What I Look For In Books
Before we dive into a book review, I wanted to preface those reviews and talk about what I look for in reading. These top five reasons are what determine if I really enjoy a book. If the book I’m reading meets one or all of this criteria, I will love it and recommend it to anyone and everyone. I kind of can’t help but to talk about the books that I really like.
Let’s get started. I look for—
Books with beautiful words/writing.
I look for books that have very beautiful, and often poetic writing. I love to visualize the scenery, feelings, and thoughts of the characters and settings, and if the author is able to write beautifully and uniquely, I am much more drawn into the world of the book. I love to save quotes from books, and I find myself saving bunches of quotes if the writing is beautiful. When the writing is beautiful, it really speaks to the care and hard work that an author decided to put into their work. I kind of love when the author takes years to write one book because I know that everything was purposeful and that it was their best effort. Donna Tartt is the first to come to mind—her writing is insanely beautiful, and when you’re reading her books, you exist in her world.
Books with settings that appeal to me.
I look for books with settings that appeal to me, and this is probably the biggest one for me. I love to travel, and various areas of the world appeal to me, but I have my favorite spots. If I am physically taking a trip, I would never choose to visit a desert or the dry areas of the Southwest of the United States. It just doesn’t appeal to me, which I know is very personal preference. The same goes for me when I’m reading. I don’t want to travel somewhere through the book that doesn’t appeal to me. If I’m not enjoying the setting, I’m wanting to get out of there. I tend to love books that are set sometime in the 1900s-present. I love reading about NYC, London, the Pacific Northwest, and various European countries. As my love for reading continues to grow, I’m sure I’ll be excited to explore new areas of the world through books. One time period that I’ve tended to avoid is WW2 and the Holocaust; it’s very sad and it seems that every other book is set in that time period. I know it was a super pivotal and heartbreaking time for the world, but I’ve tended to avoid it, for now. Where’d You Go, Bernadette is the perfect example of a setting that I love. This book is set in modern day Seattle for the most part (one of my favorite cities), and it then transports you to Antarctica, an area of the world that fascinates me because it’s so mysterious and isolated.
Books that I relate to.
Everyone loves to relate to something in the world, and books are such a great space for processing feelings and learning from the obstacles that the characters overcome. It can feel as if you’re seeing yourself face these issues, and when the books have resolutions, you’ll be more confident in yourself to overcome your own issues. “If they can do it, I can do it.” Relating to characters and stories is something that can put you at ease. It’s almost as if someone is listening to your inner fears and anxieties. The author did that for a reason. Generally, books have something to say, and that is why the characters become relatable. A Spot Of Bother is a book I recently read, and I found myself relating to almost every character in the story for some reason or another. It feels good to feel understood and known, even through a work of fiction.
Books that teach me something.
I think that books are meant to teach the reader something, whether that be big or small. It could teach you a little bit more about a region, a person, types of jobs, and really anything. I think that fiction is special because it tells a very interesting story that is also super informative and easy to learn from. I have been curious about Russia and its society/culture, but I haven’t been able to learn much from google searches, but when I read A Gentleman in Moscow, I learned so much about Russian society and culture, as well as their government throughout WW1-WW2. I loved learning about that through a clever story that didn’t feel like a history lesson.
Books with important themes.
Books are able to communicate important themes and to shine light on areas that might go unnoticed, and I have found my mind opening through reading. Without realizing it, you’re observing characters figuring out the world around them and listening to what they think is important. In almost all of the books that I’ve read lately, I have been reading about the importance of human connection. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is just one example of this that comes to mind. It definitely opened my eyes and provoked a desire to change.
These qualities are what I like to look for when reading, and if they are present, I’m basically guaranteed to love the book no matter how the plot ends up finishing.