Thursday, August 12, 2010

That's so touching!

It's a common word to use when describing a book. In fact, it's not a rare word in my vocabulary at all. But what makes a book touching? What makes it have such an effect on its readers? Why does it make us feel certain emotions while other book do nothing of the sort?

I'm not one of those people who cry very easily, but there have been a few books in the past where I couldn't contain myself. The most recent I can think of was The Kite Runner. I don't think I've ever felt that sad while reading a book before. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, so I'll only say this: one character was so, so loyal to someone who mistreated him, and it was so hearbreaking to read.

The author's talent has a huge role to play in this. Some people have the ability to, with so few words, make you feel emotions that are so complex and so real that you cannot identify them - you only know they're there. Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner, had this power on me. I'm sure not everyone would be as strongly affected as I was, but the fact remains. When you think about it, it's unbelievable! All there is in front of you is a page with some two-dimensional words on it, yet the things that you are capable of feeling are so true, and are triggered by what you read.

Whether it's the words, the plot, the characters, or something else, many books have the ability to touch us and change us. I think this is one of the most interesting and important aspects of reading - feelings something that wasn't there before. And it supports the common thought that authors can be some of the most talented people on earth!

What makes a book touching for you? Is it the sheer power of the language, or is it something else? What are some books you've read that have made a lasting impression on you?

21 comments:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I think what always gets me is my ability to relate to a character :)

GREAT question!

Adriana said...

I'm one of those who cries really easily when I read a sad book. The Book Thief is one that just thinking about makes me sad and it's a book that really stuck with me even though I've read it months ago. In my opinion, the characters, setting, and all the events that take place makes The Book Thief an unforgettable and touching story.

I'll definitely have to read The Kite Runner, since it does sound like one of those books that makes an impact.

Nymeth said...

Hmm... the language definitely helps, but it's rarely that alone. Mostly it's the situation being portrayed that I find moving, or a particular imagine, or the feelings it conveys. Of course, all of that depend on the writing, as that's the only thing the writer has to work it.

Marce said...

Touching is a word I know I use in my reviews. I love when an author takes me on an emotional journey it can be sadness, anger, excitement etc but I know touching for me means the story humbled me or made me relate to something I am passionate about.

Still Alice would be the most touching story I have read. It is about Alzeimers and my father has it so it touched me in that way.

Aths said...

I like it when a book makes me feel that. All that range of emotions. I'd say the author's writing style is the most important factor for me. I have read "sad" books and not shed tears. I agree with Marce about Still Alice - to date that is the book that made me cry the most.

Gregory @ Teens Read and Write said...

I cry pretty easily so i'll stay away from the kite runner. Thanks for the tip :)

P.S. I'll read it soon

Jan von Harz said...

Definitely my ability to be a part of the story and the characters, which is certainly how the author writes that allows me to become so involved.

I can still remember crying as I read Bridge to Terabithia to my son.

Fantastic post. Thanks

Whitney said...

I've been know to be an ice princess (must be the German blood in me). But The Book Thief made we cry both times I read it. I think bonding with the characters is really important.

Alison said...

Books that touch me in a depressed way are books about grief, illness, death, etc. Books that touch me in a way that make me truly treasure them are often about family, friends, and devoted romantic relationships.
Alison Can Read

Melody said...

Hi there...visiting from the Hop. There have been a few times when the language alone has really hit me--apart from any connection to characters or story. I love that.

Beth said...

I cry at pretty much anything...especially these days with pregnancy hormones running rampant through me...but that being said I have sobbed, full on with tears running down my face while reading The Notebook, Still Alice, and Marley and Me.

Beverly said...

Hey - just hoppin' by! Hope you have a great weekend! Stop by The Wormhole and say hi!

John Smith said...

Hi,

I found your blog through the Book Blogger Hop. I took a look around and thought that your blog is great! So I decided to follow you. Come check out my blog as well: http://johnsmithbooks.blogspot.com/

Warmest regards,
John Smith

nymfaux said...

Happy Friday!!!--Stopping by from the hop!--I'm a new follower

Stories touch me when I get wrapped up in everything--the adventure, the characters, the struggle--And when it all comes together, then it hits me just right!

(\__/)
http://nymfaux.blogspot.com/

Jon said...

Just hopped by to say "hi." I don't get emotional very often when I'm reading, but if I have somehow deeply connected with a character, I can get a little teary-eyed sometimes. I always cry when Thorin Oakenshield dies.

Emidy said...

Juju - Oh, I agree! When you have empathy for a character, the book is so much more powerful.

Adriana - I really, really want to read The Book Thief! I tried to find it in the library but they didn't have it. I'll read it someday...

Nymeth - Exactly. It all comes down to writing! But, of course, there are other things that help to create the feeling.

Marce - Oh, I've heard of that book! I should check it out. I agree with everything you said.

Aths - Yes, writing is so critical! I need to read Still Alice. It seems like it's highly recommended!

Gregory - If you cry easily, be prepared to shed a lot of tears when you read The Kite Runner!

Jan - Thank you! That's so true - when you feel like you're a part of the story, it makes all the emotions more powerful.

Whitney - So true. I've got to find The Book Theif in the library! Or, from the sounds of it, I should probably buy a copy.

Alison - Interesting! There are different types of touching books, for sure.

Melody - Thanks for stopping by! That's happened to me, too. Certain authors are so talented!

Beth - Aw, I haven't read Marley and Me! I own it, though. You've made me want to pick it up, despite all the crying!

Beverly - Thanks for stopping by! I'll visit your blog.

John - Wow, thanks a lot! I'll take a look at your blog for sure.

nymfaux - Thanks for visiting and following! What you said is so true. When all the elements of a good book are put together, the result is wonderful!

Jon - Thanks for hopping by! I don't get really emotional either, but I can't contain myself with certain books.

Stephanie said...

Lovely post and a great question! For me there is a fine line between a book (like The Kite Runner) being truly touching and my feeling emotionally manipulated. It think part of the difference stems from -- as you said -- the ability to provoke complex emotions with a few words.

Elle said...

For me, a book is touching if it has reduced me to tears, or opened up a new perspective. My most recent read that was truly touching was What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson. Not what you'd expect from a sci-fi/fantasy novel, but it slaps you across the face with this revolutionary idea about soul mates and afterlife, you really begin thinking differently. I cried after reading that book. :)

You always open up with the best discussion questions, Emidy! Keep it up. I've yet to read The Kite Runner, but I'll be sure to keep a box of tissues by my side when I do so. :D

nymfaux said...

@Elle--Have you see the movie of What Dreams May Come?--It's one of the few movies that I couldn't really get into, and I'm curious how closely it relates to the book

Elle said...

Nymfaux - Nope, I haven't. I heard that they toned down the more technical details of the book for the movie to make it more of a 'romance' though. I'd say give the book a go - it's worth reading for the ending. :)

nymfaux said...

@Elle --thanks! your comments definitely made me intrigued, and now I'm super curious about the ending...I'll put it on my tbr list ;)