Book people are some of the best people, and NetGalley members are in a class all their own. Our community is rich with reviewers, book trade professionals, librarians, booksellers, educators, journalists and members of the media who excel at helping books succeed and promoting a love of reading. Each month, we like to take a moment to highlight these members and share their stories, tips, and recommendations with you.
This month, we’re pleased to introduce Rachel Strolle, a teen librarian and the book blogger behind Rec-It Rachel!
NetGalley Discovery: Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker
Fictional Character: From books, Remus Lupin. From other media, Leslie Knope.
Fictional Library: I would say Belle’s library in Beauty and the Beast for aesthetic purposes, but I’m guessing all of those books are in French, which is not a language I read. Therefore, I’m gonna cheat and say the library in Ashley Poston’s Bookish and the Beast.
Most Anticipated 2020 Release: For YA, Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia. For middle grade, Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia.
Book You’d Love to See Adapted: I’d love Leah Johnson’s upcoming You Should See Me in a Crown as a movie (prom rom-coms are the best teen movies, I don’t make the rules), and Aiden Thomas’ upcoming Cemetery Boys as a graphic novel.
What’s your blog’s origin story? When and how did it start?
I started Rec-It Rachel in 2017, but I’d been in the book world prior to that. I started as an intern at a bookstore in 2012 (and was hired part-time the same year), and began working on my master’s degree in library science in 2015. I started the blog mostly because I wanted a more concrete place to put my book lists outside of Twitter threads.
What are your favorite genres to read and review?
If I could only read one genre forever it would be historical fantasy. I read pretty much everything except for adult horror (I am a wimp—I cannot do it), though the things that take me the most time to read are adult fiction and mysteries.
Current social distancing measures have led to the cancelation of book tours and conventions, which can be particularly tough on debut authors. You’ve been hosting Instagram live interviews with a lot of them. Can you tell us more about that?
I did a series of about 14 Instagram live interviews and am now working on 31 virtual panels that have 3-6 authors each. The worst part about missing out on in-person book events is that, no matter how many people are in attendance, there’s this beautiful sense of community. People who all love books, or all love this author, or are excited about this book, all came out to this event! It’s a cool thing, and so having all of that go poof is sad all around.
Instagram interviews were a thing that I knew I could do that would be relatively low-key, so that’s where I started. Then for the virtual panels, I was trying to think of things I could do that would accomplish two main goals: fulfilling the middle school/high school outreach part of my job as a public librarian, and supporting authors and books during this time. And thus the panels were born!
As you mentioned, you’re also a teen librarian! What are some things readers can do right now to help libraries affected by COVID-19 pandemic closures?
If your library has digital libraries and you have yet to use them, start! Whether it’s Overdrive/Libby, Hoopla, or something else, if you’ve got your library card, make sure you’re signed up for an account on those digital sites and apps, and try checking out an e-book or audiobook.
If you get emails from your library, read through them and share on social media one cool thing your library is doing during the closure. Shout-out your favorite librarian on the library’s Facebook page!
Your blog title, Rec-It Rachel, shows off your prowess as a master book recommender. What do you think is the key to a good book recommendation? When it comes to motivating your followers or your library patrons to read and enjoy reading, what techniques or strategies have you found to be most effective?
The key to a good book recommendation doesn’t necessarily lie within the person giving the rec, because the most successful recs are those that take the audience into account. If it’s something on a blog, it’s going to be slightly more general, because you’re providing material that is not necessarily the answer to a direct question, and it has a wider audience. If it’s face-to-face, the style changes based on the person: If I’m recommending the same YA book to two different people—one a parent shopping for their teen, and one who is a teen—I’ll talk about different things. With parents, I’ll bring up if the book won an award, or thematic elements that a reader might get out of the book. With teens, it’s all about plot and feelings: What’s going to make them want to keep reading? Is the ship addictive? Is there a murderer hiding in plain sight?
Which upcoming books on NetGalley are you most excited about recommending to your followers and patrons?
I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch, Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest, I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick, and Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.
How has being a NetGalley member impacted your role as a librarian, and the books you’re able to recommend to patrons?
NetGalley makes it easy for me to grab books quickly for my iPad. I’m able to discover stuff that I might not already know about (especially in the middle grade and adult genres).
You manage the social media for YALLWEST. How did you first get involved and what is your favorite part of being a member of the YALLWEST team?
I helped out at YALLFEST last year with the YA Smackdown, and then was asked if I’d like to run social media for YALLWEST. My favorite part is that the whole thing has felt like a big hug, even when we had to drop the bad news about the event being canceled. The community is so strong and supportive, and it’s just a magical experience.
(Psst: This year YALLWEST is YALLSTAYHOME, a virtual event taking place on April 25 and 26!)
How do you organize your TBR list? Do you have separate lists for your librarian role and your blogger role?
Hahahahhaha. The TBR mountain does not let foolish mortals organize it.
Your very cute dog Winston makes a lot of appearances on your blog and social media. What literary character is Winston most like?
The goat in Emily Lloyd-Jones’ the Bone Houses.
Thanks for chatting with us, Rachel!
Thanks for highlighting this YA librarian. I take my kids to several libraries, and the YA librarian often has the most passion and excitement. Clearly the case here too. I’ll definitely be checking out her blog.