Bookish List

More Specific Things I Love in Books

Hi there, it’s Sabrina!  I’ve previously written a post just like this one, where I discussed a few specific things that I love to come across in books and want to read more of, but as I’ve since discovered – I have a lot more to talk about!  I’m so pleased that I am still finding topics and writing styles that fascinate me endlessly. It is such a joy to find something new that works for me and to be able to discover more books like it. And instead of repeating myself any more, I will just get into the list!

MONSTERS

ominous forest

Starting off with something very general, I want to talk about monsters.  Well, really I want to read about them so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.  I love how symbolic monsters can be, and how scary and unpredictable too. You never really know if they are a force for good or bad (though I do like it when they end up good). They usually make for a creative story too, because in my opinion, there is no generic monster – their appearances are vastly different and they typically have different motives, backstories and even special powers. This originality is something that really draws me in to a story.

Examples:
PetSawkill GirlsMonstress

(SHORT) DESERT JOURNEYS

desert sand dunes

I have to say, I think this one is more incidental than anything else, but a lot of my favourite books seem to feature a journey across the desert, however brief. I’m not sure if I would like an entire book about travelling across the desert, but in the short term I seem to enjoy it! I think it’s great for character growth because of the usually harsh conditions – for example, it can make me empathise more with a character and see them as tougher than before. It can also foster relationship development if two or more characters are journeying alone. The isolated environment is perfect for meaningful conversations and helping each other through tough moments.

Examples:
Spin the DawnStrange the Dreamer – Howl’s Moving Castle

WOMEN IN SCIENCE LABS

microscope

I feel like I keep bringing this up recently, but I love reading about people working in laboratories! To be honest, I haven’t really read anything in the “scientist men” genre, so I need to try that out before I include it – especially as one of the things I like about the women in science thing is seeing them experience and (usually) overcome sexism. I imagine this would also be present when it comes to other genders.  I think the main reason I love reading about this topic is because it reminds me of my days in education where I would have to do lab experiments myself.  The smell was always horrific and it’s something that I can easily bring to mind which helps me visualise the story’s setting clearly.  It especially works for me if the book is mysterious or sinister, because I already associate those things with labs, lol, but my interest extends to nonfiction and regular fiction too.

Examples:
Below The Edge of DarknessThe Echo WifeTranscendent Kingdom

STORYTELLING AND STRUCTURAL GIMMICKS

notebook in the shadows

I hate to say it, but I love a good structural gimmick that grabs my attention but adds little else to the story (or a lot to the story – I’m not picky when it comes to this, lol). One of my favourite examples of these gimmicks, to explain what I mean, is in The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe. At the beginning of almost every chapter, it lists the items the main character has in her possession, along with the exact time and date. This little trick immediately makes me pay attention to what I’m reading because it feels more significant – whether it actually is or not. To me, it makes a book feel more unique and can add a lot of tension. I love countdowns, long chapter titles, pictures, other documents – you name it!

Examples:
The Girls I’ve Been – PiranesiMiddlegame

MYSTERIOUS ANCIENT HISTORIES

dinosaur bones

I adore complex world building, and when an author has created an entire history for the world of their story it captures my attention and imagination. It especially works for me when this history is ancient and mysterious and the characters of the present day are slowly discovering all about it alongside the reader. I love finding out how events of the past influence the events of the story, how it can mirror the present and the way it can answer questions even as it creates so many more. I think this brings so much to a story and I am always on the lookout for books like this, though, like with most other items on this list, it’s hard to tell from synopses alone whether it’s included.

Examples:
The Broken EarthThe Mirror Visitor – The Locked Tomb

INTENSE CHARACTER INTERESTS

paintbrushes and dried flowers

This is not mind-blowing news or anything, but there is no better way to help me connect and empathise with a character than by giving them a passion for something. I absolutely adore characters who have intense interests in certain hobbies or subjects – especially when they are similar to my own, but that’s not necessarily important. I also love learning new things thanks to a character’s own expertise, particularly subjects I know nothing about. Of course this also helps make characters feel more realistic, like fully formed people rather than props to move a plot along. Though having said that, perfection for me is when the character’s interests do end up having an important impact on the overall story and actually matter to the plot!

Examples:
StarfishEverything Leads to YouEven If We Break

COOL TREES

tree covered in fairy lights

I always love a good tree in real life and for some reason I never get tired of a cool, magic tree (or whole forest!) in fiction either. I could say more broadly that I love any sort of magical nature elements in books, and while this is true, I put the magical tree at the top of that list, so I’m focusing on that today. I also have to admit that I seem to come across this sort of thing more often in TV and movies than in books, so I am in desperate need of recommendations for this – especially as, in my limited experience, the book versions tend to be more unique whereas the magical trees of television are almost always psychic for some reason. Either way, I love how the special tree implies that there is magic all around, not just in people but places too.

Examples:
The Shannara Chronicles – Uprooted – The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

FAIRYTALES, FOLKLORE AND MYTHOLOGY INFLUENCES

tower on the coast

I’m thinking you might have guessed this would be one of my choices after seeing the cover image for this post! And it’s probably no surprise anyway that I love books inspired or otherwise influenced by fairytales, folklore and mythology. One of my favourite stories to read is a good Beauty and the Beast retelling, and I am always looking for more of those. I think the main thing I love about these stories are the fresh twists on familiar tales, especially when they take on a different perspective which turns the original story on its head. These books also tend to include tonnes of atmosphere and magic, which are always winners in my mind and set them apart from other kinds of retellings.

Examples:
Crimson Bound – DisfiguredA Crown of Wishes

What do you think?

What are some specific things you love to come across in books? Do you have any recommendations based off my list? What’s your favourite fairytale retelling? Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know!

17 thoughts on “More Specific Things I Love in Books

  1. I love that cool trees have their own section! I wholeheartedly agree with the structural gimmicks one, when I read Percy Jackson those long chapter titles gave me way too much joy. I’m also a big fan of monsters and mysterious ancient histories, but I’m not a fan of desert settings, there’s just something about them that I don’t like (although my mind can be changed).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t realize it before, but I loved most of these little things in books too. Also, when the book is set in a European city or in a city I’ve been to before, it just hits different. And I had no idea Howl’s Moving Castle had a desert journey🤔 I’m now much more intrigued by the book.
    And I have some recs for you:
    – for Women in Science Labs: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. It’s a romance but the MC Olive is a PHD student very passionate about her work and future career in this area, and Idk if you like romance but you might enjoy this one for that aspect.
    – for Monsters: This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab has some unique and interesting monsters, I just loved this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yay! I’m glad to hear that. I can definitely relate to a book hitting different when it’s set in a place you’ve been before! I very rarely come across this, but it’s so fun when it happens.
      To be honest, the desert journey in Howl’s Moving Castle is extremely brief, I don’t want to mislead you :’)
      Thanks so much for the recommendations!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I mean, of course I am a huge fan of mythology tropes. But I also agree that worldbuilding a mysterious ancient history is so fascinating to read. It’s interesting to see what tropes the author may have borrowed from, but they still make the world their own.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved this post!! ❤️ I’m also drawn to books about monsters or demon-like creatures, like in Sorcery of Thorns! Structural Gimmicks can also be so much fun! I love when books include excerpts from books/other media within the story universe or have a special way of naming/beginning chapters 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some of these are quite specific (I’m looking at you desert journeys) but I do agree with some of them. i always enjoy seeing women in science. Considering how it’s a male-dominated area I always enjoy seeing women bossing it instead. And I adore a good retelling and books with a lot of folklore influence. Especially if it’s something I’ve not heard of before so mythology and folklore from another country. I just like seeing new things and different influences on books.

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