Thursday, May 13, 2010

Last day FTW... and the power books can have

Well... today is the day. (Did you know that FTW means "for the win"? I learned that from Lisa and Laura. You learn something every day. Thanks ladies, hehe!) We only have until 4:00 pm MST to try and get 20 more followers so that I can pick a winner for the signed paperback of WINGS. (It's looking pretty grim to get to 100 for the hardback of SPELLS.) If we don't make it though, that's okay. I really appreciate all the new followers that have signed up in the last week, and I promise to give y'all another chance at a giveaway soon. The best part is that existing followers will get two entries automatically in the next one. So keep an eye out for that...

As for me, I'm feeling better thank heavens. I think I should be back to full health tomorrow. Revisions are going well, which is always nice. I caught up to what my agent has sent me so far last night, so I got to take a little break today and read something else. I'm wondering... do books affect you like they affect me? When I was younger, a depressing book or movie could make me upset literally for days. Sometimes even more than a week if it was truly powerful. Not like crying constantly the whole time, but just down. Unable to stop thinking about it. I'm a little bit better at not letting things get to me so deeply these days (I don't have time to be down and crying all day about a character in a book dying when my 5 year old wants to play tag, and the 1 year old is dumping out the whole box of Teddy Grahams in the drawer, or whatever chaos is ensuing that particular day). However, sometimes they are sad enough to still get to me.

The book I just read was for a neighborhood book club, and not one I would normally pick up. Why? Because it's about the holocaust. Holocaust books are very, very hard for me to read; I know because of how many I've read. What happened during WWII is horrifying. I finally had to stop reading books about it, or be careful about which ones I picked because I'd get so depressed an upset afterwards. And this one in particular is about a part of the holocaust I've never known before (which is somewhat horrifying in and of itself). It's called SARAH'S KEY, and it was (not surprisingly) very depressing, but also very good.

It taught me a ton about France's role in the holocaust. But it though it was an easy read (as in, a fast read) it was also incredibly hard to read because of what happened. I know Sarah is fictional. I know her little brother being locked in the cupboard is fictional. (That's not a spoiler, it's on the jacketflap.) But I personalize things. I kept imagining my little 4 year old boy (who barely turned five) being in that cupboard, waiting for his sister to come back. I kept imagining feeling how devastated beyond all comprehension and words it would be to have been those mothers locked into camps with their helpless children. They had no food or water or provisions and then they were cruelly, brutally torn away from their babies, toddlers, and children and shipped off to Auschwitz to die. Despite how hard it was to read though, I'm glad I did. It was powerful and a reminder of what happened. (Just as a disclaimer if anyone wants to read it, be warned there are disturbing images, and some language in this book.)

So I'm curious. What books have you read throughout your life that have never left you? The ones that made you feel emotions so deeply that you felt like the characters were real? The ones that left you haunted or hurting, or maybe in a good way--jubilant and uplifted--by their stories, real or fictional?

That's what I love the most about books, the power to take you places, to teach you things, and to make characters become as real to you as your own family and friends. Books are powerful. Words are powerful. Don't you think?


Aubrey said...

I think I always throw myself into the books I read, I am always deeply invested in the characters. I will admit, I have cried a lot when books affect me in the moment (ex. it took me like 3 hours to read the last chapters of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince because I was crying the whole time from the moment Dumbledore was so sick and dying from drinking the potion in the cave -- and it just kept getting worse!).

Although, I am kind of strange in many ways, I don't let depressing books/stories depress me, I usually feel empowered after reading them. A non-book example are the movies Swing Kids and Dead Poet's Society. They both have VERY depressing endings, but I love them still!

Heather W said...

I completely understand what you mean about personalizing things. The entire time I was reading Before I Fall I kept imagining my little sister—needless to say the parts I cried in involved Sam and Izzy. (BTW it was still an amazing book!)

I believe that that is one of the qualities of a really good book. Even though we know it isn’t real and that the characters are fictional, we still carry their story with us after we’ve finished reading.

And Aubrey I’m not ashamed to say that a few tears were shed while reading Harry Potter too =]

Elana Johnson said...

Ah, yes. I often think about haunting books for days, weeks, months after I read them. That's the kind of book I want to write. One that makes people stop and think about what they would do.

Sara B. Larson said...

Aubrey - Oh, I definitely bawled all through the end of HBP. And the Deathly Hallows. I'd just had son A when HBP came out, and I would sit here nursing him and read it. I was super emotional to say the least. JK Rowling is a master IMO.

Heather W. - I completely agree, a truly great book is one that feels real long after I'm done reading it.

Elana - I can't wait to read yours! I hope mine will be powerful as well. I know it won't be like reading a Holocaust book; but I hope that my stories and characters will seem as real to the people who read them as they are to me, and that they will carry the stories I've created with them as Heather said. :-)

i'm erin. said...

Hmm...this is such a hard question because I seriously learn something from each book I read. But I really loved PERFECT CHEMISTRY even though it's slightly scandalous. he he. And It made me cry. But I think it nailed the differences in social class and even race that people still face today.

Sara B. Larson said...

I've heard a lot about that book, I need to read it!