“I like paintings that make me long to walk into them.” – Pierre-Auguste Renoir
(Note: I can’t actually find this quote on the internet. I copied it down from seeing it at some museum. I believe I was in Amsterdam, but I could be wrong. So this could be inaccurate, but I love it, so I’m using it.)
I know it’s clichéd or whatever to have Impressionism be your favorite art movement, but I’m owning up to it.
I love the way the Impressionists thought. They liked picnicking and sailing and watching little girls play the piano and sitting on hillsides while the sunlight played on haystacks. And so they made art around what they liked to do. They created things they wanted to walk into.
I have a somewhat eclectic taste in books. But all my favorites have one thing in common: I want to climb inside of them and live there.
I want to attend Hogwarts (still waiting for my letter). I want to be best friends with Meg Murry and Hazel Grace Lancaster. I want to move into Whitethorn House. I want to travel to Guernsey. I want to steal books with Liesel. No matter how many terrible things happen in the story (and the more, the better—no one likes a boring story), I want to be a part of it.
I thought at first it was the fantastic setting (who doesn’t want to live in a house with a bunch of peculiar children and a headmistress who can turn into a bird?) but some of these books take place in horrible places where nothing but horrible things happen, and I still love them (ahem, Westeros. If I had to live there I’d hang out in Dorne drinking wine and remaining uninvolved in all politics for the duration of the series). So that’s not it.
It’s the characters. Who they are, what they do, the way they inhabit these worlds. I just want to be a part of that.
I’m a big re-reader. My favorite books are places I return to again and again.
There are some beautifully-written books out there that don’t make my favorites list because after reading them I want to get as far away from them as possible. You know, books like 1984 that make you want to keep them in the freezer. Or Audrey Niffenager’s second novel Her Fearful Symmetry (beautiful prose, such creepy characters!). I love Stephen King but haven’t made it through all his books because I am not a horror fan (I realize that’s an oxymoronic sentence, but read these two books and tell me you don’t love King, too). I’m just not sure all the gore would give me that “let me inside your world!” sensation that for me, makes a favorite a favorite.
This applies to my writing too. I write about worlds I want to enter, characters I want to know. And hopefully, characters you want to know, too.
Do all your favorite stories have something in common? What is it?