Unsurprisingly, I'm late to the party with Armchair Book Expo. I'm always so jealous of those of you who get to go, but at least we can still party at home! The questions this year are great as they are always. Let's tackle the first set.
- What Do Readers Want?: What makes or breaks a book? How do we rate the books, or determine if it is good literature or a good story? What do we want from an author event? How does diversity representation fit into all of this?
I think this really depends on the reader. But I think to generalize, there has to be a hook, something to draw the reader in, and the pacing has to be good to keep interest. Characters that are three dimensional and relatable are a huge plus, but I may care about this more than others. A structured plot is important-- meandering for 400 pages without a story is a huge downer.
For me, specifically, I love character interaction and learning about characters, so this is vitally important to me. I really need to be drawn in by the first 100 pages, if not, it's really hard for me to continue. Extra pluses include: good science if it's a dystopian or science fiction book or anything related to science, a terrific three dimensional villain, a really swoony love story that is well done, a strong friendship, great dialogue. What breaks a book for me includes: no plot, lots and lots and lots of scenery with very little character interaction, cookie cutter characters, I really don't do books in prose well although I've tried it. Instalove is usually a no-no.
How do we rate the books, or determine if it is good literature or a good story?
For me, if I'm still thinking about the book a few days later, that's a good sign it's going to get at least a 4 star if not 5 star. Even if I'm not in love with the book, the books that make me think and feel deeply are the ones that I'm going to rate highly. Beautiful prose is a high one for me as it's actually harder to find, especially in YA. Deftly drawn characters who are memorable and stand out are a huge plus. If you have some of my no-nos listed above, the book will get a lower rating from me.
What do we want from an author event?
I absolutely love author events. I think the best author events incorporate material that is totally different from what we can get online. Some tidbits that authors can share about their books that are unable to be found elsewhere. I also love when if it's a group author event if they start discussing a topic together, ramping each other up. I think it's important to have a moderator who has really interesting questions to get the conversation going. I don't particularly love readings from books, so I could totally do without that. I do love when authors give us an inside scoop about their process. A great question and answer session always makes an event that much better. A good audience is key.
How does diversity representation fit into all of this?
I think this is very important and something that I've become aware of more and more. So many characters are white in all of literature and yet, there are so many really diverse and wonderful cultures, why shouldn't it be reflected in the literature as well? Reading and books elevate us and join us together in a multi-cultural community, and we should embrace it. I love reading about characters and cultures different from my own (and also about my own! When I found Lara Jean, I was so thrilled!), and those that are from different cultures deserve characters that they can identify with. I do believe that authors should be sensitive to other cultures and try to incorporate them when they can into books.
- Let's Collaborate & Listen: The online book community has changed so much over the years. How do we keep up within our own book-sphere as well as within the community as a whole (i.e., libraries, bookstores, authors, publishers, etc.)?