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Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Fiction to Nonfiction Recs: A List from Book Riot and Why I Think You Should Do This More Often

I frequently write and lecture about matching books based on why someone would like it, not what happens in the plot. This opens you up to making better suggestions to potential readers. Plot is a bad way to match books. 

A recent Book Riot list however, made me realize another important book suggestion stumbling block that  I often hint at, but don't say directly often enough, is that you should not be afraid to suggest Nonfiction to someone who enjoyed a Fiction title.

That list is literally Bestselling Novel to It's Nonfiction Readalike. Check out the list and explanations for each readalike. All of it serves as a reminder to do this for any popular book. You can use the actual matches the list to make a display or list of your own, or to use the titles as a back pocket suggestion.

But this post should also be a reminder that too often we think in silos. Some of it is not our fault. Our structure creates those silos. We separate books by age range and fiction from nonfiction. While this makes it easier for browsing, it also puts up mental barriers as we think about vs books to readers. We should always be considering our entire collections when we are helping readers find books-- whether that is with active conversation or through our passive RA (lists and displays).

I know many of you already consider nonfiction for your crime readers and/or historical fiction fans, but as this list illustrates, there are more opportunities to make these fiction to nonfiction suggestions. Even for Colleen Hoover! Not only are you helping readers to find books they will enjoy but could never have found without your help, but also, you are helping some forgotten titles to circulate. With the nonfiction stacks containing so many more books, often some great nonfiction titles get lost in the stacks.

Another positive, when we move our patrons across our entire collection to find items for their leisure needs, we are literally reminding them of everything the library has to offer. Moving people physically out of their regular stops is key to library services. You think we often forget to suggest things from other areas, patrons are even worse at remembering. Set the example that the entire library is there with options they will be sure to enjoy by stepping outside of the fiction box for them. Be the example and they will follow.

Once you use this list to make a display or give suggestions, I bet you will have requests to keep it going. Give it a try. And make it interactive by asking for more suggestions to add to the fiction-nonfiction readalikes. You can encourage people to add their suggestions if you post the list online or leave a suggestion box or a place to leave post-it notes near your physical displays. 

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