1. Awards and their short-lists are a great place to find suggestions for literary fiction fans. For example, I enjoy literary fiction, and after writing my reader profile as an example for my class a few years ago, I found that many of my favorite books had either won or been nominated for the Man Booker Prize. You would think I would have noticed this on my own, but no. I was shocked by how many of these books I had read and enjoyed without consciously trying to read from the prize list.
Ever since I discovered this about my own reading, I have made it a point to consider specific awards as a unique appeal factor for literary fiction fans. In fact, at the BPL, we offer our Holds Without Hassle patrons to identify favorite awards for an automatic hold, in addition to a specific author.
What is great about using lists of award winners and nominees is that there are many books to choose from. Here are some links to the prizes that I have found work as suggestion lists for patrons besides the Man Booker:
- Pulitzer Prize: includes fiction and nonfiction and I have found, they have the widest appeal; here is the direct link to all past winners
- PEN Faulkner: for American authors; current nominees just announced
- Indie Next List: although not an actual award, Indie Bound has a great track record of singling out books every month. You can access an archive that goes back to July of 2008 by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom.
- National Book Award
- National Book Critics Circle Award
Again, please remember that it is not just the CURRENT list of nominees that you should consider. Use the archives on each of their web pages to access hundreds of worthy reading suggestions.
And now there is a new player in town. Beginning at this year's Book Expo America in May, there will be a new award, The Independent Booksellers Choice Awards. Click here to read the Book Group Buzz post where I originally learned about this award.
2. Don't forget short stories for literary fiction readers. They are among the patrons most interested in collections, especially those by up-and-coming authors. To get you started, click on over to this list of the "Top 20 Short Stories of 2010."
3. Whether or not a literary fiction reader is in a book club, lists of book discussion favorites is also a reliable place to find suggestions for these patrons. The best place to find lists of book club picks that goes back a few years is on ReadingGroupGuides.com. Use the "Find a Guide" tab to access their many lists.
4. Finally, and I have mentioned this before, don't forget about books, both fiction and nonfiction, about writers for literary fiction readers. Again, I was reminded of this due to the media blitz for The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, which is a novelization about the life of Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson. Click here to read more about the book and its author. It appears The Paris Wife may become as popular as Nancy Horan's novel about Frank Lloyd Wright's mistress, Loving Frank, was a few years ago.
Let me know if you have any more strategies for helping literary fiction readers.