Bookish Musings: I Want More Books about… Different Hobbies & Interests in the SFF Genre

 
 

Gosh I’m bad at writing post titles sometimes. But that’s ok, hopefully the post itself will make up for it!

So here’s a thing I’ve noticed in sci-fi/fantasy books. The characters and the stories usually don’t have a lot going on outside of the sci-fi/fantasy aspects and, usually, the romance. No hobbies or passions or interests or pasttimes. Occasionally they’ll have some interest, but it won’t really be part of the book. Everyone’s too busy solving the mystery of the supernatural murders or stopping the baddies from taking over the world or trying to woo each other.

And that’s fine! There’s nothing wrong with those books. But, just because a book is SFF, that doesn’t mean it can’t have anything in it that’s not SFF in and of itself. I just would like more books in which some sort of hobby or interest or setting is an integral part of the story because I think there’s so much potential for a lot of interesting and unique stories!


Some ideas for things that could be combined with sci-fi/fantasy in books:

– sports
– dance
– circus (before you say anything, I know there are quite a few books out there with circus settings, but they rarely ever are about performers or the actual circus acts)
– visual art (painting, sculpting, photography, woodworking, etc.)
– music
– theatre
– fashion
– food & drink (baking, cooking, restaurants, bartending, food in general)
– rural areas
– farming

And what would really be great is books where it’s not just a hobby for the character that they do a couple times in the book but something that the story really revolves around. Different passions and hobbies and jobs and settings are interesting to me, I love learning more about them and experiencing them through a book, but they’re also things that haven’t been done a whole lot yet in SFF. That leaves a lot of room open for authors to find ways to combine them with fantasy or sci-fi elements to make really unique stories.

If you want some recommendations for SFF books about unique passions, I have a post about that here! (Although the stories themselves are not necessarily about the characters’ passions.) If you have any recommendations, be sure to leave them in the comments!

 
 
 

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Do you also want more sci-fi/fantasy books about different hobbies and passions?
What other topics that I didn't mention would you like to see?
Do you have any recs for books like this?

 

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  1. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    This is a neat idea Kristen! I agree that it would be neat for SFF characters to be more than their work. I don’t know if that’s because they are modeled on police detectives or what, but they do tend to be single minded. Even if they did the hobby as a way to destress and think out the mystery, etc. That would be neat to learn about. ;)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes! I was gonna put something in the post about how so many UF main characters are cops or detectives or PIs or work for some government or supernatural agency, so I guess that’s limiting. But yeah, even just a hobby that sometimes comes into the story and helps them would be cool!

  2. Suz

    Interesting argument. I suppose a lot of characters in sci-fi especially have nerdy sci-fi hobbies but it would be good if they could have a non-tech hobby which makes them uniquely placed to save the day.
    Am off to ponder this idea. Happy Sunday :-)

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, it’d be cool if there were more books that combined the SFF with hobbies or things that are kind of unexpected! Hope you’re having a good week :-)

  3. Jackie

    Although I’m not a big fan of Science fiction, I can see characters having a hobby would be worthwhile, definitely. One character with a hobby is Katniss Everdeen lol she hunted in the woods and was good with her crossbow and I loved Hunger Games. Anyway, I hope you are having a nice weekend!

  4. Sam@wlabb

    Honestly, I never noticed this until you just pointed it out. So. True. I mean, at least with the space based SciFi, they never seem to do anything, but fight the fight and save the world.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Ah, but see, that’s the thing. I don’t want the author to just add in a hobby. I want the book to revolve around it! I want it to be incorporated throughout the story. Music is definitely one of the more common ones, I know I’ve read and come across some that involve music.

  5. Lola

    I like it when even in SFF books the characters have hobbies and other interests, it makes the characters and world feel more alive and realistic. I remember a sci-fi short story where they played some futuristic sport, which was quite an interesting touch. I actually read a PNR book where the main character was in the circus. And the cool thing about Sciif and fantasy books is that there are often also opportunities for the hobbies and interest to give them a SFF flavor and in that way use them to tell more about the world too.

    And just in general it’s fun to read about hobbies and interest, so I definitely like to see it in SFF books too. It does seem more common in other genres to have more about hobbies and interest. It’s one of the things I like about cozy mysteries in general as they often deal with hobbies and interest and those are quite the big part of the story.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It does! A futuristic sport, that is a cool touch! There are circus-based books out there, but I just always (with one exception) find myself disappointed that the MC isn’t a performer, or they are, but the story doesn’t involve performing or practicing or anything.

      It is just fun to learn about hobbies and things, but it definitely seems less common in SFF. Cozy mysteries are great about including different hobbies and jobs and things!

  6. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    That’s a really good point! I hadn’t thought about it. It’s probably, as you say, because SFF characters are often trying to save the world, and who has time for hobbies or deep interests in the middle of that?

    That said, there are some. Music is probably the most common “interest.” Anne McCaffrey’s YA Harper Hall trilogy, particularly Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, feature characters who are deeply involved with, and in Menolly’s case, passionate about, music. Music is also of major importance to the characters in Mercedes Lackey’s Bardic Voices books, and in the first book The Lark and the Wren, it’s Rune’s passion for music that drives the whole plot. Music and theater are both central to the plot in A Cast of Corbies by Lackey and Josepha Sherman, which ties in to the Bardic Voices books. And music and storytelling are both integral to Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, although there are a lot of other interests as well (among them are several different types of magic that the main character is studying; languages; martial arts; and a fictional game called Tak, which has now been turned into a real game.)

    1. Kristen Burns

      That brings up another thing I often think about, which is that I also just want more SFF that isn’t about saving the world lol.

      Music is definitely one of the more common ones! Thank you for the recs :-) Oh that’s so fun that the game was turned into a real game!

  7. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    This is really interesting. I never really thought about it, but you’re right that SFF characters typically don’t have many hobbies, and when they do the hobbies are usually something that lends itself to a SFF world (not typically artistic pursuits). Now I’ll have to think hard to see if I can come up with any examples that do feature these types of pursuits.

  8. Greg

    I agree with this. I just read a book where the protag played D&D with his group and it was so fun to see that. Granted it was also integral to the plot, but still… :) it was a hobby haha! I’d like to see more theater geek stories, and circus would be cool, as well as music. I think music and magic go great together, like weaving magical effects through music, would love to see more of that!

    Greg recently posted: Sunday Post #299

    1. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Greg, you would probably enjoy A Cast of Corbies by Mercedes Lackey and Josepha Sherman. It basically involves a theater troupe and the associated musicians. I also listed several music-related books in my comment above. And maybe someday I’ll try writing the magic-through-music book I’ve been playing around with in my head.

    2. Kristen Burns

      Nice! And that’s even better that it was integral to the plot, that’s the kind of thing I really want to see! There definitely need to be more circus stories that actually involve circus acts, rather than just kind of vaguely having it as the setting. Music is the easiest one to find in SFF, music and fantasy do go great together!

  9. S. J. Pajonas

    Oh, I’ve got this covered with my SF. Lol. In the Nogiku Series, Sanaa is obsessed with marital arts and learning new weapons and their history. But, more to your list of hobbies, In the Flyght Series, Vivian was set to inherit her family farm when it’s basically stolen from her. Her obsession is farming and growing things (she prefers hydro- and aqua-ponics) and that plays a vital role in the series. She uses her skills in service to the story. I’ve always believed that a character’s passion can be translated to the story!

    S. J. Pajonas recently posted: Sunday Update – May 26, 2019

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s awesome that your books have so many different hobbies and passions! I know I’ve read one book where the MC lived on a farm, but it didn’t really play into the story much, so reading a SFF story with farming sounds cool!

  10. Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra

    This is such a cool idea and one I honestly hadn’t ever given much thought to until you mentioned it. I think it would definitely make some fantasy reads more unique. I know I get into ruts sometimes where it feels like I’ve just read the same basic story with a different title slapped on it.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It really would! I’ve definitely had that problem with so many books in the same fantasy genre just feeling like the same thing over and over, so this really would make for more unique stories.

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s fun! I guess people do tend to stick to what sells, and it’s probably also hard to write about a hobby if you don’t have experience with it yourself.

  11. Gayathri

    These are amazing ideas and I would definitely love to see the leads having interest or a job in different fields that are not mainstream! Let us hope we get there soon!

  12. Crystal @ Lost in Storyland

    I agree. So much about SFF is about the adventure/quest. It’d be interesting to learn more about the characters and their hobbies, especially ones we normally wouldn’t expect to play a role in such stories. I’m currently reading Spin the Dawn, an SFF that features a girl who wants to be the greatest tailor in a land when only men are tailors. It’s interesting how this plays a role in the magic and the quest.

  13. Olivia Roach

    I think romance and contemporary seem to do the other hobby elements outside of the storyline and genre very well! I like that. I feel like if the characters do have a hobby in sci-fi or fantasy it is ALWAYS art. See ACOTAR or An Enchantment of Ravens for an example. But at least they have a hobby totally separated and isolated from the plot. I hope you will be able to find some…

  14. ShootingStarsMag

    Ooh great idea. I think there could be tons of cool SFF/Fantasty books written that revolve around hobbies and interests. I like all the ones you shared – dance and theater especially!

    -Lauren