Friday, July 20, 2012

My Personal Recipe For A Good Book

I read a LOT of books. I've always read lots of books, which is good because a) reading is awesome and b) it really helps your writing.

Since 2011 I've been keeping a book log where I keep track of the books I read and then write a short review, stating either why the book was awesome or why it sucked.

Through these mini-reviews I do, I've discovered a pattern of things that I like to see in books. And this is my list:

Warning: everything is subjective - this list is just what I, personally, like in books. Obviously, other people have different opinions.


I LOVE this cover.
I latch onto new, interesting concepts right away. If the main concept of the book is something like Unpopular Girl Strives For Popularity and Later Figures Out Popularity Is Not All It's Cracked Up to Be, then I won't be as interested because it has been done SO. MANY. TIMES. BEFORE.

I sometimes see writers online asking if they should follow the trends, and as a reader who likes unique ideas I want to say the answer is always, "No don't I want to see something new!"

An example of a book with a unique concept is IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma.


Characters are SOO important to me. Even if maybe the concept isn't as unique, then the characters have to be real and likable and fleshed out and different and not just types. They have to have other sides to them, and they have to be fun, and they have to be people. I also like when characters develop as people and also in their relationships with each other. An example of a very character-driven book I just read is Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.


If I know what's going to happen next, then that's boring. I don't want to know from the first chapter what the ending will be. I want to be curious about what happens next so I'll keep reading. Insurgent by Veronica Roth definitely did this for me, as did Outside In by Maria V. Snyder.


You know that "show don't tell" rule? Well, I come across "telling" in published books ALL THE TIME. I've realized that some people like telling. I, however, don't. Show me what's happening and bring me into the scene and the book. Don't just let your character talk to me about it.


It puts me off a book when nothing happens in the very first chapter (heck, even the very first sentence). Nope, it's just the MC blabbing on and on in their voice about things that are supposed to be interesting and make me like them, but I don't care just MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White does this excellently. An example of a book that starts with an MC/narrator monologue is Famous by Todd Strasser (just so you know what I mean - but I do know some people like this style of opening! It's just I don't).


Stupid characters annoy me a lot. I really don't like it when characters just can't seem to be able to think for themselves or have logical, intelligent thoughts. I found Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games to be pretty smart and definitely able to think and fend for herself. She also made decisions and had thoughts that actually made sense.


I am so done with popularity. There are WAY too many books about it in my opinion. And the moral is so predictable and obvious every time: popularity is not all it's cracked up to be. You'd think that adult writers would want to teach teens more important lessons than that, but NOPE.

However, this is also very subjective because I'm not a person to care a lot about popularity, and it's not something that was really prominent in my school. However for other teens I'm sure this is a huge thing in their lives so that IS what they need to read.

A book that depicts "popularity" what I think of as being realistically is The D.U.F.F. by Kody Keplinger (that book is AMAZING).


This is definitely just a personal preference; but my absolute favourite books are the ones that make me think the most. I love when books make me use my brain to figure things out, because it has the effect of drawing me deeper into the story. And I like thinking.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner all made me think. And these are all my favourite books. :)

So what do YOU like to see in books?

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