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Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Discussion: A Question About Not-Quite Fantasy

Last Monday, I hosted 25 librarians at the BPL for ARRT's Quarterly Book Discussion. I facilitated a discussion of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern wtih a group of people who are already book discussion leaders, and after the discussion we left time to discuss general issues and concerns regarding our individual discussion groups.

A few days later, Marlise from St. Charles Library sent me a question she forgot to ask (although we had touched on it a little).  I told her I would bring it up here on the Monday Discussion.

During the book discussion we talked about what genre The Night Circus belongs to.  Most libraries had the booked shelved with general fiction.  It does have large fantasy elements however.  So then someone asked is it Magical Realism then?  We decided as a group that the fantasy elements were too strong for it to be classified as magical realism, but they were too soft for a pure fantasy label.

Eventually, we left this string of the conversation dangling a bit and ended it by listing other books that fit this similar gray area.

Which leads me to Marlise.  She went home and thought about it some more and realized that for this type of book, she normally describes it as "fantastical" to patrons.  But she wanted to ask me (and others) what terms we use.

This is a great question because genre blending has gotten so out of control, that the genre words are often rendered meaningless to describe a book to a patron.

So what do I say. Here are words I have used to describe these books: "not quite fantasy," "fantasy-lite," "fantasy-esque."

What about you? How do you handle these popular "fantastical" titles. For today's Monday Discussion let me know what words or phrases you use.

On a side note, we have no heat at the BPL and are closed as of 10:30. 

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

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