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Yesterday was a bonanza day at Thrilling Detective HQ. Mr. Thrilling got the usual parcels of cozy mysteries as well as a few books that he might actually read. I was pawing over the pastel offerings, trying to see if there was anything I might be interested in before I hand them off to my mom (she is your devoted fan, believe me -- but she has no book buying budget.)
I was reminded again -- and this is such a hard lesson for authors, maybe an impossible lesson -- so much of what we like or dislike in our reading (or our anything, I guess) has NOTHING to do with the quality of it. For example I will not read a pet mystery. I love pets, I miss having a dog a lot, but not only do I have no interest in anything pet-related, I actually find the whole concept kind of irritating.
I have no idea why. Sentient animals are the worst, but even perfectly ordinary pet-related books are an instant pass. Most of the time I won’t even read the blurb. Now that’s as impersonal as it gets.
I also can’t stand anything to do with knitting, spinning, sewing, embroidering, crocheting… Just…no. I have nothing against these activities, but for some reason they are an instant turn-off in a book. Now, I am well aware of the phenomenal success of all those knitting mysteries and knitting romances, so I’m not under the illusion that I have any instinct for what is commercial (see Poetic Death series).
Toys…teddy bears, dolls, doll houses…no. Maybe a collector of vintage toys…hmm. I might like that. I love antiques, but then again, as much as I love the idea of an antique collector/restorer/auctioneerer I don’t think I’ve actually ever got around to reading any.
Art is always good for me. Anything to do with books. Book collecting, in particular. Owning bookstores, obviously. But then again I have a few of those Booktown Mysteries, and I’ve never felt inclined to actually read one. I like looking at their charming covers though. They make me want to read...though somehow not them. I like books about writers, but it’s difficult to sell those outside of chicklit. Egyptology. Archeology. These are all wins. I like vintage clothes and gardening. I love jewelry. I collect vintage jewelry. Selro, anyone? But I don’t want to read about a jewelry collector.
Food. I love food. I love cooking. But I don’t think I like any cooking mysteries. I buy them though. Especially the ones that have cupcakes on the cover. The promise of recipes in a book does nothing for me. It’s not a turn-off. It's just not an incentive. I always faithfully read the blurbs. Sometimes I will even sample the first couple of pages, and they are usually absolutely FINE. Occasionally even delicious.
It’s so weird trying to analyze why we like what we like. And why we dislike sight unseen…jam-making mysteries or stock car mysteries or Bible salesman mysteries (come on, there
to be an inspirational cozy series about a Bible salesman).
I wonder if it’s the whole concept of series? I am very much burnt-out on the idea of a series. I could read and enjoy a standalone novel about, well, something -- a jewelry collector -- if the conceit didn’t have to stretch to five books and counting.
But that’s just me.