Amy Ruttan very kindly roared at me today. And I loved it!
(I really needed it, this week’s been tough – however I more than exceeded my goals for Christine d’Abo‘s Mid-Winter Kick in the Pants challenge. I set my weekly goal as 4,000 words and today I hit 6,000 and there’s still a couple of days to go. Go me!)
Anyway, on to the award…
I have to name three reasons that make a book stay on my ‘keeper’ shelf. This was tougher than I thought … so I actually looked at the books on my keeper shelf. All three things below combine to make a book a keeper. Take away any one, and it may not stay on the shelf.
1) World building – a place I can lose myself in, identify with. From strange worlds like the exquisitely in-depth world JRR Tolkien created with Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Silmarillion and CS Lewis’s Narnia to JR Ward’s vampiric world (And let’s not forget to mention our own Christine’s space world in her Bond series!) World building is even important in contemporary worlds like Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s Heaven Texas and historical worlds like those Jo Beverly creates. They are all places I felt I could step into and become a part of.
2) Unforgettable Characters – especially heroes who I feel I could cuddle up with, especially if they’re sword-wielding defenders who would protect me from those nasty villains in the fantastical worlds I love who never belittle a woman – she walks beside, not behind him. Jamie Fraser, Aragorn, Bobby Tom Denton, and Rhage. Heroines that I identify with – not wimpy but not overly kick-ass either (in fact I’m really turned off by those heroines which are becoming so over-the-top in how they shoot or kick or … whatever. Those type make me roll my eyes and close the book.) Villains who are not smarmy or unbelievably unredeemably evil – a good villain is someone you know, someone you trust but has this deep dark hidden side who really believes in what he’s doing – at any cost. (yes, I’ve met several of them in real life – they’re the scary ones.)
3) This one is the hardest to explain. I just know it when I read it. I look for a ‘Concept’ that make me think “Huh, that’s possible” even when it’s not (or at least hopefully not). John Wyndham’s post-atomic war The Chrysalids. And Arthur C. Clarke’s end-of-the-world Childhood’s End. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. I began to write that it all circles back to character and what drives them. But in the books I just cited, it’s more than just the characters. It’s the concept that stuck in my mind. Okay, sure, Jamie Fraser is a reason all his own to read Outlander, but with all three books, something about the concept behind the stories made me think ‘Wow, what would I be thinking/doing if I were in that position? What if that really happened?’ And it doesn’t have to be a sci-fi or a paranormal. Concept can apply to even the modern mainstream, because it has to weave through the plotline and be believable, tying the world and the characters to their ultimate end. And no, that doesn’t always mean a HEA ending.