Okay, since I missed two Top Tuesday themes that I actually wanted to do, I’ll be catching up today with a two-for-one. So, prepare your eyes for a little longer-than-usual post. Hopefully, though, I delight and thrill you with each extra sentence.
I’ll get the complaining out of the way first…
PART ONE — Things that make me run away from a book and, therefore, not read it.
1. Novels that focus primarily on romance and emotions. My sincere apologies to all of those authors that honestly write really sincere, heartfelt and lovely stories in this genre. Because I know a lot of them are wonderful. (I know because I’ve seen the movie versions and enjoyed them. Just kidding — I’ve actually read a few, too.) But for me — remember, part Vulcan– there’s only so much of the lovey-dovey touchy-feely stuff that I can take (and that’s about 20 pages per book).
2. Historical fiction — especially those featuring romance over a plot. This is a new addition to the “no” list for me. I used to like reading historical fiction. Maybe I overdid it in my youth? Maybe in my “old age” I have no tolerance for reading books with lots of words from ye olden times that I have to go look up? Again, this is not a slam on the genre itself. But lately, I’ll just wait for the movie.
3. YA novels that think there is nothing more important than having a boyfriend and becoming a cheerleader. Hello, I’m autistic! How can I possibly relate to this?
4. Murder mysteries. Ugh. No, just no. I read several of these when I was younger, and rapidly came to the conclusion that they are all the same. It’s just the names of the characters and the settings that change.
5. Horror or suspense. The genre is simply not my thing. I don’t like the violence, the gore, the (negative type of) anticipation as we draw to revealing the crux of the biscuit in the plot. (And those are often quite nasty cruxes.)
6. Fiction (or non-fiction) that is 95% allegory and not written in formal, sensible sentences. You know, the books that are described on the cover as “beautiful, poetic, inspirational, a journey through the scope of humanity,” and you think it’s about how a woman copes with her divorce, and you open it and the first paragraph reads like this: “The world. The air. Opals of silver in the distance. A red dot against the landscape. My heart.” HUH?!
7. Science fiction. Truly, I have nothing against science fiction as a genre, literary or on screen. But, to me, the science and technology part is all just….wibbly-wobbly stuff. So if a sci-fi novel drags me in, it’s because there are characters/plot/premises beyond the machines and equipment and inventions and physics of the universe that really hook me.
8. Books that spend too much time on dialogue between action scenes. So, remember when you were reading The Hunger Games, and it’s all very dystopia and interesting and life-and-death and then Katniss comes across Peeta in the cave, and… instead of a short-and-sweet “oh, wow, you’re dying, so let’s figure out how to fix this”, the author proceeds to give us like 80 pages of them lying in the dark, reminiscing about the good ol’ days in District 12? I literally skipped so much of this, just to get to a scene where something was happening, for crying out loud.
9. Most high fantasy. Sorry, folks, but I simply can’t read high fantasy anymore, with very few exceptions. If I can’t pronounce the characters’ names or the places they’re going to, it’s too dratted distracting from continuing on with the story. (And, again, this is just me. If you are a fan of high fantasy, good for you. But, as usual, just leave me with the film version.)
10. Fiction that claims to be accurately representing a disability or illness and does not. Unfortunately, there are far too many of these, especially when you’re talking things like depression, PTSD, and autism. There’s also a very harmful “cure culture” going on in society, where a lot of well-meaning but really, really misled people think that encouraging folks to just “get their autism fixed” (and similar notions) would be best for everybody (and ideas like that are going to contribute to the downfall of civilization).
PART TWO — The happy stuff, or things that definitely make me run towards a book and most likely check it out of the library.
1. The mention of faeries, unicorns, dragons or mermaids on the cover blurb. The Mermaid’s Sister, pretty much anything I’ve read by Holly Black, several Jane Yolen tales, and Peter S. Beagle works (yes, I’m guilty of not even knowing The Last Unicorn was a book), I have picked up based purely on this criteria.
2. A non-whiny protagonist. This is an issue particularly in YA, especially with female narrators. A major reason I couldn’t stomach Catching Fire or all of the Divergent trilogy was because of how intensely whiny Katniss was in her middle book, and how Tris always came across that way. Give me Legend‘s Day and June, Susan Sto Helit of Discworld, Puck and Sean in The Scorpio Races, Sam and Grace and Isabel in Shiver, Bluestar and Yellowfang and Sandstorm of Warriors.
3. Anything from any part of the Warriors series. A new addition to the “yes” list (simply because I only started reading it about a year ago). But Warriors is officially one of my major weaknesses.
4. Apparently, anything by Neil Gaiman. A few years ago, I would’ve said, “Thanks so much for your picture books and Good Omens, Neil, but, if it’s all the same to you, I’ll be skipping most of your adult novels and the really scary stuff.” Since then, I’ve gone to explore almost all of his short story collections, Coraline, The Ocean At The End of the Lane, Neverwhere, American Gods, Stardust, The Graveyard Book, and after saying not two weeks ago I’d be skipping Norse Mythology, I requested it from the library yesterday.
5. Anything by Terry Pratchett. His Discworld series is my favorite, but if his name is under the title, I’ll at least give it a go. Only You Can Save Mankind is a fantastic YA novel.
6. Fairytale re-tellings. Recently, I’ve kind of shied away from some of the more popular ones (I don’t need Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast for the 50th time, okay, publishers?), but the genre as a whole still interests me.
7. Novels with a good, clean sense of humor. A little bit of profanity or “grown-up” themed dialogue/references, scattered throughout a story, without being found in mass quantity in every chapter, doesn’t bother me. But since, unfortunately, that style of writing is rather difficult to find in a lot of adult fiction, I get excited when I come across a really fun read that has humor reminding me of Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry.
8. Pretty illustrations. How I choose picture books for Muffin focuses a lot on (no, I am not ashamed of this fact) the art. The style, the colors, how realistic it is. Some of the most beautiful I’ve come across include Can I Come Too?, Bernice Gets Carried Away, Little Tree, and How Rocket Learned to Read.
9. Books that are less than 500 pages. The exception to this is Harry Potter. Otherwise I truly like most of my reads to be around 275-310 pages, total. My eyes and hands just can’t take more than that, Captain.
10. Stories set in Britain and/or written by British authors. Why, yes, I am an Anglophile, just in case you couldn’t tell. (Read this blog for any length of time, and you’ll catch on. I just lived in England for 4 years.) The only thing that bothers me is when some of the British words get changed in the U.S. printings (grrr), and then I’m mentally correcting things as I read, which can get a bit tedious.
And there we have it! Will I actually attempt any future Top 10 Tuesdays?! Watch this space to find out!