Happy March! How quickly is this year just disappearing?
Last week, I blogged about book covers which lead to a discussion with a friend on Twitter about how deciding on a book in a bookstore is a bit like falling in love. People who say they don't judge books by their covers is a bit like those who say personality is more important than looks. While I do agree with both of these statements in the long term, I think there needs to be a caveat on them because I believe that there has to be an initial "spark".
When it comes to falling for a person, this spark may not necessarily be ignited by conventional good looks, it could just be an coy smile, intriguing eyes or a . The book cover is this initial attraction, something about the cover calls the attention of the reader. It might be the picture, but it might not. Maybe it's the title. It could even be the author's name--especially if it's an author you've read before and loved.
What happens after that first spark of interest? From there, it is time to start the courting process. When it comes to falling in love, this comes in the form of dates, phone calls or maybe even some not-so-subtle flirting whenever you run into one another. For a book, the courting continues with the back cover copy/blurb. Just like the most attractive person in the world won't hold someone's interest long-term if they're not good to be around, the prettiest cover in the world won't draw someone who hates high fantasy epics to read Lord of the Rings.
Finally comes the long term attraction. In love, this is the "relationship" stage. This can last a few months or a few years, or--if you are really lucky--a lifetime. The mirror of this in the book selection process is the reading of the words and the story contained within. A good story will hold the readers interest to the end. A great one will linger for a while after the book has been finished. Sometimes, if a reader is really lucky, they'll find a book that will stay with them throughout the rest of their life. They'll read that favorite book that can be picked up and read over and over, or that changes their life in some meaningful way.
There are exceptions to this process of course, there are blind dates (and their counterpart in books - recommendations from friends), online dating (Amazon and Goodreads recommendations) and a whole range of other methods of falling in love.
Of course the one good thing about falling in love with books is that you can do it again and again. The old books never get jealous. Even if you leave your old favorite for years, it'll still be there steady and constant as ever when you come back to it. In fact, re-reading it at a different stage in your life can sometimes enhance the richness of the experience.
I have a number of books which I fell hard for, for a number of reasons. Some of these I'll re-read over and over, some I remember fondly and don't want to revisit just in case it changes my perception/memory of the book.
How about you, what are your old faithfuls?