Celebrating National Book Month

The photograph shows an open book resting on an outstretched leg, with light and shadows from window blinds playing on the surface.

By Mai-Leng O.

October is a phenomenal month for Fall colors and cool crisp weather. There are myriads of activities one can do during October. Do you know that October is also National Book Month?

When was the National Book Month created?
The first National Book Month was created in 2003 by the National Book Foundation [NBF]. In 1429, the printing press had sparked a revolution that ideas and knowledge can be circulated widely and become more available to the common people. Starting in 1950, the NBF created the first National Book Awards to honor the country’s top authors and greatest books annually. NBF has a mission to celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience and to ensure that books have a preeminent place in the American culture.

What are the categories in the National Book Awards?
During October, the NBF announces the five finalists for each of five categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature. The winners are announced in November.

The goal of the month-long celebration is to encourage the love of reading, writing, and literature. It recognizes the greatest books and authors and to encourage individuals from all walks of life to develop a culture of reading!

How can you celebrate the National Book Month?

  • Visit your local library branch or hclibrary.org to look for great books and authors.
  • Ask library staff for recommendations of great books and authors.
  • Refer to NoveList for good reads.
  • Join a book discussion group to read with others.
  • Attend an author event.
  • Read or write poetry.

Have a delightful October reading and celebrating National Book Month!

Mai-Leng Ong is the Senior Materials Specialist at Howard County Library System. She holds a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Looking for Something New to Read?

Woman in silhouette against green sunny background, look at a book in her hands.
Contactless Pickup at HCLS Glenwood Branch.

By Eliana H.

Do you sometimes wonder what to read next? But now it’s even more difficult because our buildings aren’t open for browsing the stacks? Sometimes I take calls from customers with just those sorts of questions. I and other library staff are always happy to help our community find a good book, but I will admit that it’s not always easy to find the right book. Thankfully, we have NoveList, a tool that can help us answer those “what should I read” questions.

NoveList icon with a person reading a book while sitting in a tree with a orange background.

The great part is YOU can access that tool also! On our Research Tools page, click Book Recommendations, then NoveList, and you’ll find yourself on a Remote Authentication page where you need to enter your library card barcode and PIN (if you’re not sure what these are, visit My Account and use the links below the boxes to have your information emailed to you).

Now, you are inside the treasure trove that is NoveList. Choose from highlighted themes and styles, browse genres by age range, or check out a Recommended Reads List. If you have something specific that you want to match, enter it in the search bar and explore title or author read-alikes.  Maybe you have read all of the books Louise Penny has written, but you’re looking for something that has a similar feel to the Inspector Gamache mysteries. If you enter her name in the search bar, you can choose Title Read-alikes, Author Read-alikes, or Series Read-alikes below any of the books from that series that come up in your results list. Considering any of the “Read-alike” options shows you a list with a brief explanation of what the two items have in common. 

While you’re in NoveList, preview some of the “Recommended Reads Lists” in the left-hand panel. These are fixtures, but staff at NoveList update them periodically. For instance, right now there’s a “Reading During Pandemic” category. Each of the categories has several sub-categories before you get to the actual list. For instance, if you click on “Reading During Pandemic,” you will see “Quarantine Reads: Cozy and Gentle Stories,” “Quarantine Reads: Fast-paced Thrillers,” “Quarantine Reads: Heartwarming Reads,” and “Quarantine Reads: Pandemic Apocalypse Fiction.” You will obviously see very different options across those categories!

Screenshot from within NoveList.

One thing to note is the “Check Availability” button that appears at the bottom of the listing for a title. Unfortunately, HCLS does not own every title listed in NoveList. You can use “Check Availability” to see if we do own it, though, and how many copies are on the shelf. The listing within NoveList only includes print and ebook formats, but you can search in our catalog to see audiobook (including eAudio) options. If you find a listing you want to read that says “Not owned by this library,” you can always take a look in Interlibrary Loan or suggest we add the title to our collection via the purchase suggestion option on our website.

I hope you take the time to explore NoveList and find some great titles to enjoy. Feel free to leave some of your own recommendations for fellow readers in the comments!

Eliana is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).