What I want in my reading this year…

What I am looking forward to and would like less off in 2018

These have been floating around, being done by bloggers way more articulate than I, but they have given me so much to think about, I put pen to paper. So to speak.

But before I get to that: I am happily enjoying the crime stories, in whatever genre catches my eye be it YA, or chick lit, or whatever, but it’s my thing. Is that bad? I feel guilty sometimes for not reading too far out of crime or thriller wheelhouse. Is that bad?

So that’s been percolating in the back of my mind too. But so has the following:

I absolutely need more of this:

Strong female characters

I was reading a blog post recently about how strength is defined in different ways, and not just in the physicality of a character. Most often I know I drift to that, but it’s not entirely the most apt description. Case in point, a character in Children of Blood and Bone that interests me far more than the badass girl that made it onto the blurb.

Strength is absolutely in the female characters that overcome all odds, and those that are physically badass. But, there’s strength too in fighting personal demons, or staying true to yourself, or standing up for yourself or someone else.

Excellent characterisation and plotting

I feel like this is a given, but there are more than a couple of books this past year which trumpeted their twists and failed in general characterisation and plotting.

I get that a twist can make a book soar in the charts, but a twist in the end of a story can’t carry a book on its own. You need tons of these two as well.

More books that reflect what’s happening in the world today

YA is excelling in this recently. I wish it would get so much more credit than the genre is generally given.

And I definitely need less of this:

Gone Girl

This book is 4 years old now, and while the movie was popular, it’s time to stop plastering on every book with a unreliable female narrator “If you liked Gone Girl’. There have been plenty of books since that are just as good and if not better.

I get that the movie, and the publicity for this book pushed it into our collective consciousness and made it into a definition of a genre, but are readers as lazy as publishers think them to be? We aren’t supposed to judge books by their cover, but it’s okay to judge it by a comparison to a book that was published 3-4 years ago?

I dunno. I get that it’s aimed for someone ducking into a book shop and wanting something to read and a line like that will probably get their attention, but there’s a point where you have to give even those casual readers some credit for knowing what they want, and it might not be another Gone Girl clone?

Twists

See above.

Sometimes it feels like every book in the crime/mystery/thriller genre has a twist. It’s on the back cover blurb, it’s on the front cover and probably on an ad somewhere. I find though the books with the best twists are the ones that don’t need to keep mentioning it on every bit they can.

Twists are great, but in a genre where most books claim to have the best twist ever, it’s probably better if your characterisation is excellent, your plotting superb so much so that a twist is something you don’t need.

Alcoholism, drug addiction… if you write it, write it well

Do female – or male — characters need to be alcoholics (not that an author wants to admit that), or recovering from something horrible to be able to be an effective character?

In the same vein, if a character is drinks to the point they’re blacking out, odds are good in any other circumstance they would be called an alcoholic. Writing them going cold turkey as a way of dealing with their drinking, to me, is using alcoholism for a plot point, and then getting rid of it when you’re done.

If your character is doing drugs, drinking write them as such, along with all the stuff that goes with it. It’d actually make for a better character, I think.

Articles on YA wondering why adults read YA

I think I would like not to see an article wondering why adults read YA, or discussing a reason for it, which somehow makes the adults in question seem childish and the YA not worth ‘serious’ readers time. Adults read YA, they have for a while now.  These are books that delve into rape, racism, Islamaphobia, mental illness and depression — and so much more.

And that’s it! What are you in need of  your 2018 reading??

 

29 Comments

  • I hate those comparisons on book covers. If you love _ you’ll love_. If I hated the first option, I certainly won’t pick up the second option to read! And if I loved the first option, I’ll be comparing the second to it as I read and that will probably end badly for the new book. I’ve lost count of how many ‘new Harry Potter!’ books I’ve looked at that sucked!

  • Love this list!! I would love more strong female characters with strength shown in different ways. And yes can the Gone GIrl comparisons go away!!

    • Verushka says:

      Right? I am so entirely tired of the words Gone Girl. SO TIRED. But YES, I’d like these different types of strength to be acknowledged on blurbs as badass too.

  • Angela says:

    I like twists in my books, especially psychological thrillers, but perhaps less touting of the twist? Because a lot of times, a book promises to have some amazing twist and it ends up being disappointing. Maybe let it be a surprise while I’m reading.

    • Verushka says:

      The best books I’ve loved recently are the ones that never needed to trumpeted their twist, and drew me in entirely with their writing. The twist was like the cherry on top lol

  • YES to all of these. I love books that focus on current events. I need to find more of them.

    • Verushka says:

      YA is doing SO Well in this regard these days. I’m continually impressed with how well writers are exploring some tough themes!

  • Daniela Ark says:

    These are all great things to want for your reading year! I agree that YA have been good about reflecting what’s happening in the world today. Maybe that’s why there are so many YA readers? Including adults. I don’t think YA is a genre directed to YA but to YA readers. I for example read mostly YA because I’m raising one. I drafted a post “why I read YA” that I think I scheduled for February 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      Interesting, I didn’t think of YA being aimed at YA readers, whatever their age. I look forward to your YA post — and I hope you include some recs too!

  • See, now, I would like more alcoholic and drug addicted characters lol. Idk why, but I like them. Maybe because I like really flawed characters, and most characters I find seem too perfect to me? Or maybe because it’s something I’ve never experienced myself? But anyway, yeah, if they quit cold turkey, that’s not realistic and is just a plot point which is not ok.

    I agree, a book def needs more than just a good twist! Characters and plot are *always* important. Twists can just add an extra something.

    I hope you’re able to find more of these things in your books this year!

    • Verushka says:

      I think I’m tired of alcoholism for the sake of the plot before the character becomes a walking ad for recovery cold turkey. I’ve just seen that way too many times in the thriller/mystery genre and it’s beginning to be lazy. Here’s hoping for a better year this year (I think watching a perfect character be tempted and go down a path that changes them entirely)

    • Daniela Ark says:

      sorry to butt in but I was making sure I had commented on this post and couldn’t help but read your comment… and I had to grin… yes to those characters… because … X from Hell Divers! 🙂

  • Silvia says:

    That’s a very good list and, if you ask me, it’s never bad when you find your thing and you can’t have enough of it! Also, excellent characterisation and plotting + twists is the way to go 😉

    • Verushka says:

      Guilt over everything is another thing I should have put on this list — as in not letting it hold me back from enjoying the things I want — or what makes reading better for me.

  • The quickest way to turn me off a book is to compare it to Gone Girl. I didn’t like it and I find the comparisons annoying. In particular, I don’t think the world needs another Gone Girl – I’m not sure it needed the first. Although I respect those who loved it. Great list.

    • Verushka says:

      YES! By all means love Gone Girl if you do, but don’t compare everything in the genre to it It just makes me *faceplam*

  • This is a great list! I am a sucker for thrillers, the more creepier and twist and turns, the better! As for the flawed characters, I like to read about them but I do want realistic ones. Not over the top, miraculous recoveries. Maybe that’s just me though.
    *I haven’t read Gone Girl* 😕

    • Verushka says:

      Absolutely, give me all the twisty goodness there is, with good plotting and characterisation. But sometimes, when all there is, is a twist it feels like authors had a good idea for a twist and wrote the book around it. Same with the flawed characters — those flaws are just there and they go away when they’re not needed. It’s definitely not just you!

  • AngelErin says:

    I agree with you on so much of this!! The comparison to Gone Girl, omg stop already. I can’t with that anymore. Also, strong female characters!! Yes, I’m so into that and I need more of that. I somewhat agree about twists also, I LOOOVE a good twist. I crave those, but you’re right anytime I see publishers hard pushing the “MOST SHOCKING TWIST EVER” thing it’s usually a letdown. Great post and I hope you find lots of good reads this year with the things you want in them, without the garbage. 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      Me toooo Erin! Publishers seem to latch on to things for far too long and don’t give readers nearly enough credit I think.

  • I agree, I like to see all types of strength in my heroines! And oh my god, yes, I’m so over addiction and mental illness being used as a throw-away plot point. If you wanna go there, you have to *actually* go there.

  • Great list and I agree with all of the points you made, especially the endless Gone Girl comparisons. I’ve probably missed out on reading a lot of great books in recent years because something on the cover says it’s the next Gone Girl or whatever. Enough, lol.

    • Verushka says:

      It’s like Gone Girl is the only book in the thriller/domestic noir genre *rolls eyes* I was reading an article for some book that said it was only possible bc Gone Girl helped the author write it — hard no from me, thanks.

  • Oh gosh, I’m so tired of book comparisons – The Fault in Our Stars, Gone Girl, etc. It’s not fair to the poor author either because people read it expecting a copy-cat or something and they might judge it HARSHER if they don’t get the same type of thing, you know?

    Also, adults like YA. It’s not a shocker. I’d like to stop hearing about “why is this?” as well.

    • Verushka says:

      YES, John Green is a great writer by all accounts, but you know not every reader wants another Fault in our Stars. Like he’s the only YA author aorund and it’s the only book of note. You’re right — the comparisons can backfire soooo much! Don’t get me started on OHMYGERD adults are reading YA nonsense. Drives me mad!

  • Rebecca says:

    I love YA, will always love YA. And I’m an old fart. It keeps me young and it’s often much more adventurous than adult in any genre. Love your list!

    • Verushka says:

      You and me, and most of the people commenting can be old farts together then lol I’m so over people being surprised by this and by extension how good YA can be that adults are reading it. Idiots.

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