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Why *DO* certain books stick with us like very old friends?


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Posted on 18 Nov 2012 11:49:11 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Nov 2012 11:51:07 GMT
monica says:
I think I don't understand this because I'm not sure how 'engaging' is meant--Frank, is an engaging book one that makes the reader think, or one that transfixes one's attention, or one that arouses emotion, or something else altogether? Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2012 13:42:51 GMT
Anita says:
Not sure if that is fact or legend, or something inbetween, but story goes like this: Lem was invited to the set, and at some point he screamed: it's not what I wrote! - and left in fury. Anyway, luckily for us, now we have a very good book, and a very good, albeit different, film.

Re brothers Strugatsky you should have in mind where and when they lived and wrote. Lots of things they could not say directly. Some of their publications were delayed (etc.). That's the reason of some datedness in their books, but then you might see things differently than I.

If you can find it, I'd suggest to try their "Inhabited Island", I think it's translated into English. (I never read it it either in English or in Russian, but I do know that the translation we have is *really* good.) It's a good book, but a lot of things are written in what we called "Aesopian language" if that makes sense.

Hmm... Inhabited Island in fact is this one:
Prisoners of Power

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoners_of_Power )

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2012 18:29:51 GMT
Frank Mundo says:
Yeah, I'm using it as "engaging" the intellect or challenging the reader with its special attention given to language, themes, characters, message, meaning, art, passion, understanding. Not just a guilty pleasure or light read or something for the airplane or waiting in line or strictly for entertainment, but something that requires a bit of effort to read, your full attention, analysis, critical thinking.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2012 20:10:59 GMT
gille liath says:
I suppose no two of us are going to agree on exactly which books are the classics. Maybe it then comes back to the earlier point about personal relevance.

William Brown = 'Just William'? I used to read those, in fact I wanted to be him when I was about 7. Afraid I don't remember the silver library though...

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2012 20:13:31 GMT
gille liath says:
I don't know whether I mean exactly the same as Frank, but can I put it this way: it means a book that you feel brings you nearer to the reality of life (in an experiential, not factual sense) rather than, as MJ said earlier, at a distance from it.

Posted on 18 Nov 2012 20:36:56 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Nov 2012 20:38:24 GMT
monica says:
By both definitions some of the most engaging books I've read, & some of those that have stayed with me longest, have been non-fiction ones , , , ,

which made me wonder (idly) whether perhaps the more influential (upon the reader) a non-fiction book, the more likely it is to be a good one & the more influential a fiction book the more likely it is to be at best mediocre. (It was thinking about remark re getting closer to 'the reality of life' in relation to fiction--someone reading a novel and feeling illuminated e.g. that set me off.) Ayn Rand comes to mind.--and Werther, Sorrows of Young, wasn't all that good a book . . . . Nah, probably not.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2012 20:42:41 GMT
gille liath says:
:)

I don't think I agree, but i was thinking of fiction only.

I bought Werther at a book fair a couple of years ago. It's a good example of a book for which, in terms of life stages, I have decisively missed the boat.

Is Mark MJ? You see (like the two Englishmen on the desert island), we haven't been properly introduced...

Posted on 18 Nov 2012 20:57:16 GMT
monica says:
I don't know whether I agree either as haven't thought it out. Wondering about larger influence as well--Uncle Tom's Cabin e.g., again not great. Thomas Paine, good writer. (Did faux-medieval Aesthetic dress derive from Pre-Raphaelite paintings? If so, not just writing: again, cultural influence noticable, art rubbish.) 'MJ' 'M' =' Mr.' 'Mark' = German currency unit.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2012 21:00:37 GMT
gille liath says:
Well, that's as clear as mud.

Maybe it depends on what you mean by influenza.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2012 21:08:33 GMT
monica says:
Sorry. Uncle Tom's Cabin a potboiler that apparently played huge part in turning US public against slavery. Paine books, essays, influential upon 18th-century revolutionaries. You knew the latter anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2012 21:11:38 GMT
gille liath says:
No, I meant the part abt 'Mark'. :)

But you've since amended to 'remark', anyway.

Posted on 19 Nov 2012 16:30:00 GMT
M. Dowden says:
It's funny how tastes change over the years. I saw reviews recently for 'The Last of the Mohicans'. Now, I know it does wander a bit here and there, but the main complaint by people seems to be the writing style. Also as a lot of the old classics were originally serialised before being published in book form they have cliff hangers, or 'hooks' that aren't relevant to us, as we get books nowadays straight away as novels. I'd agree with monica with regards to 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', it was hugely influential and helped sway public opinion at the time, but if it was published today it would have to be self-published as companies wouldn't accept that style of writing. As for 'The Sorrows of Young Werther', I love the book, but am always amazed that it led to a 'suicide cult'.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Nov 2012 17:48:50 GMT
M. Jolliff says:
Gille, I did not say that the books distance me from reality. Far from it, by being set at a distance they bring aspects into a clearer view and hence enable me to engage with my experiential reality with a greater degree of success than otherwise. But I require that distance to shall we say, cast a degree of doubt on the total validity of the writing so that my critical faculties are sufficiently engaged to sift the wheat from the chaff of the authors imaginings. Reality I find so obvious that my critical faculties often shut down leading me into poorly judged actions.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Nov 2012 19:45:36 GMT
gille liath says:
Okay; I was slightly foisting meaning onto you there. :)

But I do think that's the function genre books in general perform.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Nov 2012 21:46:35 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Nov 2012 21:47:33 GMT
monica says:
Can't remember whether you've mentioned reading Twain's essay on Fenimore Cooper--but if you haven't, look about for it. First thing I ever read that made me laugh till I cried . . . (Think it's called 'Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses'.)

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Nov 2012 21:54:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Nov 2012 21:54:55 GMT
monica says:
Great post--thanks. If asked, please don't explain thinking behind it, as teasing it out will occupy me in moments between diplomatic negotiations in Azerbaijan, trouble-shooting Milano 2013 shows (Stella MacC. can be *so* obstreperous) and writing my kindle trilogy. (Sincere, not sarky. First bit, anyway.)

Posted on 20 Nov 2012 07:57:56 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Nov 2012 08:27:33 GMT
Ian Scott says:
My own personal 'why' is that the book has a truth that connects with something deep inside. It could be a belief, a long held wish, or a personal reality.

A big reason why I like 'Islands in the Stream' is that I want to be Thomas Hudson living in that house on the beach on Bimini. He's a painter. I'd be a writer.
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  11
Total posts:  67
Initial post:  15 Nov 2012
Latest post:  20 Nov 2012

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