Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Some weeks I struggle to come up with enough items for a Top Ten Tuesday list, but this sure wasn’t one of them. I could have easily given you all twice as many answers to this question. There are so many different things in our world that make me say, “Ooh! I want to read all about that.”

Also, I decided to accentuate my list with gifs this week. I hope you all enjoy them.

1.  It’s Historically Accurate

I love it when authors research the time and place they’re writing about in precise, accurate detail. For example, they might include descriptions of foods that truly were staples in the diet of that culture then, describe how people hunted/grew their food, or show what the average day was like for ordinary folks from that era. If I immediately know or later find out  that they got all of those little details right, I’m going to be quite happy with that writer.

2. It Includes Non-Romantic Types of Love

If the main character’s relationships are with their best friend, sibling, pet, or some other living being that isn’t a romantic partner, I get excited. There’s something refreshing about fiction written about these things, and I wish we had more books that explored why and how platonic relationships enrich all of our lives.

3. There Are Spaceships and Space Exploration

I grew up watching reruns of various Star Trek shows, and they taught me to look forward to the day when humans will be able to explore the universe. Any book that takes a similar approach to all of the wonderful things we might find if we ever visit other planets – or, better yet, meet other intelligent forms of life – is something I’m going to want to read.

4. It’s Willing to Poke Fun at Itself (and/or Its Genre)

If a story or character has enough self-awareness to make jokes about themselves, I immediately become even more interested in following them until the final scene. I love it when narrators realize they’re following the same old tropes in their genre and do something to let the audience know that they’re doing this on purpose.

5. There’s Compassion for and from Everyone

It’s much easier for me to read about terrible things happening to characters if they have compassion for each other and if the author has compassion for them, too. If even an antagonist manages to do this like Inigo Montoya did in The Princess Bride, I’m going to read (or watch) that story over and over again.

6. LGBTQ+ People Get Happy Endings

This is starting to slowly shift, but I used to have the hardest time finding books about LGBTQ+ characters that had upbeat endings for them (when I could even find them at all!) I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to finally read stories about people like me who get to live happily ever after in the last scene. We need many more examples of this, please.

7. It’s About Palaeontology and/or Anthropology

So you all already know that I like reading about history. I also enjoy reading fictional and non-fictional books about the things we’ve learned about what happened on Earth long before anyone started writing stuff down. Whether we’re talking about   ancient humans or dinosaurs that went extinct millions of years before hominids existed, I want to read about all of it.

8. At Least One Character Has an Allergy to Something

I’m not allergic to 109 different things, but I do have multiple allergies. It is so rare for me to read books about people who are like me in this area that I get ridiculously excited when authors not only mention a character being allergic to something but describe it in medically accurate detail. We desperately need more representation in this area.

9. At Least One Character Has a Mental Illness

There are books out there about characters who have mental illnesses, but as someone who has personal experience with this topic I’d definitely like to see more stories that discuss it without using it as an excuse to vilify anyone. I feel like having more characters who have a mental illness will help reduce the stigma associated with it. It might also encourage more people to seek help when they’re struggling with something.

10. Someone Has a Beloved Pet (and That Pet Doesn’t Die or Get Injured)

I’m allergic to many of the mammals that people commonly keep as pets, including cats, dogs, and rabbits. Since I can’t live with any of these creatures, the next best thing would be to read about characters who live happily ever after with their pet(s). There’s something so wholesome about that.

What do you all look for in a book? How much do we have in common here?

139 Responses to Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book

  1. Love this list! Yes, I’m willing to overlook the odd historical inaccuracy but it’s so transparent when an author hasn’t actually bothered doing their research to make their story feel real. I love a focus on platonic love and LGBT+ characters being given happy endings, too. Like you said that’s changing a lot compared to even five years ago, but for the longest time it was so hard to find LGBT+ stories that weren’t tragic.

    • Yes, absolutely. I’m not a purist when it comes to historical accuracy, but I do prefer authors to do at least some basic research about the period they’re writing about.

      And thank you.

  2. I’m with you on the historical accuracy, I studied and taught history so I’m a bit of a stickler for context, contemporaneous events and if it is a plot point but I can forgive muddied waters if it isn’t an awful inaccuracy such as a vocab choice or fashion and isn’t centric to the plot.
    But books that read like it was written like it was today but just picked up and transplanted to regency/Tudor/medieval etc times they can get back on the shelf.

    • Oh, cool! I didn’t know you studied and taught history. Yeah, books that read like they’re set today when they’re actually set hundreds of years ago aren’t much fun to read.

      • Exactly, if people want to do that write fantasy or alternative-history and change names- I’d be interested to see how life would be different today say if WWI hadn’t broken the upstairs/downstairs class based systems with WWII being the nail in the coffin for Downton style estates unless they sold up, did weddings or went National Trust.
        or You can apply the social and psychological principles of high school cliques to royal courts but don’t act like the Principal is going to put you in detention if you break the rules if you see what I mean!!

  3. I didn’t realise you suffered multiple allergies. I’m lucky I don’t, but my boys do, especially the youngest. It makes me sad you can’t have a bunny as you’re so obviously a bunny-lover 🙁
    Your list has such an interesting take, mine’s more routine. Yes! I’ve joined in, thanks to you 🙂
    Historical accuracy – a definite must! And that’s where I happily lose myself in research, sometimes more fun than actually writing the story 🙂 With so much focus on romantic love, it is a breath of fresh air when it’s non-romantic, especially with animals. And ‘happily ever after’.
    My TTT – http://bit.ly/T10Tues

    • Yes, I have a nice list of them going. Luckily, my family doctor is pretty knowledgeable about this stuff.

      If we ever cure dander allergies, I’ll get that bunny in a heartbeat. 🙂

      And I”m so glad you joined in this week. Cool!

  4. Great list! I had a couple of thoughts for books while looking at it, I don’t know if you’ve read them or not.

    The Just City by Jo Walton explores the differences between Platonic and romantic love. One of my favorites!

    Planet Fall by Emma Newman and The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal both feature protagonists with mental illness.

    And all three are fabulous books! Apologies if you’ve already read them.

    • Heh, it’s always good to find the humour in allergies I think. I didn’t know you had them!

      “The Nest” by Kenneth Oppel was the last book I read about a character who had allergies, but I can’t for the life of me remember the list of things he was allergic to. It was a lot.

      I’m blanking on the rest….

      If you’re open to non-fiction, “The Case Against Fragrance” by Kate Grenville is also really good.

  5. I think this is my favorite list so far! I love so many of these, and they’re so unique! Love the allergy one, the compassion, LGBTQ is soooo under represented so I feel that too! Non-romantic love is such a good one also. I love them all!

  6. Great list. I don’t mind historical inaccuracies as long as it’s not sold as such. 🙂 I love how specific your list is 🙂

  7. I couldn’t agree more on the non-romantic love point. It’s so important to show that non-romantic love can be just as meaningful as romantic love and not enough books show this! Most of your points I definitely agree with 🙂

  8. I completely love how unique and accurate your list is! The pets with the caveat of them not getting hurt is dead on and poking fun at itself? Yes! PLEASE!!!

  9. Oh this is such an interesting list! I agree with the historical accuracy, or just general accuracy. It just turns me off reading the book, if the author can’t even be bothered to do proper research.

  10. Those are all good. I’m now thankful that I’m a student of history and have always found historical things fascinating now that I’m writing a fantasy book. I know it’s a pretend world, but a lot of things have some basis in actual historical facts.

  11. Oooh, I love what you said about compassion! I’m definitely a fan of that, too. I don’t have to like every character in a novel, but I do like to at least have some understanding of why they do what they do. It’s easier to empathize and identify with someone if I get their background and struggles.

    Happy TTT!

  12. Wonderful list! I’m not too picky about historical accuracy. Otherwise, I agree with your list, especially about non-romantic relationshps, compassion, and LGBTQ+ people getting happy endings.

  13. I love how you included characters having mental illnesses are LGBTQIA+. Diversity and inclusivity is so important. I also agree about including Non-Romantic Types of Love. Friendships and relationships between siblings, parents, etc. are just as important.

  14. Nice list!! Seeing some different topics and some familiar ones too! And omg, your last one got to me so bad!! Lol! I totally agree with this one! I mean one time in a series I read ages ago, the heroine was in an alternate dimension and her dog didn’t make it, but her real dog was fine at home, but the alternate dimension doggie died a hero and I was balling!!

    Thanks for visiting my TTT post!

  15. I’ve been battling allergies for a while now and I can totally relate! I don’t think I’ve read a book that mentions a character having an allergy. I never thought about that before! Great list!

    • Thank you. Yes, it seems to be pretty rare for books to feature characters who have this medical condition. I wish it were more common! I’ll try to review and blog about books on the topic as I find them.

  16. Something I would really like to see regarding mental illness representation is mental illness that is either in a period of remission, or isn’t a large portion of the plot. I feel like a lot of the time if a character has a mental illness, it ends up taking over the book a bit too much. As someone who has a mental illness that comes and goes in its intensity, I don’t always think of myself as really having one – therefore I don’t use it all the time to define myself, and I would like to see similar representation. Maybe I’ll have to write it myself 😉

  17. Oh that spaceship GIF is so awesome. Love it!! And the compassion one! Inigo Montoya makes me smile.

    Paleontology always catches my eye too!

  18. Love your list! Number 10 is so true! One of my all-time favorite stories from a child is The Jungle Book and how Mowgli has a panther and a bear and of course the wolf pack to look out for him. Any story is good when there is an animal involved assisting the main character.

  19. Ooooh these are GOOD! I agree with pretty much all of them I think? Historically accurate is awesome- I want to FEEL like I am in whatever time period it is- not that someone threw out a year and expected me to buy it! The compassion thing is a biggie for me too. Great list, and very fun GIFs!

  20. Okay, your list got me thinking about different ways about the things that get me in the book — pets not dying definite must for me. As well as non-romantic love and a book that’s willing to poke fun at itself! So true!

  21. great list. I do a thursday feature called furs-day feature where i highlight books about our furry friends. You should check it out. So far all the books I have featured the animals are alive and healthy.

  22. Great list! I didn’t even think about historical accuracy, probably because I don’t find really bad examples very often.

    Good point about platonic relationships! I will second the recommendation for The Just City upthread, that book is fantastic.

    #4, making fun of itself, is tricky because it can be fun OR it can sort of ruin the mood. For some reason I can’t think of examples right now, though.

    • Thank you. Now I definitely need to read The Just City.

      And your point about #4 makes sense. It would definitely need to have the right tone.

  23. I love this book. Historically accurate isn’t a main one for me (I read a lot of fantasy so it’s not normally an issue) but when I pick up time travel books it’s really important then. It can pull me out of the story if it’s not right.
    Also yes for more representation in the likes of mental illness and LGBT+ characters.
    Great post. 🙂

  24. Yes, I just tend to pick which TTT I want to participate in because for some I feel I just can’t remember enough or don’t have good choices. This was one that I thought was fun because we could take different angles on it.

    Historical accuracy is a must for me. If a few details are inaccurate, ok, but if the tone and setting, nope, I struggle.

  25. Really nice list Lydia! I also really like books about space exploration and I do like historical accuracy in my novel. I feel like when the author makes a historical fiction piece really detailed, its so immersive for the reader.

  26. Non-Romantic love!!! It is soo important to have books where there is a focus on platonic love. We need to make it normal to have two people love each other deeply and be “just friends”. It’s not weird. ALso, yes to detailed historical fiction and mental health rep.

    • Yes, exactly. Platonic love is just as real and meaningful as romantic love. It bothers me when people act like friendship is somehow second best.

      And thanks.

  27. Non-romantic love is great and I don’t mind if there is also romantic love stories involved, especially if the non-romantic aren’t the main plot-points. That’s one of the things I really liked about Big Little Lies, there were marriage issues and other romantic plot lines but one of the main story lines followed a new woman in town and her finding a friend in a very clique-ish and judgmental community.

  28. I am laughing, because I post today about how they need to let the pets live. Let’s find another plot device, ok. I always want all the characters to have happy ending, so it’s great that we are getting more of that with LGBT+ books, but I also like seeing books featuring LGBT+ characters, which are not issues books. I just finished How Not to Ask a Boy to Prom, and it was simply an adorable rom-com featuring a male/male romance. It’s nice to see that sometimes.

  29. I always enjoy siblings relationships, but I am a romantic at heart. Still, a good balance of non-romantic and romance creates the perfect story concept to me. 🙂

    Thanks for visiting Finding Wonderland.

  30. This is a great list! I especially agree with having more books with mental illness rep and more books where LGBT+ characters get to live happy and fulfilling lives. The industry has improved so much in the last few years in giving us more of those stories but I always love to see more, particularly for young readers. They deserve to know that they are not alone.

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