Pop Culture Readers’s Advisory: The Flash


The Flash is a hit, and one of my new favorites. It’s the story of Barry Allen, a slightly nerdy forensic scientist who finds himself with super speed due to a lightning strike and some scientific irregularities. Barry isn’t the only one who was changed that night and not everyone wants to use their powers for good. Add in some unrequited(?) love, a team of super smart scientists, and a whole bunch of secrets and there’s plenty to jump off from for readers’ advisory.

As I was working this list a common theme became characters that are in extraordinary situations who might be in over their heads and probably don’t have the whole story.


Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson

heroHero by Perry Moore


Adaptation by Malinda Lo


Sight by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

boy nobody

Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff

last thingThe Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan

how to lead

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller


The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson


Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan



Pop Culture Reader’s Advisory:The Big Bang Theory


Love it or hate it a lot of people are watching it and that makes it a great place to start for some reader’s advisory. Outsiders, science, and fandom ahoy. Just some ideas to jump start your lists, displays, and more!

Finding Yourself for the Nerds, Geeks, and Gifted


The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller


Winger by Andrew Smith


Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern


Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar


The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga


An Abundance of Katherines by John Green



Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

basherExtreme Physics by Simon Basher


A Black Hole is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami Decristofano

or for older readers


Death by Black Hole by Neil DeGrasse Tyson


Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share by Ken Denmerd

Comics, Fandom, and Popular Culture


DC Comics Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle 

or any DK guide to comics or sci-fi.


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


For the Win (or anything else) by Cory Doctorow


Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant

Many of the “and Philosophy” books would work


Redshirts by John Scalzi

Pop Culture Readers’ Advisory: Switched at Birth


Switched at Birth is and ABC Family drama about two teenage girls who discover they were switched as babies. Bay Kennish was raised by the wealthy family of a former professional athlete, while Daphne Vasquez lived with a struggling single mother. Despite an illness that left Daphne deaf at a young age she enjoys sports and cooking, while Bay’s art talents include both street art and more traditional forms.

Books that will appeal to fans of Switched at Birth might include books with deaf or hard of hearing characters, books with teens adjusting to new or unexpected family situations, stories of false or mistaken identity, and non-fiction related to Bay and Daphne’s interests.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing Characters

five flavors

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John


Read My Lips by Teri Brown


Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby


The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Burke


New and Unexpected Family Situations, False and Mistaken Identity blacksheep

The Black Sheep by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout


The Lying Game by Sara Shepherd


The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding


The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal


Non-Fiction Books Switched at Birth Might Spark an Interest In: 


American Sign Language Dictionary by Martin Sternberg


 Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art by Carlo McCormick, Marc Schiller, Sara Schiller, Ethel Seno


Street Knowledge by King Adz


The Truck Food Cookbook by John T. Edge


Frida Kahlo: 1907-1954 Pain and Passion by Andrea Kettenmann

hopeIn These Girls, Hope is a Muscle by Madeleine Blais

Outstandingly Useful: Outstanding Books for the College Bound

Every five years YALSA and ACRL collaborate on Outstanding Books for the College Bound. Committee members select the best non-fiction, fiction, and poetry in five different academic areas. This time around some of my librarian friends were involved in the process and I really started to think about how useful this list could be, even if it often doesn’t get as much buzz as the yearly selection lists and awards.

First, it helps us do non-fiction reader’s advisory which can be a challenge for most of us. The gap in quality non-fiction on academic subjects  between highly illustrated books whose complexity is more suitable for upper elementary students and adult materials is real.

That’s not to say that nothing exists, or that there is anything wrong with the high interest pop culture books we also need,  but it can be challenging to serve the serious teen non-fiction reader. The OBCB list not only helps us serve these readers looking for the next step of reading, but it gives us the tools to turn open-minded readers onto reading non-fiction for pleasure.

The YALSA report The Future of Library Services For and With Teens points out teens need libraries that “Leverage teens’ motivation to learn.”  It states that “Libraries live outside of a school’s formal academic achievement sphere and offer a space where interest based learning can occur in a risk-free environment.” Watching teens develop what may become lifelong interests and supporting them with the information and resources they need is one of my favorite parts of being a teen librarian.

The OBCB list is an amazing tool to do just that. Imagine introducing a young math whiz to Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t or placing a hold on a copy of Eula Biss’s Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays for a budding activist. Broadening a young person’s sense of a subject beyond the parameters of the classroom into real world applications is one of the greatest motivators for learning.

Finally, the OBCB gives us another tool to open communication with schools and teachers. Growing emphasis on non-fiction and increased pressure for students to read across the curriculum provides an excellent opportunity for public and school librarians to promote our collections and develop partnerships with classroom teachers. Having a vetted list of titles to offer, one developed along with ACRL colleagues, is a great starting point.

Binge Watching? How About Binge Reading? Finished Series to Binge On.


With DVD box sets and streaming services more and more people, especially young people, are binge watching. Binge watching is exactly what it sounds like: watching a lot of episodes of a show at the same time. Binge watchers will often watch an entire season of a show back to back.

So, how do we harness this energy for books? By reading an entire series start to finish! You can use this idea for a book display, book list, lock-in, or even for book discussion if you have some hard core readers.  Here are ten finished* series to get you started.


Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter


Divergent by Veronica Roth


Delirium by Lauren Oliver


The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater


Curse Workers by Holly Black


Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness


Hourglass by Myra McEntire


Summer Series by Jenny Han


Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach


Jessica Darling by Megan McCafferty

More binge reading?  Try Lauren Kate’s Fallen, Condie’s Matched, Dashner’s Maze Runner, Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Artemis Fowl, or if you have a few months Naylor’s Alice series.  There are a ton of great options for any kind of binge reader.

*We all know that “finished” is a little questionable these days with e-novellas, companion books, and authors writing follow-ups ten years later, but we’ll go with it for now.