Today is, at least for us North Americans, National Thesaurus Day! In honor of the ultimate weapon of every high school English student, let’s talk a little about language in novels. Language is one of the main appeals in books that we’re trained to use at WPL to advise readers (along with Characters, Pace, Storyline, etc.), and it is usually characterized by an almost poetic style of writing. Think long complex sentences with eloquent vocabulary and scintillating little details.
If you find yourself drawn to that sweeping, thesaurus-touting prose, you may well be someone who reads with Language Appeal. When I try to think of examples, my mind is immediately drawn to The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald or Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. These are novels wherein the lyrical and lush telling becomes as much a part of the story as the characters themselves. Of course, while these are older greats, there are always contemporary books written with these same appeals. If you’re perusing our Featured Reads or new shelves, consider looking on the jackets for descriptions such as “expansive” or “authentic” or even “idiosyncratic.” Otherwise, you can use Novelist!
Novelist is one of WPL’s digital library offerings, and it’s a really interesting answer to the query “how do I find my next read?”. You can access it via the Digital Library page at wpl.ca – just log in with your library card. Once there, you can type into the search bar or scroll down to find the link to Novelist’s Appeal Mixer. This is the real treasure of the website, recommending a wide range of genres or ideas all based on a central writing tenant. In this case, I’m going to search for writing style appeals that are the aforementioned “lush” and “lyrical” and find everything from the seminal Paradise Lost by John Milton (originally written in 1667!) all the way through to the devastatingly beautiful The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht (a real hidden gem of an author!). If all that sounds a little cumbersome for your taste, try searching a beloved title on our catalogue and scrolling down the page; most WPL entries will have a Novelist widget to offer you similar reads. However, the site’s real strength is getting that broad coverage of authors and ideas.
While I use Novelist professionally to help me offer suggestions in genres that I am not particularly familiar with, I most enjoy it to help expand my personal reading palette. And you might, too, once you give it a try. Happy Thesaurus Day!