10th St. Bookies–Using Themes to Recommend Reads

Great news! NoveList allows you to search by theme. Themes are popular, recurring plotlines and topics found in fiction, used over and over with new characters and details. Think “fish out of water” or “friends to lovers.” It applies to character themes, too, like “anti-hero” “gentle giant” or “the chosen one.” When we hear these phrases, we all get the idea they are expressing, which is why themes are such a good way to get at what books are really about, in a way that subject headings or genres can’t quite do. (Especially with subjects like romance or friendship, that have endless variations and angles).

Themes are also much closer to how readers talk about books naturally, when they’re telling us about what they enjoy. Anytime you or someone else says, “I like books where…,” you are probably describing a theme. Our goal is to make reading conversations natural and fun, not transactional, and themes are a great way to get someone talking.

In NoveList, you can search by theme by typing “TH [insert theme here]” into the search box. Or, choose theme as your search field in the advanced search. (My experiments did indeed yield the same results either way…like anything else around here, there are many paths to the same result.) See below for screenshots.

Check out this list of themes currently searchable: https://help.ebsco.com/interfaces/NoveList_Products/Story_Elements/Theme_Terms









Once you have a list of results, you can use the filters under “Refine Results” on the right to more closely line the list up with your reader. Themes are tied for books for both kids and adults, for example, so you may only want to see books that hit a target age range. Or your reader may be interested in recent publications only. Etc.

Pro tip: If a customer is describing themes that they like in shows or movies, you can use that as a gateway to talk books, too!

To find out more about how to use themes to connect readers with books, check out the NoveList blog: https://www.ebscohost.com/novelist-the-latest/blog-article/five-ways-to-use-themes-with-your-patrons

Or, watch this webinar from NovelList on using themes to improve your Readers’ Advisory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0dJih4l-b0&feature=youtu.be

If your supervisor approves you to watch the webinar, make sure you give the trainers a heads up, too, so that they can add it to your training record.

10th St. Bookies is a project of the Engaged Community of Readers Team. Online information will be followed by in-person reading conversations, trainings, and opportunities to engage with readers. Reading conversations are for everyone!

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