Monday, September 13, 2010

Great Books = Something Special

This weekend, I had a fun convo with my friend Elana. What do writers talk about when they get together? Books. Of course, books. What else would we discuss (well, besides the other obvious topics like agents and editors and publishing houses and online platforms)?

As we were talking about books we’ve read recently, ones we loved, ones we liked, ones we didn’t finish, the subject came up that in order for us to really love a book—and I’m talking about LOVE love, can’t stop thinking about it love—it has to be special.

Special = book love.

Trouble is, special is indefinable. For all of us. What makes one book special for me, but not special to someone else? Or reverse that and what makes a book special to someone else, but then I think it’s meh?

I guess sometimes it comes down to tastes. You know? Like, for instance, I’ve decided that part of the reason I didn’t love MOCKINGJAY as much as CATCHING FIRE is because there wasn’t enough romance. Not enough good kissing scenes. And I’m pretty much a sucker for that stuff. So. Yeah. I admit it. But I loved the book anyway. Because the whole series was spectacularly special.

Sometimes it has to do with subject matter and emotion. Books that make me think, make me feel. Grip my by the heart and drag me along the journey right next to the protagonist. Dig so far into my mind and thoughts that I can’t sleep at night for wondering what’s going to happen next (assuming I even put the book down long enough to try).

To me that constitutes special. But again, it’s indefinable. This is not something that can be explained or categorized. It just is. I think the definition of special is different for everyone.

So help me out here. What’s your favorite book (or books) and what about the writing, or story, or characters, or plot makes them your favorite? Why are they special?


Christine Fonseca said...

I love a well crafted story - any genre - that I can lose myself in. I know, doesn't clear anything up does it!

WindyA said...

Ha! The kissing. I love the kissing too.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I completely agree about Mockingjay and Catching Fire. I wanted more romance in Mockingjay. Who doesn't love a good kissing scene? ;)
In most of my favorite books, there has to be some sort of romance. I love a good romance, and sometimes I get bored if there isn't even a little one. Maybe I'm weird...:)

Sara B. Larson said...

I LOVE the kissy stuff too. (As you will see if/when you read any of my books, ha ha!) But beyond that, my definition has changed over the years. Now that I am a much more critical writer, if a book is so good that I stop editing it as I'm reading, and truly can get lost in the story, can't put it down, and wish it never ended. Then I know it's something truly special.

ali said...

Hmm. I am terrible at remembering specifics. But, I think in my fave books of all time it is 1) character ~ characters with depth and flaws, but mostly the potential to be something great; 2) writing ~ I'm a sucker for beautiful lyrical writing and also for writers who step out of the norm and give me something ... "special" (Guy Gavriel Kay, Mary Pearson, Suzanne Collins); and 3) romance ~ but not necessarily LOVE romance. Romance can be about the character arc, the arc of the setting even.

But yes, SPECIAL is totally and 100% individual. :P

Carolyn V. said...

I agree. I find myself looking for a well crafted book to read now that I'm writing. But I've also learned that all readers have the kinds of books they love and the kind they don't. We just all have different tastes. =)

Angie said...

Some of my most special books are The Lord of the Rings, A Wrinkle in Time, Ender's Game. What makes them special. I don't really know if I could define it. They moved me. They changed me. I love books!

Nichole Giles said...

Okay, so waht we want is a book that's well crafted, with kissing, romance,writing that's practically invisible (right Sara? Good comment by the way),believable characters, lyrical writing, more romance that doesn't necessarily have to be love romance, and stories that move us and change the way we think.

Am I right so far? Wow, looking at that list is kind of intimidating. But right. Of course, you're all right.

I love all these awesome comments and thoughts. Thanks for sharing everyone!