Top Ten Tuesday: Words/Topics That Make Me Pick Up A Book

April 30, 2013 Top Ten Tuesday 14


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s topic is Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book.

I’ll have to go with “Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Pick Up A Book,” because almost nothing is an insta-buy for me — certainly not words or topics, and recently, not even an author’s name.  (I’m getting more selective as my shelves get fuller and my budget gets a little tighter.)   But there are certainly words and topics guaranteed to make me pick up a book and take a second look.  In no apparent order:

  • dragonI fell in love with dragons in high school, when I discovered McCaffrey’s Pern novels.  I don’t like all dragons, nor all dragon books, but if a book is about dragons, it definitely warrants checking out the synopsis.  I’m currently listening to Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, and loving them.
  • paranormal mystery  Since I discovered Madelyn Alt’s charming series, I will pick up a paranormal mystery to check it out.  I may put it down again pretty quickly if it’s dark or has demons, but if it’s humorous and relatively light, I may decide to give it a try.
  • knittingFiction or nonfiction, I’m likely to pick up a knitting book for a second look.  Combine knitting with mystery (or fantasy — i.e., Princess of the Midnight Ball), and you’ve probably sold me on reading it.
  • fairy tale retellingI love these.  Not all of them, it’s true, but enough of them that the mere hint that it’s a fairy tale retelling will get me to consider reading it.  I like the ones that are very fairy-tale-ish, like Jessica Day George’s Princess trilogy or Robin McKinley’s retellings, but I also like it when authors successfully recast the fairy tale into some other time and place, like Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Magic and 500 Kingdoms series.
  • music and musicians fiction and occasionally nonfiction.  I especially like music in combination with fantasy.  But mostly classical or folk-style music; I’m not particularly into reading about rock musicians.  I’m a singer (of sorts), so I gravitate toward tales of singers (like McCaffrey’s Menolly), but I also like bards like Rothfuss’s Kvothe and violinists/fiddlers like Lackey’s Rune, a.k.a. Lark.  And harpists and pipers and… you get the idea.   (And yes, like Rune’s nickname, my online nickname is related to my music.) 
  • English village particularly when combined with mystery, a la Christie, Aird, Ngaio Marsh, Nancy Atherton, sometimes Tey and Sayers, etc.  Actually, if a you combine English with mystery even without the village aspect, you’ll probably grab my attention, at least long enough to ascertain whether the book is dark and gritty which will promptly lose my attention again.  (I don’t do really dark, gritty, or creepy-psychotic in my mysteries.  I like to sleep at night.  But I don’t object to sensitive police procedurals, like Deborah Crombie’s wonderful Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series.)
  • encountering another cultureI’m particularly drawn to this theme in fantasy.  You find it in everything from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover novels to some of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books to Naomi Novik’s Throne of Jade (which I just finished.)  What I really enjoy is seeing how a main character from one culture reacts to, learns about, and perhaps adapts to another culture.  If the cover or title hints of this, or the synopsis suggests it, I’m intrigued.
  • Arthurian legendsI’m not as strongly drawn to this topic as I was when I was younger (I could fill a whole box with my books about King Arthur, and half another box besides), but anything to do with the Arthurian legends will usually get a second look from me.

I know I’ve only come up with eight, but the others I’m coming up with are too broad (fantasy, magic, 19th-century romance), and they don’t guarantee I’ll pick up a book or even give it a second glance.  So these will have to do!

14 Responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Words/Topics That Make Me Pick Up A Book”

  1. Christy @ Love of Books

    Great list. I’m not big on dragons, but I love my zombies. Time travel and parallel universes are 2 that Grab my attention the most.

    Oh man, I haven’t read Mercedes Lackey in a long time.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Zombies are actually one of my turn-offs. Good thing there are lots of different books to suit all our different tastes! 🙂 Time travel can get my attention too, but not as firmly.

      Re Mercedes Lackey — I still love her, but she hasn’t been as consistently good in the past few years, in my humble opinion. The story ideas are still there, but the execution isn’t always up to her usual standards. I wonder if she’s getting the editing she needs (not proof-reading, but structural/literary editing.)

  2. Becki @ The Flutterby Room

    Books that are about dragons are definitley interesting. I didn’t add them to my list, but fairy tale re-tellings can be really good reads too. It was really interesting to read your choices and why.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      There’s just something fun and satisfying about seeing a well-known story in a new setting, or with a twist. Look at the popularity of Once Upon a Time on ABC! (I actually haven’t seen it, but one of my nieces is a fan.)

  3. Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

    I love how you added knitting to your list. I’ve read one book with knitting and that was Debbie Macomber’s The Shop on Blossom Street. I thought it was such a sweet read! This reminds me that I should probably get back into the series! Everything you mentioned on your list makes me pick up a book as well!
    Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I’ve enjoyed the Blossom Street books, though some of them have drifted a bit far from the shop (like the newest, Starting Over, which I reviewed a few months ago. I liked it, though.) I also like Maggie Sefton’s Knitting Mystery series set in Colorado, and there was a good fiction novel called The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club, by Gil McNeil (it has two sequels.)

  4. kimbacaffeinate

    Love your list..mine would be alpha male, kickass heroine, zombies, small towns, dystopian, post-apocalypse and suspense or mystery.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      [I was sure I had replied to you, Kimba! But Blogger thinks not. Weird. Let me try again:]

      Yes to small towns, mystery, kick-ass heroines, and sometimes alpha males. (Sometimes they’re a bit too alpha, or maybe too much attitude?) But I’m afraid I’ll skip the zombies, and dystopian or post-apocalypse only appeals in certain cases (like Cinder!)

      Of course, that’s part of the fun of discussing books — we all have different tastes, and sometimes we can persuade each other to try something new!

  5. Bea

    My list would be somewhat similar to yours: dragons, UF mystery (though, I don’t mind going darker), Arthurian legends, re-telling fairy tales plus cozy mysteries, cats, horses, mysteries in general, contemporary romance.

    Good post. 🙂