Reader’s Advisory Genre Study
December 8, 2011
Minutes will be kept at each meeting so that those that are not able to join us can follow along and as a tool to refer back to. Each meeting will include a training session and then the genre study portion of it.
Books are not necessary read for the plot but for how they appeal to the reader (fast paced, well developed characters, etc.) Different people have different appeal factors. “Every book a reader and every reader a book.” A book that one person loves will really turn off another reader. This changes for readers depending on what kind of mood they are in or on their current situation. It is important not to be judgemental when providing reader’s advisory. Avoid words that are loaded like “gory” and “unnecessary detail”.
Refer to handout “Reader’s Advisory: The Complete Spectrum” for a listing and definition of appeal factors.
When reading a book that you don’t like it is easy to focus on what it is you don’t like and not notice all the things the author does well. It is often these things that makes the book appealing to someone else.
Factors need to be balanced for me. “I’ll tolerate lots of details if it is integral to the story line. In other books details that are not interesting to me and seemed unnecessary are very annoying.”
Narrator – I need to know whose voice the book is written in. It is written from the perspective of the detective or a third person voice?
When someone describes what they don’t like you’ll need to really listen to see if there is any level of tolerance. Often the way the person reads the book means that they won’t notice things that really stand out to someone else. Take it with a grain of salt. One way around this is to ask them to list books that they have read.
Figuring it out – some people enjoy it, others are disappointed, some never do. This goes back to knowing your reader.
What makes a mystery?
Who/how/why done it? Or even just a suspicion. Was it an accident or suicide or a crime?
Investigation with at least one character and the reader needs not to know
Question and an answer
Solution – can be figured out with the clues
McGuffen – drives the plot forward but it is not important. It stirs the characters into action
Justice or maybe just resolution
The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, p. 196-197, definition of mysteries:
“Mysteries are constructed around a puzzle; the author provides clues to the solution but attempts to obscure some information so that the mystery cannot be solved too easily. We, along with the detective, are drawn into the puzzle in an attempt to solve it. This puzzle involves a crime, usually murder, and, of course, a body. There is an investigator (or a team of investigators), amateur or professional, who solves the question of “whodunit.” The Mystery tracks the investigation, with is concomitant exploration of victim’s, murderer’s, and detective’s lives.
…Novels that fall within the Mystery genre follow a particular pattern: A crime is committed. An investigator pursues the clues, interviewing suspects and drawing conclusions. The crime is solved, and the culprit is brought to justice.”
Cozy or classical mystery/Amateur detectives
Genreflecting: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests, p. 137
“The ‘cozy’ or classical mystery is perhaps best exemplified by the works of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. These stories frequently involve a close, intimate community – a family, a small town, a university. The character of the detective is central to the story’s unfolding, and to the book’s appeal to readers. In these stories, the detective uses close observation and rational deduction to explain how a crime was committed, identifies the single individual responsible for it, and ultimately restores social order by expelling that individual from the community.”
The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, p. 214, Characteristics of the Amateur Detective
- These detectives are not professionals who have been specially trained in detecting techniques; they are more likely to “fall into” a case (often involving someone they know) than to be asked to investigate, and they are usually engaged in only one case at a time.
- Amateurs have another job or hobby which occupies their time and the details of which supplement the Mystery.
- Mysteries featuring amateurs are usually gentler, although there is a range of violence, as well as tone.
Mystery versus Suspense (Handout)
My life is more of a suspense where a mystery is “neat”.
There is so much genre-blending these days.
Murder at the Vicarage
The audio version is excellent with great voices.
I’ve seen the movie and it clouded my reading.
Marple is grumpy in this one and is not as main a character in this one. This is her first.
I liked the map
Satire especially from the Vicar’s point of view
Fast-paced and the twists and turns that kept me guessing
Wonderful characters that I enjoy spending time with
Respect her plotting but never cheats (brings something in the end or leaves something important out)
Strange sounding gun shot, intricate time line
Liked the setting
Liked that I didn’t figure it out
Language is brilliant. Lots buried between the lines.
The cozy village where everyone is this close to killing each other.
It’s not realistic
What didn’t work?
Too mild for me
Not a world I’d like to live in with class issues and power issues
I wasn’t impressed with any of the women and the way the Vicar spoke about women
Are we what we read?
I read this years ago and loved it and reading it many years later I can’t believe that I liked it as much.
Slightly formulaic “from the mystery toolbox”
Characters are all types. No sense of the characters as people. They seemed just to be people to bring clues to the storyline.
I missed the satire entirely. It might be my limited knowledge of English culture.
Everyone is suspected and it bothers me that everyone has a motive and has the potential to being a murderer
Did this make you want to read more Christie?
Poirot, see how Marple’s develops
Christie is from the golden age of Mysteries and there was a pact among authors that it had to be solvable
Everyone should go back and fill in a summary of their second book on the wordpress blog. The summary should be brief and include the plot and the appeal factors. For the next book we should list the title and author once selected and then go back after it is read and leave a summary.
Molly – M C Beaton is also Marion Chesney. Agatha Raisin series Hamish series set in Scotland. At 53 she retires to a small village in the Cotswolds. She had a hard childhood and she is not accepted at the start. She starts out not very likable and she grows and improves through the book. Interesting characters and village life. First in the series is Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death.
Erica – Absolution by Murder set in Ireland in the 6th century. Learned lots about the time period. Nun main character. Some romance. The writing is wooden at times. Great main character. Easy to solve. Long series. Biased (lesbian murderer)
Susan – Edgar Award winner, 3rd series. Impoverished royalty main character. 1930 Satiric about royalty and class. Well written and entertaining. Her Royal Spyness. Girl on her own. Mystery aspect is ok.
Faith – Amateur Detective Nevada Barr first in the series Track of the Cat. Parkranger in the southwest where she went to escape her life. Loves animals. Detailed setting (climate, national parks, geological). Land use issues. Someone found dead by what appears to be a mountain lion. Multiple murders and some blood. May appeal to Hillerman readers. Series moves from park to park. Series has become darker.
Steven – Rex Stout (not Nero Wolfe) subtle mystery Male protagonist unsatisfactory plot
Jane – MC Beaton Skeleton in the Closet set in England, interesting commentary on the time and place, very well written, story of two young people with tough life, no murder but other crimes
Susana – joint authorship (husband and wife) On What Grounds, first in series, set in NYC, contemporary, stand alone coffee house, lots of detail about coffees, barista and dancer found dead in the store. Half the book about a romance.
Jason Mazzotta – Thin Man, the film is better (more fleshed out characters)
Janet – Dead Man’s Island, supposed to appeal to Miss Marple readers, not so. Typical. Plot full of holes. Non likable characters. Narrator is the detective and she is clueless.
Andy – Hazel Dawkins Eye Sleuth local author who regained sight through behavioral optometry, set in NYC, some Japanese, factoids dropped in about behavioral optometry, can tell it is a novice author. Self published.
Ben – Murder with puffins by Andrews fun, fast paced, optimistic, birding, hurricane,
Dylan – Sayers Lord Peter Whimsey mystery, series, humor, relationship, good plot
Paula – Anne George Murder Runs in the Family, mid-series, Alabama, great sense of humor, genealogy, suicide or murder, stumble upon clues, good plot twists, Agatha award winning author,
Julie – Killer Pancake, Goldie Bear mid-series, caterer, divorce, snow, set in Colorado, animal rights sub-plots, recipes. Fun and very descriptive about food.
Molly handed out bookmark to be competed while reading next book.
Feb meeting – police procedural Next book Black Echo by Michael Connelly.
Blog will be filled in with other titles and more info about this genre. List second title on blog once chosen.