readers advisory for all discussion

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HOW TO POST A QUERY > everything you need to know

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message 1: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
so this is all information that can be found elsewhere on various threads, but it was pointed out to me that it is a bit scattered and potentially frustrating for new members. sorry about that! so here is everything, grouped together.

it may look like a lot, but it will really be useful and will make your overall experience better.

to get the best match when requesting a particular type of book, it is recommended that you use this template, or as much of it applies to your needs. it may seem awkward at first, but it has proven to be a helpful way of breaking down books into manageable descriptive chunks. DON'T BE SCARED! this is all to help you out in the end.

a lot of this is intuitive and you probably do some of this unconsciously already in your reviews or when you are recommending books to other people. it is not intimidating!


message 2: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
subject headings vs. appeal factors

subject headings are basically the nouns used to catalog the book. so, something like the sun also rises might have subject headings such as: spain, bullfighting, expatriates, etc.

appeal factors are more nebulous and difficult to pin down. these make up the "feel" of the book.

sun also rises would be spare, waywardness, sadness, dissoultion etc..

you see?? i will discuss appeal factors much more thoroughly, because they make up the bulk of RA work. subject headings are not always helpful when helping someone choose a book. saricks uses an excellent example, which i will shamelessly cite: "Both Mary Stewart and T.H. White have written Arthurian fantasies, but White's madcap romp has a different appeal from Stewart's more serious, elegiac approach...The more that readers' advisors work at articulating appeal, the better we become at identifying it and at asking the questions that help us effectively ascertain a book's appeal as well as the kinds of books a particular reader is in the mood to read."

so let's get started.


message 3: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
so there are four major appeal factors, within which there is some overlap. basically, they are pacing, storyline, characterization, and frame.

pacing is probably the most important distinction, because it polarizes readers. genre fiction tends to be more fast-paced and plot-driven, while literary fiction tends to be more character-driven and slower-paced. there are tons of exceptions to this rule, and i am using the vocabulary we have at hand rather than making a value judgment with the word "literary." it's considered a genre, so that's where we are.

one of the simplest ways to identify the pacing of a book is to determine whether there is more dialogue or more description. dialogue speeds up pacing, and a casual flip through any book will show you this, and also the length of the chapters, sentences, and paragraphs, all indicators of the pacing of the book.



storyline covers a wide range of factors: whether a book is single- or multi-narrative, whether it is a linear or a more convoluted structure, whether the focus of the narrative is on the characters or on the events, what the tone of the treatment is; if it is serious or lighthearted, whether the book is more about action or about psychological elements.


message 4: by karen, future RA queen (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
frame is the next, and the most poorly named, in my opinion. to me, it sounds like it should be that which borders or contains the story, but it is actually that which permeates or pervades the story. because it is everything: setting, atmosphere, background, tone - every descriptive detail. is it whimsical or bleak or sexy; is it uplifting or terrifying or placid; how much detail is given, does it feel authentic or not?

characterization this one is more sensible. is the narrator first-person, recognizable, quirky, are there many different narrators, are there supporting characters that are interesting, is this character part of a series where they will change over time? some readers cannot stand the unreliable narrator, and some prefer it.

there are so many factors to the reading experience, many of which are unconscious. RA tries to train the reader to become more aware of these tiny structural details to help focus book requests, but again - this is all just a superficial overview to see if a group like this is useful and sustainable.


keep in mind that these are all useful distinctions, but may not all apply to everyone. personally, it doesn't matter to me if a book is in first or third person. but to some readers, it really does. so these are useful guidelines, but don't feel that if you are asking for RA help, you have to fill out some sort of mental checklist that encompasses all of these factors. just know that the more you analyze your own preferences, and learn how to articulate them to someone who has the right training, the chances of your being given a book you will enjoy increase.


message 5: by karen, future RA queen (last edited Jul 16, 2011 06:53AM) (new)

karen (karenbrissette) | 1315 comments Mod
we will use the "so ask already" folder for all searches.

in the topic box, be as descriptive as you can to give a potential helper a quick sense of the kind of book you are looking for.

keep the responses grouped together under the same topic, so it will archive tidily. make sense?

it would be very helpful to respond to queries by putting your answer into link-form. if you don't know how, you can use the handy "some html is okay" link right above the comment box. if you still have problems (and trust me, i totally understand - this computer thing frequently puzzles me) i can compile them myself, so they all get grouped off to the side for others.

one last thing:

the point of this group is to help people find books they will like based on aspects or elements of books they have already liked, and are looking for similar matches. when suggesting a book to someone, it is very helpful if, instead of just dropping a title and then leaving, if you engage in the discussion a little bit and explain why the book you are suggesting would be a good match. just have a fun little conversation.

and it would be so so helpful to me if, after you have read a book suggested to you, you would come back and let us know if it worked for you or not. if it did, yayy!! if not, we will try again!

i think that is everything. thanks for reading all of this!


message 6: by Trish (new)

Trish (bowedbookshelf) Very nice work, Karen. I'm afraid I got a bit distracted and took my eye off this ball, but you have succinctly summarized the important points. I'll try to pay attention to this thread.


message 7: by Micha (new)

Micha (selective_narcoleptic) | 64 comments Me too - I definitely did not follow these rules for my first few posts, so I will try to do so from now on!


message 8: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 3 comments Thanks for the link, Karen!


message 9: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (balletbookworm) | 20 comments Just catching up on GR discussions - a great thread and good information to know! Thanks :)


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