Recently, I saw something circulating on Social Media about 36 questions to ask to make you fall in love with someone, and I started thinking- if human love can be so specifically pinpointed, can book love be just as specifically identified? How does a book make me fall in love with it? Is it the cover? The blurb on the back? The plot? The language? The characters? To some degree, all of these things contribute, but what specific thing is the tipping point to making me really love a book?
For some it’s the discovery- love at first sight. Either the cover catches my eye or the book is recommended by someone I know, or perhaps by some mysterious algorithm on a site like GOODREADS or AMAZON. One look at this book and it’s love! I’ve had a few like that, but generally this isn’t what does it for me.
Do I like what I see? Then I move to the next step of reading the blurb on the back of the book to see what it’s about. This definitely sweetens the deal, but it’s still not THE thing. If the blurb doesn’t convince me that this is something I want to read, no matter how beautiful the cover is, I go no further. (I’m not that superficial!)
Once the cover & the blurb have convinced me to start reading, I immediately start evaluating. If the story has caught my interest, I will definitely keep reading, but I’ve read and enjoyed lots of books that I wouldn’t describe as loving. At the same time, I’m not totally immune to falling in love with a story- even when the characters and the language aren’t special. Sparking my imagination will definitely go a long way to making me love a book.
Language definitely plays a huge role in my book love. I love beautiful language. I have a huge appreciation for writers who make me want to highlight favourite quotes and passages. Don’t get me wrong- I’m still looking for substance- using fancy, flowery language to say absolutely nothing isn’t going to fool me- but some of my favourite books have what I consider to be brilliant writing that plays with language, makes me laugh, makes me cry and phrases that stick in my memory. Getting closer, but still not the thing.
And now we come to character. The books that I love with a capital L have rich, compelling characters that give me that emotional investment that I need to really be in love. They stay in my memory and make me care about what happens to them. My heart breaks when they lose, I cheer when they win, and I’m with them from start to finish. If Hazel and Augustus weren’t the characters they are, Fault in Our Stars wouldn’t be the sensation it is. From Katniss Everdeen to Harry Potter, these characters are multi-layered, relatable, believable, and emotionally true, and for that we love them, and the books they inhabit. (Especially if it makes me cry)
The beauty of books is that each person’s reading experience is different, and if ten people read a book, we could site ten different things that made us love it. So now I turn the question to you and ask- what makes you fall in love with a book?