The Joy of Predictability

As someone who is prone to thinking about books way too often, it is no surprise that recent bookish trends have been on my mind lately. Of course, VPL has a history of documenting these trends. For example, Alyssia has expertly described the rise of BookTok (TikToks focusing on books) and in particular, the popularity of sad books. Despite my admiration of both books and TikTok, this is one bookish trend I can not get behind. I take no joy in watching people sob over a heartwrenching book and I have zero desire myself to sob over a book.

This of course leads me to discuss “cottagecore”, another aesthetic that continues to be popular. This aesthetic focuses on the beauty of simple living and the wonders of nature. While the cottagecore aesthetic can apply to anything (books, houses, video games, etc.), I also find that it’s not quite exactly what I enjoy. While it is aesthetically nice to look at, I am too uninvested in being in nature to enjoy it. I am frankly too much of a city person to fully be immersed in the cottagecore aesthetic.

Thus, I am positing a new bookish trope that is criminally underrated: predictability. Of course, it is no secret that book lovers tend to abhor the cheesy and the predictable. What is the point of reading a 300 page novel if I can figure out within 20 pages how it well end? Well dear reader, that is the exact comfort in it! Why would I want to read through a character’s emotional and heartwrenching life story if I did not know that they would end up okay?

The enjoyment of predictability rests in this notion of knowing exactly how the story will end but wanting to be there for the ride. This is probably related to my love of tropes. Even if I know that the “fake dating” trope almost always ends up with the two leads together, I want to see how it will actually happen. I think I touched on this in my post from last year in which I discussed a new found love for historical romance. The guarantee of a Happily Ever After is one of my favourite bookish tropes though I know that predictability can also apply beyond just romance. In a cozy mystery, we know that the bookselling baker will undoubtedly figure out the murder and make sure that the murderer gets what they deserve. The predictability of those genres is also part of the fun: can I, as the reader, figure out what happened before the main character? I know that the answer will arise eventually if I keep reading.

If you are similarly interested in predictability, I have included a few book recommendations for you below! I tried to include books of different genres so it’s clear that the joy of predictability can be found in any book you may think of.

Contemporary Romance: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon. This one is a bit tricky when it comes to predictability but the joy is found in knowing there will be a happily ever after! In this novel, two coworkers who despise each other must co-host an advice radio show in which they pretend to be exes in order to give listeners dating advice. The tricky part with this one is that the characters aren’t fake dating, they have to pretend they dated in the past. This means they need to know a lot more about each other’s personal life and of course, that is how they end up falling for each other. This romance is one of my favourites of the year and I really enjoyed the slight twist in what is usually a predictable trope. To be fair though, I adore all of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s books and I always jump at the chance to recommend any of them. While the physical copy of the book has a long waiting list, the e-book copy is currently available.

Historical Romance: The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan (available as an ebook only): this historical romance was one of my favourite books of 2020 and for good reason! Not only is it diverse and features a list-loving heroine, it also has one of the most swoon-worthy second chance romances. This one stars childhood sweethearts who are reunited after three years. When the heroine’s childhood sweetheart skipped town, she assumed she would never see him again but of course, he is now back in town and it turns out that he is a duke! I also really enjoyed that this novel completely skips the 3rd act break up that is notoriously found in romances. Romances usually have a situation in which the characters break up over a miscommunication (*insert eye roll here*) only to realize their love for each other 30 pages later and end up back together. What I liked about Milan’s characters in The Duke Who Didn’t is that they worked out their issues together and presented a united front against the external forces that got in their way.

YA Mystery: White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig. This is a bit of a less predictable read because it is full of angst and mystery but I loved it anyway. It stars Rufus, a teen who has to team up with his ex-boyfriend to prove his half-sister’s innocence when it comes to a murder. It is not as predictable as some of the other books but I enjoyed being able to predict that all would end up okay for Rufus and his family, as that is the case in most YA mysteries (or at least the ones that I tend to read!).

That said, what is your stance on predictability when it comes to books? Let’s discuss in the comments and if you have any recommendations of your favourite predictable reads, I would love to hear them!

About Shelly

Shelly is an Information Assistant II (Youth). They love novels with great characters and a plot that transports you, whether it be in real life or in fantasy worlds.

One thought on “The Joy of Predictability

  1. Personally I love when a book stabs me in the heart (or back) and makes me cry, but this past year or two I’ve been taking comfort in the predictability of romance/romantic comedy novels periodically – like you said, the knowledge that everything will end up okay for the characters in the end is what draws me to them! I also find that because I know there’s a sort of formula for how the plot is going to go, I don’t need to be as tuned in all the time while I’m reading (sorry, author!), so it’s less important when I’ve forgotten what happened on the last page I just read than when I’m reading a non-fiction book, for example. (Not that I’m advising we tune out when we read, but sometimes it happens!)

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