Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Tropes

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Hello! I hope you’re all having a lovely week so far and it’s already time for another Top Ten Tuesday! Today we’re chatting about favourite tropes, and I found this one quite difficult because tropes aren’t something I consider that often but once I thought about it, I did come up with seven tropes (commonly used theme or plot device) that I enjoy and three that I really can’t stand! I’ll also recommend a couple of books that include the trope if I can!

1. The Unreliable Narrator

This is definitely one of my favourites. I love the uncertainty that comes with reading a book where you just don’t quite know if you can trust the person telling you the facts. It makes the book unpredictable and Allegedly, Our Kind of Cruelty and All of This is True are all really great books that have some element of unreliability in their narrations.

2. Enemies to Lovers

I have to put a caveat on this one because I only like this trope if it’s done really well and I don’t read much romance so I don’t come across it all that often. However, when skilfully done I love the slow realisation on the part of the characters that their first impressions may have been mistaken Γ  la Pride & Prejudice! I also think Six of Crows and The Hunger Games deal with this trope quite nicely.

3. Morally Grey Characters

I love a good moral grey area and I love when characters are not wholly good, nor wholly bad! I would argue that people with no grey areas perhaps don’t exist but there are some books which I think do it really well. Game of Thrones and Harry Potter both have loads of morally grey characters (Daenerys, Tyrion, Dumbledore and Snape just to name a few) and The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante also has loads of morally questionable people and a lot of situations with also fall into this category. I’d highly recommend the series if you haven’t read it!

4. Grumpy Elderly Person

This one’s a bit of a cliche but I just find it so incredibly heart warming when an elderly, or middle aged person’s life is changed usually by the youthful innocence and energy of someone they encounter in their lives. My absolute favourite has to be A Man Called Ove but The Universe Versus Alex Woods and The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared are both also great.

5. Cold Cases

Cold cases are always so fascinating and reading about an old crime being re-examined and investigated is so interesting, whether it’s a real crime as in the incredible I’ll Be Gone In The Dark or a fictional crime. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Wych Elm were the first two that sprang to mind when thinking about books surrounding cold cases. Both are dark and complicated but very good.

6. Small Towns

For some reason small towns just work for crime novels especially. It’s probably because it keeps the action feeling fairly insular and hits a little closer to home for many readers. The Dry is an excellent example of a small town mystery as are many of the amazing Karin Slaughter’s books. Sadie is also an excellent book that if I remember correctly starts off in a small town and then develops from there.

7. Fairy Tale or Mythology Retellings

There is something so beautiful and endlessly compelling about both fairy tales and mythology. I especially love Greek mythology that is reinterpreted like in The Silence of the Girls which looks at the Trojan War from the female perspective. Song of Achilles is a truly excellent book based go mythology about the famous Achilles and Patroclus. As for fairy tales, I think The Bloody Chamber is one of my favourite collections. It’s a really clever and dark look at many of the most famous stories which are often plenty dark to begin with.

And now onto three tropes I cannot stand…

1. Love Triangles

They’re just so boring and predictable sometimes. I’m sure there are a few examples of some really fantastic books about love triangles but I’ve not come across many. I also think it’s sometimes used a bit lazily in the sense that they are thrown in to create drama and conflict and not because it actually works for the story.

2. The Stunning Beauty That Doesn’t Know It

This one is just super annoying. I mean, I’m sorry, but if a person is stunningly good looking/smart/powerful, how often are they completely unaware of it?! Have these beautiful characters avoided mirrors their whole lives? I think it’s ridiculous when any character is unrealistically good at everything because it allows no room for difficulties or much empathy for the character from me!

3. The phrase – ‘She/He Released A Breath They Didn’t Know They Were Holding’

Is it just me or does this phrase get used way too often? I kind of want to ban it from books because it just pops up so constantly!

Well that’s it for my favourite tropes and my least favourites! This was a fun one to write because it made me think about what I like most in a book. I’d really love to know what you think of my list so please do let me know in the comments and I can’t wait to read all of your lists!


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39 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Tropes

  1. miscellanypages says:

    I hadn’t thought of some of these, but I agree with them all. Especially fairytale/mythology retellings – I studied The Bloody Chamber in Sixth Form and loved it even though I wasn’t sure if I should!
    πŸ“•MPπŸ“š X


  2. dinipandareads says:

    Love your list and that you shared both likes and dislikes. Totally agree 100% with all your dislikes, especially the MC not knowing they’re exceptionally beautiful one. Can’t roll my eyes enough at that one! πŸ˜… lol I didn’t even think about cold cases but that’s a great trope too!

    My TTT post

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jessica at Booked J says:

    YESS! So many great picks on here, I can’t decide which I want to single out in my comment because I love so many ???? Unreliable narrators and hate to love are probably my favourites of all time from this list. Like, if I had to pick only two? Those would be IT. I’ll forever be trash for them, haha


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