Top Ten Tuesday: irresistible ingredients

Top Ten Tuesday bannerTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we all talk about a bookish topic and have fun making lists. This week, we’re examining the things that we just can’t resist.

I am fairly picky about books. After all, life is too short to read ALL THE BOOKS, so I need to be selective, right? And yet… it honestly doesn’t take much to get me flailing away at the thought of picking one up. So here’s to top ten ways for getting me all excited about a book…

Dragons are generally a good start

Eh, you’ve probably spotted that I like dragons. Who doesn’t like dragons?

Muskedragon enthusiasm

Book friends are brilliant friends, and my Muskedragon crew are the best book friends. I will read books purely because it means I get to flail along with them, even though they’re books I didn’t know I was interested in. This has rewarded me with a new and fierce love for the works of Ellen Kushner, and taught me the joys of live-tweeting incoherently on a Saturday night (sorry not sorry, Twitterverse).

Fierce ladies
I grew up reading books about boys having adventures. Now I prefer to read about ladies of all ages having adventures. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not looking for men-free zones – I love a good hero too. But I want to see plenty of womenfolk, not just a token sidekick or a love interest who needs rescuing.

A diverse cast
To make me really happy, give me a hodgepodge of species, skin colours, sexual inclinations, and gender identities. If there’s dragons (or elves, or aliens), I will never get excited about characters who could all get a Daily Fail stamp of approval. Otherwise, I’d just read Thomas Hardy. 

No sexual hang-ups

I’ve got my own, thanks, I’m British. But seriously; I’m not asking for porn or sex-driven narratives (because either of those things will have me running for the hills), but tell me a book encompasses a range of relationships – with no moralising – and I’ll be more interested in it, rather than rolling my eyes at the prospect of yet another girl meets boy romance.


No secret that I prefer a solid friendship to a steamy romance. Yes, I have a sentimental streak a mile wide, but I tend not to indulge it through fiction. I’d much rather read about unlikely friendships, friendship in adversity, or even the everyday loyalty that goes sadly unremarked.


I can’t resist some derring do. Excessively skilful swordplay; swinging from ropes; daring to do the least likely thing; laughing in the face of certain death. I want to laugh breathlessly from the edge of my seat at the outrageous feats. I blame the Musketeers.


…this is probably an inevitable consequence of swashbuckling. And they don’t need to be romanticised Jack Sparrow pirates, either (although, yes, obviously those). But tell me a book has space pirates, lady pirates, evil pirates – or highwaymen, thieves, outlaws or the like – and my ears perk up. Although yes, I love the morally ambiguous but ultimately noble ones best.

Proper villains

While I’ve gone off grimdark, I love an antihero and I adore a proper villain: one with dimensions, nuance, motivations, a rationale – one where I can understand their actions even when I don’t approve of them. None of which needs to stop them being utterly villainous or even requires them to be likeable per se. I don’t remotely like Holland or Asmodeus; but I love their characters.

Unreliable narratives

I love an author who can lead me right up the garden path when I’m not looking. Think Carey’s introduction of Melanie; Palahniuk’s portrayal of Tyler Durden; Priest’s excessively clever phrasing of Borden’s diaries. Narrative sleight of hand, rather than unreliable narrators.


What can grab your attention?