First Thoughts on ALA

This newsletter saying good-bye to 2015 titles is slim, owing to my work at the American Library Association conference in San Francisco. Some first thoughts, drawn from the panels I have scallymoderated. It’s astonishing how a panel that can seem as disparate as United for Libraries’ “Beyond Genre,” with three memoirs, a book of photographs (with a great slide show, starting the panel), and a Shakespeare Star Wars audiobook mash-up (with a great performance by two of the voiceover artists, ending oit) could end up fitting together so perfectly: Michelle Tea’s How To Grow up: A Memoir, Shannon Kopp’s Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman’s Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life, and Clara Benson, No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love & Wandering.

“Zombies, Vampires, and Spooks—Oh My!” was originally going to be more horror-struck—certainly true with Mira Grant’s Parasite and Amy Lukavics’s Daughters unto Devils. But as Catherine Linka said of her plausible feminist dystopia, A Girl Undone, sequel to A Girl Called Fearless, she saw that her book fit in because it’s society that’s monstrous. And on the “First Book, First Author” panel, Val Brelinski, author of The Girl Who Slept with God, whose novel recalls her upbringing by evangelical Christians in Idaho and who spoke gratefully of how much libraries helped her escape her enclosed world, also expressed gratitude that—bucking the common wisdom—none of her fellow first authors was a youngster.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.