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The reason I read so much is to try to capture the feelings I get when I read that one gem, the one where you feel you know the characters so well it is heartbreaking to lay down the pages.
The one where, when I put it down, I am changed, I think more, I am moved.
There are stories I enjoy. I like most of the books I read; if I don’t like them in the first 50 or 100 pages I will give up and put it down. But there is something different about a story that tugs on your heart, that makes you cry or even sob, that makes you sure if you traveled to their town you might see the characters walking down the street—if the author has chosen to let them stay alive!
I’ve just, for the third time, finished A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. While sometimes I forget to list it on my “all-time favorites,” it is without a doubt the book—other than the Bible—that has the most emotional pull for me. It puts me in a daze.
While I read it, I am in Gravesend, New Hampshire … I am growing up with John and Owen … it is almost a scary sort of trance. And now, finished, I want to cry over my life for not being so heroic. I am angry at myself for not reading the sort of books John teaches to 16- and 17-year-olds, real literature. I wish I could write with the immense power of forethought Irving has. I wish my faith were more refined.
And yet, somehow there has to be a wake up and face the music moment. Where I am just me, I have to go to the fabric store this afternoon and cook dinner and wonder what it is I would change about my life. I have to be my own protagonist.
What book has had the most emotional impact on you?
Originally published January 19, 2008.