I happily select adult fiction for the library, so I’ll mention a few trends I’ve seen in that area.
The popularity of The Hunger Games led to an explosion in YA dystopian novels, and it’s spread to adult fiction, too. There are several notable, recent titles, like The Bees (2014) by Laline Paull, California (2014) by Edan Lepucki (yes, this is the one promoted by Stephen Colbert), and Station Eleven (2014) by Emily St. John Mandel. On the other end of the spectrum, our readers perennially love the mystery and romance series that return to the same town with each new title. Despite the disparity between these genres, I think readers appreciate the focus on setting and the sense of community that is built in these stories, whether it’s due to proximity or survival.
Books that have appeal for Downton Abbey fans have been popular for a while now, but the 100th anniversary of World War I this year has caused even more interest in historical fiction from that era. Historical fiction in general has seen more circulation, especially if it’s a great book group discussion title. I can’t wait for Ashley Weaver’s Murder at the Brightwell, a 1930s romantic mystery, to come out. I know a lot of our patrons are going to enjoy it.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I love books with dual past and present storylines that tie together, and it’s even better when there’s some time travel involved. I’m hoping the new TV show based on Outlander will inspire more fiction like this. I can’t wait for the sequel to The River of No Return (2014) by Bee Ridgway. I’d also like to see more quirky humorous fiction—titles like Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2013) and Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project (2014). I want more spy thrillers starring smart, strong female characters. Stella Rimington’s Liz Carlyle series is my go-to recommendation for anyone looking for a thriller, and I’d like more titles like this.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I’m sure this isn’t unique or surprising, but I really don’t need to read any more vampire fiction for a while, although I still welcome stories with unique alternate worlds. I always look forward to a new Patricia Briggs or Ilona Andrews book.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
I love the library’s role of introducing readers to new books and authors. We can easily send patrons off with a stack of books they might like, and they’re often willing to try something new to them if we’ve recommended it. It’s so exciting to make those connections—there’s nothing better than hearing back from a patron that they loved a book recommendation and want another.
Anything else you’d like to add?
A useful tool in making those recommendations has been the LibraryReads list, the public library version of the American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next list. Library staff can nominate pre-pub adult titles, and each month the top 10 books with the most nominations are featured on a published list. It’s a great list to hand to patrons looking for something good to read, and it’s given some fantastic books more visibility.
Melissa DeWild is the collection development manager at Kent District Library, an 18-branch public library system in Michigan, where she oversees the central selection of materials and electronic resources. She is also an instructor for the online Association for Library Collections & Technical Services’ course Fundamentals of Collection Development & Management, and is a founding steering committee member of LibraryReads. She was recently named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker. Find Melissa on Twitter at @meldewild.