I was forced to add the tag “makes me want to kill fictional people most painfully” to my list of book tags on LibraryThing recently. Some books just reach out and grab our heartstrings, touch us someplace deep inside with characters we love and care about, and then rip us apart by having other characters break our beloved characters’ hearts, souls, and spirits. What power, what wonder, these authors have wrought!
Equally powerful (though not so seductive to my homicidal tendencies) are books with characters who have overcome amazing odds, who have every right to throw themselves to the ground and not get up again, yet who somehow find the strength to rise above. These books inspire us to be better, to try harder, to face our troubles and not flinch away. We read books by such authors and wonder, “How did he do that?”
Such books can be found in every genre, are so varied as to be nearly incomparable. Yet something binds them together. Something about these books breathes life into fictional people and reaches out to real people not because the plot is fresh or the setting interesting, but because it reflects some part of the human experience. The emotions it draws out, the memories it brings to mind, are things every human understands. But it’s not coincidence when a writer achieves such excellence. It’s also not coincidence that many of our favorite books took their authors years to write. (Which is why people need to stop pestering George R. R. Martin and Kristen Britain to write faster. “If you rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.” But I digress.)
I confess that I’m not sure what my point is. I guess it’s just to marvel at the power the written word can hold, and to marvel at the ones who give it such power.