7 things books need to enhance the reading experience

I love books.

That’s pretty obvious, right? The smell of the pages, the adventure within. But there are a few things I wish each novel contained that might improve my reading experience.

So let’s dive into my wish list! With a little help from Barney Stinson.

Just… Wait for it.


#1 – Recaps

We’ve all been there. You’ve been waiting patiently (more like anxiously) for more than a year for the sequel to come out. But when you finally get your hands on it, you struggle to remember just what happened in the previous book.

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It would be so much easier if there was just a little refreshing recap of previous book(s) at the front of each sequel. Nothing crazy or too long. But a 1-2 page synopsis. Trust me, I guarantee you each author already has something like this written, so let’s use it!

#2 – Trigger Warnings

Defined as a warning at the beginning of an event to prepare the viewer that it may include scenes that could potentially trigger a PTSD-like reaction, trigger warnings give people the knowledge and time to discontinue watching if they feel they need to.

WARNING: This may contain graphic imagery and references to sexual assault which may be triggering to survivors.

But books rarely – if ever – utilize these warnings.

I am all for tackling real world issues, and the sad truth is that things like sexual violence, suicide and racism do exist. But if you are struggling with these things yourself, you deserve the right to decide if reading about it will help or hurt your recovery. You just can’t make that decision if you don’t know it’s coming.

HOWEVER – there are also a lot of proposed trigger warnings that I think go a little too far. You can’t expect the publisher or the author to know each and every little thing that may trigger you. I broke my jaw in an accident in high school, and any time I see it in a movie or a book I definitely become triggered. So give the creator the benefit of the doubt for the more obscure/less obviously harmful things.

#3 – Playlists

Another thing I know lots of authors already create is a playlist to accompany their novel. As a reader, I’d love to be able to listen to the songs that inspired the story – whether overall or scene by scene – and try to capture that essence for my experience.

#4 – Built In Bookmarks

You know the ribbons that Bibles have to keep your spot. Why don’t all books have these?! It would be so much easier than carrying around your on bookmark or dog-earring the pages.

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#5 – Ratings

Televisions shows have one. Movies have one. So why don’t novels have a rating?

For instance, let’s take the world of young adult. It’s defined pretty broadly for ages 13-17. The level of appropriateness and maturity varies wildly from book to book, especially when it comes to romance. You have everything from sweet and clean teen romances like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before to epic fantasies with violence and intense sex scenes like A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Neither is good or bad. In fact, I love both. And I don’t want ratings to be put in place to police what people are reading and limit by age, like PG-13 and R movie ratings. But for those who prefer clean romance or those who prefer a little more steam, it would help to know which books to gravitate toward and what you are getting yourself into.

#6 – Note from the Author

When I was getting 700 Main ready to go out on submission, my agent asked me to write a short one-page letter to include with the manuscript, explaining my inspiration for the story since it’s loosely based on real life.

But whether it’s real life or not, how cool would it be to hear from the author how this story came to them, evolved, and eventually made its way into your hands? I’d read every single word.

#7 – Companion Audiobook

Now I know this one is totally unrealistic (because money). But how awesome would it be if each time you bought a novel, it came with the audiobook too?! Sort of like how DVDs started coming with a downloadable version for your iTunes Library as well.

You’d be sitting on the couch reading and then realize you have to head to work. But you could KEEP READING by switching into audio and listening while you drive.

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Maybe someday.

What are some things you’d like to see book include? How do you feel about trigger warnings and ratings? Let me know in the comments!

 

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