TONE APPEAL: Nancy Pearl’s Doorways (3/28/23)

WHEN: March 28, 2023; 9:45am to 12Noon

WHERE: This is a Virtual Zoom meeting sponsored by a group participant.

Contact: Leane Ellis;  

Members will receive an email invitation via our Google Group, anyone else interested in attending please contact Leane at the above email address, or register on the MLS CE calendar.

Our next topic continues our year of studying specific Appeal categories through Nancy Pearl’s Doorways. We continue with Tone in March. We began with Character (1/24/23) in January. We will be discussing Pace (5/23/23) in May, Frame (9/26/23) in September and Style (11/28/23) in November.

ASSIGNMENT: For the benchmark, everyone reads Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait (2022).

Leane has posted PDFs of Sarick’s chapter on “Articulating a Book’s Appeal “(p.40-73; See Frame 58-61.) on Google Group, please read this before you read the Benchmark or your Choice Title.

Also, please read a Choice title in this category either from the suggested list on our blog, or one that you choose yourself; and then write a review on our blog under Submit Choice Titles.

CHOICE TITLE Assignment with Leane’s TONE Assignment STRATEGY Sheet is also available on Google.Group


Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Readers’ Advisory: Doorways PDF (1/20/23) also originally linked from her web site (–no longer valid 10/20/22).

Introduction to Readers’ Advisory: Doorways and Appeal Factors from Molly at the Library (1/05/23)

Molly Wetta’s take on Doorways is one of few resources on the subject I have been able to find, and it combines great graphics and content.

Saricks, Joyce G. Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library. 3rd ed. (2005) ALA, Chicago. p. 40-73; Character: p.50-55.

Interested in how writers view Tone?:  (1/05/23) with nifty Venn diagram on Tone Vs Mood, as well as other examples.




Author: Nita Prose

Title: The Maid (2022)

Appeal Factors: Tone, Character

Summary/Thoughts: Nita Prose describes her novel The Maid as an attempt to capture the “whimsy of the classical whodunit.” Though Prose has included some dark subjects off the page, including domestic violence, forced labor, drug addiction and assisted suicide, the story is essentially a closed-room-mystery where the sudden death of Mr. Black in suite 401 is relayed as merely a hiccup during an abnormally adventurous week-in-the-life of the hotel maid.

Prose succeeds in creating a gentle, cozy mystery by way of filtering the story though the lens of Molly The Maid, an ambiguously “different” young woman who constantly struggles to determine whether the world is “laughing at her, or with her.” Molly finds it difficult to understand unspoken social rules. She loves order and cleanliness and her job as a maid at the Grand Regency Hotel suits her to a T. When Molly discovers Mr. Black’s body and becomes embroiled in the case, she wants nothing more than to get on with the business of returning the hotel rooms to a “state of perfection.” Molly’s quirky observations and the cartoonish cast of characters in the novel manage to relay the story in a light-hearted, zany tone that will appeal to readers who like cozy mysteries with unconventional protagonists.


Genre: Literary Satire/Parody

Author: Sean Adams

Title: The Thing in the Snow (2023)

Appeal Factors: Tone

Summary/Thoughts: This is a story of 3 people tasked with maintaining an empty lab facility in the middle of a frozen wasteland. They don’t know where they are or what the 7-story building was used for. The building has been emptied of everything except tables and chairs. Each week a helicopter delivers provisions and a mindless task for the week i.e. opening and closing all doors or sitting in all chairs for 10 seconds each to test for stability. They are not allowed on the roof while the helicopter is there nor are they allowed to go outside at all for fear of “snow sickness.” They have no contact with the outside world. The view outside is an unchanging vista of white until, one day, they see something in the snow. As the fixate on the new object, the reader can’t help but wonder if they are descending into madness.
The tone of this book is bleak and cold. This is reinforced in several ways. The setting is barren both inside and out. There are short chapters and simple language. The temperature inside is set low and the temperature outside is freezing. The tasks are repetitive and mind-numbing.
The main character reminds me of Winston from 1984 as he goes through his days doing as he’s told without really knowing why.
Possible read-a-likes are Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer or House of Stairs by William Sleator.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement: RART-NE encourages all library staff to use leisure reading as a way to connect with the community, with a particular focus on reaching the underserved and promoting “own voices” authors. Throughout our discussions we will explore ways in which library staff can provide services, collections, and programming that puts EDI concerns at the forefront. Examples include but are not limited to, delivering the same information in different formats, advice on how to diversify your displays, and ways to include more staff voices in basic RA service [more voices leads to more equitable, diverse, and inclusive offerings]. Library staff attending RART-NE must be interested in allowing all staff [not just professional and/or public service staff] to participate in serving all populations, not just the ones most represented by staff or as identified in a local census.

Cancellation Policy: There is no plan to cancel a MA NE RA RT meeting since we will be meeting virtually using the Zoom platform sponsored by a group member for the foreseeable future. Leane will broadcast any cancellation or change to our meetings by 7:00am or before from the Google group, and post it on the group’s blog: Edited 5/09/22.