ChatGPT and Reader’s Advisory

The cover of Programming the Microsoft Bot Framework by Joseph Mayo

I’ve been testing ChatGPT lately and wondered about its ability to perform RA services. So with my Help! I’ve finished the Discworld Novels post in mind I gave it this query:

“Hello ChatGPT1, I really enjoyed the Discworld Novels, but I’ve finished them all! Can you give me some recommendations for what to read next?”

I left it deliberately open. I didn’t ask for details or state how many books I was looking for, and, notably, didn’t say why I enjoyed the Discworld novels.

Here’s the response ChatGPT came back with (Links added by me):

“Certainly! If you enjoyed the Discworld novels, you might also enjoy these other fantasy series:

  1. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss: This series follows the life of Kvothe, a legendary magician and musician. It’s a beautifully written series with a rich and complex world.
  2. The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson: This is an epic fantasy series set in a world of magic, monsters, and political intrigue. It follows the lives of several characters as they try to save their world from destruction.
  3. The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie: This series is a dark and gritty take on the fantasy genre. It follows a group of flawed and morally ambiguous characters as they navigate a world of war, politics, and magic.
  4. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan: This is a classic epic fantasy series that spans 14 books. It follows a group of characters as they try to save their world from an evil force known as the Dark One.
  5. The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson: This series is a complex and sprawling epic fantasy that spans multiple continents and hundreds of characters. It’s a challenging read, but incredibly rewarding for those who stick with it.

I hope you find these recommendations helpful!”

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Literary Homes You Can Buy! (Or Just Visit) 

Have you ever wanted to live in a house that comes with built-in bragging rights? Maybe you’re an aspiring writer hoping to channel the spirits of your literary predecessors. Or maybe you just love historical homes! If you have a few spare million lying around, you’re eligible to snatch up one of these historic properties with literary merit. Let’s check out a few currently on the market, just for funsies, listed in order of absurd prices (and then we’ll come back down to earth and check out some homes we can simply visit.  

Willa Cather’s Birthplace

Location: Gore, Virginia 

Price: $200,000 USD

Though Willa Cather is mainly known for her Great Plains trilogy (O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, and My Ántonia), she was born on this Virginia property in 1873. It was her grandmother’s home, and Cather only lived in it for about a year before her parents relocated to Nebraska. But this old log house still served as inspiration for one of Cather’s novels. Sapphira and the Slave Girl takes place pre-Civil War, on a similar Virginian farm with direct influence from the local mill. The novel, Cather’s last, isn’t one of her best or most well-regarded (one of the more ham-fisted attempts to consider the suffering of enslaved people), but still, historical value! The house is a registered historical landmark but has unfortunately fallen into major disrepair, so whoever purchases it will have to invest thousands more to get it back into shape (seems like the Cather family has set up a GoFundMe).

Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Townhouse 

Location: Marlow, Buckinghamshire, UK 

Price: £830,000 ($1.4 million) 

This idyllic little cottage-style townhouse was the home of literary power couple Mary and Percy Shelley until poor health (and the threat of debtor’s prison) had them uproot to Italy. The house’s particular claim to fame is that Frankenstein was published while the couple lived here, as was Percy’s poem “Mont Blanc.” It also played host to many significant visitors! At the time, the row of townhouses formed one large house dating to the 16th century; it was divided into four smaller homes once the duo left. This date means the building is Grade II listed which, as viewers of British property search shows will know, indicates a protected class that prohibits much remodeling. Judging by the photos, though, it looks absolutely cozy and move-in ready! Perhaps not as goth as Shelley fans might like, but surely those white walls can be painted.  

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Hidden Wonders of Hoopla and Kanopy

I have a sneaking suspicion that the wonders of our digital services remain woefully unknown to too many of VPL’s customers. With the increased cost of platforms like Netflix and the recent return to colder temperatures, I wanted to explore the two main streaming services we provide access to — entirely for free — and provide some recommendations to cozy up with while we wait for warmer days. 


The range of Hoopla’s content might surprise you. There are e-books, audiobooks, movies, and even music. If you haven’t used it before, you will have to sign in through the VPL website here (scroll down to Hoopla). Once you create an account using your library card number and pin, you’re good to go. Here are some titles that have become favourites in my house, available now in no particular order.


Movie poster image for Misbehaviour film.

It’s difficult to sum up the complex story this film tells. I take that as a good sign. The real-life events at its heart are multifaceted and worth reminding audiences of. I will endeavour to do my best, however. In 1970, at the Miss World pageant in London, controversy ran rampant. To begin with, South Africa was allowed to send contestants to compete, which was interpreted as tacit endorsement of apartheid. The decision to have two contestants from South Africa (one white and one black) was also criticized. During the pageant, a group of Women’s Liberation protesters (played in part by Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley) interrupted the televised proceedings, throwing flour in outrage over Bob Hope’s chauvinistic jokes. This would also be the first year that Miss World was won by a black woman: Jennifer Hosten from Grenada (expertly portrayed by Gugu Mbatha-Raw). 

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