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!
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.
(SHORT) DESERT JOURNEYS
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.
WOMEN IN SCIENCE LABS
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.
STORYTELLING AND STRUCTURAL GIMMICKS
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!
MYSTERIOUS ANCIENT HISTORIES
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.
INTENSE CHARACTER INTERESTS
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!
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.
The Shannara Chronicles – Uprooted – The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
FAIRYTALES, FOLKLORE AND MYTHOLOGY INFLUENCES
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.
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!