Saturday, 18 August 2018

Things I'd Like To See More Of In Books.

I read quite a lot. There's nothing better than curling up in bed with a good novel and drifting off to a different reality. So I think it's fair to say I've become quite knowledgeable about the usual plot devices, character types and sometimes tired tropes that are in your average novel. That's why, when I saw this idea on Jenny's excellent list of book blog topic ideas, I thought it was about time I had my say on what I wish literature had more of...

Strong, independent ladies

We've come on leaps and bounds in terms of representation of girls and women in books, and there are tonnes of inspiring female authors to choose from. But I have to say, I think there is still a long way to go. I'm thinking of one example, in particular, that kind of disappointed me - A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard. While I did enjoy the book, and really enjoyed the main character's development, it bothered me a little that she was only able to overcome her issues when she was in a relationship. I would really like to see more examples of women in fiction who had stories to tell completely independently of their love lives. I really like Philippa Gregory for this - which is kind of ironic seeing as she talks about historical figures who are usually known thanks to their spouses. However, she manages to keep them (mostly) separate from the important events of her character's lives, showcasing stories of power and intrigue over romance.


This is partly my own fault, as I know I don't make enough effort to seek books with diverse characters out - but wouldn't it be nice if I didn't have to go looking for them?! I'd love to read books with characters of different races, sexualities, genders, mental health issues, disabilities, and so on. I'd like to see books where these things are the entire focus - because representation matters and we can all learn a thing or two from other people's stories - but I'd also like some novels to just have a diverse, intersectional set of characters without these things being central to the plot. It's time to include everyone in literature!

'Real life' problems

My favourite books are the ones I can really relate to. This might just be a personal thing, but not all of the big issues in my life are based around relationships, and sometimes I get a bit bored of reading books when the plot focuses on just that. I would love a few more books focusing on 'real life' issues - talk about work stress, redundancy, financial issues, debt, stress, single parenthood, trying to work out what to do with your life! I know books are often seen as a way to escape the real world so not everyone would be as on board with this, but I'd honestly love to read a book that made me feel less alone in how overwhelming adulthood can be.

Interesting supporting characters

I kind of touched on this with the diversity part, but I'd really like some better, more interesting, secondary characters in novels. I feel like I've read way too many books where the main character is really fleshed out, usually narrating, and so we see their personality in full - only for their friends and family members to be written in really boring, two-dimensional language. I tire of books like this really quickly - they end up relying on stereotypes like the 'sassy best friend' or 'overbearing mother' and don't offer me anything new or exciting. The stories told in novels involve more than one person and I'd love to see the backstories, motivations and personalities of all of them.

Mixed gender friendships

When I saw Jenny tweet about this, I gave an audible sigh of agreement. This is one of my pet peeves in books, particularly in Young Adult novels. Why oh why can't there be more mixed gender friendships? Why is there always an underlying tension and a "will they, won't they?" approach to it? I find this so frustrating; could we please stop reinforcing the weird, inaccurate trope that men and women can't be friends without one or both of them falling for the other?! I'd also just much rather read a novel about friendships enduring challenges than a book about "finding the one" any day of the week.

Healthy relationships

Saying that, if there's going to be a relationship in a book, could we at least have some healthy ones? Since the time of Shakespeare, there have been entire plays and novels based around the fall-out over some miscommunication or misunderstanding that could all be fixed if the people involved COMMUNICATED. Sure, it might make for a good story, but can we also have the other side of the coin sometime? In a world where Gone Girl exists, maybe it's about time we saw some fictional relationships worth looking up to?

Obviously, all of these are just my personal opinion. You might love the things I don't and vice versa! But these are just a few of the things I wish I saw more in books. If you know of any books that address these topics, give me a shout! And let me know what things you wish more novels featured!

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