When I’m not trying to beat the WOD clock or shoveling delicious dino-chow into my paleo-pie hole, I mostly like to lose myself in a book.
My preference is, generally, a long story (300+ pages make me weep with joy); told in the first person, past tense (Although I’ll also take an omniscient, third-person narrator in past tense. ALWAYS past tense. I need my narrators to have time to reflect before telling me their stories.); set in a place or time far removed from my daily life; with some kind of mystery and, potentially, romance involved. If there are Nazis getting what’s coming to them, spies being cunning, or people of any age “finding their true selves,” I am, as they say, ALL IN. You can mostly keep your small, relfective, slice-of-life novels – I like meandering tales – with a smattering of adventure – that take me somewhere new and introduce me to people I’m not likely to meet in real life.
So… that’s what will get a book into my hands.
To be added to my list of favorites, a book has to fulfill all of the above AND supply The Moment.™
A Brief History of Moments
In Jane Eyre, The Moment is when Rochester stops Jane on the stairs and demands to know why she looks like she’s about to cry (knowing full well why she’s about to cry and also knowing full well that he’s the cause of it. Cur! Cad!). In Dick Francis novels, I find myself nodding in agreement and admiration as the stand-up guy protagonist silently gives himself advice – advice that usually means he’s going to suffer physically or emotionally, but will, ultimately, be better for it.
I distinctly remember The Moment in The Historian. I was reading it for the first time and a sentence made me gasp out loud. GASP! What a thrill of surprise and delight! Also packed full of Moments is The Book Thief. It’s pretty much my perfect book, based on the description above: a strong protagonist, Nazis, first-person AND third-person omniscient narrators, love, loss, redemption… full of Moments.
I’m having a similar experience with Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. I’m exactly halfway through it, and I’ve found myself gasping aloud, and muttering, “That did NOT just happen.” It’s delightful. Full of delight. And slippery chills. And spooky photos. And a teenage protagonist that makes me feel both young and old. And a foggy setting on an isolated island in Wales.
I’m reading it too fast because the pages practically turn themselves, but I want to slow down so it won’t be over so soon.
If you’re curious about Miss Peregrine, you can read a first chapter at the Quirk books site. It won’t ruin anything, I promise. I read the first two chapters before it was released, and they convinced me I had to know the whole story. So far, the book has definitely lived up to the magical promise of those first two chapters. And here’s an L.A. Times piece about the photography that adds the extra spine tingles to the story. Finally, Ransom Riggs site is right here with news… there’s going to be a sequel (!).
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