We need a better way to find our next great read. Genre tags don’t tell us that much, and while online star ratings may tell us that somebody liked the book, they don’t tell us whether we will like the book. Your tastes aren’t mine.
Librarian Nancy Pearl has a brilliant solution to this problem. Her Four Doorways rank books based on the significance of four important story factors: plot, character, setting, and language. Each book and each reader have a different taste profile when it comes to these elements. According to Pearl, the trick to a great reading experience is to match the reader’s profile to books that have a similar profile.
Pearl has argued that a website should exist which would allow readers to brows books based not only on reviews, but also on the taste profile of the books. Readers could vote on what they think were the most significant elements in a given book. Over time a clearer picture of a book would emerge allowing readers a quick way to sort through books to find those that better match their reading preferences. Think of it as a kind of “personality test” for books.
Here at Story Con we want to try an experiment. Periodically you will see polls like the one below. When you see them vote if you have read the book. With enough votes, we can begin to get a sense of what elements made a given book work for its readers and which are less important. The goal is to make it easier for you to sort out books which may be highly rated by other readers but still aren’t your cup of tea.
To test this concept out, we figured we would give it a go with something many people have read, The Lord of The Rings. I’m interested to see what we find out. To be clear, you can vote more than one element. For me three elements play significant roles in my enjoyment of Tolkien’s book, so I voted for all three.
Which Elements Matter Most in JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings?