What’s your favorite book? I’m talking fiction here, of course. Or sci fi, fantasy, mystery – whatever you like.
I’m curious, can you describe your experience of reading it?
For me, the best stories draw me in, steal me away from reality, drench me in otherness. I’m seduced by the characters, implicated by the plot. If the writing is good enough, I can literally feel the story.
Every single time I pick up Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, I am instantly transported back to that well, dark but for noontime and full of thought. I’m walking the streets of Sapporo and spending listless days sitting on a park bench.
Lately I’ve been reading the Game of Thrones series, in which George Martin spends copious amounts of time describing glorious settings, gorgeous clothing, and delicious meals. His plots are secondary, yet his words transport me to another time and place. I can honestly say that I have inhabited the world of Westeros, even if only for the span of his novels.
I think certain books appeal to certain people, appealing to their pasts, invading their psyches in some highly personal way. We may not even realize the effect the story has on us until it is too late, until the twists and turns are permanently lodged somewhere in our memory banks. Those stories change us. They fascinate us, filling a blank, offering a clue to some mystery. They fuel us. They give us a chance to step outside our everyday reality into something new, something unexplored and unknown. They let us meet people, know individuals whom in our real lives would remain strangers.
Have you experienced this? Do you agree that fiction can be transformative, even transcendent? Have you felt that allure of becoming an audience member, of possibly learning something new about yourself? Has a story ever reintroduced you to your imagination? Tell me, what book did that for you?