April 22, 2016

How trends become NextReads themes

Written by:
Shauna Griffin

Tags: ,

Professional journals stream across my desk all month long, while emails flow constantly into my inbox, and they’re all doing the same thing – talking about upcoming books. Whether they’re offering reviews (Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, etc.), or promoting a book or three (Random House), or relaying reader insight (Book Riot), they and all the other resources I use provide a glut of information about what’s being published.

One of the side-effects of drinking from that firehose of information? You notice trends. Trends in book covers, trends in titles, trends in stories.

The 1970sMaybe because I’d just gone on a Karin Slaughter kick (have you ever heard her speak? She’s hilarious.) and had just finished Cop Town, but I started noticing that the 1970s were everywhere. Now, my NextReads efforts are focused primarily on Thrillers/Suspense and non-genre fiction. But the ‘70s were all over the crime novels I was seeing (see: Cop Town), and as I went looking around in general fiction, I found plenty of radically different types of stories, all set in the 1970s. (We can argue another time about which time periods are included in historical fiction, but I think most will agree that the ‘70s are just a tad too recent, no matter how evocative the writing.)

Is it the fashion that draws novelists and readers to this era? Is it the music? More likely it’s the cultural upheaval that was going on in the U.S., much of it centered on fighting for social equality for women, gays and lesbians, and African Americans. Or it could have been Vietnam, politics, or the drug scene -- there’s a plethora of topics to tackle, and for authors who like a rich background against which to set their characters, the ‘70s are hard to beat. 

The same may be true for readers: as a colleague said to me, she’s interested in how the books portray an era she lived through, while younger people might be interested in learning more about the social and political turmoil of the time. Either way, it’s a topic made for theme-building, with broad appeal to different kinds of readers.

The consequence of this observation and the resulting search was a theme for Thrillers and Suspense in May, and another one for Fiction A to Z in July, using only books that had been published in the last couple years that hadn’t already made their way onto those newsletters. I found lots of stories, many of which fell into some pretty obvious categories -- political and social change, international settings, family life and coming of age stories, even humor. So many books, in fact, that it seemed like the perfect idea for a book display, so I created a flyer, which I’ll be sending out to all subscribers to the NoveList Book Squad’s NextReads for Adults email (sign up here). It’s also right here, if you’d like to print it out for use in your own library.

Shauna Griffin is the NextReads/ADEPT Supervisor at NoveList. Want to hear more from her? Sign up for Shauna's Book Squad email updates.

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