by Lisa V. McCrey
Grub Street Fiction Reader
Blogger, Text Teaser Book Blog
A Professor asked her class, “Write on the white board your favorite books.” There was a rush to grab dry erase markers as the students all filed to the board to write down their favorite titles. Some were considered “the classics” that we all have read during our school careers, while others were obscure titles that not many have read or heard of. There was even some poetry written on the board. The Professor then asked her class, “Which of these would you consider literature?” Not as many people rushed to the board for this task. This required a little more thought. As I sat there analyzing the books I chose to write on the white board, I noticed that all three of the titles I listed had one thing in common, the stories reached me emotionally. As a huge fan of the fiction genre, I believe great writing should make you feel something. Whether it is anger, sadness, depression, an overwhelming sense of happiness or all of the above, an author should be able to connect with their readers on more than a surface level.
The first book I wrote on the white board that day was author Kim Holden’s The Bright Side. The story was written in such a way that I felt I was a part of the character’s lives, experiencing the same feelings, having the same thoughts.
The second book I listed on the white board was Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The topics covered in this story written over 30 years ago are still prevalent and relevant today. The social tensions, marital discourse, the love of a sister and the bond between friends are all relatable topics to most people.
The third and final book I placed on the white board that day was a book of poems by Shel Silverstein titled, Where the Sidewalk Ends. Another book from my childhood that brings on feelings of overwhelming happiness. I can still remember every single line from the poem, Crocodile’s Toothache.
As I looked over my list a second time, I realized it was what the book made me feel. It made me feel 7 years old again, a time when the only thing that mattered was if my mom had bought me the My Little Pony folder I so desperately required to make it in the second grade.
This, I believe, is what makes literary fiction great. The author’s ability to write a story so well-crafted that you become engrossed in it and feel like you are a part of the story. It is what makes little boys want to be wizards like Harry Potter, and girls fall in love with men like Heathcliff. It’s what makes us laugh, cry or even throw a book across the room. It’s what makes Hollywood adapt books into movies. It’s why some books live with us forever.
The image above is "Flight" by Gillian Collins.