Rescue Reads

What have been your rescue reads? These are books that helped you through a difficult time. As a Christian, the Bible is my ultimate rescue read, but I’d like today’s prompt to focus on fiction. What works of fiction rescued you?

Shortly after I was married, moved to a new city, and began looking for a new job, I was dealing with severe anxiety. The funny, domestic stories of Erma Bombeck were able to lift my mind out of its anxious rut and make me smile or laugh. When I’m depressed, I love to lose myself in the humor stories of P.G. Wodehouse. In his unique, wacky world, a character’s biggest worry is getting jailed thirty days for stealing a police man’s helmet or battling the relatives of the girl he loves because they think he doesn’t have enough money. And in P.G. Wodehouse stories, love always triumphs over snobs, cads, and obstructive aunts and guardians.

So what fiction has been your rescue reads?

What Books Did You Fall in Love With the Second Time Around?

What books did you fall in love with second time around? I have read some books that I couldn’t stand, and then after the passage of time, I’ve given them a second chance and fell in love with them.

When I was twenty, I was working my way through classic mysteries. I’d already read Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, and Nero Wolfe, so I decided to try the Father Brown short stories. And I hated them. They seemed so unrealistic, and worse, weren’t fair play mysteries. In most of the stories, Father Brown solves the mystery because of a special insight that the reader had no opportunity to learn.

Twenty years later, I tried them again, although I don’t remember why. And I fell in love with them. I realized that not all mysteries have to follow the fair play formula. The Father Brown stories are more like morality plays or fairy tales for adults with elements of mystery rather than realistic crime stories.

At forty, I could appreciate G.K. Chesterton’s writing better. At his best, Mr Chesterton’s prose has a bounce and rhythm that makes it a breeze to read. I would love to be able to write that well some day.

Let me hear from you. What books did you fall in love with the second time around, maybe after a year or a decade or two had past?

For more bookish questions, click here.

What Makes You Not Finish a Book?

What makes you not finish a book? My reasons come under two headings: content and style. Under content, I quit reading if there’s too much cursing or too much graphic or inappropriate content. I can’t give you any hard and fast rules. I just know that if I’m reading a story and those things make me fed up or revolted, I quit. Also, I can’t stand to read a book where children are in horrible danger or killed. Those plots makes me sick.

Style is entirely different. I usually close a book before the end if I can’t connect with the main character. Often that’s because there’s nothing out of the ordinary about the character. I’ve read about this kind of character a hundred times before. But other times, I quit reading because the characters don’t act like human beings, in that they behave in a way that’s convenient to the plot, not like a person would in reality. Ridiculous plot twists also turn me off. I was reading a mystery from 1938 that used hypnotism as a fairly minor plot point. Any enjoyment I’d derived from reading the book went out the window. I don’t think hypnotism was original or believable even in 1938.

I’d love to hear from you about this topic. What makes not finish a book?

For more reader-related articles, click here.

Do You Read in Time?

Do you read in time? By that, I mean do you read stories in the month or season in which they are set? Most readers have their favorite Christmas and Halloween stories that they reread around those holidays. Since I love mysteries, and for some reason Christmas and mysteries like to hang out for the holiday season, I have tons to choose from.

But I also read stories which are set during non-holiday times. My brother-in-law, for example, reread The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the early spring each year because the Battle of Pelennor Fields, the epic battle at the end of The Return of the King, is fought in March.

I read Watership Down in June because that’s when the story starts. It covers most of the summer with an epilogue in the fall, but I read it in June because the description of nature is so lush that it seems to fit in that month. For the same reason, I read The Time Machine in summer. The Time Traveler travels to the year 802,701. This England of far in the future is experiencing a gold summer so it makes sense to reread it during this season. I read the mystery stories featuring Uncle Abner as the detective in fall because some of my favorite stories from this series are set them, although others are set in other seasons.

I think I like to read in time because it makes me feel closer to the story, like I’m living it with the characters.

Sometimes, I choose to read a book at the same time I discovered it. I took The Father Hunt by Rex Stout with me on our summer vacation a few years ago. It was so wonderful to rediscover this mystery that I packed it again for our next summer vacation and will continue to do so this year. The flip side of that is that bad circumstances can make me dislike a story. I read a Nero Wolfe novella while driving home from visiting my parents during the holiday season. For some reason, I got car sick while my husband drove. The next time I tried to read the novella, that sensation of nausea came over me again. Fortunately, after a space of several years, I could reread the story with no ill effects.

Write in Time

I also tend to write in time. In A Shadow on the Snow, I have pivotal scene occur during a snowstorm on Valentine’s Day and the novel ends on Good Friday. For the next novel in the series, I open on Memorial Day and plan to wrap it up on Father’s Day. Using the holidays as touchstones isn’t something I thought a lot about. Since family is critical to my stories, it makes sense to work in holidays, which are often the most memorable events in the life of a family.

What do you think? Besides reading Christmas stories at the appropriate time, do you read in time?

Book Vs. Movie

Book vs. movie is the age-old–or at least 100 year old–controversy of which art works best for telling a story and if the movie holds true to the book or merely borrows the title and a few characters.

Two excellent movie adaptations of novels are The Outsiders and The Maltese Falcon. Both stick closely to their original books, not adding any scenes or characters. The movie The Maltese Falcon eliminates a minor character, and you would never notice. In movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, some characters were written out and others had their roles beefed up, and the script added scenes not in the books. But no less a fan than my brother-in-law, who was a total Tolkien nut, loved the movies. They still captured the spirit of the books.

Very rarely does the movie improve on the book. Death on the Nile (1978) came up with a much better plot point than the book in which the detective tricks the culprits to reveal themselves.

Of course, there are legions of movie adaptations that the fans of the books hated or at least feel the movie didn’t do their book justice.

So let me hear from you! What’s your opinion of book vs. movie? Which movie adaptations do you love? Which do you hate? What books do you think should be made into movies?

For more bookish prompts, click here.

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