Pearl, Nancy. Now Read this: a Guide to Mainstream Fiction, 1978 – 1998. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 1999.
Reason read: November is the anniversary month of the Book Challenge. I’m reading Now Read This to celebrate that endeavor.
If I wasn’t already trying to read over 5,500 books I would attempt to read every book indexed in Now Read This. Here’s the thing about this guide (to Mainstream Fiction, 1978 – 1998), it’s not just a huge list of “you-oughtta-know” this author or this book. Pearl makes each recommended book inviting and, dare I say, intriguing. There is almost too much information to digest with each recommendation. Let’s start with the basics. Now Read This is broken out into four different chapters corresponding to four different appealing aspects of a book: setting, story, characters & language. Setting: if where the story takes place is important to the overall context of the plot, it is mentioned in this section. Story: if the plot is the main draw ,and not character development, for example, it is mentioned here. Characters: if the characters are people who move you in some way, are people you want to meet in real life, or stick in the memory banks long after the book is finished, the title is mentioned in this chapter. Language: if the language of the book is striking or moving, it is mentioned here. All entries have the following information. First the obvious: Author, title, publisher, date published, number of pages, and brief abstract of plot. Additional information includes the second appeal of the book. For example, a book with great characters can also have a key setting crucial to the story. Pearl also includes subject headings (now called tags in this day and age). Subjects can include what award the book has won, if it’s a first novel for the author, etc. You get the picture. Even more information includes whether or not Oprah chose it as a book for her club, (weird), and whether or not it would be a good for a general book club. Finally, the entry closes with a list of other books to try.
Author fact: Pearl went on to write a second guide to mainstream fiction that covers fiction from 1999 to 2001. I’ll be reading this one as well.
Book trivia: “More than 40 students received graduate school credit for reading” (p xi). Where was I when this book was being compiled?
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the acknowledgements (p xiv).