson’s Jake Helman series. Even with the occasional false step, I am much more attuned to what makes him tick as a reader.

Mike continues to surprise me. On his own he picked up Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. I have read and enjoyed this series but was reluctant to recommend it since he had mentioned in the past he really doesn’t like female authors because he doesn’t want any elements of romance, and in his experience female authors tend to do so. In Harrison’s series, there are a few potential love interests for the main character Rachel Morgan in all the books. 

Hallelujah! I am now excited to be able to suggest Patricia Brigg’s Mercedes Thompson series and Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series! Working with Mike has been a great opportunity to fine-tune my RA skills and I have learned just as much from him as he did from me.

Send us some of your favorite RA examples—what someone asked for and what you eventually suggested—and we’ll share them. Or, if you have suggestions for “Mike” or other types of readers, feel free to send us those, too.


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