DIY: 4 Resources for Readers

Need help finding the next good book to read? Long line at the reference desk? Library closed? Chicago Public Library has resources for readers young and old, readers of both fiction and nonfiction.

NoveList is my go-to resource for adult and young adult fiction. In addition to reviews, it provides links to readalikes for the most popular bestsellers on the homepage. One of the best features of NoveList is how it lists books in series. There are multiple ways to look up a book, and if one goes to the bottom of an entry, there is a checklist of appeal terms to help you find readalikes. Of course, there is also a list of books similar to the one you are looking at on the right-hand side of the screen.

NoveList K-8 provides the same services for younger readers. On the appeal checklist, it includes the style of illustration (if applicable) as well as the recommended age range. This resource is good not just for picture books, but also for the chapter book and middle-school set.

If your tastes include nonfiction as well as fiction, Booklist Online is the place to go. While geared mostly towards librarians, this is a good place to go for reviews of the latest books. Booklist Online also spotlights different genres, such as biography and mystery, changing monthly. The "Great Reads" feature is good if you're looking for books on a specific topic, not that much different from the Books Blog posts we do here at CPL. Another nice feature is the inclusion of reviews of audiobooks.

Finally, if you've fallen in love with an author of novels, there's Contemporary Authors. This resource can be searched multiple ways, including by awards. Contemporary Authors includes not only basic biographic and career information, but also sometimes extras like "avocational interests" and email addresses. Perhaps the most helpful feature for readers is "Sidelights." This item gives insights into both the author and their work, including summaries and quotes from reviews. One final note: the scope of Contemporary Authors is writers active in the past 50 years, even if they are now inactive or deceased.

Got more tips for finding that next gem? Let us know in the comments!