For years here on the blog I have talked about getting to the “why” people like a book through appeal terms. It is not plot that determines whether or not someone loves a book. Nope, not even a little. Don’t believe me? Here’s an exercise I do with people in my training sessions:
Think about a book you love. An all time favorite or a recent good read. Now think about the plot, what happens in the story....
Okay, now think about a bunch of books you have enjoyed over the years. Just let them come to mind. Now, stop. Raise your hand if every single book you thought of has the same plot as that first book?I haven’t seen a hand go up yet....ever.
It is the things other than plot which dictate whether or not you like it. It is the overall feel of the book, its appeal. Those appeal factors are in the categories of pacing, character, storyline style, tone, mood, frame etc... Those adjectives I talk about with my “three words” in my reviews. Those appeal terms are also something you can search by in NoveList
But there are things that do show up in many of the stories that a single person may enjoy. These are things that, while not exactly plot, do tie in with the plot. Things like “suburban malaise” or “friends to lovers.” Themes that frame a story and are specifically tied with the plot without completely defining “what happens.”
People have asked me for years in my training sessions how they can search for these. All I would offer was keyword searching to capture those themes as mentioned in reviews, knowing that this was imperfect because individual reviewers would use different phrasing; it would not be a standard language. However, for a while now, I have known that NoveList has been working on adding these themes to their databases, standardizing the language, and tagging everything to make it all searchable. Late last week, it was finally unveiled.
I have also added “themes” as a tag here on the blog and will write about themes and how to use them to match readers with books more often, especially now that I know there is a resource for it.
Even if you do not subscribe to NoveList, I think the concepts they present in the announcement below can be used to help you help patrons. Just thinking about theme as an entry point into a “good read” for a patron is another conversation starter for your RA interactions.
Here is that announcement with links to contact them for more information and it is reposted [with permission] below.
Product update: Themes
|Magnified Appeal and Themes|
Appeal terms are a signature feature of NoveList, and since their introduction in 2010 have been helping librarians and readers around the world find books based on style and mood.
We like to think of appeal terms as the secret language of books, all the ways a book speaks to a reader and lingers long after it’s been returned to the library. Of course, great book recommendations aren’t about appeal alone. They’re about how all the elements of a story fit together and create something special. Appeal, genre, and -- the newest addition to NoveList -- theme.
Themes are popular and recurring plot elements found in fiction -- think ‘chosen ones’ in fantasy or fake relationships in romance. You’ll see them in NoveList with the genre and appeal terms of a book.
NoveList librarians have been hard at work researching and developing themes, and we can’t wait to see what books themes guide you to discover.
We want your readers to be excited, too, so we also created a series of bookmarks in LibraryAware with popular titles, their story elements, and reading recommendations for those story elements.