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Using NoveList's Story Elements

Many different aspects of a book may catch your attention. NoveList calls these different aspects “story elements.” Our story elements include appeal terms, themes, and genres. Our team tags each book in NoveList with appropriate story elements, making it easy to see if a book is right for you or your readers, and to search for similar books.

Story Elements Book


Download a copy of The Secret Language of Books: A Guide to Story Elements.

Planning a training session for your library? Request printed copies.






Appeal factors help readers decide whether or not a book fits their style or mood. What is heartwarming to one reader may be saccharine to another; what is mildly sensuous to you may be quite shocking to others. These resources will help you get started finding the right books to appeal to every reader.

How To:

Tutorial: Finding Books Using Appeal

This tutorial shows you how to use several appeal-based features in NoveList, including the make-your-own appeal mixer.
Appealing to Genre Readers
Webinar: Appealing to Genre Readers

Listen to a panel of reader’s advisory experts as they discuss strategies for going beyond genre read-alikes and using appeals to *ahem* appeal to avowed genre readers.


Themes are popular and recurring plot elements found in fiction — think chosen ones in fantasy or fake relationships in romance. Themes describe the overall plot, while appeal terms describe the storyline, tone, writing style, and other aspects of a book’s content. Use these resources to learn how to navigate themes in your readers’ advisory.

How To:

Tutorial: Using Book Themes in NoveList

Learn how to find books with those recurring plot elements that you and your patrons love, just search NoveList's book themes!

Webinar: Unlocking Themes to Improve RA

Let RA expert Becky Spratford and metadata maven Cathleen Keyser show you how adding themes can supercharge your readers’ advisory, circulation, and programming.


When a romance reader picks up a romance, the reader expects their heart to flutter as a couple finds their happily-ever-after. Mystery readers want to close a book knowing who the killer is. Whether a library puts stickers on the spines of books or has genrefied the collection, as professionals, librarians use genre to guide readers to their perfect book. These resources will guide you through the collected genres in NoveList, and use them to help you match readers to their next favorite book.

How To:

Tutorial: Finding Books By Genre in NoveList

This tutorial shows you how to explore and learn all about genres using the features in NoveList. With our Browse Genre feature and genre searches, you'll be able to tackle any unfamiliar genre.
This search strategy will show you how to find graphic novels and comics using genre and subgenre, while adding in other story elements. See our other search strategies for more tips on searching genre, appeal, and themes.