Friday, May 21, 2010

For Whom the Book Tolls

Forgive the play on the word 'toll' in the title there. It's late and I've just gotten home from a long road trip and I've just learned that my son's missing dog (who I consider mine, btw) might have been found! So, a little bit giddy at the moment. 

But, anyway, I've been thinking lately about the toll a book can take on your emotions. As a reader, there have always been books that have touched me--books that have made me laugh or cry or think, books that have changed the way I looked at the world. I broke up with one of my high school boyfriends after reading Ibsen's Dollhouse  (I know it's a play, but fiction is fiction after all) when I saw too much of us in Nora's relationship with her husband.

There have been books that I've loved and read and re-read and re-read, etc. And there have been books that I've reacted so strongly to that I could never stand to read them more than once--if I finished them at all. But, recently, I've realized that the books I've written have each (or most, anyway) affected me in their own way as well.

Take my current WiP, for example. Bad things are happening to good people and it's hard to write about it--even though I know I have to.  My mind keeps trying to come up with ways to change what I know has to happen and make it turn out otherwise. I might find myself feeling disenchanted with the whole writing process or the whole writing industry, or I might find myself feeling all written out--nothing more to say--even though I know that it's only an advanced procrastination technique.  

So, what about you? What are some of the books that have taken a toll on you, in some way or another?


Meg Benjamin said...

Oh wow, PG, you're right. It's so hard to hurt characters you like. You want them to escape unscathed, but you know you can't let them do that. I always thought that was why John Grisham didn't let the hero of The Firm get caught by his wife (yes, in the movie that happened--in the book it didn't). He liked him too much and just couldn't bear to do it, although dramatically he probably should have.

Debra St. John said...

Oh there are so many, I can't choose one. I love a book that can grab my heart and not let go.

Kinsey Holley said...

The last one that did it to me was Gaelyn Foley's "The Duke." When Robert realizes Belynda was a virgin till the jail guard raped her, and he's the only lover she's had since - yay! but because of that rape - totally not her fault - he can't consider her for a wife - boo. Then he makes her his mistress and she tells herself she'll be okay with that. But even as he's falling in love with her, wishing she'd get pregnant with his child - he can't even imagine marrying her. Then he tells her he's going to marry the daughter of his neighbor - and my heart just stopped. You can FEEL Belynda's pain - when she says "Oh my God I think I'm going to be sick," you feel it too.

You know the story will have a happy ending - it's a Regency, for heaven's sake - but she really, really wrings it out of you. I was exhausted when I finished, and I don't typically get caught up like that.

Skylar Kade said...

I try to avoid these heart-wrenching stories outside of romance. I HAVE to know there's a happy ending eventually. I can't remember what book I read, but it was such an emotional roller coaster that I had to take breaks from reading it.

Also, in one trilogy I read--marketed as romance--the hero DIES at the end.