Your Go-To Book

November 6, 2011 at 11:32 am (General, Giveaway) (, , , )

For anyone sensible, the holiday season is still weeks away from beginning.

I, however, work retail, which means our holiday season started last week.

And this year, I’ve decided to ask for YOUR help with it.

You see, I’m the kids and teen expert in our store. It’s my department in a literal sense, as in that’s my job, but it’s also where I love to read. We have a few employees who read scattered books across those sections, but pretty much, I’m the one to go to with any questions. BUT- I’m not always there. Feels like it sometimes, but not actually true. Even when I am there, I’m not always able to go back to help someone if I’m already in the middle of assisting someone else.

So I’m making a cheat sheet of sorts.

One of the biggest things we see in the holidays is people who don’t really know much about the people they’re getting gifts for. Maybe it’s a party, maybe it’s a work gift exchange, or class/club gift exchange, or cousins or nieces and nephews. Maybe it’s that they know the person well, but not their reading tastes, or they know what they like but not what they’ve already read. Usually at that point we recommend a git card, to allow the recipient to choose for themselves, but we get a lot of people who don’t want to be that impersonal. Even if they have to get a gift receipt to allow the person to exchange it, they want a physical book to hand over.

When they know a little, it’s a bit easier to educated recs. A bit. If, for example, what they know is that the person loved Twilight, that doesn’t actually make it easier. Lots of people who loved Twilight don’t like other vampire books. If they can list off several books or series the person has read and enjoyed, I can usually point them towards other things within that vein- or, if the series are separate enough and ones that I enjoyed, I can go from my tastes.

But all too often, we get people who really just have no clue. They know the person likes to read, and when they’re that uninformed about what the recipient likes to read, that’s generally a clue that the gift-giver doesn’t read. Which makes pointing them towards specific books harder, rather than easier. People who don’t read tend to be very distrustful of others telling them to read things, even if you’re not telling them to read it.

So I am looking for everyone’s Go-To Books. The book (or books) that you can rec again and again and again without blinking an eye, the book(s) you think everyone should read. This is the book you can push to those who love to read or to those who hate it. This is the book that, when someone asks you for a rec, is the first thing to jump to your tongue. AND- I’m looking for why.

Pending manager approval, I’m hoping to give our employees access to a notebook that has information about series, about categories of books (i.e. vampire books, angel books, werecreature books, historical fiction books, etc), AND a few pages of these Go-To Books with descriptions and reasons. Things that the employees can familiarize themselves with so that when I’m not available, they can still help the customers who have no idea what they should be searching for.

Despite the vague customer expectation that a bookstore employee must read every book within the store (and honestly, WHERE do they get that idea?!), we all have our sections that we love. The benefit to a group of employees as close as ours is that we know what everyone else reads. If someone is asking me for a horror book, I can name a couple of Go-To Books that our horror readers have told me about (like Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box), but for anything more detailed, I do my best to hand them off to the two people on the staff who read horror. Same with anyone asking about business, law, or current affairs books- we have someone who reads within those sections. Between all of us, we cover a good chunk of the store (I’m kids, teen, and smatterings of mystery, drama/Shakespeare, fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, mythology, history, and science, if that isn’t a combination to blow minds), but we don’t always have immediate access to our experts.

So I’m asking your help! I’ll give an example below, but in the comments, PLEASE tell me about your Go-To Book and why you can rec it to anyone. Just to sweeten the pot, I recently received some swag for Firelight and Vanish by Sophie Jordan, so I’ll throw all the commenters into a hat (or a cat bed, if we’re honest) and pull winners for some of that swag. Please leave your email in the comment so I can actually contact you if you win, and feel free to post about this to others. Comments will be welcome straight through the holiday season, but I’ll draw for swag winners on Sunday, 20 November, which gives two weeks for eligibility for the goodies.

I’m looking for Young Adult and Middle Grade, the more recs the better.

Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead. Lands solidly within the vampire block, but with a strong mythology based off of three different types of vampires. Solid story, strong romances, TONS of action. There is never a dull moment in this book or in this series, and the stakes continually get higher while still allowing payoff on the previous issues. The characters are amazing, especially Rose, our narrator. Rose is an impulsive, uber-protective, self-confident Guardian who throws herself at the world, gets her ass kicked, and promptly dusts herself off and goes on to kick ass in turn. There’s a great blend of funny, of sweet, of bittersweet, and enough romantic angst to satisfy even the most diehard Twihard. A little more geared towards girls than boys (female first person narration and there is some sex, both in talk of it and act of it), but boys willing to get past that would really enjoy the fight sequences and the action, complete with high speed chases, getaways, and prison breaks (later in the series). Six books in the series, complete, with a spin-off series with one book out.

So please, share below! What is YOUR Go-To Book?

Until next time~


  1. Rachele Alpine said,

    This is a great post and I love the idea of “Go To” books. As a high school language arts teacher, I have “go to” books that I give my students. I think the biggest “go to” book for me is Jenny Han’s THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY series. My girls looooooove the books and I’ve probably had at least 40 of them read it during the last two years. If you give someone the first book and the person they give the gift to likes it, they have two more to buy for other occasions. The other books I pass on to both sexes is 13 Reasons Why (although it’s a bit bleak for holiday reading). Girl books that my students love are SOME GIRLS ARE and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. My boys really like BOOT CAMP and RUNNER. I’m anxious to see what every one else suggests!

  2. Supagurl said,

    WOW that is an awesome description! I’m not sure I can hang with that but I will tell you my go to book!

    Nevermore by Kelly Creagh. Anyone who likes YA paranormal romance but doesn’t want the same ole same ole. Edgar Allen Poe, if they enjoy things about him, dark and wicked like his writing. If they are into Goth things, or if they like amazingly real imagery that makes them feel apart of the book they are reading. This is great for boys or girls. NOT all fru fru that boys would be like no thank you and run.


  3. Megan said,

    As a high school student who reads a lot, I have a lot of “Go to” books. One of my biggest is the Harry Potter Series, which is of course by J.K. Rowling. Anyone can read this series because of the great diversity in the plot. There is tons of action, and a bit of mystery as you follow Harry and his friends around on their different adventures. Not to mention the hints of danger that they encounter along the way. Plus, there is the tiniest bit of romance thrown in there along the way, but not enough to discourage anyone who isn’t into a romance kind of story. Also, the characters and situations that Harry encounters at school are extremely easy to relate to for anyone of any age. This series is completed, and has 7 books in total, as well as a few guides to accompany it that you can read if you choose to.
    Another great read is Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones series, but I would recommend this mostly for girls. While there is a lot of action and good old fashioned demon fighting, there is a bit more of a obviously present romantic theme in this series. Hope these recommendations help! I know I’m always looking for more books to read!

  4. Shae said,

    HUNGER GAMES is always an incredible go-to book. The writing is solid and descriptive without being boring; the action goes by quickly enough to keep a reader from being bored but not so quickly that one feels overwhelmed. The danger keeps one’s adrenaline pumping, and the romance is believable and low-key enough to appeal to boys and girls alike. Of course, it may be wise to clue the buyer in to the graphic violence, especially at the very end (poor Cato), just so the buyer doesn’t storm back later and complain that Little Susie had nightmares. However, as most kids can handle (and enjoy) much more than adults believe, HUNGER GAMES remains a solid go-to.

    But what if the buyer says “Little Susie loved Hunger Games, what should I get her now?” In that case, my go-to would be TERRIER by Tamora Pierce. Her world-building is fantastic and her twists are insanely cunning. The protagonist is a girl, but she is more than capable of holding her own with Katniss. There isn’t a lot of romance beyond some idle flirtations with a thief lord (thief lords! another bonus), but the book doesn’t NEED romance. Also, like Hunger Games, TERRIER is followed by two sequels that keep us in touch with the protagonist, but the stakes are raised each time. There’s also a nice “no one is safe” feeling that’s just excellent.

  5. Lena Marsteller said,

    My go to book, would be Nancy Drew, and any one! It doesn’t matter if its Girl Detective, a Nancy Drew file, or a Supermystery with the Hardy boys. Nancy drew is always a fun read and it puts me in a good mood.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: