Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: More, Please

Today's topic from The Broke and the Bookish involves things we want to see more of in books.  It's been a while since I tackled one of these lists, but this is such a fun and different topic, I had to find time to do it.

Here are my top ten things I want more of in books!  I thought it would be hard to come up with ten, but once I started thinking this through, I actually had trouble narrowing it down to ten options.  Hee!

1.  Cowboys.  But, real cowboys, not just dudes dressed up in jeans and boots that say, "Howdy, Pardner" a lot.  Basically, I want more historical fiction set in the wild west.  I realize there is plenty out there, but we can always use more.

(Maybe I would say "generally" instead of "always.")

2.  Non-graphic mysteries.  I love mysteries.  Favorite genre, right there.  But... do so many modern mysteries have to be stomach-churning with the descriptions of gore and brutality and weirdness and general ick factor?  One of the things I've been loving about the books I'm reading for the INSPY awards is that they're really great mysteries, but so far, none of them have crossed into the Ishy Zone.

3.  Strong female characters who aren't bossy and/or brassy.  I'm a woman.  I have two daughters.  I realize the importance of having strong female characters, ones who don't sit around waiting for a man to rescue them or capture them or notice them, and so on.  However, too often writers (and moviemakers) use character traits like bossiness or brazenness to convey "strong."  No, that's annoying.  If it would be annoying in a guy, it's also annoying in a girl.

(Strong, opinionated, gutsy, but not bossy or over-bold.)

4.  Romances based on characters getting to know each other, not insta-love feelings.  I'm not saying love at first sight can't happen.  Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut I think that lust at first sight is way more common, and people mistake that physical attraction for love.  Anything that springs up quickly can die away quickly too without something more substantial than feelings to build on.  You see someone and they're attractive and you kind of crush on them a little and you flirt and you think about them a lot -- that's great.  That's fun.  But don't call it love.

5.  Hard-boiled detectives.  Just because I love them.  I can always find room in my heart for another.

Alan Ladd in The Blue Dahlia (1946)

6.  Characters who love to read.  Katherine Reay does this really well -- writing characters who read books, and using their book choices to help define them.  I want more of this.

7.  Fairy tale retellings.  Not getting tired of these yet.


8.  Intelligent children who obey their parents.  I'm really tired of stories about kids who are so smart, they just have to disobey all their superiors in order to save the day or whatever.

9.  Intelligent parents.  While we're at it, let's do away with the "stupid parents who are incapable of simple reasoning and should not be allowed to drive or hold jobs" thing that shows up in kids books.  Especially kids mysteries.  Making the parents dumber does not make the kids look smarter.  It makes the author look lazy.

10.  Nice stories about nice people doing nice things.  And something goes a bit wrong now and then, but everything turns out well in the end.  Does anyone write books like this anymore?  They should.  I will read them.

(I will also love those books, and hug them, and be their new best friend.)

That's all I've got for today, bookish friends!  Are any of these things you'd like to see more of?  Did you do a TTT this week?  Please share and discuss!


  1. Definitely #4. Nothing turns me off more than insta-love. It's very scary. I've always been suspicious of Romeo and Juliet.

    1. Yet another reason why I think Shakespeare meant R&J as a cautionary tale. Don't be like these fools!

    2. He absolutely did!! I think you and I had this conversation before (or it was another blogger). It was more about self-love, and how disastrous it is.

    3. I know the idea isn't original to me ;-) And yes, I think it's about the dangers of infatuation, of following your feelings at the expense of everything else, and of not trusting the adults around you to at least have your good at heart.

  2. These are very good! The kids/parents ones... please please please.

    1. Yesssssssssssss. It's so annoying. I wasn't even a big fan of them when I was a kid.

  3. I really love your list!!! Especially the last one - sometimes just a nice story is good to read.

    1. Thanks, Grace! I agree -- sometimes I just want to read about nice people for a while. There seem to be few of these books written lately. Though I realized that Katherine Reay's books tend to be about nice people doing nice things, which is probably why I like them!!!

  4. Great list! I totally agree about #3, publishers and movie producers need to learn the difference between the Strong Female Character trope and female characters who are actually strong, well-rounded characters.

    1. Thanks, Louise! I feel like "strong female" gets turned into "bossy warrior" a lot because it's easy... but it's also overused. How about strong mamas raising kids, strong grandmas teaching people how to garden?

  5. I was intrigued by this topic and I tried to think of a few things before I read your list. But seriously(??), I couldn't have made a better list if I'd tried! Haha. You have some EXCELLENT points and I agree with all of them! Very nicely done, Hamlette!

    1. Aww, thanks, Cordy :-) I'm glad these struck a chord with you too! We need to get busy and write some of these books, huh?

    2. Haha, yes, I suppose we should!! :D

  6. I often find heroines who authors want to be "strong" really just come across as, well, not strong. They're all about "doing it all themselves," when in reality, there is a time and place for that just as there is a time and place for the girl to be OK with being treated like a lady. And sometimes this means accepting help or sometimes, being rescued. There's no weakness in that. :)

    1. Rissi, yes. Strong doesn't have to equal The Best There Is At Everything. To me, strong is more about not being afraid to stand up for yourself and others, doing your best with what you've got, and not being needy. Goes for men and women alike.

  7. YES, I hate insta-love too! And also, I agree with the parents and kids ones.
    Great list!

  8. I agree with all of you answers! I agree, stories seem to think lust at first sight is love at first sight.

    I wish they also had more of these types of characters in movies, not just in books. I would especially like this when it comes to graphic murder mystery movies. Mom and I watched the 1970 version of "Murder on the Orient Express." We just skipped the one scene where everyone comes into the room to stab the guy. Yeah.... I wish they would have kept that part of the movie simple instead of showing each person going up and saying their revenge speech before stabbing the bad guy. Ugh. (shudders) I love a good murder mystery, but I don't like seeing it played out.

    1. Ekaterina, I think our society as a whole confuses attraction with love, and our fiction and movies reflect that. Or maybe they caused it. I don't know! I think one of the reasons Jane Austen is so popular today is because her love stories are the opposite. They show again and again that finding someone attractive (Willoughby and Wickham were both hotties, it seems) does not mean a thing when it comes to whether or not you love them.

      Look at Hitchcock's most famous creep-fest ever, Psycho. We do not see stabbing. We see a terrified person, we see blood running down the bathtub drain. Our brain fills in the rest and it is MUCH scarier that way, because each person's brain fills it in the way that scares them the most.

    2. Yep. That is why I will not watch "Psycho" or "The Birds." My mom said it was hard living alone, especially at night when she would remember scenes from "The Birds." After she told me that, I decided not to watch it. At night, my imagine scares me enough as it is, and I don't live alone. Although I love Hitchcock's movies, I will not watch those two.

      I don't really remember watching a movie where I had to fill in the blanks like "Psycho." The idea of the imagination forming the rest of the picture sounds creepy and awful enough! Well actually, when I was 5-6 years old I watched "Shenendoah." My parents had never seen the movie but since Jimmy Stewart was in it, they thought it would be ok. That movie scared me for a while. I have forgotten a lot of it, but I'm still scared to watch it again. I don't remember them showing the daughter getting killed. They just showed the baby and how it didn't have a mother. I think my imagination filled in the rest, and that was pretty awful.

      I guess I don't like overly horrific scenes. I rather just skip those scenes, and have the plot line talked about in the dialog. Then I don't have to visually see it. What do you think?

    3. Ekaterina, don't watch the Audrey Hepburn movie Wait Until Dark either, then.

      Psycho is quite awesome, and I've seen it I think three times. I've never cared for The Birds, though.

      Interesting that Shenandoah bugged you that much that young! There are some movies I watch as an adult now that I'm like, "Wow, that rolled off my back when I was a kid -- I totally didn't get what was going on there." And others where I'm like, "Why did this bother me???" Anyway, Shenandoah is a very poignant movie, and I quite like it, but I first saw it when I was like 11.

      I think some movies require showing more than telling, but it depends on whether they're showing stuff for shock value or to make a point. I thought all the hyper-real gore at the beginning of Saving Private Ryan lessened the impact of later scenes because it desensitized me as a viewer -- later deaths would have hit me a lot harder if I hadn't spent twenty minutes watching blood splurting everywhere at the beginning. Conversely, in Enemy at the Gates, they reserve showing horrible wounds for when it's going to really make the horror and wastefulness of war sink in, and it hammers their point home so effectively. So I think that sometimes, showing blood and more graphic wounds can serve a purpose, but too often it's just shock value and unnecessary.

    4. I'll follow your advice, and I won't watch "Wait Until Dark." I looked up the movie briefly, and it reminded me of a TV episode. I remember watching a "Little House on the Prairie" episode where a blind Mary was in the house alone with these outlaws. I don't remember very much of the episode, just enough to know not to watch it again.

      I was also sick when I watched the "Shenandoah"and when I'm not feeling well, I sometimes get into weird moods and don't like things as much as I would normally like them. Maybe I should try "Shenandoah" again... It was over ten years ago when I last saw it, so I might like it more. I don't know.. If I ever watch it again, I'll tell you. :)

      Hmm. That's interesting how the timing of blood and gore can affect the emotional progression of a person watching a movie. I have not thought very much about it, since I usually skip explicit violence in movies. I have not watched either "Saving Private Ryan" or "Enemy at the Gates", but I get the point you are making. I also wish the blood and gore should be saved for when a death is really important. I did have this one thought when reading your comment. "What if we as the viewer are supposed to feel either partially or completely desensitized because a character in the movie became desensitized to the horrors they saw?" In "Testament of Youth," Vera cleans the body of a wounded soldier. For me, this movie partially desensitized me to the horrors Vera saw when she went to the front. It was as if that was the experienced that sobered her, so her experience on the front did not shock her as much because she was already desensitized, kind of like a vaccine helps make you immune for the disease that can affect you. (I said mostly desensitized because there was one scene at the front showing the rows of injured soldiers on the ground, but that was the only scene that kind of effected me after the washing scene.)

    5. I haven't seen that ep of Little House, but I asked my mom about it, and she remembered it vividly :-o

      You're right that the makers of Saving Private Ryan were making a point about the horrors of war, and the way that it changed the soldiers involved in the D-DAY invasion. But I think they overdid -- I've seen many other war movies that impressed me with the same point, but in a more emotionally engaging way. Just my two cents!

  9. Really great list! I especially love the one about relationships that slowly build and the ones about kids and parents. Definitely don't see nearly enough books like that out there.

    1. Thanks, Suzanne! Now if we could just get publishers to pay attention to these lists, huh?

  10. Love this list!

    1. *scans mental list* You know what, I haven't read any Westerns!!! This is a major break-through! There definitley need to be more!!!!!

    2. I love mysteries too! I am actually wearing my Nancy Drew sweatshirt right now! But yes, it would be better if the authors focused on better discriptions. I have this mystery I got for by birthday last year, Jackaby, and I know there is going to be some stuff, so I haven't read it yet.

    3. Oh yeah is that annoying! They are supposed to be the heroines, but I find my self rooting for other characters who are not so annoying!!!

    4.OH. YES. THIS. IS. SO. TRUE. People think that I am completely mystery when it comes to books and movies, that is mostly true but, I have this weird out-of-character romantic side. BUT, ONLY WHEN IT IS REALLY GOOD. I really do not like the whole, "He's really 'cute'. I'm in love with him now." NOOOOOOO!!! I love a good romance where it shows what is inside. Hence some of my favorites are: Beauty and the Beast, Pride & Prejudice, anything like that!!! We need more of it!!!

    5. ME TOO!!!! You said you are always open for suggestions, have you tried any Agatha Chirstie?

    6. Books are awesome and it is so cool to see that it "is cool"! I love book references and all bookiness (I know it's not a word) in books!

    7. I don't think I can get tired of them! They are so awesome!!!!

    8. Once again, SO TRUE!!! It just shows such ignorace and sauciness that DRIVES ME CRAZY.

    9. Oh yeah, it is a real lack of character! I love the character of real parents!


    So...That comment was a lot longer than I thought it was going to be. Sorry about that.

    Oh, by the way, I tagged you. You definitley don't have to do it if you don't want to.

    Have a good day!!!

    1. Hi, MC!

      1. If you want some westerns recommended, I can give you a few names and titles.

      2. Nancy Drew is fun :-) I preferred the Hardy Boys as a kid, though. And Trixie Belden!

      4. I love those stories of people falling in love because they like who the other person is. And where they have to learn and grow before they can be together.

      5. Gotta admit I'm not a big Agatha Christie fan, just because too often, her solutions hinge on some arcane thing the detective knows or notices but never shares with the audience until the big reveal, so nothing about the solution makes sense until they also reveal this random factoid. (Also, um, her detectives aren't remotely hard-boiled. More like sunny-side-up.)

      6. Bookiness is now a word.

      10. It's pretty true.

      Loved the long comment! Don't apologize. Thanks for the tag! I will check it out tomorrow.

    2. Hey Hamlette!

      1. Yes please! I all ways love recommendations! What are your favorites?

      2. I have read two Hardy boys and they were pretty good!

      4. Yes, yes, yes. You put it perfectly! That kind of romance just makes me so happy! Any recommendations?

      5. That IS annoying with her characters. Only one time (so far) have I gotten it right, and it was for the wrong reason! I know why you are an author because you just, once again, put that perfectly! "(Also, um, her detectives aren't remotely hard-boiled. More like sunny-side-up.)" :) So true.

      6. Yay!!!!!!!

      10. Totally!!!

      I'm glad it wasn't too much. :)

    3. MC, okay, here are some westerns that I really dig. I don't have time to link them all to my reviews right now, but I've reviewed most of them here if you want to check on content and plot and so on.

      + Shane by Jack Schaeffer
      + Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
      + Hondo by Louis L'Amour
      + Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson
      + The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley

      As for stories where the romance is based on knowledge of each other and not just insta-love, of course there are Jane Austen's novels and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Have you read the Mitford novels by Jan Karon? The first one is At Home in Mitford, and they're about a middle-aged minister who eventually falls in love. Very sweet, clean, wholesome, delightful. She's still adding to the series, too.

      Hmm... what else... The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and of course her Anne of Green Gables series. And Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

      Sarah Sundin's books!!! I've read her "Wings of Glory" series and they had some beautiful, realistic romances.

      Katherine Reay has some in her books too, especially in Dear Mr. Knightley. Her book A Portrait of Emily Price actually looks at what happens if you marry after a whirlwind romance and get to know each other after you're married, which is pretty fascinating.

      Okay, time to put the kids to bed. Hope that gives you some ideas of new stuff to read!

    4. Okay! Thanks! I'll go read your reviews too. :)

      Right, Shane. I keep forgeting to read that! I will one of these days! I love the Zorro movies so I need to read The Mark of Zorro!!

      I have read four of Jane Austen's and I am hoping to start Persuasion soon! Your Jane Eyre read-along was so much fun! The Mitford series, will have to try that.

      The Blue Castle, another I need to read! Anne of Green Gables, that one is currently dominating my #1 favorite spot. :) Little Women was excelent! I need to read more by her!

      Wings of Glory, that one really sounds good!

      I need to get a move on and read Katherine Reay's books!

      Thank you so much for all your recommendations! It will be really fun to read them!!!

    5. MC, Shane is really short, and Mark of Zorro is fast-paced. Great for the summer! Glad to oblige :-) Happy reading!

  11. Haha yes to 4 of course. And 8 is also very true. I always give it an eye roll.

    1. Annemieke, glad to find another person who likes realistic romances and respectful children ;-)


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