Top Ten Tuesday: What draws me to a book

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is one of my all-time favorites: the top 10 things that make me want to read a book. Why do we love the books we love? What makes us add some books to our TBR list and not others? What plots, tropes, and topics appeal to us so strongly that, when we encounter them in a book, we feel like that book has been written just for us? These are questions I love to think about, although I’m far from having answers to them! Still, here are 10 things that always excite me about a book and compel me to learn more, in no particular order.

1. Anything related to Jane Austen — This one is obvious, but I’m always going to be drawn to Austen-related books! Whether it’s a retelling, a new biography, or a piece of literary criticism, I’m definitely going to at least learn more about it — that is, if I don’t buy it right away!

2. Epistolary novels — I love a good epistolary novel, and I think it’s because I enjoy character-driven books and don’t really care about setting. Novels in letters (or emails, texts, etc.) naturally don’t spend a lot of time on descriptions of scenery; everything is dialogue and character development.

3. Fake relationships — This is probably my very favorite romance trope, although I’m not sure I can explain why! I think it’s a great way to set up romantic tension in which the conflict is mostly internal. It all comes down to whether the characters will be brave enough to reveal their true feelings.

4. Thieves and con artists — There’s just something about protagonists who cheerfully bend or break the rules for the sake of a greater good. They’re super charming and compelling to me, even if I wouldn’t necessarily agree with them in real life.

5. Magical Regency — As a diehard Austen fan (see #1), the day I learned that there are books that combine an Austen-esque world with magic was one of the greatest days of my life!

6. Historical mysteries — I’ve been an Agatha Christie fan since I was about 12, and I love mystery novels that aren’t too gory but instead focus on the puzzle of whodunit and why. Combine that type of mystery with an interesting historical setting — especially the 19th century or the Golden Age of detective fiction — and my interest is definitely piqued.

7. Spies — Give me all the twists and turns of a plot filled with espionage, double-crosses, and people keeping secrets!

8. World War II — The past few years have seen a real boom in the number of books set during World War II, especially from the Allied perspective in Europe. While part of me wants to shun anything too trendy, a larger part of me just wants to keep ’em coming!

9. Music and musicians — As an amateur musician myself, I’m always intrigued when I learn about characters who play music, either professionally or as a hobby. It’s especially satisfying when an author describes the experience of playing (or hearing) music in a way that rings true to me.

10. Happy endings — This is a bit simplistic, since I have also really loved some books with sad endings. But in general, I read for pleasure, so I prefer endings that are emotionally satisfying: the murderer is caught, the lovers end up together, the quest is fulfilled. I do see the value in reading difficult books that make you think and engage with the hard aspects of reality; but given the choice, I’ll go for the happy ending almost every time.

In creating this list, it was fun for me to refer back to the last time this topic came up . . . turns out, my list hasn’t changed all that much! What are some of your favorite topics or tropes in books? Do you agree or disagree with anything on my list?

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