Falling in Love with a Book

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?

6 Responses to Falling in Love with a Book

  1. Marc Vun Kannon Feb 18 2015 at 6:50 am #

    While good characters are by far the most important element of a story to me, they won’t make me fall in love with a book if they’re going through a fairly standard adventure. Good characters should grow during the story, and the amount of growth and type of growth are key. A young boy learning about magic and becoming a teenage boy? Okay although I have trouble believing that young man abused the way Harry Potter was would become the hero he became once given the slightest taste of power, unless his spiritual development is so far advanced he has little left to learn, so why bother. On the other hand, a man who knows the evils of power and denies his own until he is forced to claim it and own it? Much more interesting to me. Lots of stories like that, from Jumper to The Thread That Binds the Bones, to the Riddle-Master of Hed trilogy, to Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician trilogy, a much more powerful version of the Magic Academy theme. Stories like Connie Hullander’s Snowstorm are among my favorites. A young woman, committed to an institution for a crime she can’t remember, spends a winter with a bunch of kids who on the surface, would appear to have far better lives than her own. The key word being ‘appear’.

  2. Nicola Feb 18 2015 at 7:10 am #

    As with you, characters are a key element of any book I love. I read a lot of speculative fiction, however, and of almost equal importance is the world. Many of my favourite books create worlds I would love to visit and inhabit, like the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Others I’d hate to set foot in, but they’re rich and compelling all the same and so I’m drawn to them.

  3. Nancy Tandon Feb 18 2015 at 9:23 am #

    I usually have ‘lasting’ love with a book when there are repeated phrases or sentences I want to underline. It’s the beauty or humor at the sentence level that closes the deal for me. “Dear Lord, please give that child some hair…” from A GIRL NAMED ZIPPY comes to mind. She had me right there.

  4. Puiman Feb 19 2015 at 10:30 am #

    The characters, the story, and how the story is told are what make me fall in love with a book. I like how you bring up The Fault in Our Stars because for me, it was definitely the characters that made me love the book.

  5. Alexa S. Mar 3 2015 at 11:31 am #

    I enjoyed this post, Rachel! When I think of what truly makes me fall in love with a novel, it’s really a tie between characters and story. I have to feel some form of connection with the characters, and I have to be engaged in the twists and turns of the story too!

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