Cover image for Now read this : a guide to mainstream fiction, 1978-1998
Now read this : a guide to mainstream fiction, 1978-1998
Pearl, Nancy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Englewood, Colo. : Libraries Unlimited, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvii, 432 pages ; 27 cm
General Note:
Annotated list of 1000 books categorized by setting, story, characterization, or language.

Includes indexes.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN3503 .P38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Recommending books to readers of contemporary mainstream, or literary, fiction is perhaps the most challenging of all endeavors for readers' advisors. Pearl and her co-authors attempt to ease the process with this helpful guide to the most elusive genre. Covering 1,000 novels, many of them award winners, the book organizes titles according to their major appeal characteristics (e.g., language, setting, story, and character) as delineated by Saricks and Brown in their standard text, Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library, 2d ed., (ALA, 1997). For each book there is a plot summary, indications on the book's suitability for book discussion groups, and recommendations of similar titles. Awards are cited as well, and all titles mentioned are indexed by title, author, and subject. Describing some of the best literature published in the United States and abroad in recent years, this book is an essential guide for readers' advisors, and a helpful collection development tool.

Author Notes

NANCY PEARL is Director, Washington Center for the Book, and Collection Development Specialist at Seattle Public Library, Washington.

ppe /f Martha /r with asst.

ashi /f Chris /r with asst.

icks /f Joyce /i G. /r fore.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

This readers' advisory resource provides an annotated list of 1,000 novels, the vast majority published between 1980 and 1997. Mainstream fiction is defined as "novels set in the twentieth century that realistically explore aspects of human experience." Books were selected largely on the basis of awards and appearances on American Library Association Notable lists. Pearl and a group comprised of avid readers, professional librarians, and graduate students at the University of Washington Graduate School of Library and Information Science volunteered to read and annotate the books and met to discuss the books they had read. The selections are arranged alphabetically by author within one of four categories: "Setting," "Story," "Characters," and "Language." These categories derive from a theory of "appeal characteristics, elements in books that make patrons enjoy them," an idea of why readers favor certain books that was first expressed by Joyce G. Saricks and Nancy Brown in their book Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library (2d ed., ALA, 1997). Each individual entry lists a book's author, title, publisher and publication date, and pagination, followed by a brief descriptive annotation (which notes whether the book is an Oprah Winfrey selection). The annotation is often followed by a secondary appeal designation; for example, John Irving's The Cider House Rules is found in the "Characters" chapter, but because it might also interest readers because of its story, "story" is listed as its secondary appeal. Each entry also includes a list of subject headings, and "now try" recommendations for further reading. Suggestions may be for other books by the same author as well as books by other authors; nonfiction or poetry as well as fiction; genre and historical novels as well as mainstream fiction. An icon indicates novels that make good book-discussion selections. For novels in translation, the original language and the name of the translator are noted. The volume concludes with an appendix of book awards and indexes by title, subject, and author. In the title and author indexes, main entries are indicated in bold type; it would be helpful if the page numbers on which main entries appear were also in bold type, because some authors and titles are mentioned on numerous pages. The introduction provides a good overview of the philosophy behind the appeal characteristics and how to use the book. The multiple access points afforded by the indexes are useful, as are the icons identifying good titles for book-discussion groups. The "now try" recommendations are generally more insightful than the lists of read-alikes found in Gale's What Do I Read Next? Genre fiction is omitted because it is covered in other tools in the Genreflecting Advisory Series, such as Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre [RBB S 15 99] and Hooked on Horror: A Guide to Reading Interests in Horror Fiction [RBB Mr 1 00]. However, it would be interesting to apply the appeal-characteristics approach to genre fiction. Public libraries should find this a helpful resource, whether it is used to plan programs or to support readers' advisor services. Libraries may wish to have both a reference copy and a copy at the adult services desk.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
Chapter 1 Settingp. 1
Chapter 2 Storyp. 29
Chapter 3 Charactersp. 115
Chapter 4 Languagep. 247
Appendix Book Awardsp. 301
Title Indexp. 303
Subject Indexp. 341
Author Indexp. 415