This week’s topic is:
Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book
(in no particular order)
Though I try my best to give books a chance beyond the surface of their cover art or their titles, there are some key or “trigger” words in summaries and titles (or overheard through the grapevine) that make me instantly need to read a book. Sometimes it’s an entire genre, sometimes it’s a setting, sometimes it’s a particular type of character or relationship. Either way, the second I see these things, the more I want to find out about the book. Of course, the mention of such subjects is not enough for me to like a book, but pursuing some of these interests has led me to discovering some of my favorite young adult novels today. I don’t think I could stop reacting to these words or topics even if I tried…
1. England, France, Japan, Australia — Any Place I’ve Ever Wanted to Travel
I have a bucket list of places in the world I’d like to visit someday, when the finances and time are on my side. These locations are all over the world, from Europe to Australia to Japan, so whenever I see a book based in any country that intrigues me, I have to give it a chance… as if I can absorb the culture, language, and all the sights through the pages until I can experience them myself. (Bonus points if the book has characters (read: cute boys) with foreign accents, especially if they’re British.) This is how I ended up reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.
2. Strong Female Characters
Nothing makes me want to read a book more than strong female characters. I love seeing women kick ass, and if they’re in a leading role, doing all the things ridiculous people think they’re too weak to handle, I love them even more. (Actually, if a book has weak female characters, I most likely will have trouble getting through it.) The Gallagher Girls novels, the Heist Society novels, the Gemma Doyle trilogy, Cinder, The Hunger Games, and a HUGE list of novels that would take me ages to name all interested me for their fantastic female characters. One of my favorite books in this category is E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks.
3. Fairy Tale Retellings
I love everything about fairy tales, the actual ones and their Disney counterparts, so fairy tale retellings, especially if they’re in a different setting or modernized, automatically grab my attention. I have a thing for castles, kingdoms, princes and princesses, and who can resist a romantic tale of Good VS. Evil? Considering Marissa Meyer’s Cinder has all of these things and an epic quest and an amazing cast of characters, is it any wonder I had to pick it up?
4. Regency, Victorian, All Period Stuff
I love period books – everything Regency and Victorian and elegant and lovely. There is something about that era that fascinates me (and the gorgeous gowns, the corsets, and the gentlemen dancing in ballrooms don’t hurt). Regency romance novels (I automatically think of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series) particularly enchant me, but the book I automatically bought from this keyword, no further questions asked, was A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. With such a gorgeous cover, completely indicative of its period, what else was there to know? (It’s actually one of my favorite fantasy-ish trilogies of all time, though that isn’t why I picked it up initially.)
5. Strong Platonic Friendships, Strong Female Friendships
I fall for romantic relationships all the time (hell, I have more fictional ships than I know what to do with), but what really pulls me to a novel are strong platonic friendships that survive over time, especially when these platonic friendships are between women. More often than not, female relationships in fiction are petty and superficial, even when they start off strong. For some reason, these books seem to think that something ridiculous, like a boy, can easily pull apart the strongest of friendships because women can’t react to other women, even those whom they hold dear, without some kind of jealousy or rivalry. This is why I adore Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series so much. Cammie, Bex, Macey, and Liz are a team, and they truly care about each other. In a life crisis, whether it’s life threatening or just something of a more personal nature, they have each other’s back. (This is also why Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi is one of my favorite manga. The senshi’s strong friendship is beautiful.)
6. Mythology, Lore, or Legend-Based (including Retellings)
I majored in Classics in university, so I’m a huge fan of anything mythological, whether it’s mythology-based, mythology-inspired, or an actual retelling. The novel doesn’t even have to be centered on mythology to pique my interest, as long as the elements are present. One of the biggest series I’ve fallen in love with for this reason is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, though of course, when I started reading the books at the age of eleven/twelve, I had no idea how rooted in mythology the novels actually were. I also love the Arthurian legends (I’m actually making my way through BBC’s Merlin, Series 5 right now), which is why I was intrigued by Meg Cabot’s Avalon High when I first heard about it.
7. Diverse Ensemble Cast of Characters
If I’m not a fan of the characters in a novel, the chances are that I won’t enjoy it much. At all. So when I hear that a book has an extraordinary range of characters, diverse culturally and personality-wise, that will make me fall in love with each of them, I have to check it out. This was the case with all of the Ally Carter novels (Gallagher Girls and Heist Society) I currently adore.
8. Road Trips
I like road trips. Mostly because I would like to one day go on a road trip (or backpack across Europe, whichever seems more feasible at the time). The locations, the cooperation and relationship needed to be able to travel with another person for an extended period of time, and the issues these characters usually need to resolve along the way are what make these books for me. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour and Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt are two of my favorites.
9. Ancient Latin
As a huge Classics nerd, any use of the Latin language (correctly) makes me automatically want to read a book. The Harry Potter series, of course, uses Latin everywhere, from its spells to some of its names, but the book that I had to read the second I discovered how significant a role this beautiful semi-dead language played in the story was Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow. A Latin mystery in which the protagonist must translate documents for hints? Instant buy. (This book also featured Prague, which is one of the most beautiful places in the world and a city I’ve actually visited and fallen in love with, so this book really was a must-buy for me.)
The fantasy genre is a hit or miss for me. It was once easy for me to find so many YA books in this genre that interested me, but now it’s become so… “diluted” that it’s difficult for me to find any that don’t disappoint me. Supernatural/paranormal things tend to make me wary, especially after how popular the genre has become in recent years, and I rarely find dystopian series that are well done beginning to end. But the word ‘magic’ — maybe it’s because I’m a Harry Potter fan — rarely fails me and continues to grab my attention. I couldn’t tell you what it is about “witches and wizards and magical beasts”* that I love, or why books rooted in magic make me want to read them so much. They just… enchant me. Maybe it’s the way magic comes with a new series of problems, that they’re an aspect of the characters but these characters continue to face adversity as we do in the real world. I love adventurous novels, I love novels of mystery, and novels with magical elements tend to include both. They also usually have romance, but unlike the supernatural genre, most of the novels I’ve encountered (or maybe I’ve just been lucky) dealing with magic don’t let the romance overpower the task at hand… (Basically, the actual plot.) Harry Potter and the Gemma Doyle trilogy both fit this category, but this keyword is actually the reason why I read Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough.
*“Witches, wizards, and magical beasts” is taken from A Very Potter Musical‘s “Get Back to Hogwarts”.
Which words or topics make you instantly pick up a book?