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Tag Archives: Laurie Loves Lists

How to satisfy picky readers

In five easy steps:

1. Have a good title. 

I can’t really explain what makes a good title for me, but it is VERY important.  Single words are generally less likely to attract my attention.  Some examples of books with good titles that I randomly picked up based on name alone:

Travels With Barley

City of Ember

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

Good Grief

2.  Attractive cover art

Again, this is hard to pin down; however, if you have a mediocre title with an awesome dust jacket, I might pick up the book to read a little more. Not looking stupid is the main thing.  I avoided what is now one of my all time favorite books for many years because the cover looked stupid:

Those are even in order of least to most uninteresting.

This is the one that finally caught my eye:

Another book that has been recommended to me several times in the last week that I think looks totally boring:

Up til just now, I thought those were chickens.  Anyways…

3.  Use appropriate margins and text size.

I used to give my students a hard time if they picked up a book, flipped through it, and put it back on the shelf without reading a word, usually announcing that the words were too little/many on a page/many in general.  I’m guilty of this myself, though.  I like a book with enough of a margin that I can hold it without covering up too many words.  If you need more pages, use them.  Don’t just shrink your margins like a college kid trying to meet a professor’s criteria. I also hate when lines are too close together.  If I can’t track my place easily, you’re losing my vote.

4.  Equal parts character development and plot

I read a really interesting article about which makes for a better story: a strong plot with lots of twists or a character-based story.  I do enjoy strong characters and internal conflict, but too much of it gets boring quickly.  Same goes for too many twists in the plot.  The balance is tough, but worth the work.

5.  Good writing style.

The top offenses here include: not enough dialogue; too much dialogue (without tags); cliched descriptions; pretentious prose. . .the list goes on.  Again, I might flip through a few pages, but too much description or overly written scenes land the book right back on the shelf.

Of course, the obvious answers are the easy ones:

Fall into one of my current interests.  Recently I have devoured multiple books on the following topics:

Mt Everest; Abraham Lincoln; Catholicism; the Appalachian Trail; serial killers; Anne Frank

Be one of my favorite writers (or have a review/prologue/introduction by them):

Elizabeth Peters; John Krakauer; Bill Bryson, Gillian Bradshaw; Orson Scott Card; J K Rowling; Rick Riordan. . .again, the list is long

Come with a strong recommendation.  This one is not always successful, but if I really like you, I might read a book you suggest to me.  Which is why I am off to find a book by the name of “The Post Office,” suggested to me by a super-cute guy at the airport.

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Things I Used To Hate But I Might Actually Kinda Like

Recently (as in over the last year or so) I’ve broadened my horizons, and I think this calls for celebration in the form of a list.

Ta-da!

Laurie’s List of Things She Used to Hate But Might Actually Kinda Like.

It sounds so. . .almost official.

Sauerkraut

Reubens

Mustard

Bruschetta

Tannin-y wines

Bananas (to be fair, this was all allergy related–I hated the itching, not the fruit)

Pickles

Non-fiction

Red

Beer

Living by myself

Hot sauce.  In very small amounts.

Okay, so that’s really all I’ve got, but it feels like a lot to me.

So to sum things up–Yay!

The Lent List

I gave up meat for Lent (again), but this time I think it will be a little trickier since I don’t have a dining hall full of option.  So instead I have been plotting my menus.  Yes, plotting.  Menus.  Heeeere’s what I’ve got so far:

Black bean enchiladas (easy–and I have converted my roommates to enchilada-lovin)

Fish tacos.  Not sure how I will get the roomies to try this one.

Homemade pasta (this is also on the “things that scare me” list).  Roomie #1 will NOT like this, but that’s just too bad.

Baked Mac & Cheese with Gruyere. I have read in more than one place that this is super delicious.  The Gruyere is already in the fridge.

Curry.  Probably shrimp.  Yum.  And yikes!

That chicken with coconut-orange coated bananas, but with an appropriate fish.  Maybe mahi-mahi?

Veggie lasagna.  Yuuuuuum.

Falafel!  Super yikes!  I’m afraid of frying things.

And of course, there will be a multitude of pb&js, fish sticks, and egg/tuna salad pita pockets.

. . . I’m hungry now.

The List

Books I cannot wait to read to my children:

The Little House books

Harry Potter

The Indian in the Cupboard

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

The Boxcar Children

Charlotte’s Web

The Night Before Christmas

Maniac Magee

A Button for Corduroy

The Rainbabies

Stone Soup

and oh so many more