If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!
This is honestly a very tough question. It’s hard to think of a single thing that will always make me read something; I could say strong female lead characters, but that’s not true — there are books that I refuse to read containing that quality.
I suppose something I am truly a sucker for is a sense of myth in the story. Kushiel’s Legacy is a very good example of this; not only is there a very rich backdrop to the story, filled with different cultures and myths based loosely on ones from Earth, but the story of Phedre and Joscelin has its own mythic quality — these characters are true heroes on the hero’s journey, and their deeds will be talked about in centuries to come.
Other examples of this mythic quality, not limited to books:
- True Grit (the recent one)
- Battlestar Galactica
- The Fifth Sacred Thing
- Lord of the Rings (though, I will admit, I did not finish reading the books — it’s the films I have a true love for)
- Harry Potter
- Green Grass, Running Water (by Thomas King)
- The Tir Alainn Trilogy by Anne Bishop
- The Black Jewels Trilogy (same)
- The Snow Queen, by Joan D. Vinge
- anything by Ursula K. LeGuin, the First Lady of Fantasy
- Bellica, by Katje van Loon (why shouldn’t I shamelessly plug my own awesome stories, I ask you)
It’s the sense of myth that truly gets my heart racing, that makes me cry for the characters (yes, including my own), that wraps me up so completely in the story that when it’s over I am bereft for having lost a part of myself.
However, that’s the beauty of myths — once I am done mourning, I can read or watch and experience them again, and allow myself to fall in love many times with the same, heart-rending story.