Top Ten Tuesday is sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish.
Top ten things that make me immediately want to read a book has turned into top nine things, but I figured that was close enough. Read below to get a better idea of what my reading tastes tend toward.
I’m a sucker for these, plain and simple. Fairy-tales are the backbone of modern stories, and I think there is something beautiful about the simplicity of these narratives. They speak to that part of us that longs to believe in magic.
Top Picks: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, Beauty by Robin McKinley, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Magic and history working together in coordination? Heck yes! Basically my two favorite genres mixed into one. It really doesn’t get better than that. I love both alternate histories (like Patricia C. Wrede’s magical regency London) as well as historical settings where magic and folklore is a part of a specific culture or place (most of Juliet Marillier’s works).
Top Picks: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede, The Native Star by MK Hobson, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
Fascinating, unique magic systems
Please, please do not give me a “chosen one” protagonist who possess “the strongest magic ever” and is born to be the “savior of the world.” That has been done to death. I want magic that feels real within it’s world. A system that invokes the imagination. Something beyond spells, beyond wizards (though this can be unique if done well). Give me something that boggles the mind.
Top Picks: Anything by Garth Nix, The Archived by Victoria Schwab, Veneficas Americana series by MK Hobson.
Hate to Love Romance
This is such an overdone trope, but it is overdone for a reason. There is a fine line between love and hate, since both are heightened emotions. I love watching the process of two characters moving from frustration into love–and it is often the things that frustrated them most at first that they come to love about each other. These can be such exciting, emotional journeys, you can’t help rooting for characters who clearly have so much chemistry in their banter, that they stand on such equal footing, it is often clear to everyone else around them that they JUST NEED TO GET TOGETHER. However, this trope can go very, very wrong, when witty banter is substituted by abuse. There is a difference between domination of one character over another and a denial of mutual attraction between bantering equals who clearly respect each other.
Top Picks: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, The Native Star by MK Hobson, The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
WWI, WWII setting – well researched and well written (or memoir)
That second caveat is extremely important. I have been intensely fascinated by WWI and II for the past six years and have come to know a few things about the topic. I can spot in an instant an author who does not truly understand the unimaginable tragedy of the wars. However, an author may understand the topic but just does not have the writing skills to tell a compelling story, which is just as frustrating. For such a emotion-filled subject, you need to be very careful how you tell a story set in events actual people experienced.
Top Picks: Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoove, The Nightingale by Kirstin Hannah, Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
I will read anything by Juliet Marillier, VE Schwab, or Patricia C. Wrede. There are very, very few authors I can say that about. Classic authors include Jane Austen, the Brontes, JRR Tokien, and Thomas Hardy.
Even if a premise does not interest me, I will be more willing to read it if bloggers I trust have given a book good reviews. For instance, I would never, ever have read Scythe by Neal Shusterman without recommendations from friends and other bloggers and it ended up being a surprisingly fascinating read.
Gorgeous description, haunting tone
I am a sucker for mood which I’ve mentioned before. If a book takes on a lyrical, haunting tone, it instantly sucks me in. While I don’t usually love ghost stories themselves, I love the tone of ghost stories, of old tales shimmering backward into the mists of time, so that you feel haunted by the end.
Top Picks: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Regency and Victorian England
19th Century British Novel was my favorite class in college. If I were to continue on with a masters degree in English it would definitely focus on this time period. I am a sucker for Jane Austen, for a comedy of manners, for the social intrigue surrounding court and daily life of the time. Give me Austen, the Brontes, Trollope, Hardy, etc. the list goes on. However, there is a tendency in modern writers to overlay modern modes of thought on regency and Victorian characters. Georgette Heyer writes passionate romances with modern heroines who Jane Austen would have painted as ridiculous. Regency romances are rampant with an idealized version of the time period. If a modern writer (Sherwood Smith and Patricia C. Wrede, for instance) truly understands the time period, I love them all the more for it.
Top Picks: Anything by Jane Austen, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede, Crown Duel and A Trouble with Kings by Sherwood Smith (not set in this time period, but pulls from the social manners of the day).