I really need to start doing more Top Ten Tuesdays! I love the meme, but lately I’ve either been (1) too busy to write the posts or (2) not particularly inspired by the topics. This week should be easy, though; it’s ten words or topics that instantly make me want to buy (or at least read) a book. So here are ten of mine, in no particular order:
1. Jane Austen — Because there’s so much Austen-related stuff out there, from sequels to spinoffs to naughty retellings, I’ve gotten pretty selective about what I’ll actually read. (For example, I’ll pass on anything that involves Mr. Darcy as a supernatural creature of any kind.) But I still try to keep track of what’s out there and make a note of what looks interesting…because it is Jane Austen. And she is awesome.
2. Political intrigue — I’m a sucker for books with a lot of political maneuvering and rebellions and secret conspiracies. I think it’s because I have no gift for strategic thinking whatsoever (as evidenced by my wretchedness at chess and Risk). But even though I’m not particularly good at it, I really like trying to anticipate everybody’s next move!
3. Spies — I think characters who are spies raise a lot of interesting dramatic conflicts. First of all, there’s the obvious suspense: what if the person slips up and compromises his/her cover? One false move could mean exposure and almost certain death. And then there’s the issue of divided loyalties. After the person has been undercover for so long, how do we know whose side (s)he is really on?
4. World War II — This is a more recent interest of mine, but for the last year or two I have become very fascinated by books set in this time period. London during the Blitz captures my imagination the most. I am filled with admiration for the brave people who “kept calm and carried on,” even when their entire world was crumbling around them.
5. Epistolary novels — I know some people can’t stand these, but I love them! It’s a unique way of telling a story that places a lot of focus on characters and relationship-building. It also places a constraint on authors — they can’t write about anything that their characters wouldn’t know about — which forces them to be creative.
6. The Napoleonic Wars and Regency era — This is obviously tied into my love for Austen (see above). But it’s an amazingly interesting period of history, both politically and socially. I particularly enjoy reading biographies of famous figures from the era, because they reveal so much about what life was like back then. A great example is Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style by Ian Kelly, if anyone’s interested!
7. Books about music or musicians — Along with books, music is one of my greatest passions and main hobbies. I have played music for most of my life, starting with piano lessons in 2nd grade and trombone lessons in 7th. I still perform in a community band and sing in my church choir, and if “rock star” were a feasible career option for me, I would be on the road in my tour bus tomorrow. 🙂 Plus, musicians are hot; you can’t deny it!
8. Retold fairy tales — I love that authors are constantly taking these ancient stories and putting a new spin on them. Of course, it depends on what kind of spin…for instance, I’m not personally a fan of very dark retellings. I prefer a sincere happily-ever-after! But I like that these seemingly simple stories can be interpreted in so many different ways.
9. English country house murders — I’m a huge sucker for this story: the unpleasant owner of an estate dies, and everyone around him has a motive for murder. There’s no possibility of an outsider or servant (there are always servants) having committed the crime, so it has to be one of about six or seven suspects. The amateur detective (or occasionally the Scotland Yard inspector — never the local police) solves the crime through a series of brilliant deductions without having to wade through all that tiresome police procedure. Is this story completely formulaic? Yes; but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
10. Slow-burning romance — I am a big fan of novels in which the hero and heroine get together at the end. Yes, I am a huge sap and a sucker for romance. But for me, the best love stories are the ones that take a long time to unfold. When two characters don’t get together right away, each glance and each touch becomes incredibly significant. Delayed gratification also gives the characters time to truly know each other, and it gives their love a chance to be tested. In other words, I like the slow burn. 🙂
So what buzzwords or topics make a book catch your eye? Or, conversely, what makes you steer clear of a book?