Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Topics That Draw Me To A Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s theme is Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book. I can’t say that there are any words or topics that make a book an automatic buy for me — but here are a few that at least make me think about it!

These topics will get me to pick up the book, read the back cover, and at least consider whether I want to read it:

1) Time/Time Travel: I’m an absolute sucker for a good time travel story. Really, include any plot detail that’s at all timey-wimey, and there’s a good chance I’m going to want to check it out. Tops for me are the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Replay by Ken Grimwood, any of Susanna Kearsley’s books, and The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen.

2) Scotland: If it’s set in Scotland, particularly Scotland of a few centuries ago, I at least want to hear about it. Kilts? Highlands? Clans? Castles? Yum. Best examples: Outlander (again) and The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (yes, again).

3) Secret societies: I love books with mysterious organizations secretly pulling the strings behind the scenes and controlling, oh, just about everything. Great examples: The Guild in The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway; The Checquy in The Rook by Daniel O’Malley; the Department of Historical Integrity in The Revisionists.

4) Manuscripts or rare books: I adore books about books! I love stories set in musty old libraries, where the characters chase after obscure old documents and the stakes are life and death. A few great ones: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness; The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova; The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe.

5) Sisters/Twins: Let me be clear — I don’t actually find twins creepy in real life. Yet in books, they’re often at the center of twisted psychological thrillers or horror stories. Two good examples: The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian and Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. (Don’t even get me started on Jaime and Cersei Lannister — that is not what I had in mind!).

6) Retellings: Either retellings of classics (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, anyone?) or — especially — fairy tale retellings. I’ll be honest, the field is getting a little overcrowded right now, but if it’s a good one, I’m in. My favorites would be anything by Robin McKinley, especially Beauty and Spindle’s End.

7) Graveyards/Cemeteries: Ooh, spooky! Best examples: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman; Alive in Necropolis by Doug Dorst; Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.

8) Wheels/Gears/Clockworks: Although interestingly enough (or not), I didn’t care for the Cassandra Clare/Clockwork books. But I do love a good use of gears and gadgets, generally in a steampunk setting, as in All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen or The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger.

9) Fae/Faeries: Usually with a hint of menace. If there are faerie curses or changelings involved, all the better. Favorite examples: Impossible by Nancy Werlin, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce, The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue.

10) End of the world/Natural disasters: I just can’t turn away from a good end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it story. Volcanoes, asteroids, flu epidemics, what have you — when a catastrophe knocks out civilization as we know it and survival is on the line, there’s a good chance I’m going to want to read about it. Favorite recent examples: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller; The Last Survivor series by Susan Beth Pfeffer; The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker; Ashfall by Mike Mullin.

So, no, I don’t have any words or topics that are ALWAYS going to get me to buy a book. But if the plot includes one of the topics on my top ten list, there’s a good chance I’ll at least consider it.

How about you? What topics are you always (or almost always) ready to read about? Sound off!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! I’m so happy you stopped by!

12 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Topics That Draw Me To A Book

  1. A lot of bloggers seem to be chucking in retellings in their list today and I have no complaints here! I love them. 😀 I love seeing how the author gives a new spin on the original tale and makes the spin stand out from the rest.

    • Thanks for stopping by! The sisters angle can be really interesting in so many settings, whether a good family drama or even a creepy horror story.

  2. Time Travel made my list too but whoa you have some good ones here I didn’t think of like secret societies! The Revisionists is one I’m adding to my to-read list just based on your short description. And all the books you mentioned for manuscripts and rare books – I’m checking out those, too, I listed “Libraries” on my mind but I could have expanded that to rare books too.

    Retellings is on my list too. And if I could have gone up to a list of 20, fairies/fae would there too. You’ve given me too many books to check out now!

    Here’s my top ten list

  3. Hey Lisa,
    I love this. I hadn’t ever really thought about my “book hooks.” I’m way more in tune with what will immediately turn me off about a book! Lol. We definitely share the love for books set in Scotland – you need to read White Rose Rebel!

    • I actually have a copy of White Rose Rebel! Just haven’t found the time to dig in yet… That’s a good idea for a “top 10” list — topics that are book turn-offs! 🙂 I could definitely name a few.

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