Monday, July 18, 2016

Ramblings from the Stacks: Magic Words in Book Blurbs

I started thinking about this topic when J and I were having dinner at a new restaurant.  While we were waiting for the waiter we discussed what we each planned to order and discovered that we had each guessed correctly what the other person was going to order.  This isn't too big of a shock considered we've been married for quite some time and have eaten who knows how many thousands of meals together but we started talking about how we knew and it all centered around magic words.

I know if I see a menu item that involves "roasted garlic" J is most likely going to order it.  Same goes for "balsamic".  I'm slightly more complicated.  Basically if he sees a main course with a description of something he can't imagine why anyone would want to eat that he figures I'll order it.  Otherwise, it's dishes that involve "butternut squash", "horseradish", "balsamic", "caramelized onions", or "gorgonzola".

We have our anti-magic words too.  Words that will make us run the opposite direction of a dish.  Neither of us will order dishes with shrimp (I'm allergic, he thinks they're rats of the sea) or olives.  I really really dislike olives.  Like I have a full on rant about my dislike of olives.

All of this got me thinking about books.  In all those pretty shiny new books that come out every week what words jump out at me, make me pick some books over others?  These are some magic words that will make me grab a book that I know absolutely nothing.

1.  Ghosts

2.  Old diaries or letters - particularly if they're discovered hidden somewhere

3.  Unexpected skeletons

4.  Dilapidated or old houses (especially if the plot includes any or all of the above)

5.  Starting a restaurant or bakery

6.  Someone leaving their old life behind to figure out what they really want to do (as long as they're not leaving their children behind or wrecking a good marriage with a solid and understanding spouse who is devastated by this.  I don't like those at all.)

7.  1920s anything - especially London or Paris

8.  Homefront during either World War I or World War II

9.  Books about books, libraries, or bookstores

10. Multi-generational relationships - I think this may because of my relationship with my grandparents but if there's a book about a grandchild/grandparent relationship I'm on board

 On the other side of this are the words and themes that will make me fun away faster than a dish full of olives

1.  Civil War settings

2.  Death of a child - especially if it's a just turned my head for a second kind of accident

3.  Abduction stories that are told through the eyes of the victim

4.  Zombies

The good thing is I seem to have more Magic Words than Olive Words!  What about you?  Do you have certain words that will make you pick up a book that you know nothing about?  Words that make you hesitate even if it's by a favorite author?  And do you like olives?  If so, are there particular ones I should try to get past my hatred of them?

37 comments:

  1. Great topic! We share several magic words... old diaries, old houses, books about books, etc. I am laughing out loud at "rats of the sea".

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    1. He has very strong feelings about shrimp!

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  2. Yeah there are definitely words that catch my eye in a blurb. WWII, Paris, parallel universe, family drama are some of my favorites. I don't hesitate at too much honestly. And I love olives!

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    1. I know I'm missing something on the olives! You can have my share!

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  3. I like that, magic words. On your list I can say I share most of your key words, particularly #6 and anything set in England. Olive words - OK, first, and please continue to be my friend and book buddy, but I love olives!! I will substitute one of my food words I abhor - kale.

    My Kale words include Cozy Mystery and anything set in the Orient. I did like Shogun, to be fair, but I'm not a fan of the Japanese or China locales for mysteries or fiction.
    Great post!

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    1. I suppose we can still be friends despite your love of olives! You can just have my share! And kale works too. I'm okay with the flavor but the texture is weird.

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  4. I liked your post so much I did one similar and tagged your blog. Thanks for the thought provoking post!
    https://novelmeals.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/magic-words-in-book-blurbs/

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    1. That's awesome! I can't wait to check it out!

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  5. I wandered over from Tina's site. Great post. I will have to consider this whole concept. I think that I am more drawn to the book cover artwork.......Hmmm.....

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    1. I'm a cover junkie too! I've read plenty of books that normally wouldn't have grabbed me because the cover was gorgeous!

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  6. Oh this is such a gorgeous post! I agree with all your magic words. But I'm open to a "shrimp" every now and then. And I really like olives... so let's stick to cake and tea and not go for dinner!

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    1. Me again! I borrowed your "magic words". Love it so much!! Will share now with you on the Top Ten Tuesday post. xoxoxo

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    2. I like cake and tea better than most anything anyway! I do try to pick up an olive book every now and then and it normally is a surprising success.

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  7. Rats of the sea! This so cracked me up! I don't like shrimp either. I am a sucker for old houses and ghosts, too! especially if a romance is also involved. I also love pretend relationships, and when someone is famous but the other person doesn't realize it.

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    1. I LOVE a pretend relationship! Especially in a historical. Ghosts and old houses are my favorites!

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  8. Great topic! It is funny how we can be predictable based on words on a menu- or in books. Magic words for me would be dystopian, country house murders, bookstores, secrets... there are so many! And I love green olives- especially on pizza!

    Did you ever read Letters from Skye? I just thought of it since you mentioned old letters (hidden) and WWi/ WWII, multigenerational- it sounds right up your alley.

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    1. Oh olives on pizza kills me! It soaks in and just flavors everything! You can have my share :)
      I haven't read Letters From Skye but I just looked it up on Goodreads and it looks like my kind of book! Added to my TBR

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  9. I'm not sure what magic words stand out to me but a cover with a girl holding a weapon is always appealing, LOL. I don't like it sometimes when the cover shows faces. I'd rather leave that to imagination.

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    1. I'm not a big fan of faces either because they rarely fit what I have in my head.

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  10. I never thought about this, but I think that everyone has probably has magic words, as great as having them is, it also makes it harder for us to be diverse :(

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    1. It is but magic word books aren't the only ones I read so I do try and fit some diversity in for other books!

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  11. Oh, yes, I see some of my own "magic" words, too: books about books, libraries, bookstores; old diaries, letters; multi-generational relationships, etc.

    Good post!

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    1. Those are my favorites! I'm in the mood for some books about books right now!

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  12. We have a lot of the same magic words in common when it comes to books except the wars, don't care for books featuring either world war...never has been an interest.

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    1. I don't care for books that take place in combat but something about home front books fascinate me!

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  13. With you on 6 and 9 and will run a mile from zombies too! Love how you know one another so well.

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    1. Yes! A fellow non-zombie lover. I have zero interest in the whole thing. But I do love a starting over book!

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  14. What a lovely article:). Thank you for sharing... I'm with you regarding children's deaths - I spend a great deal of time looking after my precious grandchildren, so nope. Don't want to go there, thank you!

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    1. I can't handle the death of children - especially if it's told through the eyes of the parents. That's not a pain I even want to imagine.

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  15. This is great, and you are so right. If a book says 1920's or the setting is NOLA, has an inn, or haunted anything...yes please. Great discussion!!

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    1. I forgot about inns! I love a book that takes place in an inn and a haunted inn in New Orleans is going to be a book I can't resist!

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  16. I like your Magic Words list and agree with several of them (books about books/libraries/bookstores; old houses; sometimes ghosts; the 1920s -- actually the whole interwar period, especially in Britain -- and sometimes letters or diaries.) But I'm really, really with you on avoiding zombies like, well, the plague.

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  17. I loooooooveeeee olives! In fact, I think that is why I loved my ex mother-in-law's potato salad so much, but my son is like you; he hates them. I never thought, but maybe that is why he hates potato salad because that was his first experience with potato salad. I think my food magic words would be "fried" because I am so afraid of starting a fire I don't fry at home and I crave it, and sweet potato. My magic book words would be witches, talking animals (including mythical beasts like dragons), and book settings (libraries, book shops). My run away words are assassins, wartime, romance, and fairies (the little sparkly ones, not the human sized faeries). Ha ha. This was a great post! :D

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  18. Lol, good post, which I finally found through Kimba, since I've been spotty online this week.
    I agree, about olives, but also the words :) Books, bookstores, libraries, restaurants and bakeries, but also for me-- unexplained and unexpected murder in Britain or Ireland pulls me in. Family dynamics, especially dysfunctional family multi-generation sagas will get me very time.

    Creative post-- thanks for the smile!

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  19. I think about this sometimes. My magic words are vampire, circus, gymnastics, and also 1920s, except in the U.S. (I've always been fascinated by Prohibition Era). If I see those, especially if the book is fantasy, I'll often just download it if it's free without even finishing the blurb. If it's not free, I'll at least take the time to look at it and possibly put it on my TBR. It's funny though how we all have these different words. I love that you call your other ones olive words, by the way lol. I don't think I've ever tried just eating an olive, but I may have had them chopped up in other food or something? So I guess I feel kind of neutral about olives lol.

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  20. Oh, interesting topic! I don't know that I have magic words that guarantee my interest, but I'll certainly perk up my ears at witches, werewolves, domestic abuse, family secrets, someone leaving their old life behind and starting over, conspiracies, horses, cats, and horse racing, amongst others.

    I like black olives, loathe green olives, and love love love shrimp. Gimme all your shrimp! :D

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  21. I am also allergic to shrimp but I only hate real olives (not the cheap black ones in the cans, which I love).

    I am planning a post like this also, but haven't gotten around to it get. My guilty secret magic word is amnesia. I don't like zombies, or babies the mom could have told the father about (i.e. she knows how to contact him) but doesn't bother.

    My Most Recent Discussion: Love & Friendship: Ten Swoon-worthy Moments

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