Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, second edition by Joyce Saricks

I read fiction occasionally. As only an infrequent fiction reader, I am still happy to see a new second edition of The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction by Joyce Saricks. I have several reasons. First, I do help readers select fiction almost daily from the reference desk and can use all the help that an expert like Joyce offers. Second, it has been eight years since her first edition; there are many new books and authors to consider. Third, the previous edition is looking a bit worn; it is nice to have a new book with a more attractive cover; clients do notice when you help them with old resources. Finally, Joyce has expanded her vision of genre fiction, adding "literary fiction." I am more inclined to read these books than many of the more "established" genres. (Actually that was there in the first edition, but somehow it sticks out more to me now.)

It does not matter whether you prefer fiction or nonfiction to appreciate Joyce's introduction, which includes good advice for anyone helping clients find good books. I like her distinction between "suggesting" and "recommending" books. When suggesting books, we are bringing the reader more into the process of finding his or her books; we are collaborating and allowing the client to more gracefully decline the titles we name. When we recommend books, we are stamping them with our approval, which backfires on us when we are way off the mark.

The arrangement of the chapters is new. Just looking at the table of contents I realize where my own interests lie. Almost every book I would like to read falls into Part 3 Intellect Genres, with its chapters on literary fiction, mysteries, and science fiction. I might enjoy a few books from Part 4 Landscape Genres, but Part 1 Adrenaline Genres and Part 2 Emotions Genres have little appeal to me. Identifying appeal is what readers' advisory is all about. I wonder whether we could do psychological testing to identify reading types. I'm sure that I'd score a 3 on the Saricks Test.

Joyce has rewritten all the chapters and updated all the "suggested" titles. Librarians and readers rejoice! Read Joyce!

Saricks, Joyce G. The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. Second Edition. American Library Association, 2009. ISBN 9780838909898

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