Sunday, June 11, 2017

Program preview

Once again I have a book-pitch-based adult program coming up.  It involves wine and always maxes out the wait list-- if you want to bring it to your library, I'm happy to share my formula.  These are the books that didn't make the cut, in the order I held them*.

In addition to keeping a running list of "cool" or "program-useful" books as I encountered them, I went through and looked at all the books I've used for this program series before.  Then I hit up NoveList and charted the appeal terms that occurred most among books that had circulated the most.

Top appeal terms were international, character-driven, sympathetic, women’s lives and relationships, contemporary, historical, engaging, lyrical, and compelling.  Most books on my possibilities list scored 2-3.  Scores of the definite nos below are noted parenthetically.

All that man is by David Szalay.  In my flip through, I can’t find a reason to invest emotionally.  This reads like a sequence of reported events, only told.  (1)

Those girls by Chevy Stevens.  Reads as sort of lacking in dimension.  Sentences are uniformly short and characters don’t have much depth.  (1)

Solar express by L.EModesitt, Jr.  The first sentence is a paragraph long.  Others look equally difficult to parse, due to messy comma usage and odd phrasing.  “But then, he’d never had to deal with thePolicia Espacial, because all the FusExburners fell under the authority of DOEA, with all pilots holding officers’ commissions, and the pilots and other DOEA personnel used the high-speed magline to and from ONeill Station, both under DOEA, as opposed to the elevator’s standard climbers and main station, which were under the authority of the Sudam AES, and the Policia Espacial, who tended to be somewhat excessively enthusiastic in dealing with those of an Angle background” (p.15).  450 pages of pretty small print, difficult to read—I can’t do that to a program volunteer.  (0)

The second chances of Priam Wood by Alexander Rigby.  I remember that I had very high hopes for this, and that I skimmed it and left myself a disappointed and cryptic note.  Sentences are a bit muddled—commas instead of semicolons, fragments interspersed with full sentences—and the second chapter is a “here are the rules of this universe” where the dead character meets his dead dog who explains the (afterlife/book’s premise) to him.  Trite.  (0)

Memoirs of a polar bear by Yoko Tawada.  A little too surreal, not really believable.  (1)

The fever by Megan Abbott.  I can't figure out why this book is in Adult instead of YA-- flipping through the first half, all the main and secondary characters are teens and it's set in a high school.  I may have some difficulty selling that to 50 adults, most of them 45+.  (1)

The reckoning stones by Laura DiSilverio.  This seems good for a suspense novel (I tend to find them lacking in depth) but suspense doesn't usually need a circ boost.  I'm not finding anything to make it really stand out.  (1)

City of savages by Lee Kelly.  A slow-moving, character-focused post-apocalyptic story: definitely has promise. But the main characters seem to be to teen sisters, so I’ll pass on it for this program. (1)

Her by Harriet Lane.  I think it’s supposed to be languid and maybe stuck with ennui, but it just seems kind of… whiny.  (1)

The winter war by Philip Teir.  I have a hard time with books about unhappy people who make risky or selfish decisions.  The parts that illustrate the unhappy family life feel like wallowing.  It’s hard to be sympathetic to the character; take some responsibility. (3)

Untouchable by Ava Marsh.  Traditional suspense set-up but from a different angle.  Good—I may be interested enough to add it to my TBR list—but explicit sex scene in chapter 2 makes it hard to sell to large groups.  [oo, I forgot to write down this score.  I'm guessing a (2)]

A change of heart by Sonali Dev.  I browsed this one a little more heavily (after being so disappointed when I finally read all of The Bollywood affair), and although it is still a little unrefined, it seems better.  I forgot that I did use a book by this author in a previous program, so I’ll not double up. (2)

The well by Catherine Chanter.  I’m still sort of personally interested, but for something sorta-suspense-y, sorta-dystopian, I have better choices on my cart.  (2)

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch.  Written in second person from an (as far as I can surmise) unidentified narrator.  Not for mass consumption?  (2)

Burning down George Orwell’s house by Andrew Ervin.  Maybe a good readalike for A man called Ove?  But some readers may not like all the f-bombs; when even I notice the frequency, the author may be using them a little bit liberally.  (1)

The last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron. Much better than anything by Jean Auel, but pre-history historical fiction fans are probably fewer; easier to sell something set a little more recently.  The historical sections are quite elegant, if frank, but the modern-set chapters feel unpolished.  (3)

Fancy by Jeremy M. Davies.  There’s no description, no silent narration to the reader; it’s nonstop talking from a character to another character.  A little too out-there.  It’s like reading a play or screenplay, but without the stage directions, and it’s a one-man show.  (2)

*last time I shared my program run-through, I alphabetized the list, but that doesn't actually make much sense in this context, because not only do I look at each book individually but I also have to look at how the 6 (will) fit together, so what I pick up and the order I grab them in seems to have an impact.  

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