Top Ten Tuesday: What Makes Me Pick Up a Book?

Ok, so before I begin today’s post, I just want to give you guys a little update/apology. My depression kind of hit me pretty hard on Monday, and it just seems like it’s going to be one of those weeks that won’t be very productive for me. I’m having more trouble getting out of bed this week than I usually have finishing an entire 4000 word review (and those take A LOT of effort), so the thought of blogging right now just drains the little energy I have left at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging, but I barely have enough motivation to brush my teeth, so I just don’t think that I’m going to spend all that much time blogging this week. As a result, this Top Ten Tuesday post is late, and I’m really sorry about that. I was originally just not going to post this, but I’ve been trying not to disappear without warning, so I figured this would be my warning post. I’m still going to post my book haul that I said would be up last Saturday, except now it will be posted on Friday. But I won’t be posting a tag this Friday like I usually do, and I won’t be bothering with a March wrap up because I only read 2 books, and 1 of those was a graphic novel. I feel terrible about this, because I do really love posting on here and interacting with this community, but I think that this week I just need a little time to recuperate. But yeah, just note that this post may be a bit all over the place, because I started it on Monday, when my mental health started being a dick, and I’m posting this on Wednesday at 4am (which you could argue is technically Thursday lmao). But in saying all that, I’ll be back on Monday posting like normal, and will continue from that point onwards (unless I say otherwise) with my weekly memes and tags, as well as with reviews and discussions and all those other fun things I usually post.

Onto today’s post: Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, that I apparently post on Wednesday (*cough* technically Thursday *cough*) now because I suck at posting on time. This week’s prompt is things that make me want to pick up a book, and it turns out that there’s a lot of things that make me want to pick up a book. I know, shocking! It’s not like I’m a reader or anything… 😛 But yeah, these aren’t the only things that will make me pick up a book, and I don’t always pick up books with these tropes/elements in them in, but if a book does have these things, I am far more likely to pick it up 🙂

1. Own Voices Mental Illness Representation

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Own voices representation in general is incredibly important, but own voices mental illness representation, in particular, will almost always have me instantly buying a book. I have suffered with different mental illnesses since I was 12, and so to see this massive part of my life being represented in books by people who have gone through similar experiences is a big deal for me. I’m still going through a lot with my mental health, and I probably never will be completely cured of my mental illnesses, because that’s just not how it works. But stories about mental illness almost always end with the protagonist making some sort of progress, and reading about that while I’m in a place where I still have progress to make is really emotional for me, but also leaves me with a lot of hope.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall is a book I picked up last year because I had heard that this book featured own voices OCD, agoraphobia, anxiety, depression, and self harm representation. And I ended up really enjoying it. Not only was the representation very raw and realistic, but it also included a lot of the little things that are typically missed out of books featuring mental illness, and I really appreciated that. Since then, I’ve really wanted to read Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu, because I’ve heard such great things about the mental illness representations, and, from what I’ve gathered, the depression and eating disorder representation is own voices, so it should be good 🙂

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2. Fantastical Libraries

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Look, I’m a reader. I like books. So it’s only natural that books set in libraries are my shit. Seriously, give me whimsical descriptions of glossy shelves full of well-read books and I don’t even need to know what the story is about. Plot? Who’s she? I don’t care when I’ve got dusty libraries in magical worlds to read about.

So when I heard that Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor was a fantasy book about a librarian obsessed with a lost city, I didn’t need any more convincing. I was in. And my god did I love it. But because I loved Strange the Dreamer so much, especially because of the whimsical writing and library setting, I’m really excited to get to Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. It’s about a world where the Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, and now governs over the society. And if that alone doesn’t make you need this book, it follows a boy from a family running an illegal black market book trade trying to become an apprentice for the library. Ummm, yes please?

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3. Retellings

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I love fairy tales. I grew up reading them and watch Disney adaptations and learning about the gory originals from my mum. Fairy tales have always held a special place in my heart, so when they’re retold as young adult books, it’s like my childhood and my present-day self have both been combined into one story, and I love it. I’m also one of those people who love to feel like they’re smart, and so references that I actually understand are always a bonus for me, and retellings tend to have a lot of them.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer were the first retellings I ever picked up, and I read the entire series within a week while on holiday with my family. Seriously, I crammed myself into a tiny hotel room every night (because I shared the room with my brothers and those losers decided that sleep was more important than reading and were all “turn the light off Laura, I’m tireddddddd”. Like, ew, their priorities are clearly fucked :P) and read until my eyes hurt because I was so engrossed by these books and the way that the original fairy tale was unfolding in such a familiar, yet totally new way. Which is why I’m so excited for Girls Made of Glass and Snow by Melissa Bashardoust. It retells Snow White, a story I’ve never heard retold, but I feel like there is so much potential to improve upon the original, so I’m incredibly excited to read Basherdoust’s take on it. Especially because I’ve heard this book is very character driven, and I’ve always wanted to see the relationships within Snow White be explored more.


4. Unique Formats

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I love books the way they are, and it is in no way a requirement for a book to have some sort of unique format or structure for me to like it. However, new and different formats often bring something fun and unique to a reading experience, so when I hear that a book is written in verse, or told through files/messages/interviews/whatever, or written in reverse chronological order, or whatever, I get incredibly excited. I just find that different and unique structures and/or formats make for a more atmospheric read and provide a more fun reading experience, so I’m alway down to try books written in a way outside of the norm.

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart first intrigued my with its premise, but it wasn’t until I found out that it was written in reverse chronological order that I knew I had to read it immediately. And it was totally worth it, because I ended up loving it. I’ve read a couple other books and short stories with some sort of unique formatting, and I’ve head of a bunch more that intrigue me, but I’m sure that Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman is the first book that comes to mind for most of you when asked to think of a book written in a unique way. And honestly, same. So, due to that and my obsession with Jay Kristoff as both a writer and human in general, I have wanted to read Illuminae for ages now, and am hoping to get to it at some point this year.

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5. Fun or Interesting Group Dynamics

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I love reading about friendships. I honestly think that young adult books, and just literature in general, doesn’t focus enough on platonic relationships, but when I do find a book that has friendships as a central theme, or that focuses a lot on different characters becoming friends, I pretty much need it in my life ASAP. I especially love it when misfits or outcasts or people who are all very different form unlikely friendships and close bonds and end up winning at life because their group dynamic is fucking goals.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favourite books of all time, and a solid 50% of the reason is because of the amazing friendships and relationships we see within this book, and the rest of this series (the other 50% of the reason why I love this series so much is Ronan, Adam, and Ronan and Adam together, but I think at this point you’re all bored of me going on about my love for them as individuals and as a couple, lmao). I first picked up this book because I saw a video of someone talking about how much they loved the friendship dynamics in this series, and I’ve basically been obsessed ever since. Because of that, I’m always on the lookout for books that have blurbs talking about misfit friendships or different people forming unlikely platonic bonds. So when I heard about Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman, I almost died because my heart couldn’t take the sudden joy and excitement I felt. (And also I’m low key obsessed with Jay Kristoff, have I mentioned that yet?)

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6. LGBT+ Representation

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Y’all probably saw this coming seeing as how, like, basically all of my OTPs are gay af? I’m actually pretty sure that at least half the books I’ve mentioned on this list have LGBT+ representation as well? Like, at this point, I’m pretty sure my reading taste is basically just as much gay as possible, please and thank you. Ok, but seriously, I love all forms of diversity in books, because it makes them feel so much more real and allows for a wider range of characters. But I love LGBT+ representation in particular because so often stories with LGBT+ characters include grappling over coming out and questioning your sexuality and not knowing if you’ll be accepted and just a whole lot of inner (and sometimes outer) conflict that leads to me spending my entire time reading the book as a literal puddle of tears and feelings. Plus, as someone who has been questioning their sexuality for the better part of 4 years and still has 0 answers because??? I just find these struggles really relatable and refreshing to read about. And, on the flip side, I’m also obsessed with LGBT+ relationships that come about with barely any conflict or worrying about being accepted, because the idea of a world where two LGBT+ people can just start dating without anyone batting an eye is just so amazing.

Ok, so I 100% picked this book up because I wanted fluffy gay romance, and it delivered. Holy fuck did it deliver. Like, wow. For anyone who hasn’t read Heartstopper by Alice Oseman yet: go read it!! I’d never read a graphic novel before this one, because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to connect to characters very well with a graphic novel format, but I would cut off my right arm for Nick and Charlie (why I’d have to cut an arm off for them I have no idea, but I’d do it in a heartbeat). But whilst I love me some cute gay boys in a fluffy contemporary, I also love the idea of bad arse gay girls in a thrilling fantasy setting, which is why I’m hyped to read Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. I low key avoided f/f romance for so long because it felt too confronting and I had enough shit going on in my head to also be worrying about my sexuality. But I realised earlier this year that I was doing that, and have decided that I need to change, because the lack of f/f romances on my read shelf makes me incredibly disappointed in myself. And I feel like this entire answer has been a mess because, when it comes to sexuality, I high key am a complete mess, so I’m gonna move on, but my point is that Girls of Paper and Fire sounds so so so good, and the fact that it also features an f/f romances brings it straight to the top of my tbr.

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7. Hate-to-Love Romance

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I am trash for this trope. There’s always just so much passion between enemies, but then, at least in these stories, they start getting to know each other, and all that passion still exists, but it becomes something different. And, I don’t know, I just love seeing people go from low-key wanting to kill each other to being madly in love, is that so weird? (From the way I put it, it kind of sounds a bit strange, yeah, but IT’S JUST GOOD OK). Look, it’s 3am, I have lost coherency, but my point is that hate-to-love romance is my crack.

I read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne whilst in a reading slump last year and it brought me right out. It was the first just straight romance book that I ever gave 5 stars, and it was basically everything I wanted it to be. Were there problems with this book? Hell, I don’t know, probably, no book is perfect. But did I give a shit? Not at all, because that romance was the enemies-to-lovers goodness that I needed. It was built up slow enough that it felt realistic, but still had all that sexual tension and passion that I love so much, and ughhhh it was just good, ok? And I’ve heard that Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston is a just as good, if not better, hate-to-love romance story, AND it’s gay, AND it’s about a Prince of Wales, so it’s kind of a crime that I still don’t have this book tbh. Like, seriously May, get your shit together and get here already. April’s over, we don’t need her. What we NEED is this book, thanks.

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8. Anti-heroes and Villains and Morally Grey Characters

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Direct quote from my Strange the Dreamer review: “Thyon is 100000% the kind of character I usually love: a complete fucking arsehole.” But seriously, it’s true. So many of my favourite characters are broken boys who shield their hearts by being massive dicks. Some of them also murder people for fun. It depends on the book really. But morally grey characters are almost always my favourites characters in a book because they are just so interesting to me. I think I’ve said this a billion times, but my hobby is basically psychoanalysing book characters, and the most fun characters to psychoanalyse are always the ones who are at least low key fucked up. I also just sympathise with these characters far easier? Maybe it’s because I am also low-key an arsehole, or maybe authors are just really good at making me fall in love with serial killers and wannabe murderers, but any character on the evil scale, from jerk to psychopathic villain, will probably be my favourite character in a book.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is basically just a book about a bunch of criminals and anti-heroes and villains and arseholes and if you’re at all surprised that it’s one of my favourites of all time then you clearly did not read the above paragraph. But, because of my love for anti-heroes and villains, I have been recommended The Cruel Prince by Holly Black no less than 72935103 times at this point, and I’m so hyped to read it that it’s kind of ridiculous. Like, I know that I should manage my expectations so that I’m not disappointed or anything, but it just sounds like everything I’ve ever wanted so I guess Holly Black has a lot to live up to (though I have complete faith in her to deliver).

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Ok, so I know that this is Top Ten Tuesday, not Top Eight Thursday, but I’m tired, and my fingers are about to fall off from typing, and I’m just becoming progressively more of a mess to the point where I’m pretty sure it’d be worse if I kept going (You can already see me getting progressively more rambly as it is, you don’t want to see me in full ramble mode). So yeah, sorry again about this being late and me maybe not posting much this week and me just in general not being a very good blogger when it comes to consistency and organisation and actually posting lmao. But yeah, I’d love to hear what sorts of things make you guys pick up a book. And if you’ve read any of the books I mentioned, either those that I’ve already read or have yet to start, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them. For now, though, I’m going to go sleep before I collapse. So byeeeeeeeeee.

-Laura Herondale

4 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: What Makes Me Pick Up a Book?

Add yours

  1. Get well soon and don’t worry about taking a mental health break! ❤️❤️ Most of my ships are gay too hahaha, and if you love enemies to lovers and gayness, pick up the captive prince series by c.s pacat!!!! The first book is kinda just an introduction and it contains some problematic stuff but ALL of that is resolved in the later books. Please please please I live for this series and some of the scenes between the main couple in this book shook me to my core like I can’t even describe it ok I’ll stop raving now and possibly making your expectations too high but please read it!! I want to read heartstopper so bad too, but I can’t find it anywhere here :(( I’ll buy it as soon as I see a physical copy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh thank you ❤ A break was just what I needed, but now I’m happy to be back and posting and interacting with everyone on here 😊 Omg I’ve heard so much about Captive Prince, but I can’t find the books in my local bookstores to save my life! I think I’m going to have to order them if I want to read them, but they’ve been on my tbr for so long because they sound like everything I’ve ever needed. Aghhh I hate when you want to read a book but can’t find a physical copy. I hope you’re able to get Heartstopper soon though, cuz it’s honestly the sweetest, most precious book I’ve ever read, and the relationship between Nick and Charlie is beyond adorable 😍

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura, I’m sorry you haven’t been feeling so well about your mental health lately. I am sending you positive vibes so you can feel better soon! ❤️
    The quote “I’m pretty sure my reading taste is basically just as much gay as possible” is SO RELATABLE. That’s literally me. As much as I love reading about couples in every way, I appreciate queer reads the most, because as you mentioned, the angst that comes from questioning your sexuality and coming out hits me deeply. I for sure appreciate queer couples who just are happily together just as much, though! I really can’t wait to read Heartstopper, as I feel like it will be very heart warming. I’d recommend David Levithan’s books for warm, fluffy queer reads!
    Friendships – especially male friendships – are definitely reasons for me to pick up a book. I love that you mentioned The Raven Boys, because that was a book that I read solely because of the friendships. (And the idea of a boarding school scenerio). I definitely want to read more books including it!
    Thanks for sharing! I really appreciated reading your post; if you’re not feeling well enough, though, I’m sure we don’t mind waiting until you’re better! 😌

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ❤ Now that I’ve had a week off to just focus on my mental health, I’m feeling a lot better, and I’m happy to be back and interacting with this community again 😊
      Ahahah YES. Gay angst is my shit 👌 Though happy and chill LGBT+ couples are also deffo appreciated, yep. And omg yes, Heartstopper is honestly so heartwarming and fluffy and adorable and you definitely should pick it up as soon as possible. And ahhh I’ve been meaning to try a David Levithan book, I’ll have to bump him up my tbr 🙂
      Yesssss, The Raven Cycle is THE book for amazing friendships. Like, can I please be a part of the Gangsey?? Sadly, it’s so hard to find books focusing on friendships, especially YA books, because they tend to focus on romance a lot more 😕

      Liked by 1 person

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