GenReflecting*

First, I did not make up the contraction of “GenReflecting”. I got it from the title of a book by Diane Herald and Wayne Wiegand called Genreflecting: a guide to popular reading interests.

Second, I’ve already mentioned that I’m taking a class about Genres for Adult Readers from Nancy Pearl this fall. Here is the course description from the class web site (that is open only to class participants):
Many library users head straight for genre fiction when they’re choosing what to read next. Since it’s such a popular part of a public library’s materials collection, it’s vital that librarians have a close familiarity with the various genres. Through reading and discussion, class participants will develop knowledge of the characteristics of the most popular genres, including speculative fiction, mystery/thriller/suspense, romance, westerns, and comics. Class members will gain practice in booktalking, preparing annotated booklists, and making reading suggestions to library users. 

Third, here’s my preview of genre fiction and its role in and out of the library.
I’m a reader of anything and everything I can get my hands on. If you’ve read my previous posts about “Reading for Fun in Library School”, you’ve already realized that. I prefer to read non-fiction, but I do read some genre fiction. Don’t ask me which genres. I still don’t know. But, here’s what I do know…

Genres are not helpful for me. I grew up using an area of the public library that did not have genres and therefore, I’ve honed my browsing skills without using genres. On the other hand, genres are helpful for readers — like my mom and my brother. Genres are helpful for many people! And THAT is reason enough to keep them in the library — in some way or another. Without genre shelves or stickers or booklists or whatever your library has, readers don’t know where to go next. They might feel too uncomfortable browsing such a large collection, and they are overwhelmed by the number of books to choose from. 


When people feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed or overstimulated or “un” or “over” anything, their library experience becomes less satisfying.  

As a future librarian, I hope to keep genres available for readers who use them and need them. How can I integrate genres into a collection without causing discomfort for readers? I’m not sure about this yet, but I’m hoping to discover ways as I learn more about genres in class this fall. 

However, as a future librarian, I also hope to be able to facilitate readers in their journey from one genre to another genre. How am I going to do this? In class, Nancy Pearl calls them “bridge books” — books that bring one reader from one genre into another genre in a comfortable sort of way. But I would like to take that a step further and say that “bridge sub-genres” exist. 

See example:
Genre – Romance
Sub-genre – Suspenseful-romance
Bridge

Genre – Suspense/Thriller


So, there’s my genReflection. 

P.S. If I had to choose the genre I enjoy reading most often, I would have to choose mysteries and thrillers and literary graphic novels and ohhhh okay… maybe I can’t pick ONE genre. Yet.

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