When I’m browsing books at a bookstore, searching for the next potential title to take home, there are certain things I look for that influence my decision. I read Young Adult books, and there are weird little things that determine whether I want to read a particular YA book or not. They’re all my own preferences, and I’m sure I’ve passed up some really good books before. But when I buy a book I want to make sure I’m going to take the time to sit down and read it. And I have a hard time doing that when the following things happen:
I love reading about teenagers. But I have a hard time connecting to the stories when the teenagers are younger, like 13-15. I usually prefer my teen characters to be at least 16, but I really like it when they’re 17 or 18. I’ve made exceptions, of course. But I’ve also put plenty of books back on the shelf if the character is younger than 15.
This one probably gets me the most. I have a super hard time enjoying books that aren’t written in first person. When I’m looking at new titles I always open to the first page to see what POV I can expect. And if it’s third person I usually put the book back. There’s just something about first person narration that I adore, and I feel so out of my comfort zone when it isn’t used. I’ve made exceptions here too. Harry Potter being the biggest. I also have some really good titles waiting on my shelf that aren’t first person. But I have to get my head in that mind frame and pump myself up. I’ve gotten so used to first person narration that it’s hard to leave it behind.
A Lack of Cursing
I know. It should be the other way around, right? Not for me. If there is no swearing in a YA book it’s an instant turn-off. Teens cuss. Deal with it. So if I flip to a page and see something like,“Oh crap! What the heck? Mom’s going to kick my butt!” Then I put that book back on the shelf. I can’t stand it. It sounds so false and straight-laced. I like a good rebellious, foul-mouthed teen even if that sends the wrong message.
I can’t do it. I’ve often loved the back jacket summary of certain books and then opened them to find they’re written in verse. I just can’t enjoy that style. There are plenty of people who do, and I love that it’s a different approach. But I just haven’t been able to find a passion for it.
I know. We’re not supposed to judge them. But if I have to see one more cover with a girl in a long flowing dress, wavy hair, and dark makeup staring off into the distance I’m going to start throwing things. Go to the YA section of a Barnes and Noble and count how many girl-in-a-fancy-dress covers there are. I won’t even touch them if they have that as a cover. I’m sorry if that’s harsh, but come on. Examples of books that drew me to them because of their covers are The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith, Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith, tales of the MADMAN underground by John Barnes, Scowler by Daniel Kraus, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Imaginary Children by Ransom Riggs. These covers were so good I almost didn’t care what the books were even about. I bought them, and they came home with me.
What about you? Does anything stop you from buying a book? Do you look for certain things before committing yourself to that novel? Or do you just dive right in?