Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Hook Brings You Back

Something I’ve been thinking about lately: “What words/phrases in a blurb make a book irresistible? What words/phrases will make you put the book back down immediately?”

It's hard to think of too many that make a book immediately irresistible, but I can think of a few that make books very resistable. "Confronting the past," for example. Or "confronting demons," or confronting pretty much anything while in the process of doing something else. Anything that looks overly dolorous, or as if it was inspired by an episode of Oprah, I avoid. For example, books on the effect of a child's death on a couple's marriage.

It's changed a bit as I've gotten older, too. For instance, I used to eat up books about young women making their way in the world with a big spoon. Devil Wears Prada, The Second Assistant, Citizen Girl, I read them all. I started to sour on them after that last one, which is still my ultimate example of a bad book aimed at women. After a while, they started to depress me, and make me feel old and curmudgeonly. Is no one teaching these kids that they have to start at the bottom? Why are these kids so entitled and self-centered? And why won't they get off my lawn?

What can always intrigue me is a book about something outside the ordinary realm of most people's experiences. I'm not talking about books about other cultures. They're just living their lives, too. Books like Sarah Bird's The Flamenco School, or the odd upbringing of the twins in The Thirteenth Tale. I like books where it's clear that the author has really used his or her imagination.

But I guess I also don't take blurbs too seriously. I skim them to get a general sense of what the book's going to be about, and then I go from there.