Everyone has his or her triggers. There are always words that make you stop and take a second look at that book table, or that make you perk up your ears when you hear them being discussed on the radio. They are deeply personal, and often won’t make sense to anyone besides you, but that doesn’t matter. For my friend Michele (aka Just a Lil’ Lost), the trigger is Paris. My friend Chandra will drop everything for Neil Gaiman. For another friend, it’s anything to do with cats. For me … well, you’ll have to guess my top pick from this list of ten. Here, then, is my list of words or topics that will pull me towards a book.
London I moved to London when I was 21, and have lived there on and off for a good portion of my life. I love it, and consider it to be my second home. As a result, any book with something to do with London – past, present or future – will grab my attention. Bill Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Island’ can still make me teary and a little homesick.
People making life-changing decisions and moving around the world I first read Frances Mayes “Under the Tuscan Sun” and I was transformed. The idea of throwing it all in and moving to another country – to Tuscany!! – was incredibly appealing and instantly my go-to dream future. I still dream of dropping everything and flying off to start over somewhere amazing – and who know? I may still do so!
Food porn You know what I’m talking about. Those lusciously photographed, beautifully laid out books that show gorgeous food in the perfect setting, enticing you to nbelieve that maybe you could have a dinner party like that. Eventually, you succumb, buying the book and often spending more time slavering over the beautiful pictures and reading the recipes than actually making any of them. You can’t help it – you’re pulled in against your will. It’s (food) chemistry. For me, Nigella works every time.
Agatha Christie She’s the Queen of Crime. Really, is there anything else I need to say? However, if you have decided that Miss Marple spends too much time knitting, and Hercule Poirot is not to your taste, try her Tommy & Tuppence novels – guaranteed to bring out the ‘Gatsby-esque’ quality of mystery writing.
Precocious young people rising above their situation Whether it’s the marvellous Matilda or the brave Barnaby Brocket, fantastical stories about young boys and girls who rise above their miserable existence to find something magical and wonderful are always welcome. They give you that achy heart when you read about their horrible lives, and that life in your spirits when they rise above (in Barnaby’s case, quite literally) to find a happier existence.
Wallflower makes good It’s that age-old tale of the unnoticed girl, who really is sweet and kind and wonderful. Something happens – a relative dies, leaving her money, or a jilting by a dull-as-dishwater boy – and she begins to come out of her shell. She’s still the same person she always was, but just a little more polished. I love this story, and the concept of good girl finally getting her due. One of my current favourites? Miss Buncle’s Book, a sweet and funny tale about a girl who notices everything – and writes a book about it. Tremendous fun!
Jennifer Rardin I love the Jaz Parks series – it was like crack to me. Jaz and Val were awesome – like a cross between Buffy and the A-Team and True Blood and … so many other amazing things that I can’t name. Sadly, Ms Rardin died suddenly, just before the release of the last book in the series, and I would like to think that, despite the untimely nature of her passing, she was happy with how she left her characters, and they were exactly where she wanted them to be. It took me a long time to read that last book (I had the same problem with watching Serenity), because I didn’t want to admit that it was over. Thanks for the great ride, Jennifer – you are missed.
Lauren Dane & The Brown Siblings Lauren Dane is an incredible writer. If you follow her on Twitter or visit her blog, you can read some of the snippets she’s posted, and let me tell you – they are hot. However, what’s even better is that Lauren Dane herself is a ballsy, classy lady, who calls it as she sees it, and who has opinions that are pretty damn similar to my own. As for the Brown siblings series – everyone I have given these books to has only ever come back to me for more. Her characters are nuanced and human and funny and talented and blatantly sensual. They live life fiercely, and love deeply. Really, what more would you want?
James Marsters as Harry Dresden My love for James Marsters reading Jim Butcher’s books aloud has been well documented. For me, his voice just fits the character so perfectly I fall into the stories without any problems. I’m currently listening to Ghost Story, and Marsters isn’t part of this one (a conflict with Carnival of Souls recording times meant that John Glover filled in). While Glover is absolutely fine, he’s not my voice of Harry …. and I’m finding that my enjoyment of the story is dimmed a bit. Can’t wait to get into the next book to have him back in my ear (so to speak).
Toronto I love my city. It’s a beautiful place to live, with amazing diversity and a depth and breadth of culture and heritage that takes my breath away every time I discover everything new. From the Doors Open program each spring to skating at Nathan Philips Square, to the gargoyles at Old City Hall and the peacefulness of Philosopher’s Walk at U of T, the sights and scents and flavours of each of the unique neighbourhoods are wonderful discoveries. Now there is Project Bookmark, where literary landmarks will be profiled, in the city and beyond. You always love home best, and Toronto is definitely home.
Honourable mentions: Kelley Armstrong, coffee, travel, strong kick-butt heroines, Alice Munro, cosy mystery series, Lemony Snicket, baking cookbooks (especially cookies), brilliant middle grade books, Kristen Ashley, Jon Klassen, NYC, geeks/nerds, Skulduggery Pleasant.
So, what are your trigger words or phrases that make you want to purchase books? Leave your list in the comments below!