Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Book Talk - Why Do You Like That Book? (And a Contest!)

In libraries, book talk is a way for librarians to introduce certain books or types of books to a group of people. Usually it involves a summary, an explanation of why the librarian thinks it’s a great read, a short teaser and some read alike (books that are similar). I thought it would be fun to take this concept and turn it on its ear, by talking about different genres and bookish topics. There is no right way to book talk so, each post will be different. Some will be written by guest authors (authors, librarians, and bloggers) and some by me. Book talk posts will usually be posted every other Thursday. *This post was scheduled for last Thursday, but for some reason it never posted. *

Last week, Deirdre (my fellow Children’s Librarian) and I started talking about how even though many people like the same book, they may like it for different reasons. Has that ever happened to you? You love a particular book, you think the characters are awesome or you love the way the author writes dialogue and then someone else comes along and states that they love that book for the setting or the romance or another reason. I think this is true for most books, that just about every reader likes it for a different reason. But, it always shocks me when people have a different reason for liking a book.

Our conversation went something like this:

D: I think it’s really interesting that several people can like the same book but for different reasons. There are so many books that we both like, but we like different aspects of them.
Me: Like Megan Whalen Turner (MWT)?
D: Exactly, some people like her books for the humor, some for the romance, the intrigue, the world building, and even her writing style.
Me: Hmm, yes. I love The Queen’s Thief series for the world building. MWT builds a world that is so intricate and full of little details that you feel that it could be a real place, that you could travel there and find her buildings and roads and cities.
D: For me it’s the way MWT creates her characters. She shows you the world through the characters and dialogue. Even the minor characters, even though you might not see them often, they have motivations and have a basis in reality. All of the characters seem so real.
Me: The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan is another book, well series now, that is very character driven. It’s really Nick and Alan and Mae and Jamie that drive the story.
D: That and love. What would you do for your sibling? What lengths would you go to, to protect a family member?
Me: Yes, love. Love of all types really, but mainly familial love. That is such a brilliant way to set up a story and give you the characters’ main motivation all at once. It really makes the ending so much more amazing and heart wrenching. What about world building what other books are known for that or that’s the main reason you loved it?
D: People love Tolkien for his characters, but I also loved The Lord of the Rings for the world building. Most of all, I think it's the descriptions that make the story.  His descriptions are so vivid that you can really smell, see, hear, feel everything that is going on while you're reading
Me: And discussing
D: Yes, and discussing. I love getting lost in books and Tolkien's decsriptions let me know the exact temperature and exactly how much rain is falling.
Me: What about vampire books or books with paranormal elements? I’ve been reading a lot of those lately. Sometimes, it’s the characters that draw me in, sometimes it’s the plot or the surprises that author throws in, every once in awhile the setting is just so spot on perfect that it’s enough to make the difference between a “meh” book and an excellent one.
D: I think that some people are drawn in by the horror element or they actually hate horror, but like the romantic element, or the plot and characters are interesting.
Me: The Evernight series by Claudia Gray is a good example of that, I think. Right away, I loved Bianca and Lucas and the mythology that Ms. Gray created was different than the usual vampire lore, and of course it’s a boarding school story. So, it has that element as well.
D: Right, the boarding school setting adds another aspect to the series that some readers love. It’s another layer that adds to the plot because the characters are in there own space, away from the general population, But, I was thinking more of Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith, how she sets the majority of the story in a restaurant. There’s another layer there, with the food and wine and. . .
Me: And the flirting while coming up with the menus. That chef was creepy.
D: Yes, but the restaurant setting will definitely attract readers who may not normally read vampire books.

Our conversation ended here, we were at work and it was time to answer some reference questions.  But, I wanted to continue the conversation with all of you.  What are some books that you like for one reason, but other people like for a different one? Or what about the books we mentioned, why do you like them?  Let me know in the comments.

If you would like to participate in a Book Talk post please let leave a comment or email me at heartsbooks (at) gmail (dot) com

***To celebrate the first Book Talk post, I want to share some of the books Deirdre and I talked about.***

Up for grabs are:
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Evernight by Claudia Gray
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Rules:
Fill out the form, telling which book you would like to win.
There will be two winners.
This contest is US only
It ends on June 25th at Midnight Eastern Time.


  1. Fun! Thanks & thanks for the giveaway.

  2. What a fun idea! I love when I'm able to talk books with people. But conversations like those probably happen much more often for you since you work in a library!

  3. What a great idea! I'd love to participate. Anyway, I love MWT's books for all of the reasons that you mentioned. I love the worldbuilding and the characters. I love how her writing just flows and the books are packed with so many details that you won't be able to notice until you do a re-read (or discuss the books endlessly over at Sounis). I have to agree that even the minor characters shine through. I mean Sophos was a minor character in The Thief but we were all excited to read A Conspiracy of Kings because we were curious enough about him. And the dialogue! There are so many wonderful lines that you could quote from those books. Okay, maybe I should stop now because I could go on and on.

  4. I was just having a conversation with a friend the other day about being able to articulate what was good about a book, and how it differs from reader to reader.

    Personally, I find that world-building and language can really influence how I read and like a book. But, she is attracted to character driven books.

    And, it's true that they can all be found in one book, but readers can like the books for totally different reasons. It's the conversation about it that I love.

  5. Great post! I haven't read any of these even though I know from others that they are great books. I love the idea of Book Talk!

  6. @ Chachic - I love hanging out on Sounis, although to be honest, I mostly lurk! MWT's books beg to be re-read, I love that you can find little details that you may have missed just about every time you read them. And Sophos, I love him to pieces! The scenes with him and Eddis were just perfect <3.

    @Lillie - Talking about boooks and getting everyone's insight is so much fun. I have to say that is one of my favorite parts of reading, getting to talk about the books afterwards. I actually love character driven books a lot, but I have a friend who can't read a book unless it has tons of action, meaning mostly fast paced books. I love when we find books that have action but also great characters, so that we can both read them and talk about them afterward.

  7. I love this post and this idea! I can't wait to participate. :-) I really enjoyed The Demon's Lexicon for the same reason you guys did: the love between the siblings. What I look for most in any book in character development and I think for the most part I enjoy books for the same reasons as others I've talked to about them. Sometimes, though, a book can be enjoyed for its action elements and/or romance even though it also has strong themes/social commentary, and I'll enjoy the themes the most while others could care less about them. Book talk is so fun!!

  8. Thanks for the great giveaway!


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