This is part of The Broke and the Bookish‘s “Top Ten Tuesdays” meme.
There’s a lot that will make me want to read a book. By some miracle, I’ve whittled the list down to ten things.
In principle, I believe that you should read a wide variety of genres so that you can get the greatest exposure to all the writerly goodness that the world has to offer. In practice, I totally read the same type of book over and over. And you know what? I’m not even sorry. Principles, schminciples. (I’m gonna be such a great stuck-in-my-ways old person.)
Ten things that will make me want to read a book are:
- Urban fantasy. Weaving a mythical world into the existing one? Yes, please. Help me to believe that there’s magic, mystery, and danger lurking in every corner and shadow of this otherwise dull world. And then help me stop believing that at night, or else I’ll become convinced that there’s a magical axe murderer in my closet.
- A non-Eurocentric setting. I’m such a sucker for what I haven’t seen before. Give me all the fantasies set in non-Eurocentric cultures. Bonus points if they’re historical fantasies—I received a very patchy education re: world history, so anything historical feels mind-blowingly original. Sad, I know.
- Magic. GIVE ME ALL THE MAGIC. I don’t care if it’s flashy or subtle, cast with a wand or a wave of the hand, benign or savage. I LOVE MAGIC SO MUCH.
- Lovable groups of supportive friends. Is there anything better than watching a group of lovable misfits go on wacky adventures, learn important life lessons, and affirm the ever-loving sh*t out of each other? No. No, there is not.
- Nonhuman characters. I love it when books have characters that are definitely not human and act like it. These characters come from different societies, have different abilities and limitations, and inevitably carry a different view of the world. It’s like a mini ethnography. But with magic. And jokes. And zero stress about moderating ethnocentric bias.
- Moody seaside settings. Nothing brings out my inner Gothic-Romantic like a moody, mysterious little town on the coast. It’s shrouded in fog and mystery. I can practically smell the salty air.
- Humor that is either very dry, very ridiculous, or both. I consider humor to be the most crucial element of a story. If it isn’t at least a little bit funny, there’s almost no way I’ll finish it. If a story doesn’t make you laugh, you’ll just walk away from it feeling sad—and what’s the point of that?
- Explosions. I’m not saying that stuff has to blow up. I’m just saying that if it does, I’m going to be interested. Very, very interested.
- Minority protagonists whose story doesn’t revolve around their minority status. Stories about what it’s really like to be a minority are so, so important. They’re a source of comfort, inspiration, and solidarity. But at the same time, it’s so, so important to have books that acknowledge minority status but don’t dwell on it. Because yeah, discrimination can really screw up your life. But you know what else can? The Dark Lord of Creeping Shadows and his plot to destroy the world. He doesn’t care if you’re a deaf hijabi. And you know what? Neither do I. Go kick his butt, Fatima.
- A book I like in another language that I speak. And here you thought I was done with the extreme language-culture geekery. Nope. I’ll never be done with that. I love re-reading my favorites in another language for two reasons: 1) I get to see how they’ve translated the text and hunt for slight differences that alter meaning, and 2) I get to practice the language and expand my vocabulary. Bonus points if the books have wide margins for notes.
We often say that we geek out over books, but after completing this list, I’m starting to suspect that I might be taking that saying a little too literally 😅 Oh, well! We’re all giant geeks around here.
Do any of these things grab your attention in a book? And (because I’m
nosy curious), what languages do you speak? Which ones would you like to learn?