Christmas Fiction: A New Trend?

Posted on December 1, 2015

By Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly

It seems like there are more fiction authors than ever who are publishing Christmas titles. Many can be categorized as “women’s fiction,” but there are a number of Christmas crime books as well. Why is it so popular (and lucrative) to write a Christmas novel? Is this a new trend or simply a tradition?

Christmas novels have been around since roughly Charles Dickens’ time. Sir Walter Scott wrote the Christmas poem “Christmas in the Olden Time” (1904) and William Sandys’ Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833) are examples of Christmas titles that pre-date Dickens, but A Christmas Carol by Dickens was among the first Christmas titles in the form of what we consider a “novel” today. Dickens felt that the best way to educate people about poverty and social injustice was through an emotional, touching Christmas story, rather than through political pamphlets. He wanted people to be kind and generous toward one another, and used “the spirit of Christmas” to make his point (1).

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Fall into Literary Genre Fiction

By Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly

Literary fiction “tends to focus on complex issues and the beauty of the writing itself,” according to the Writer’s Relief Staff at the Huffington Post (1). This is a great definition, and makes a distinction between literary fiction and mainstream or “popular” fiction, which is driven more by plot and characters than by insight or clever use of language.  It seems short sighted to think that literary writing falls only outside of genre fiction, though. There are plenty of literary mysteries, literary science fiction novels, and even literary graphic novels. I’d like to suggest that literary fiction can, in fact, fall into a variety of genres and still hold true to the definition above.

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Readers’ Advisory: Banned Books Week, Sept. 27 – Oct 3, 2014

Banned Books Week

By Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly

Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read. It began in 1982, when there was a sudden uptick in the number of books being challenged in schools and libraries. An astounding number of challenges happen each year (307 reported in 2013, according to the Office of Intellectual Freedom!), and Banned Books Week is a way to celebrate the value of open access to information (1). It is important to point out that of those 307 challenges, few of them were actually banned. The diligence of teachers, librarians, and informed citizens ensured the freedom to read in most situations.

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New Read Alikes for Old Classics

large print

By Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly

Remember in high school and college when you were assigned classic fiction reading? Those titles are classics for a reason. They have stood the test of time and are still assigned reading in many classrooms. Some of my personal favorites were The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn, Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, and Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I remember thinking that there were such profound ideas in those novels, and soaking up every metaphor and every turn of phrase.  As an adult, I am interested in these same profound ideas and great writing, and I think that there are a lot of books published in the last ten years or so that make great read alikes to those classic novels. Let’s start with my favorites.

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Readers Advisory: Books for Tweens

By Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner

“Tween” is that age group somewhere between child and teen, roughly 4th through 7th grade. It is a time of dramatic change: physical, emotional, and mental. These kids have personalities, opinions, talents, and imaginations. They care about things. It is a spectacular age for reading because they have vocabularies and comprehension rates that can handle more intricate storytelling.

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Historical Fiction Recommendations from Joyce Saricks: New and Popular in Large Print

Forget the “Columbus sailed the ocean blue” mnemonic devices and dusty history books.  If you want to experience history with dimension and humanity, turn to historical fiction.

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Outta-This-World Titles for Sci-Fi Fans… in Large Print

The latest Sci Fi titles

Science fiction is often called the “literature of ideas.”  It tells the story of humanity with unparalleled imagination and often stimulates powerful insight into the human condition by exploring grand “what if” scenarios.

Books like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World and Animal Farm introduced science fiction broadly to American audiences and it quickly became a popular literary genre.  Since then, interest in science fiction has grown immensely, as readers of all ages are drawn to the genre that allows us to explore other worlds from the comfort of home.

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Our 10 Plus Favorite Book Blogs

Book Blogs for Librarians

By Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner

Book blogs are everywhere. One of the best features of technology is when readers can share with other readers.  The love of books is shared by so many people across the web. These websites are great for everything from collection development, new releases, genre favorites and discussions.  However, literary types tend to get a bit stuffy. We prefer something less precious and more about the greater landscape of entertainment. Preferably with a bookish touch.

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Re-thinking Ready Reference with GVRL

nonfiction ebooks

By Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly

In the olden days before computers, ready reference collections were the soul of a library. Librarians helping patrons to answer questions or understand a topic always started in the reference section of the library. They were the most expensive materials and librarians were vigilant in guarding those precious items. I have been admonished by a librarian more than once for not handling these books carefully.

Ready reference collections have adapted to the new world of instant access, anywhere and anytime. Patrons still have questions and are trying to understand topics as always, but now they want it faster, more convenient, and always reliable. The reference need is still there, but now librarians have to think about access and delivery to patrons.

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Weekend Travel Reads

Large Print Book on a Beach

By Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly

You’re going away for the weekend. You have a few hours to kill on the plane, or maybe in the car, and you love to read. You don’t want to think too much, though – after all, you’re on vacation!  You need a book you can devour in a weekend. What’s it going to be? Here are some suggestions for quick, light reads perfect for vacation.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows (2008)
History buffs will find this short work of fiction (274 pages) a perfect vacation read. German-occupied Guernsey Island during World War II is the setting, and the characters are a lovable, eccentric group who form a literary club. A writer named Juliet is intrigued by their society, and joins them on Guernsey Island. Her letters detail her experiences with people who become true friends, and their struggles during the occupation of their home during the war.

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich (2014)
There’s something for everyone on this list! Fans of chick lit, gossipy style, and a little (ok, a lot…) of sexy romance will enjoy this quick read. Holly Brennan, a young widow, hooks up with a trainer to get her into shape. Of course, there is undeniable chemistry between them! This one is not recommended for a family car ride audio book! Load up your e-reader and bring a fan, because this one is hot, hot, hot! Perfect for the beach!

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