April 15, 2019

How to experiment with reading outside the box

As a cataloger of juvenile works, my reading has leaned more towards picture books of late, but I wanted to challenge myself with a standard readers' advisory goal: For the benefit of patrons, read “outside the box.” To accomplish this, I made a rather random pick—The Blue Mirror by Kathe Koja—a novel written with a stream-of-consciousness writing style; the style was completely new to me. Expectations quickly arose: First, it is going to take more concentration to make sense of it; Second, it will read very slowly; And lastly, I am just not going to like it—it’s too different. Pretty negative, but I imagined that this must be close to what other librarians might think.  

Despite the negative expectations, my reading experience was actually quite different. For one thing, the stream-of-consciousness style was not as strictly applied as I feared it would be. From the start, there was still a lot of punctuation—especially those helpful periods—and the normal capitalization. So, the progress in making sense of it all went rather quickly. It only took a few pages to get into the groove. Want to find something outside your personal box? Read on.

Try using NoveList’s appeal terms to find something just a little bit different. You can find the full list and definitions of appeal terms on the NoveList Idea Center. Look, for example, at other writing style appeal terms that can help you go from a title you love, seamlessly into another title you love.  Or, find something completely out of the ordinary for you. The writing style appeal terms range from rather narrow/less often applied terms, like banter-filled and stream-of-consciousness all the way to the more common and general compelling or descriptive.

After that initial orientation, the rest of the book went by very fast. It kept my interest, and while it was not plot-driven, the pacing still felt rapid. I loved it. The main character was sympathetic, but most importantly, I cared about what was going to happen next. It was realistic fiction not unlike other YA true-to-life novels I had read. Use appeal terms to break out of your own shell and find something different to read (it may end up being not quite that different really). Mix it up by keeping some of the appeal elements that you love, like tone or character, but change, say, the writing style to find a new book. You just might adore it! Happy reading!

Lisa Chandek-Stark is a Metadata Librarian II at NoveList.

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