Favorite Books: Common Elements

Favorite Books: My Historical Romance Keeper Shelf

A partial view of my Historical Romance keeper shelf. Click to enlarge.

This week my accountability group’s How I Write series asks, “What are your types of favorite books? Do you write those elements into your own? Or do you do something different? Why?”

I’m a pretty omnivorous reader. I’ll read cereal boxes if left with nothing better. If you saw how many books we have. Ok, so we have well over 300 linear feet of books (not counting the kids’) in our house. Oh, did I mention I need a new book shelf? Oh, right, my favorite types of books.

In looking across all the books I hold dear, there are three common elements that draw me to them: a coherent world I can escape into, an emotional journey, and a happy ending. This is one reason why romance appeal to me in general and historical romances provide a much needed escape from every day first world problems.

My Favorite Books Have a Coherent World

I love series that continue to build and add depth to the setting with a familiar cast of characters. I like revisiting old friends. It doesn’t have to be the real world, but one of the things I adored about Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern books were how closely tied together everything became the farther you got into the series. I love how a very minor secondary character can repeatedly show up, and each time we learn a little more about them, and end up stealing readers’ hearts. The idea of a coherent world is definitely one of the things I’ve been trying to do in my writing. The main characters from one will show up as secondary characters in another story. They frequent many of the same places which makes research easier and reusable.

My Favorite Books Take Me on an Emotional Journey

I like to laugh, to worry, to think, and yes, to cry over a good book. Now before you go thinking I’m a huge Nicholas Sparks fan, lemme tell you it has to be natural and inevitable, but it can never feel contrived or manipulative. That creates wall-bangers for me. Kat Cantrell is an up and coming author who does this well for me. Suzanne Enoch is an example of an established author who did this extremely well with her Lessons in Love Trilogy. Some days I think this will be my hardest element to conquer, but I’m going to keep working at it.

My Favorite Books Have a Happy Ending

There’s enough doom and gloom in the world. I read for escape. I want something that’s going to restore a little hope to the world and comfort and reassure me that certain truths are universal and the bad guys always get what’s coming to them in the end. I’m writing, historical romance, so duh! This element is non-negotiable for me in my own writing as well.

I don’t find it very surprising that these elements keep showing up. They’re pretty basic, but they’re also pretty universal in their appeal.

Now, if I just had more time to read, I’d go curl up with an old friend (a specific book or author) and tune out the world for a while.

YOUR TURN: What are some of the common elements in your favorite books?


And if you’d like to check out the rest of my accountability group, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney * Susan Saxx *

2 responses to “Favorite Books: Common Elements

  1. Oooh! Gorgeous keeper shelf pic. Love it!

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