Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the bloggers of The Broke and the Bookish. I altered this prompt slightly to be: Top Ten Aspects of a Book That Make Me Want to Pick It Up." Relying just on words or topics on the cover/blurbs/paratext felt a little too confining for me.
The Chosen One — This is perhaps my greatest weakness of all. Time and again, I just love reading about characters who are usually raised up from obscurity because they are the ONLY ones able to save the world/complete this task. I'm an extremely character-driven reader, and the depth of characterization this type of story can provide is wonderful. Yes, I realize there's definitely a possibility for these types of books to fail - and fail epically. But there's nothing sweeter than reading a book like this that was done well. (ex. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)
The Girl Masquerading as a Boy — Whether it is to fight against injustice, protect her identity, or find a sense of freedom, I just love reading about females who actively fight against conventions by masquerading as males. To clarify, I view masquerading as an active choice, rather than being forced to hide or adopt a disguise. Generally these types of books show that the females are in control of their own fates and are not about to allow male conventions to dictate their lives. (ex. Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce)
The Fighting Female Protagonist — I am well aware that there are tons of ways that females can assert their equality (or superiority) to men, but this never ever fails to appeal to me. In general, females are smaller, less muscular, and less athletic than men, so it's so rewarding to read about females who are able to overcome those particular issues and prove that their physical strength is a force to be reckoned with. (ex. Graceling by Kristin Cashore)
A Character Thrust in the Middle of Intense Political Intrigue — Although real-world politics don't interest me all that much (something I do need to work on), I find myself so fascinated by political situations found within fantasy and historical fiction novels. And what makes that political drama even more exciting for me? When a character who couldn't care less and fully intends to remain far-removed from it all suddenly becomes a player, forced to learn about all the nuances in the political conflict and work to determine his/her own views. (ex. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith)
Unreliable Narration — I think it's so easy to fall into the assumption that everything the narrator says is true. I know I do it all the time. After all, for the most part a singular narration is our guide into new conflicts, worlds, and characters. So when the information we've learned comes into question, it can be both an exciting and frustrating experience. Mostly exciting, I think, and it pushes me to become an even more active reader, which is a good thing. (ex. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner)
Focus on Non-Romantic Relationships — Romance is well and good in stories, but sometimes I get the feeling that it's overdone. Every book has to have a romance, or so it seems, especially for young adult novels. So when I find a book whose focus isn't on romance (and maybe even doesn't include one at all), I get ridiculously excited. Our lives are so much more than romance, and relationship doesn't have to equate to romantic love. Friendships and family relationships are just as important. (ex. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein)
Retelling of a Favorite Fairy Tale/Story/Myth — Retellings are so wonderful because they allow people to rethink and reexamine widely known stories. Even already knowing the basics of a story, there are so many variations that can be taken in retellings. I appreciate both lots of creativity and innovation in rewriting a favorite story and also those stories that toe much closer to the original tale, yet still are able to add extra facets to a beloved story. (ex. Beauty by Robin McKinley)
Alternate POV of a Well-Known Story/Historical Event — I love learning about historical events or reading original stories, but, as I mentioned in the point above, there's something so fascinating about being able to look at it from a different perspective. And let's face the truth here: only in recent history have events and stories been told in ways that do not primarily privilege the white male point of view. I'm not only talking about gender issues here, but more broadly about any underrepresented group through the history of the world and written text. (ex. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley)
Fantasy World with a Complex Map — I love reading about fantasy worlds. I love seeing the creativity that go into them and just to learn about a place that's different from the world we inhabit. It can be difficult to visualize those worlds, however, so I always appreciate a map. I remember reading somewhere the dumbest argument ever: one fantasy author kept getting so annoyed that his readers asked for a map, arguing something along the line that we don't urge contemporary authors to include maps. (Anyone else read about this and know who said it?) How exactly are extra aids like maps and glossaries detrimental to a reading experience? Books are ultimately made for the readers, and I think maps can only enhance that reading experience. (ex. A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin)
Standalone — Perhaps I'm becoming a bit of a broken records here, but I adamantly believe that not every story needs to be told in more than one novel. There's absolutely nothing wrong with an author having a specific story to tell, and being cognizant of the fact that while the story could be expanded (or the world could be expanded, or the secondary characters could be better explored, etc.), that's not really necessary. Few things make me happier in books than a standalone that ends on a perfect note. (ex. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater)
Please let me know what are the top ten words/topics that make you want to buy or pick up a book!