I think about books a lot. But I also think a lot about why I think about books a lot, and that’s pretty much what led to this post. I know that reading is one of my greatest passions, but I wanted to finally work out why it is that some books can be read and enjoyed, and some can just hold on to a little piece of your heart and never let go.
With that being said, here are some of the things that will really make me fall in love with a book!
This is possibly the surest way to ensure that I am going to adore a book. Beautiful, emotive and rich description has the power to remind me, instantaneously, why I love reading. If I am reading a book in which the language is beautiful, I am completely absorbed – there is very little that can be done to draw me out of that world in my head. This is possibly why I love fantasy so much, as what comes to my mind immediately when I think of description is sweeping mystical landscapes and glittering ethereal skies.
As an example of this, I don’t think there are any authors that I can refer to other than J. R. R. Tolkien and Sarah J. Maas (who’s surprised at this point?) I’m not exaggerating when I say that Tolkien’s use of language often has the ability to make me forget to breathe. He can craft a description that captivates every single sense, and I honestly think that sometimes they are just as vivid as if you physically saw the places he creates with your own eyes. Add Sarah J. Maas’ descriptions of her Night Court to the list, and you can begin to see why they are two of my all-time favourites.
If there’s something that is frustrating to read about it is a protagonist that doesn’t act in a realistic way to the situations they are in. Take the fifteen-year-old YA hero who sneaks out of their house at 2am to meet up with the new guitar-playing boy in school that they’ve only known for twelve hours (maybe people do that? I never did). Take the hero of a fantasy or dystopia who has never fought in their life and is somehow a miraculous warrior within just a few days. I have no problem with characters doing unrealistic things like this occasionally, but it can just become so unbelievable and ruin a story for me when the character’s storyline doesn’t move forward logically, or when things just work out too neatly.
I love my characters to have some sort of moral ambiguity and a lot of doubts or fears to go alongside their journey, because that’s just realistic! I’ve always said that for me personally, good characters can compensate for an average plot, but average characters that I don’t care for can rarely make me want to stick through the plot. Three-dimensional characters are everything!
Strong family relationships
One thing that I’ve spoken about several times on here is the presence – or lack of – strong relationships with parents especially in YA. The number of novels I’ve read where the protagonist’s main story arc is dependent on difficult relationships with their parents far outnumber those where I’ve seen characters have a strong support network.
I wholeheartedly understand that recognising all different situations and backgrounds is what YA is built upon. But I don’t think it’s realistic that almost all YA should represent strained relationships with family, because that’s not always the reality. As someone who is lucky enough to be incredibly close with my parents, I absolutely love it when I see this reflected in fiction, and I don’t think there is any harm in doing so. Something like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz would be a great example of how family relationships can be built upon to add even more depth to a story.
I never feel like I can quite describe what I mean by this – by books with ‘literary themes’ I’m meaning books in which the main characters are also readers. Take Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, for example. Books play a huge role in the protagonist Charlie’s life – he’s constantly reading them and the text makes so many references to them. I guess the reason I enjoy this so much when it comes up in books is because of how much I, and most readers I would assume, can relate to it. If a character has the same interests as you, you immediately start to resonate with their perspective and this can make a book so enjoyable! I don’t think I’m alone in saying that it brings some sort of excitement when you see a little reference to a book you love within the book you’re currently reading…
The little things
This seems like quite an odd – and obvious? – point to make. But quite often, it’s the little things in books that really cement it as a favourite for me. I can only demonstrate this by talking about Harry Potter. The intricacy of J. K. Rowling’s epic story is what we all talk about, but I honestly think it’s the smaller moments that make Hogwarts feel so much like home. It’s Harry, Ron, and Hermione talking and laughing in the Gryffindor common room. It’s the trio complaining about how many rolls of parchment they must write for homework, and Ron inevitably just copying off Hermione anyway. Things like that just build a story up to its highest potential for me – the moments when nothing is really happening, but nothing really needs to.
And there you have it – five things that pretty much make me unable to forget a book. Writing this post was actually a really interesting exercise for me as I managed to get to the bottom of why some of my favourite books hold such a special place in my heart. I would absolutely love to hear some reasons other than my own, though! What is it about your favourite books that make your heart sing?
Have a lovely day!