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!

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