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Monday, September 18, 2017

Understanding the Complex Appeal of "Girl” Thrillers

Look, I know you are all sick of books being called the next Gone Girl or the next Girl on the Train, and we could all use a break from the word “girl" in the title, but I also want to caution you all to not get so caught up in being sick of this trend that you lose sight of the fact that it is still a trend and patrons still absolutely love these books.

Seriously, it is still a huge trend, but often we are too busy poo-pooing the trend still being here that we forget to keep the patron’s experience in mind. There are reasons beyond the word “girl” appearing in the title that keep bringing people back to these titles again and again. We have to keep asking ourselves that question-- Why do readers continue to love these stories?

The reasons of course, differ for each reader, but when a trend stays around this long [it’s been 5 years and 3 months since Gone Girl first came out], there are still people coming to it with fresh eyes all of the time.  We need to stop being “too cool for school” for a few moments and remember that if this is what readers want, we need to help them find more they will enjoy, and we need to do it without rolling our eyes.

Thanks to my friend and colleague, Stephen Sposato, I read this article last week in Bustle entitled, “Why Do We Love To Read “Girl” Thrillers So Much? Experts Day It’s About More Than Suspense.”

The article is excellent and well researched. Many librarians were consulted to try to figure out why these books have such staying power. Conclusions such as the way the story is told and how these books serve as a bell ringer of the scary times we live in, were only a couple among many insightful appeal assessments. The article also talks at length about how not new this trend is.

Read it now. I promise it is worth the 10 minutes it will take you. Not only will it allow you to look at a trend you are sick of with fresh eyes so that you regain that enthusiasm to help a reader looking for more of these books, but also I bet many of you will be inspired to run out and create fresh readalike lists and displays featuring the “Girl” books that just last week you thought, “If I never see one of these books again it will be too soon.”

I hope you also take this one trend example of how important it is for us to hold back our judgement when it comes to our patrons. We may be sick of a trend because we see it from start to finish, but patrons come to us with a completely different background and context. They are only looking for a good book, a good story, one featuring the things they like. They don’t need our judgment and baggage.

The entire “Girl” trend, its staying power, and our attitude about it should be a warning. Trends like this keep us in business people. No one can afford to buy all of these books, but yet, everyone can’t stop reading them. Seems like a sweet spot which we fit into perfectly. Let’s embrace our place in the giant “Girl” machine.

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