YEAR 4: SE-RART 2017-2018 Season

Introduction to Reader’s Advisory and Genre Study

Our first meeting of the 2017-18 Southeastern Mass. Reader’s Advisory Roundtable will be an Introduction to Reader’s Advisory and Genre Study, at the Jonathan Bourne Public Library in Bourne on Wednesday, October 18, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. There will be no benchmark title or second title reading requirement, but some readings will be emailed to registered participants that will be helpful to have read prior to the meeting.

This opening overview will be a chance for continuing members of the group to revisit reader’s advisory techniques and for anyone who has been on the fence about jumping in to do a genre study to see what it’s all about!

Please register for the October 18th program — An Introduction to Reader’s Advisory and Genre Study — on the MLS Workshop Calendar. Please register as early as possible in order to receive the readings in advance.

After the October meeting, the SE-RART will start a study of the Action/Adventure genre. The 2017-18 is as follows. The genre study group is always open to new members. Come for any or all that you can!

SE-RART 2017-18 Meeting Schedule

Wed., October 18, 10-12 Introduction to RA and Genre Study
Jonathan Bourne Public Library, 19 Sandwich Rd., Bourne

Thurs., December 7, 10-12
Adventure Genre Overview
Benchmark: Clive Cussler novel, your choice
(Suggestions from Joyce Saricks: Inca Gold, Sahara, or Treasure)

Wed., February 7, 2018, 10-12 / no snow date
Historical Adventure
Benchmark: Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom

Tues., April 3, 10-12 Espionage/Political Thriller
Benchmark: David Baldacci, Camel Club

Thurs., June 14, 10-12 Military Adventure
Benchmark: Matthew Reilly, Ice Station

The genre study group open to the Southeastern Massachusetts library community will be co-facilitated again this year by Laurie Cavanaugh (Thayer Public Library, Braintree) and Maggie Holmes (Richards Memorial Library, North Attleborough). We are in need of host locations for December, February, April, and June.



SE-RART Diversity in Fantasy Discussion – June 7, 2017

For the final meeting of the 2016-17 year, the Southeastern Mass. Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (SE-RART) met Wednesday, June 7, at the SAILS Library Network to discuss the Fantasy genre, with a focus on titles by authors selected with an awareness of diversity.

The benchmark title was The Grace of Kings, first in the Dandelion Dynasty trilogy, by Ken Liu. Ken Liu is a Massachusetts author! The Grace of Kings, his first novel, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the Nebula Award.

First we talked about hallmarks and appeal factors of the Fantasy genre, in general, such as:

  • Detailed settings, “world-building”, length not a problem!
  • Magic of some sort plays a role in the story
  • Familiar characters and continuing series are major appeal factors
  • Good is expected to triumph over evil by the end, usually at a cost
  • Escapist, but can reflect real societal issues at a remove

To get a general overview, we checked out The Complete Guide to the Fantasy Genre at Best Fantasy Books. We also referred to Expanding the SF/Fantasy Universe by Meg Rosol in Library Journal, May 1, 2017, and the Carte Blanche column by Michael Cart in the August 2016 issue of Booklist, Speculative Fiction and LGBTQ Literature.

Other supplemental readings we used were:

Our benchmark title, The Grace of Kings was an excellent example of historical fantasy, and at over 600 pages, certainly filled the bill for length! The note on pronunciation and the long list of characters with hard-to-pronounce names had a daunting effect right off the bat for some of the group, but we thought fantasy readers looking for detailed world-building loosely based on an historic frame would immediately feel right at home seeing these at the beginning, along with the maps.

Ken Liu was born in China and immigrated to the U.S. at age 11 with his family. In addition to being a full-time computer programmer, he has written numerous short stories in the S/F and Fantasy genres and has translated several Chinese science fiction novels into English, most notably The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, which won a Hugo award.

We discussed the following quote from Ken Liu in interviews:

The Grace of Kings draws on Western traditions as much as it does on Chinese traditions, though the bones of the story are drawn from the Chu-Han Contention period before the Han Dynasty.”

With its historical underpinnings, extensive political intrigue, detailed descriptions of battles, and discussions of strategy, The Grace of Kings could be suggested to readers of historical fantasy by authors such as Guy Gavriel Kay (Maggie recommends Tigana) and Lian Hearn (Tales of the Otori Trilogy), or fans of G.R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. The mood is ultimately hopeful, though dark and sombre at times, lightened by humor and the god’s-eye perspective. Readers who like medieval folk stories, the ancient epics, and sagas may also find The Grace of Kings appealing.

Please submit your second title if you have one, even if you weren’t able to attend the meeting! Second titles will be posted soon.

Missed the meeting? View the agenda which also lists additional RA resources we talked about. Be sure and check out the Fantasy Genre Overview webinar on the MLS Web site, done by our very own Miki Wolfe!

Thanks to the SAILS Library Network for hosting!

Sign welcoming Roundtable group

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