I can't resist
  1. books with maps
  2. doomed expeditions
  3. shipwrecks
  4. character relationships that echo Beauty and the Beast
  5. stories where the narrator is the main character's friend. Bonus points if the friend is already dead at the beginning of the story and the narrator is explaining how it happened.
  6. books within books
  7. priests in spaaaaaaaaace!
  8. the plague
  9. when a first person narrator says something like, "Years from now I'd look back on this moment and see that this is where everything changed."
    I just have to read on and find out what it means. Even if this little device is overused, it's a dangling carrot for me.