Sunday, March 14, 2010

Secret Shopper - Readers Advisory

I went to a library on the west side of town today, one I've never visited before. I found a sign for "Adult Reference" and made my way over. Two gentleman sat at side-by-side desks and I moseyed over and landed right between the two. Gentleman #1 looked up first (I didn't have to wait long) and asked me if he could help me.

Well, I wanted to mix things up a bit. Instead of asking for a recommendation for a "good" book, I asked for a "fun" one (heh). And the look on his face - it was pure "oh, crap" for a good five seconds. He shook himself out of it, and asked with good-natured sarcasm if my idea of a fun read was Abyssinian archaeology (which was clearly his idea of a good read). Then he asked me what my idea of "fun" was. I mentioned a TV show I've been watching called Leverage, which he actually heard of (so I didn't have to explain that it's a show about theives who start playing Robin Hood). I also mentioned Ocean's 11, heists, and funny as examples of what I'm looking for.

Ok, let me start by saying that I didn't hate this experience, the librarian was very nice and that counts for a lot in my book, and he did provide me with information. Unfortunately, he wasn't really on the mark with his response. I was hoping for a fun caper-style book, something where the crooks are the good guys and the "victims" are the real crooks, and they do all kinds of clever and twisty things that you don't understand until they reveal it at the end (see, I had a plan - I was all ready to be very specific if I was given the chance). Alas, I didn't get a chance to say any of that before he was "helping me." I think he figured that the closest he could come to a fun heist book was with a cozy mystery. He told me that he'd created a book list for cozy mysteries - or mystery-lite - and mentioned that these were often humorous and had less sex and violence than the regular mysteries. He went off to print off the sheet (titled "Cozy/Amateur Mystery Authors"). He mentioned two of the authors, and that one (or both) had stories where cats solved the crime. (I have no idea how he went from George Clooney to cats, but whatever.)

He took me over to the mystery section and pointed out a few titles that matched authors from his list and then he left me to it. All told, I think this lasted only five minutes. Then, because I wasn't sure if he'd come back and check on me (I didn't want to just leave after that, I was supposed to be looking for a book), I spent at least 10 minutes searching for something to take home. But when you're given a list of authors and then go searching the stacks, it's not exactly easy to find things. Most of these authors write in series, and it seems that few of these smaller branch libraries have all of the books in each series. I got close a few times to picking something, only to find out it was book eight. So I did leave with two books: Big Foot Stole My Wife and Other Stories by Joan Hess and The Xibalba Murders by Lyn Hamilton. Both authors were on his list, but neither were heisty.

Final Grade: B- (mostly for attitude)


  1. It sounds to me almost like he judged you as a cozy reader immediately because you are a pretty young female. Cozy mysteries are nothing like the TV shows you mentioned. I think you are being too nice to this guy Rachel.

  2. Yep, me too. Way too nice. Attitude was presumptuous and patronizing.

    I wonder if he's friends with our visitor to the last class. I put this in the fail column (I have spreadsheet going).