by Brianne Anderson

“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read." — Abraham Lincoln

By far one of the best parts of our job as librarians is getting to recommend books. Don’t get us wrong, we love the satisfaction of helping someone discover a link to an ancestor, or helping kids find just the right source for their school paper, but the absolute best feeling is when we get to walk the shelves, pulling out our favorite titles and describing them to patrons. Our goal at APL is to be just like Abraham Lincoln’s best friend (except including women, too!) and be the people who help you find your next great read.

We do know, however, that not everyone can make it into the library every time they need a new book recommendation, so the next time you need a suggestion, try our Next Reads Newsletters.

Next Reads Book Newsletters are like a golden treasure arriving in your email inbox every single month. Open to find all kinds of gems and valuables that can entertain you for hours. Each newsletter is themed based on genre, age, etc. and you can pick which ones you’d like to subscribe to. Choose from lists on recent New Your Times Bestsellers, History and Current Events, books made into movies, Mystery, Christian Fiction, and so much more! Signing up is easy; head to and click the box next to every newsletter you’d like to receive. Submit your email and you are on your way to amazing monthly recommendations. When you receive your newsletters you can click on whatever book you want to read to go straight to it in our catalog and place a request.

Genre and bestseller lists are always helpful, but I want to give a shout-out to some of our special Next Reads. Back in March of 2021, APL created a new collection of books and materials called the “Black Book Nook.” The goal of this collection is to foster education and community engagement with Black history, thought, literature, and culture and was created through a partnership between Ames Public Library and the Iowa State University Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This special collection is full of information and perspectives celebrating the black community. One of our Next Reads newsletters focuses on the Black Book Nook and highlights a handful of great books from the collection. A newsletter like this is a perfect way to explore a specialized collection because you can focus on just a small section at a time to discover amazing titles and authors.

A super common conundrum we find down in the youth department is a parent who has been sent to the library to find books for their child to read, but they are stumped as to what to get—especially if their child is a voracious reader. Next Read newsletters to the rescue! Try our “Teen Scene” or “Books for Kids and Tweens” lists to find lots of suggestions. These lists are great because they don’t just include brand new things, but also highlight some other specialty each month. Sometimes it may be older, excellent titles that might have gotten missed, or maybe a specific genre like thrillers or historical fiction. Place some or all on request directly from the newsletter and come home the hero with a stack of great books for your kids to discover.

If you are one of those people who really don’t want more email, fear not! Recent issues of each newsletter are posted on our website for you to click through and enjoy as frequently as you want. And remember, we love making friends by recommending amazing books, so feel free to stop into APL any time and ask us in person. We are here to help!