I’ve decided that what makes a good fiction story for me is “place-making,” “world-building,” whatever you’d like to call it. The books that stick with me longest are the ones that create places so real – whether real places I’ve never been or places only imagined – that I dream about them years later, or think of the stories when I walk into the forest and see images reminiscent of those burned on my retina even though the vision of such things was never there in the first place. Scenes and places I have not seen but have been described so greatly that I can only possibly believe that I have in fact been there, sometime.
This is why the Harry Potter series was so successful. Lord of the Rings, too. Favorite books like this that come to mind are The Sparrow, which was written by an anthropologist who creates not only one space for her story but an entire extension of our solar system and known universe to portray our modern day assumptions of “right and wrong” – morality as a whole – in a new place where our “right” doesn’t always work. The Thirteenth Tale is another good one. So vividly imagined by the author and relayed to us as readers. This is one that I dream about… the fog rolling up the hillsides, the burning and burned down house. A story so perfectly described that it may as well be a creation of my own imagination.
Then again, a good character can make for an entertaining read with or without the scenery. The Flavia de Luce Novels are just so. The places, the stories even, are rather inconsequential compared with how much fun it is to spend a little time with Miss Flavia. It’s like that fun friend you can’t wait to meet over coffee and here her ridiculous tales… Flavia is a hoot and I always end those books, a little sad my coffee date has to leave and go to work, that I have to wait til the next book comes and we can “meet again.”
But what makes a good non-fiction book? For me… it can’t be too technical. I want to learn something, but I don’t want to be driven through myriad facts and figures and statements of correctness. Linchpin is a good one. But I’ve already told you that.
I picked up a couple books this weekend at the swap meet. Side note: I had never been to a swap meet before and it was AWESOME! There were several vendors selling books from their huge, diverse collections – $1 a book! One of my friends even scored this deal: $1 a book OR ten books for $5. She bought ten books, obviously.
So what’d I get? Well, several things that I’ve been wanting to read for a while now: Room, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Vintage) and Faithful Place. Add those three new books to my pile of must-reads this summer and I give you my summer reading bucket list.
Summer Reading Bucket List
What about you guys? What, in your opinion, makes a book memorable?
What’s on your summer reading bucket list?