This month I looked at the topics for Top 5 Wednesday and for Top Ten Tuesday, a meme I’ve been thinking about participating in, and realized that I really liked a few of the monthly topics for each, but there were other weeks that I would be completely stumped on, or that didn’t appeal as much to my reading habits, so I’ve decided to mix it up and do a few from each meme this month.
This is my very first weekly Top Ten Tuesday, which is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and the topic is Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist. This can include types of characters, tropes, issues tackled, specific time periods, etc.
So what do I want to see more of in books?
1.Asexual, Aromantic, and Demisexual Characters
YA and other genres are getting better at representing diversity, including characters of different races, cultural backgrounds, and sexualities, but asexuality, aromantics, and demisexuality are still incredibly under-represented both in YA and in the broader world of fiction. There are a few examples out there – for books Seanan Mcguire’s Every Heart a Doorway has an asexual protagonist and the television series Shadowhunters has an asexual character (which I gather is canon in the books too but I haven’t read them), but I would love to see more books include characters who identify in this way.
2.”It/[Character] Reminds me of Lymond”
I adore Dorothy Dunnett’s The Lymond Chronicles, a historical fiction series set in sixteenth century Europe. The series features Francis Crawford of Lymond, a Scottish noble who is handsome, brilliant, and has a razor-tongue and a gift for music. He should be a Gary Stu, except he has SO MANY FLAWS and is in the hands of an extremely gifted writer. So instead Francis is this frustrating, fascinating character who you adore reading about, but would probably never want to actually meet.
Fun fact: the fastest way to get me to read a book is to compare it to Lymond. I’ve picked up Lois Mcmaster Bujold’s Vokosigan Saga series for this reason, as well as Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity. C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince series was actually inspired by Lymond and you can see it most clearly in the coldly calculating and sharp-witted Laurent. There can never be enough books out there that are, in some way, reminiscent of my favourite books on the planet, so bring on the consciously or unconsciously inspired by Lymond works!
3.Mothers in Sci-Fi and Fantasy
I was going through goodreads looking for inspiration on next week’s topic, top ten mothers and realized that with very few exceptions, there aren’t many moms (and especially good moms) in science-fiction and fantasy. I suspect some of this is due to the gender gap and the fact that although it has made huge strides, SFF is still a genre largely populated with male authors. I can think of at least a few examples of mothers in science-fiction and fantasy television series and movies off the top of my head though, so I’d love to see some great moms in SFF books!
4.Political Manipulations and Strategies
I love a book with some good political manipulation and characters playing strategies a few steps ahead of the rest. Some of my science-fiction and fantasy favourites, including The Goblin Emperor, The Divine Cities trilogy, The Vorkosigan Saga, and The Traitor Baru Cormorant, all feature politics and plotting in some way, so political intrigue, court intrigue? Good things to say to get me to read a book, and something I can never get enough of in fiction! I also loved watching the multiple twists and turns in the Six of Crows duology featuring master plotter Kaz Brekker, and the protagonist of The Lymond Chronicles, who doesn’t always reveal his motivations for the moves he makes, but when it all comes together, it’s glorious to behold.
5.Middle-Aged and Senior Main Characters
It feels like most middle-aged or older protagonists are confined to the pages of mysteries, with an occasional literary or contemporary fiction book thrown in. Protagonists across all fiction genres tend to skew younger, with books featuring characters in their teens, twenties, or thirties. But just as I don’t need want to always read about people who are my race, gender, sexuality, cultural background, etc. I wish there was more diversity of age in fiction. Why not protagonists in their forties, fifties, or sixties? People certainly don’t stop being interesting when they turn 40 so I wish they were better represented in (non-YA obviously) fiction.
6.Emphasis on Platonic Relationships
YA is particularly known for being focused on romance, but across all genres I would love to see more books that focus on platonic, rather than romantic, relationships. There is this odd perception that romantic love is somehow superior to platonic love, which I don’t think is at all true. Although Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle includes both types of relationships, I love that when she wrote the series she had a sticky note affixed to her computer that read: “Remember that the worst thing that can happen is that they can stop being friends.” It would be wonderful to see that perception expressed more in books, particularly romance-heavy YA, to show that it is not always the most important thing for there to be a significant other.
Some of my favourite books, including Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and The Bear and the Nightingale fall into this subgenre of fantasy and I would love to see more books written that feature magic in some way, but are also strongly rooted in a historical time and place rather than a fantasy world.
As a librarian, I am a sucker for a great library or archive (like in Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles) and for interesting librarian characters (like Irene in The Invisible Library series). I would love to read more books that feature librarian characters!
9.Greek Myth-Inspired Stories
Since I was a child, I have been fascinated by Greek mythology. Retellings and books inspired by various myths and folktales have been popular recently and I would love to read more well-done books inspired by or based on Greek mythology (such as Madelaine Miller’s fabulous The Song of Achilles).
10. Books Tackling Depression
This can be more broadly applied to other kinds of mental illness, but as someone who has suffered from depression in the past, I would love to see more portrayals in fiction of what that experience is like and non-judgmental looks at depression and other mental illnesses that still have some stigma attached to them. For example, I found Jeff Zetner’s The Serpent King to be a great example of a YA book that portrayed depression (and grief) really realistically (imo).
That’s my list of things I would like to see in more books. Do you have any recommendations of books that do any of these things really well that I should check out? What would you like to see more of in fiction?