What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
It’s hard to predict what’s rattling around in the imaginations of authors. I know I never cease to be delighted, impressed and gobsmacked at their creative wordflow. I’ve been seeing fascinating, witty and sobering treatments of our society in demise: part science fiction, part nonfiction, part thriller, part literary drama. These books make readers look at global concerns from ecological, political, medical and political perspectives, dropped into recognizable communities filled with people we all know. The best fiction makes a reader truly understand the impact big-picture issues have on everyday people.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
As much as books such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road scare me, I’m intrigued at how writers think the world will look in 10, 20, 50 years. I loved Emily St. John Mandel’s treatment of this topic in Station Eleven. I laughed at Rachel Cantor’s ideas of the future in A Highly Unlikely Scenario. I’m enthralled with Ben H. Winter’s crime-fiction twist on the end of the world in World of Trouble. And I’m shivering over Josh Malerman’s Bird Box. I could make a reading list and call it “dystopian novels,” but what short shrift I’d be giving these books with that list name. These authors are all looking at a similar subject in unique ways.
I’m also enjoying fiction that explores the ever evolving nature of families—novels that help readers understand the many definitions of what makes a family: California by Edan Lepucki, Lucky Us by Amy Bloom and, for younger readers, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I am now and have always been monumentally bored by the celebrity bio-of-the-moment.
What is unique about libraries in the context of the publishing industry?
Libraries offer publishers what both of us want most—a reading public eager to discover the next great novel/narrative nonfiction book. Librarians love to suggest the right book to the right reader at the right time. Publishers have noticed that libraries are where the readers gather—in the building, on the website—and can get a trusted opinion on “what’s the right book for me, right now.” Our agenda is to promote reading. We’re not going to be judgmental about what our readers like to read. Like the publishers, librarians are happy that the public wants to read.
Anything else you’d like to add?
A friend of mine called me a “literary drug pusher.” That made me laugh and think of Walter White. Can you imagine a world where librarians and publishers are hooking readers up with the very best in books and they can’t wait for your next batch? I can. Nothing dystopian about that.
Kaite Stover is the Director of Readers’ Services for the Kansas City Public Library. She holds master’s degrees in library science and English literature from Emporia State University. Currently, Stover writes the “He Reads, She Reads” column for Booklist magazine with David Wright and “Under the Radar” for Public Libraries with Jessica E. Moyer. She is the co-editor of The Readers’ Advisory Handbook with Moyer has published articles in Reference & User Services Quarterly, Wilson Library Bulletin, Young Adult Library Services, the Kansas City Kansan, INK, and the Kansas City Star. Stover appears regularly as a “book doctor” on KCUR’s Up to Date radio program.