What do you look for in a book?

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A portion of my own book collection.

Everyone chooses books for different reasons. It might be that they only read one genre, or prefer dialogue to action, or vice versa. There are many ways to choose a book.

I start with my genres when I’m looking at a book. Being that I work in a bookstore, I’m subject to all sorts of books every day, and I like to think that I read a variety of things, but I still always look for a few certain things to begin with. My favourite genre is fiction, and to break it down, I prefer epic and high fantasy, and historical fiction. Despite the old adage, I do judge a book by its cover, because a cover is like the face of a person: it doesn’t tell you much about the inside, but it helps you choose whether or not you want to keep going. If that makes me terribly shallow, so be it. I have found many books with terrible covers that are decent reads – but I have also found many terrible books with terrible covers that should have warned me. Again, working in a bookstore gives me access to this every day.

I love epic dialogue. Characters who can have banter and arguments back and forth, and build relationships that way. That being said, I do really love action and description. Purple prose isn’t something that’s really enticed me, because it’s so exhausting to read after a while, but I do appreciate colourful settings and thoughtful descriptions. Descriptions help make a character and a story, and a combination of dialogue and description is what really does it for me. If I had to choose, I would probably pick dialogue over description, though, being that I do more of that myself.

I look for strong female characters who don’t behave like childish idiots, and history that has been properly researched. Fantasy that is believable, despite being just that – fantasy. I really dislike most urban fantasy, despite PURITY being technically classed as urban fantasy. If a book has a sassy-looking woman on the cover wearing pleather and holding a sword, I won’t give the book the time of day. It might be the book that changes my life, and I’ll never know. It just looks so silly to me that I can’t even stomach it.

And it probably goes without saying, but I won’t read a book if it isn’t well written. When Fifty Shades of Grey was hot shit last year, many of my friends and family insisted I read it. I wouldn’t, and not because it was filthy erotica, but because I heard it was terribly written. I am a fan of the Game of Thrones HBO show on tv, and upon the urging of a friend I started reading the Song of Ice and Fire books. I seriously dislike Martin’s writing style. I know it’s terrible to like the show more than the books, but oh my god. I’m love the overall story, but the minute and useless details and rambling idiocy and text walls and flashbacks make me want to slit my throat. It’s taken me half a year to read two and a half of the books, and I can read faster than most.

Historical fiction that’s well done, epic fantasy, bold dialogue and beautiful descriptions, and an understanding of good writing. Pretty straightforward, actually.

So how does a book jump off the shelf for you?

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