Overview: Novelist is a database of books and connections between those books. It provides suggestions for read-a-likes, as well as lists of titles that share subjects, types of characters, settings, or time periods. There are several ways to search books. There are lists of recommended reads by category, such as adventure fiction, best of 2012, sports stories, or realistic fiction. There is also a search option to look for a particular author, book, or description, and ways to search by elements of a particular title.
Critical Evaluation: Novelist is one of my go to resources at the library when I get a “What should I read next” question. It provides ideas of connections to look for between books, lists of similar books, and options for searching, like only pulling up award titles, even book discussion guides. I find most entries have enough information to satisfy teens with pictures of the cover, number of pages, and descriptions of the book, as well as parents looking for the right level for their teen.
I do have two issues with Novelist. One is that it does not always have the book I am looking for. This, I’ll admit, is an unavoidable problem, as few places have every single book listed, much less cross indexed with other similar titles. The other is that some read-a-likes provided have very superficial connections with the original books. However, it seems the quality of connections is improving. I now see more reasoning for connections being written by individuals as opposed to being computer generated. Even when the particular choices given do not exactly match what I am looking for in a read-a-like, Novelist also provides search options that allow you to search for other titles that match the genre, storyline, tone, writing style, subject, and other applicable options. While I have occasionally been so specific that the only book that comes up is the same one I searched in the first place, with some practice, this is an invaluable tool for the reader’s advisor who has trouble remembering everything she read.
Reader’s Annotation: When you’re looking for the next book to read, Novelist can help. It provides lists of similar titles, award winners, and search options for read-a-likes.
Information about the source: Novelist is powered by Ebsco Industries.
Curriculum ties, if any: Best suited for a literature class, however you can also search nonfiction books, so it could be used for history projects as well.
Booktalking Ideas: When talking to teens about why they should use this database, I would point out that sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what to read next, and Novelist provides an easier way to search lists of books and see what elements you might have liked about a book and what other books share those same elements. You can also search by lexile level, which at least in my area, is very helpful for some students.
Reading Level/Interest Age: Novelist has adult, teen, ages 9-12, and ages 0-8 sections.
Challenge Issues: None.
Why did you include this database? : It is one that I frequently use at work and I find that in general, it provides helpful suggestions.