Saturday, September 09, 2006

Telling a Good Story

The other day someone asked me about my favorite books. So I tried to think of a top 5. And when I looked at what I had come up with, I couldn't believe how different they all were. To look at them, you'd think I have absolutely no genre preference at all.

It, by Stephen King
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon

Close runners-up would probably include The Pact (Jodi Picoult), The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas), The Dogs of Babel (Carolyn Parkhurst), and The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini).

See what I mean?

But then I thought about it, and I realized that every one of these stories I love, for the most part, because it tells a fascinating story. I care about the characters. I want to hang out with the characters. I feel for them, cry with them, cheer for them. And I'm sad when the story's over. Ayn Rand I also like because of her views on the individual-vs-society. And Sebold, Picoult, and Parkhurst do some beautiful things with language.

King, of course, rocks as one of the best story-tellers of all time. Plus his book On Writing is brilliant too.

But back to the story. That, I guess, is everything. Of course.


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Marianne Arkins said...

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Regarding your post: I don't know if I could choose five books. My tastes fluctuate by the moment. The books I have on my "keeper" shelf range from the Dragonriders of Pern and the Valdemar series (for when I crave fantasty), all of Jenny Crusie's stuff, all of Nora's series and a few other misc romances.

I have yet to find a "classic" that I'll read more than once (and even then, I tend to suffer through).

I also have yet to find a literary type novel that I like. I didn't like "The Lovely Bones", couldn't get into "The Kite Runner". I seriously think I don't have a deep bone in my body.

Oh well, someone has to keep buying fluff, right?