Thursday, September 8, 2011

Books I love and why they make me FEEL

Continuing with the last post, I thought I'd take a look around at my bookshelves and note what it is about them that makes me love them. This is certainly not an all-inclusive list! But it does hit on some key things.

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle. One of the first books to impact me emotionally. Meg feels unlovable, yet it's the fact that she loves her brother that ultimately saves them both.

Scumble, Ingrid Law. The twisty feeling of wanting something so big and right, and yet, your own weaknesses are what stand in your way.

The Perilous Gard, Elizabeth Marie Pope. Kate's unflagging integrity really appeals to me--she's determined to look truth in the eye, no matter how painful it is. And the fact that sometimes, she thinks she sees the truth, when she really doesn't (ie how Christopher feels about her).

Crossing to Paradise, Kevin Crossley-Holland. Gatty has such a big heart, and she is so loyal--and yet, people don't see that. They just see a dirty servant. The contrast between what people see and what she is inside--and the fact that she tries so hard to do the right thing when no one else cares--really hits me in the heart. It makes me want to cheer her on. When injustice happens to her, I feel hit in the gut. When she gets what she deserves, it brings tears to my eyes.

The Dreamer, Lora Innes. This is actually a web comic, but the first volume is out in print, and the second one will be soon. It's very YA. Bea, the main character, shares her feelings rather dramatically, but what anchors the story is the bravery in the face of losing a lot that the 18th century characters show--Alan posing as a British soldier to steal her off a British ship, Knowlton leading his intelligence troops despite the danger that it might (and did!) pose to him.

The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer. I'm starting to see a pattern here--this is another book with an underdog, a kid whose worth nobody sees. But he desperately WANTS to be worth something, and to be loved. He treats people the way he wishes they'd treat him. There are a few layers of innocence that come off, and it hurts, and you feel it as a reader. Which makes you love his triumphs all the more when they do happen.

So, things like self-worth, justice, loyalty, integrity, and courage seem to be important draws for me. I think this is why agents and editors sometimes either decline to name a genre they are looking for, or name one and then reject mss as not being what they're looking for. Because I think what anyone is looking for in a book is beyond mere genre. It's something at the heart of a book, regardless of whether it's contemporary or historical or full of zombie aardvarks. It's not always easy to define, but you know it when you see it, because it makes you fall in love.

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