Skip to main content
Support - EBSCO Help

Appeal Terms in NoveList

Appeal describes a book’s “feel,” and helps you decide if a book fits the style of book you’re interested in reading. NoveList uses appeal terms to augment other data about genre, subject, geographic location, and reading level.

NoveList’s appeal factors cover the types of characters in a story, the pace, the writing style, and the tone of the story. For picture books, graphic novels, and other books with illustrations, we also offer illustration appeal. Audiobook fans can find information about a narration under “Audio Characteristics.”

Learn more about appeals in NoveList and how to match readers and books using appeal.


Only applied to fiction books, character appeal is especially for those readers who love books because of the characters.

Ability diverse: These characters live with physical, mental, or emotional conditions that can often be challenging. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Anthropomorphic: From cats solving mysteries to crayons quitting their day jobs, the non-human characters in these books offer a unique perspective. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Authentic: These characters behave in ways that accord with their age, nationality, and backgrounds. (Adults, Teens)

Awkward: Often unsure of themselves, these characters lack the social savvy to navigate relationships and other interpersonal situations smoothly. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Believable: These characters ring true for young readers, and behave in ways that are consistent with their age and backgrounds. (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Brooding: Haunted by past traumas or mistakes, these morose characters contemplate (and often must confront) what is wrong in the world. (Adults, Teens)

Character duos: From best friends to odd couples, these books feature dynamic duos who take on the world together! (Ages 0-8)

Complex: Intriguing and complicated, these multi-dimensional characters have conflicting motivations and desires. (Adults, Teens)

Courageous: These brave and often self-sacrificing characters have strong convictions and face challenges with determination, despite the odds against them. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Culturally diverse: These books may feature characters from racial and ethnic minorities living in the United States, Europe, Canada, or Australia, as well as characters from non-white cultural groups living in other parts of the world. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Exaggerated: These larger-than-life characters often delight readers by adding to the humor or uniqueness of a story. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Flawed: These characters do not always act in their own best interests, and their sometimes misguided decisions form a central theme in the story. (Adults, Teens)

Introspective: These characters examine their own feelings, thoughts, and motives, and what they find often has major repercussions for the story. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Large cast of characters: Whether because of sprawling storylines, epic scopes, or intricate plots, these books contain lots of characters—how well readers get to know them depends on the author. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

LGBTQIA diverse: Identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, or just questioning, these characters are not stereotypes and are important to the story (even if in a secondary role). (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Likeable: These appealing characters engage readers, and are likeable despite flaws. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Mischievous: These child characters frequently get into trouble or cause minor disasters due to their curiosity or intentional disregard for the rules. (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Quirky: Eccentric and idiosyncratic, these characters range from peculiar to bizarre, and generally add to the charm or humor of the stories in which they appear. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Relatable: Because their emotions and experiences are recognizable, readers are able to identify with these characters and their dilemmas. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Religiously diverse: These characters follow or have a background in a religion other than Christianity. While their active level of involvement in the religion may vary, the character’s religious beliefs are an important element in the story. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Sarcastic: These young characters sometimes employ sarcasm for humor, and sometimes to respond to difficult or challenging situations. (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Sassy: These books feature characters (usually women) with outsized personalities and a bottomless well of one-liners and comebacks. (Adults, Teens)

Snarky: These characters employ sarcasm, irony, and biting wit in their approach to life (and often have fun with it!). (Adults)

Spirited: These lively characters are full of energy and vigor. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Spunky: Feisty and scrappy, these characters have pluck and determination. (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Strong female: Whether catching criminals or saving the world, these take-charge women and girls are at the top of their game. (Adults, Teens)

Sympathetic: While sometimes dealing with difficult situations or making poor decisions, these characters are presented in such a way that readers empathize with them. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Twisted: Deviant and often unsettling, these characters push the boundaries of literature through behavior that ranges from disturbing to illegal. (Adults, Teens)

Unlikeable: Deliberately painted in an unflattering light, these characters will not gain the sympathy of readers, so there is less emotional investment if and when bad things happen to them. (Adults, Teens)

Well-developed: Sometimes appearing in more plot-driven stories, these characters rise above others in the strength of their development. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)


Storyline is a quick way to determine a book's focus -- is the plot what drives the story, or is character development where the real interest lies? Is the plot intricate, or sweeping and nonlinear? This helps readers find books with an overall structure they enjoy.

Action-packed: Pulse-pounding, high-octane excitement is the rule! (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Character-driven: Interior growth and development of characters is important. Fiction use only. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Intricately plotted: These books have intricate, complicated, or elaborate storylines, often involving multiple plots or numerous narrative twists and turns.  (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Issue-oriented: Issue-oriented books explore controversial themes, which may cover a variety of emotional, ethical, or social problems. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Nonlinear: Instead of being portrayed chronologically, the events in these books shift between different time periods. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Open-ended: Instead of providing all the answers, these books invite readers to ponder events long after the last page. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Own voices: Own voices applies to books in which the protagonist and the author share a marginalized identity. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Plot-driven: In these books, events rather than characters propel the story forward. Fiction use only. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Sweeping: These sprawling stories span decades or generations and frequently include multiple locations and historical events. (Adults)

Unconventional: Using unique or unexpected elements, these books may twist, adapt, or play on conventional storylines. (Adults, Teens)

World-building: These books immerse the reader in a vivid imaginary world with intricacies such as invented histories, languages, geography, or cultures. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)


Pace is the rate at which a story unfolds for the reader. We identify books falling at either end of the pacing spectrum -- titles that are clearly fast-paced and those which are steady -- as well as those that start slowly then accelerate as the story progresses.

Fast-paced: Events in these exciting books unfold rapidly, moving the reader quickly through the story. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Intensifying: These books gradually build in momentum throughout the story, resulting in a gripping conclusion. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Leisurely paced: Due to descriptive language, focus on detail, or careful development of character or setting, these books unfold slowly, allowing the reader to savor the narrative. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)


Tone is the feeling that a book evokes in the reader. Is the mood of the story light and upbeat, or dark and menacing? Is it inspirational or bleak? Does the setting significantly add to the emotional content of the story?

Amusing: They may not make you laugh out loud, but these entertaining stories have a light humor that sometimes accentuates more serious themes.  (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Angst-filled: Characters in these books experience problems associated with adolescence, such as questions about sexuality, popularity, or social standing.   (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Atmospheric: These books evoke the story's setting, whether it's a gothic mansion or a small Midwestern town.  (Adults, Teens)

Bittersweet: These books have a mixed emotional edge -- both pleasant and painful -- that is sustained throughout the story. (Adults, Teens)

Bleak: A dark outlook, frequently devoid of faith in human nature and tending away from hope or optimism.  (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Chaste: These books about romantic relationships focus on the emotions of the characters, and contain no sex or descriptions of sexual activity. (Adults, Teens)

Conservative: These books represent a conservative (often Republican) perspective when discussing American politics and social issues such as the environment, poverty, and the economy. Nonfiction use only.  (Adults)

Creepy: Unsettling in a visceral, skin-crawling way, these books make the reader uneasy, and may often have supernatural elements and eerie settings. (Adults, Teens)

Darkly humorous: The humor in these books derives from ironic or grimly satiric treatment of death, suffering, and other morbid subjects. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Disturbing: Approaching the darker side of human nature, these books are unsettling and often portray socially marginal or dysfunctional individuals. (Adults, Teens)

Dramatic: These cinematic books feature exciting and larger-than-life stories, depicting anything from historical events to space warfare. (Adults)

Emotionally intense: Conveying great depth or complexity of emotion, these books explore the inner lives of characters in detail. (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Explicit: These books contain lots of vividly described sex, ranging from the plainest (but plentiful) vanilla to the kinkiest of kink. (Adults)

Feel-good: A gentle, comfortable, and hopeful feeling (not just a happy ending). (Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Funny: Laugh-out-loud humor characterizes these books. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Gossipy: The actions and people in these books tend to be over-the-top and salacious. (Adults)

Gross: Yuck! Including lots of nasty, oozy, or disgusting facts or details, these books may be educational or purely for entertainment. (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Gruesome: Not for the squeamish, these books include a significant amount of explicit gore or other grisly elements. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Haunting: Often because of hard-hitting storylines, these books have a memorable, unforgettable quality that stays with the reader. (Adults, Teens)

Heartwarming: These uplifting stories ultimately leave readers feeling emotionally satisfied. (Adults)

Heartwrenching: These books convey emotions that are keenly distressing, hitting a nerve with readers and deeply affecting them.  (Adults)

High-drama: Juicy, sensational, and melodramatic, these books often deal with back-stabbing social scenes and catty personalities. (Adults, Teens)

Homespun: Simplicity is key in these books, which often have a rural or small-town setting and feature characters that are unpretentious and cherish old-fashioned values. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Hopeful: While addressing weighty issues, these books incorporate some optimistic elements, expressing the belief that things may improve. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Impartial: Presents a balanced view of a contentious subject. Nonfiction use only. (Adults)

Impassioned: These books convey strong emotions to readers because the authors are forcefully advocating a particular point of view, making an argument, or telling an emotional story. Nonfiction use only. (Adults, Teens)

Inspiring: These books have an inspiring, enlightening, or uplifting quality, which may or may not be religious in nature.   (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Irreverent: No institutions, people, or beliefs are off-limits in these humorous (and sometimes subversive) books. (Adults)

Liberal: These books represent a liberal (often Democratic) view on American politics, politicians, and social issues such as the environment, poverty, and the economy. Nonfiction use only. (Adults)

Melancholy: While not grim or hopeless, these books are sad, somber, or gloomy. (Adults, Teens)

Menacing: A sense of threat or menace pervades, evoking feelings of dread.  (Adults, Teens)

Mildly sensuous: Sex is present, but it’s not given pride of place. Relationships are of the most importance, but sometimes the characters act on their attractions. (Adults)

Moody: A dark and brooding tone that borders on melodrama. (Adults)

Moving: Emotionally resonant books that make readers feel invested in both the characters and the story. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Mystical: Touching on spiritual themes, these books often explore archetypes and incorporate metaphysical events. (Adults, Teens)

Noisy: Because of rousing, energetic pictures or text, these stories lend themselves to loud readings. (Ages 0-8)

Nostalgic: Characters reminisce, or the book as a whole looks back toward a particular place or time with longing and wistfulness.  (Adults)

Offbeat: Through plot twists, bizarre humor, and unique personalities, these quirky books recount unconventional, idiosyncratic, or unusual stories. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Patriotic: These books celebrate and show pride in one’s country and its achievements. (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8) 

Quiet: Soothing, low-key stories that have a calming effect on young readers. (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Racy Humor: Including coarse or risque material; these books refer to sex in a humorous way. (Adults)

Reflective: Contemplative books feature characters who think seriously about their lives and place in the world. (Adults, Teens)

Romantic: Not genre romances, but featuring strong romantic elements -- either between characters or in the nature of the story or setting itself. Happy endings not guaranteed! (Adults, Teens)

Sad: Issues dealt with in these books may be very serious (such as death), or less serious but still challenging (such as a friend moving away). (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Sardonic: Dry humor and biting wit set the tone in these stories. (Adults)

Scary: These spooky books have a frightening or menacing feeling that will make young readers uneasy.  (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Self-deprecating: Never taking themselves too seriously, the authors humorously expose their own embarrassments, making readers sympathize, laugh, and sometimes cringe! Nonfiction use only. (Adults)

Serious: Marked by seriousness, gravity, or solemnity, these books often confront social issues such as war, poverty,  gender, or racial concerns. (Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Silly: The class clowns of literature, these books are often quite absurd and ridiculous but lots of fun. (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Sobering: Addressing weighty social issues, these profoundly serious and hard-hitting books present a perspective that may be revelatory to the reader. (Adults)

Spiritual: These nonfiction books represent a spiritual outlook on religion and spirituality. Nonfiction use only. (Adults)

Steamy: In adult books, the sex is pretty vivid and goes beyond just innuendo. In teen books, there is still an unmistakably sexy aura, although perhaps not as much graphic detail. (Adults, Teens)

Strong sense of place: Powerfully depicted locales -- real or imaginary -- come alive and give them a good sense of what makes the place unique.  (Adults, Teens)

Suspenseful: Ranging in intensity from subtle psychological unease to nail-biting suspense, these books keep readers on edge. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Sweet: With a light tone and appealing innocence, these endearing books are cute, playful, and otherwise delightful.  (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Thought-provoking: More than just telling a story, these books take on big ideas – anything from philosophical quandaries to time paradoxes. (Adults, Teens)

Upbeat: These fun books are lighthearted, hopeful, and optimistic. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Violent: Not for the faint of heart, these books contain explicit or graphic violence. (Adults)

Whimsical: These fanciful and playful books will charm and enchant readers, and often include fairy tales or other elements of fantasy. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Writing Style

Writing style as an appeal factor includes the language used in the book and the level of detail in the background. How is the book written? Are care and attention placed on the words or language used to convey the story, or is this secondary to the plot? Does the author excel at including "extras" that enrich the reader's experience?

Accessible: These books explain a complicated or technical issue in an approachable manner. Nonfiction use only. (Adults)

Attention-grabbing: Irresistible to young readers, these books instantly draw them in. (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Banter-filled: These books are characterized by snappy repartee. (Adults, Teens)

Browsable: Information is arranged in short sections and is often accompanied by illustrations or other graphics to encourage browsing. Nonfiction use only.  (Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Candid: The narrative style of these books is frank and forthcoming, even when discussing potentially sensitive or uncomfortable subjects. (Adults, Teens)

Compelling: These powerful books draw readers irresistibly into the story. (Adults, Teens)

Comprehensive: These wide-ranging books thoroughly cover the background (and sometimes personalities!) of the subjects they explore. Nonfiction use only. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Concise: Without wasting a word, these nonfiction books deliver a wealth of information in a succinct format. Nonfiction use only. (Adults)

Conversational: Written informally, these read as if a close friend were telling a story. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Descriptive: Full of elaborate descriptions, these books use illustrative, expressive language. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Dialect-filled: Regional language and slang bring the setting to life. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Easy-to-understand: These make hard-to-understand things a little bit easier!  Nonfiction use only.  (Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Engaging: These books capture the imagination of readers through narrative style, character, or use of detail. (Adults, Teens)

Gritty: Characterized by a narrative style that includes dark and unsettling details, these books often depict violence. (Adults, Teens)

Jargon-filled: These books use the specialized, technical language of a particular group, trade, or profession. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Journalistic: Written about newsworthy issues, these books are well-researched but conversational, rather than scholarly. Nonfiction use only. (Adults, Teens)

Lush: Descriptive language evokes the senses, making readers feel as if they are experiencing what is being described. (Adults, Teens)

Lyrical: Elegant, beautiful, often with a rhythmic or poetic quality. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Minimal text: Generally used with young children, these have few words per page. The chosen words tend to be simple, and sentences are short. (Ages 0-8)

Participatory: These books will require the reader to engage with the story by answering questions or through physical interaction. (Ages 0-8)

Persuasive: These books may present both sides of an issue, but this is frequently used to bolster a specific opinion. Nonfiction use only. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Richly detailed: Details enrich these stories, sometimes focusing on a special body of knowledge (e.g., of forensics, music, history, etc.). (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Scholarly: Thoroughly researched and addressing complicated issues, the language in these books is academic or technical. Nonfiction use only. (Adults, Teens)

Slang-heavy: Characters in these books make frequent use of slang, which often aids in character development.  (Teens, Ages 9-12)

Spare: Minimal and elegant with great attention paid to the use of language. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Stream of consciousness: These novels and stories portray the uninterrupted and uneven flow of the characters' consciousness. (Adults, Teens)

Stylistically complex: Due to sophisticated language and narrative structure, these stories can often be read on a number of levels. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12)

Thoughtful: Despite covering a sensitive or controversial topic, these books are considerately written and handle the subject with respect. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Well-crafted dialogue: These books contain authentic or notable dialogue. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Witty: These cleverly written books use language in an inventive, humorous way. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Wordplay-filled: These books are full of puns, palindromes, anagrams, and other clever uses of language. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)


Books featuring a lot of illustration – both picture books and graphic novels – have a unique set of qualities important to their readers. Illustration appeal is geared toward identifying these elements and includes a range of terms that cover everything from color and drawing style to the mood evoked in the reader by the illustrations.

Big and bold: These illustrations convey ideas visually in a simple manner easily understood by young children. The contrast between bright colors and bold lines makes the pictures easily visible from a distance, even within a large group (making these books a great choice for story time!) (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Black-and-white: The artwork in these books is in black and white only, and may range from pen and ink drawings to watercolor-like effects in shades of gray.  (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Bold: The shapes or lines in these illustrations have a strong and striking appearance. The artwork may consist of simple, basic, or block-like shapes, and the lines may be dark, distinct, or thick.  (Adults, Teens)

Cartoony: This style features characters drawn with exaggerated, simplified features. Often humorous, it can be used to lighten difficult or disturbing themes. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Charming: The illustrations are captivating and pleasing to the eye. Often cute and playful, and they offer visual support for the light or upbeat tone in a story. (Adults, Teens)

Colorful: The full-color illustrations in these books feature vibrant colors. The artwork may vary widely, but the color palette is vivid. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Dark: Often used for emphasis in stories with a bleak, menacing, or serious tone, these illustrations are full of shadows and dark corners.  (Adults, Teens)

Delicate: Deft and fine in texture or structure. Lines are thinly drawn, and the effect of these pictures is subtle. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Detailed: These books convey a lot of information through the quantity and clarity of the detail within the objects and offer readers the chance to pore over the pictures. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Fanciful: These illustrations are imaginative and unexpected and may range from whimsical drawings to surrealistic art with a dreamlike quality. (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Folk-art style: Recognized by its flat perspective, simplified or stylized shapes, and dramatic use of color; frequently appears to have been created by either an untrained artist or one who does not adhere to academic standards for art. (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Impressionistic: These evocative illustrations use soft lines, reflected light, and color to capture a sensory, emotion-filled impression of a scene or an object. (Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Inventive: These creative books challenge the reader's perceptions with non-standard use of illustrative elements (inculding lines, panels, or color). (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Lavish: Whether through use of color, line, or detail, these beautiful illustrations are elaborate, sumptuous, and striking. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Minimally colored: Featuring a limited color palette, these books can be two-toned or grayscale with one or two brighter colors used as accents. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Muted: The subtle color used in these images may have a washed out or subdued quality. This restraint in the use of color often serves to set the tone of the story. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Nightmarish: Deliberately ugly, frightening, or unpleasant. Most likely to accompany storylines that are unpleasant, with a creepy, disturbing, or menacing tone. (Adults)

Photographic: These books use photographs as the primary method of illustration. Often found in nonfiction books where photographs are the primary illustrations. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Realistic: These illustrations use correct proportions and accurate use of perspective. The content may not represent reality, but the drawing style does. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Rough-edged: These illustrations are not sophisticated, polished, or elegant; instead, they have jagged lines and imperfect images, which can serve to emphasize the strong emotions that are often being portrayed. (Adults, Teens)

Surreal: These illustrations have a dreamlike or unreal quality, and attempt to express the workings of the subconscious. Typically done in a realistic style, they use unexpected juxtapositions of people or objects. (Adults, Teens)

Textured: The visible texture of these illustrations adds realistic depth and detail through the skillful use of the artistic medium. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Audio Characteristics

Audiobooks have a unique set of appeal characteristics based on the narration. Does the narrator have an accent? Are there multiple narrators or just one? Audio appeal covers everything from descriptions of the performance (full cast or read by the author) to terms describing voice quality, tone, and artistic delivery of the narrator.

Approachable: Through their clear and well-paced performances, these narrators make challenging concepts or language easier for listeners to understand. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Audio drama: These performances are either original audio productions, or were changed significantly from a book to a more dramatic form of the work. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Brisk: These narrators move their stories along with quick, agile readings. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Character accents: Incorporating accents into their performances, these narrators bring both characters and settings to life with their vocal versatility. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Comedic: Through good use of comic timing, these narrators channel the humor of the stories they read and convey it to listeners. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Commanding: These narrators deliver strong and authoritative performances.  (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Crisp: These narrators read in clear tones, with precise enunciation. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Deadpan: The humor in these books – sometimes wry and sometimes riotous – is delivered in a cool, impassive manner. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Detached: These performances are emotionally removed from the story, which often separates the listener from the impact of violent or disturbing events. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Distinctly voiced: These narrators provide a multiplicity of voices for their characters, sometimes through accents,  pitch, intonation, or tone. The result is that listeners can easily identify who is speaking. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Emotionally connected: Because of their connection with the characters, these narrators capture the emotional content of the books they read. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Energetic: These narrators imbue their performances with spirit, animation, and enthusiasm; adding to the humor, excitement, or drama. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Engrossing: These narrators skillfully draw listeners into the story, providing a memorable listening experience. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Folksy: These narrators highlight regional speech patterns, cadences, and dialects; often the characters they portray will be from rural areas, including but not limited to the South. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Full cast: In these performances, multiple narrators perform as individual characters during an interactive reading. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Gentle: These soothing voices are easy on the ear.  Sometimes this narrative style can make difficult subject matters easier to process. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Gravelly: These narrators have a husky, raspy, and throaty voices. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Immersive: Narration that captures the sensation of a time and place and immerses the listener in the story's setting. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Intense: Through dramatic, suspense-filled performances, these narrators keep listeners on the edges of their seats. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Live audience: Narrators or actors perform in the presence of a live audience.   (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Melodious: Lilting, dulcet voices offer a pleasing and almost hypnotic listening experience. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Multiple narrators: These performances include more than one narrator, often reading sections or chapters told from one character’s perspective.   (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Musically enhanced: Including anything from a few musical accents to a full musical score, this characteristic is most often found in full cast performances or in juvenile audiobooks. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Read by the author: In these performances, authors double as narrators, and listeners get the chance to hear the text as voiced by the author. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Resonant: These pleasing voices wash over the listener in rich and sonorous tones. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Sincere: With their heartfelt performances, narrators of these nonfiction audiobooks imbue their readings with genuine conviction. Nonfiction use only. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Somber: These performances underscore the serious nature of the stories. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Sound effects: Most often found in full cast performances or in juvenile audiobooks, these productions rely heavily on added audio elements. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Understated: While they may not be all bells and whistles, these restrained performances provide quietly memorable experiences. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Unhurried: These narrators take their time with the stories they read, using slower cadences and measured rhythms. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Warm: These appealing voices have pleasant, inviting tones. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Well-characterized: More than by simply differentiating their voices, these narrators inhabit the characters in a way that is authentic and convincing, bringing one or more personalities to life for the listener.   (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Wry: These books are read by narrators who excel at drawing out subtle humor, ranging from understated irony to acerbic wit. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Youthful: These voices often impart an air of innocence and buoyancy to the stories they read. (Adults, Teens, Ages 9-12, Ages 0-8)

Search Tips

Need an atmospheric, gritty, fast-paced historical novel at the drop of a hat? NoveList can help! Use two or more appeal terms together to increase the precision of your search results.  Here are some of our favorite combos! Combine appeal terms using AND with the field code AP in front of each term in the search box. Example: AP quiet AND AP muted.

AP quiet AND AP muted
Parents looking to help their kids wind down after a busy day might want to avoid noisy, gross, or silly picture books, and instead search for quiet ones with illustrations that are muted.

AP silly AND AP cartoony
Likewise, adults looking to get some energy going during storytime could look for silly picture books that are cartoony. Maybe add wordplay-filled, too.

AP world-building AND AP dramatic
Readers who can’t get enough of Game of Thrones should search for world-building and dramatic for an epic read.

AP folksy AND AP character accents
We love listening to accents, especially Southern accents (NoveList is based in North Carolina, after all!). A search for folksy and character accents will find audiobooks with a truly distinctive voice.

AP heartwarming AND AP inspiring
A combination of heartwarming and inspiring is perfect for readers looking for uplifting, feel-good stories. To limit the steam add chaste.

AP suspenseful AND AP twisted
Books with a suspenseful tone and twisted characters are sure to keep you up all night!