Category Archives: Women’s Lives & Relationships

Women’s Lives and Relationships II

book coverThe final meeting of the 2015-16 Southeastern Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (SE-RART) year was hosted by Carol of the Ventress Memorial Library in Marshfield in a beautiful meeting room that looked like a book-lined study from a cozy mystery. I wish I had thought of taking a group picture!

Some of the group were going to the MLS Reader’s Advisory Summit in Worcester today, where they will get to meet Joyce Saricks, whose book, The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction (2nd ed.), is one of the books we have been using for our genre study this year. We also reviewed the readings from the April meeting.

Our benchmark title was What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, which had a plot based on the female main character’s developing amnesia, so we were able to compare the tone of What Alice Forgot to the tone of See Jane Run by Joy Fielding, which some of us read for the Suspense subgenre benchmark title last year, and in which the female main character also had amnesia, and talked a little about the current popularity of the “marriage thriller” and how the line between women’s fiction and suspense gets fuzzy in books like Gone Girl and The Husband’s Secret.

The setting of the story doesn’t seem to matter much in Women’s Fiction or in Women’s Lives and Relationships books, we thought, because the focus is on the relationships, which are universal, but we did talk about the multicultural trend in the genre that Joyce Saricks mentions in the section we read for the meeting.

We talked about chick lit and how to define it; why equating “women’s fiction” with “comfort reading” or “gentle reads” was fair or unfair; whether Women’s Fiction or Women’s Lives and Relationships is really helpful as a genre when conducting reader’s advisory; and the popularity of women’s fiction in the audiobook format.

We got off topic in a few spots, and talked about Zentangle, adult coloring, weeding women’s fiction (watch out for series!), and different ways of doing staff picks:

  • one staffperson takes a month at a time for a display;
  • “Staff Pick” slips are put inside books on display with staff’s name included or not;
  • designating a “home location” for Staff Picks (SPK) and making it permanent; and
  • putting stars on the spines of books in the collection to designate them as staff picks.

Second titles discussed were:

The Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

My Real Children by Jo Walton

Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners by Luanne Rice

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Remember to submit your RA notes on your second titles to the blog here!

We are taking a survey about next year. If you didn’t already turn in a paper survey, please fill out the online survey HERE.

Thank you and enjoy your summer!


Women’s Lives & Relationships — SE-RART June 8

book coverThe next Southeastern Mass. Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (SE-RART) meeting will be the second of two sessions on Women’s Lives & Relationships (aka Women’s Fiction) and the final meeting of the 2015-2016 year.

The meeting will be Wednesday, June 8, 10 a.m. – 12 noon, at the Ventress Memorial Library, 15 Library Plaza, Marshfield. (NOTE: GPS devices and apps do not recognize “15 Library Plaza” as a valid address. Use “1837 Ocean Street” in Marshfield, instead.)

Please register for the June 8th meeting here, if you haven’t already.

Everyone attending should read the benchmark title —What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty — as well as a second title in the genre of Women’s Lives & Relationships, and be ready to talk about the benchmark title and your second title in terms of appeal factors: story, characters,tone, style, and pace.

We will also discuss excerpts from The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 2nd ed. (ALA, 2009) by Joyce G. Saricks, Reading Women: A Book Club for Women’s Fiction (Libraries Unlimited, 2012) by Nanci Milone Hill, and Women’s Fiction: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (Libraries Unlimited, 2013) by Rebecca Vnuk and Nanette Donohue.

In addition, there is one online reading for our discussion, so that we can talk about the overlap of the Women’s Lives and Relationships genre with the Suspense genre:

Whitehouse, Lucie. The Rise of the Marriage Thriller January 15, 2014 (The Guardian).

Registered participants will be emailed the readings a few weeks prior to the meeting.

Need some ideas for your second title? Check out these lists for possibilities:

Booklist’s Top 10 Women’s Fiction: 2016

Bookreporter: Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight

Hope to see you on the 8th, and don’t forget to register!

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR READER’S ADVISORS: Did you see the announcement from MLS that there is a Reader’s Advisory Summit scheduled for Thursday, June 16, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with visiting RA gurus Joyce Saricks and Becky Spratford? The registration fee of $49 or $54 covers breakfast and lunch for this all-day session of continuing education.

The Southeast Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (SE-RART) is open to all in the southeastern Mass. library community. Please register for the SE-RART on the Massachusetts Library System website. We have been meeting every other month, October through June on Wednesday mornings, but may change up the days of the week again next year. If you have a preference, please email Laurie at

All the 2015-6 dates are on the MLS Workshop Registration calendar and on this blog. The SE-RART group is finishing up its second year; it’s been a fun way for library staff to hone reader’s advisory skills and become more comfortable advising fans of an unfamiliar genre.