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Dark Puss

My nuts have been eaten by squirrels ...

Quite the opposite to your thesis for me, and I suspect unusual, is that I am no longer (I may be kidding myself) at all interested in the "subject matter" per se but in what the writer does with it. My reactions to the CBG group choices, and my comments on other books that I have read, I think demonstrate that I am not obviously drawn to any particualr area. It is more likely I can answer in the negative that I am in general not drawn to "historical" novels.


I was pretty sure you would answer much as you have done, DP, though I can think of a few subjects which, were I to tag a novel with them, might get your interest!

adele geras

Gates, eh? There's a funny item in the latest Private Eye about how many modern novels feature the gates and sometimes the SAME GATES. I wouldn't swear to the same gates not being on the cover of my own Hester's Story....a cover I adored, incidentally. But the things that make me pick up a book are endless: gates, windows, interiors of rooms, views of houses, women seen from behind in enigmatic style etc. I also love books about artists, writers, composers. Spooky stuff (plus gates if possible!) anything vaguely chilly and icebound; anything that promises to be about a family; anything Barbara Pym-ish; anything that's both a thriller and Scandinavian; and on and on. I am NOT keen on stuff to do with Biblical secrets passed down through the Knights Templar and such. I love historical novels, for the most part, though I do not like anything Stone Agey and with peculiar names. Which is odd because the Icelandic names in Arnaldur Indridason's novels are part of the pleasure. Actually, now that I look at the above list, I see that I read almost anything,except most science fiction. Also I'm afraid I am NOT keen on Tolkein nor on fantasy in general! And rip roaring adventure isn't my kind of thing either.


Brilliant answer, Adele - just the sort of thing I had in mind! (Very classy gates on Hester's Story).


I like books with beautiful gardens and women wearing nice clothes and people who have good manners. One of the main reasons I can't get on with most science fiction books is the bleakness of the settings and the dullness of the clothes and the absence of flowers and so on. Also I like to know how to pronounce the names of the characters!


In secondhand bookshops I am usually drawn to orange-and-cream or green-and-cream Penguin covers, which suggests a leaning towards books from the 30s and 40s, I suppose, but within those I like an assortment of country houses and cottages, clerics and academics, so a blurb mentioning Angela Thirkell, Barbara Pym or Michael Innes probably means that I'll be quite happy. Reading the Persephone catalogue - which is, not surprisingly, pretty closely aligned with my interests - I am most drawn to the comedy of manners, the small, domestic rebellions, a change from my younger days when I liked to wallow in a bit of intense soul-searching. Oh, and I find dragons rather irrestible.

Dark Puss

Send me those titles under plain brown wrapper please!

Susan in TX

Hmm...I don't know how to answer this one. I can think more quickly of things I don't read - sci-fi (as Ros said, I don't go for bleak settings and droids), things with vampires have no appeal to me, things that sound like they are excessively violent are not going home in my shopping bag. I guess with those exceptions, I read fairly broadly (or I've fooled myself into thinking that I do ;) .


I'll go for anything about academia, especially if it involves magic.

Rosie H

I am drawn to books about nuns and librarians, together or separately. (Actually I can't think of any central-character nun-librarians.)


Small Islands in the Northern Hemisphere.

Have you seen Atlas of Remote Islands (Judith Schalansky)? very good and beautiful too.

Crafty green Poet

I like books with an environmental theme, books with naturalists as the main character, books where music or art is important in the plot, books where science or philosophy play a role,


I'm so enjoying reading all these responses and saying "me too" to most of the items mentioned.


I am drawn to books with Houses on the front and perhaps the blurb mentions a mansion/house/castle etc where all the action takes place!

But I am just as drawn to a beach scene all tranquil or even rocks, waves and dark skies!

I think I am just drawn to books!

Dark Puss

I can't imagine whom the exception might be!


Fran H-B

Recently I picked up a book in the library called Knitting, by Anne Bartlett. The title took my interest so I ignored the "chic lit" looking cover as the blurb urged me to read it- an academic with an interest in textiles; an apparent bag lady who is a gifted knitter.
My tastes are wide, I enjoy historical fiction, but nothing set in pre Medieval times. I like lots of domestic detail, it helps me set the scene, and enjoy novels set in real places. I like family saga type novels and also those where an older person is looking back on their life.
Books which have paintings on their covers such as Virago's attract me, especially if a woman is portrayed.
Fantasy, sci fi and thrillers leave me cold.


Anything set in Scotland, especially the Highland, automatically has my attention. I love to feel a sense of place in a book and, as the UK is my favourite place, those settings are often irresistible to me. I love stories about journeys, whether actual or internal. I adore descriptions of houses that allow me complete mental access to the rooms. I am curious about many biographies, but choose them carefully as I tend to be a bit skeptical about the author's agenda and personal take on their subject and don't wish to forever have a false impression of the person about whom I'm reading. I am not interested in overly violent writing, as I tend to remember just about everything and there are some images I'd rather not have in my head - which is also the reason, I suppose, that I simply cannot abide sad stories about animals. But let me walk through London with Clarissa Dalloway on a morning in June, and I'm a very happy girl.


Anything with houses, books, English villages I always look at. I don't like historical, fantasy, science fiction never look at.I have read books I would have never read if I hadn't noticed and liked the covers.Persephone Books the exception I just love the feel of the paper. Sounds ridiculous But I can't bear to lend them either in case they get marked!


I think my reading is author-led rather than a book's cover or subject. Of course, if familiar with the author, I have some idea of what to expect. However, choosing say, Margaret Atwood one wouldn't know whether to expect history or science fiction - both of which she has written superbly. For an author I am unfamiliar with a cover (depicting anything including gates!) can be enticing or off-putting. I think there's something to be said for the old Penguin with just the title and author! Having said that I tend to read books which have been well reviewed so I know what I'm getting. What a ramble!



I also meant to say I love the old green Viragos with paintings on the covers as someone else mentioned. I sometimes buy those just for the covers in charity shops!


Well the subject of this topic caught my attention for a start... it was a bit sad to realise that 'let me tell you all about myself' had an appeal!

I have a need to identify with or like at least one of the main characters, so I look for clues about wwhether I will find this. I dont like torture & violence but I like adventure with some threat. I like other cultures (real or fantasy). I like the total picture to be obscured until later by a mystery that makes me think and this is what attracts me to a cover usually (like Alis Hawkins' 'Testament' - great cover!).

So maybe the encapsulation of all this is AS Byatt's 'Possession' which ticks all my boxes.

Simon T

As you probably know, I am always on the lookout for novels with twins in them... and anything centring around a family home. Also madness. (Why, when it ticked all these boxes, did Her Fearful Symmetry fail for me? Because, as DP says, it is what the author does with these things, in the end...)

Great question, Karen!


When browsing, what draws my attention to a book is the colour of the bookcover. Then it can be the synopsis on the back or inside sleeve. On many ocassions it's that first sentence that seals the deal and I have to buy the book. But it's the colour that hooks me in initially.

I like variety and I am not limitd to any particular genre, some days even the back of the cereal box can claim my attention. The subjects that hold the least appeal for me is fantasy, sci-fi and westerns.

Julie Fredericksen

I will almost always buy a book with a Pre-Raphaelite painting of a beautiful woman on the cover. I also love covers with gates, English manor houses and sea- and windswept cliffs. My list would be quite like Adele Geras', except I do like the Knights Templar, secret societies, etc. I do not like post-apocalyptic books.


Covers do draw me -- such as this one -- atmospheric scenes with old, creepy houses, gates -- I'm attracted to dark mysteries, ghosts, the supernatural, gothic romances with sea cliffs. On the other hand, I like sunny gardens, thatched cottages, flowers, plants, animals, etc. Evidence of my split personality, I guess, but I do love and am attracted by beautiful, suggestive covers.

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