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Our Story Elements 

Many different aspects of a book may catch your attention. NoveList calls these different aspects “story elements.” Our story elements include appeal terms, themes, and genres. Our team tags each book with appropriate story elements, making it easy to see if a book is right for you or your readers, and to search for similar books.  

Appeal terms 

Appeal terms are a signature feature of NoveList, and since their introduction in 2010 they have been helping readers find books based on style and mood. We like to think of appeal terms as the secret language of books, all the ways a book speaks to a reader and lingers long after it’s been returned to the library. What is “heartwarming” to one reader may be saccharine to another; what is “mildly sensuous” to you may be quite shocking to others. Our appeal terms help you and your readers hone in on exactly what kind of book they are in the mood for. 


Themes are popular and recurring plot elements found in fiction books. Themes frame a story without completely defining “what happens.” For example, you can find literary fiction books on the theme “fish out of water,” books on the Romance theme “opposites attract,” or books on how to “mind your manners” for young kids. Themes will help you and your readers find just the stories they are looking for. Also, use our genres to guide your readers deeper into their favorite genre or to help them try something new. 


Most readers have a favorite genre or two, and NoveList maintains an extensive, curated list of genres and subgenres. When used in combination with appeal and themes, genres are a powerful tool for discovering books. Our genres are not only relevant and up to date, but also reader-focused. We include new genre trends (such as “steampunk fiction”) and unique search helpers (such as "books to movies" or "books for adult new readers").  

The power behind story elements: expert curation 

Our team of metadata librarians brings a level of professional expertise to story elements that is unmatched. They curate both the creation of an expert lexicon of terms and the application of those terms, resulting in a deep ocean of data about books.