Mystery Musings

Preferences. We all have them. When we glance at book covers, some catch our eyes more than others. When we read blurbs, certain things hook us while others don’t. Some genres appeal to us more than others. But what else sways us when we make decisions about which book to read?

I have to be honest. As soon as I see the words “love triangle,” I’m turned off. Don’t like them. For me, the only time they work is if one of the guys vying for the girl is a jerk, and she finally chooses the nice one. But that had better happen sooner rather than later, or I lose interest. And what happens when I’m rooting for my favorite, and he’s NOT the one she settles on? A BIG downer. Nope, triangles aren’t my thing, even though they appeal to a lot of people.

I have a friend who asks every time I love a book, “Female protagonist?” “Kickass?” “Intelligent?” And I know, that even though she reads lots of books of all types, those are her favorites–even though we both fell in love with Jorg in PRINCE OF THORNS, and she’s zipping through the Harry Dresden series. And it made me wonder. Does the gender of the protagonist matter to most readers? Do men prefer male protagonists and women prefer females? I read both, and since I love cozies, I read more female protagonists than males, but I’m more than happy to read a Louis Kincaid. Does it matter to you who your protagonist is?

I have another friend who writes in first person, present tense; and I love the immediacy it brings to her writing. But I’ve read reviewers who love first person and others who prefer third, past tense. As long as it’s done well, I like either. Does that matter to you?

Are there other things that push your buttons? Does a certain historical period tempt you to buy a book? What about tone? Wise-ass, humor, dark, or snarky? Lots of description or the bare minimum? Straightforward, concise writing or lyrical and poetic? Romance or not? What grabs you when you choose a book? And what turns you off?

Or are you eclectic, like me? Variety keeps things interesting. Marketing wizards, I’m sure, study all of these things. I only think about them occasionally and write what I’m driven to write. But I’m sure they make a difference. So, is there something that makes you pick up a book to look at the back blurb and then buy it? Something that makes you put it back on the shelf and avoid it? What hooks you, and what doesn’t?

12 thoughts on “Mystery Musings

      1. yes, about the serfs and many others who had to suffer through the period. my favorite is ‘the mists of avalon.’ the arthur/lanceleot days told through the eyes of the women.

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  1. I’m pretty eclectic in my interests, and my nightstand is a testimony to that. This year I’ve read everything from biblical archeology to original medical research to fantasy to thrillers. I get hooked by stories involving human struggles. Most recently, I read and loved Sally Cronin’s Life is Like A Bowl of Cherries and I also just finished and loved Cynthia Bourgeault’s The Meaning of Mary Magdalene. Very different books. One is fiction, the other is non-fiction. Both address our choices, our ability to rise above our circumstances. Maybe that is a category? Thank you for posing the question and prompting some reflection on my part. I need to think about it even more. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Judi.

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    1. I bet the Mary Magdalene book was fascinating. There are so many theories about Christ and His life and the Marys. All of them intriguing. But I like your category of rising above our circumstances by the choices we make. That works for me! And wishing you happy holidays, too, and a wonderful 2021.


  2. So many good questions! I’m drawn first to genre, then to cover and blurb. I have my favorite genre (mystery / thriller / suspense), but I do read a wide variety as well, including non-fiction. When it comes to historical novels, I love the Victorian era.

    I’m not much a fan of romance, but every now and then I do enjoy the diversion. And, of course, I have auto-buy authors. I just love to read, LOL!

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  3. I’ve got my genre preferences (all things being equal, I like when something has fantasy or paranormal elements), but I try and read a lot of different stuff and I like variety in protags.

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