Friday, August 26, 2011

The Alchemy of a Good Book

I love the word alchemy. It’s one of my favorite words actually, and I’m pretty sure one day I’ll either have a character who’s an alchemist or a book title named that in some fashion. So what is alchemy exactly, and how does it relate to books?

Here’s one definition of alchemy I found:
any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.

All books are valuable, I think. But a book’s true value is in its enjoyment. Not everyone likes the same thing, so of course, not everyone enjoys the same books. What you find icky might get me all hot and bothered, or vice versa. But to me, it requires a certain alchemy for a writer to compose a story and a reader to find such resonance in letters on a page that they cry, or laugh, or get turned on – or maybe even all three! That’s definitely magic. To be transported from whatever your life’s circumstances are to another place, maybe another time, and for you to walk in the shoes of, powerful stuff.

When you get sucked into a story, sometimes you stop seeing the parts. You don’t see an author’s clunky sentences or how the hero’s eyes were blue on pg. 10 but now they’re green on pg. 30. You believe in the story this author has crafted. Writers are readers first, and I know I definitely wanted to give the gift of belief to someone else with my books. It’s such an amazing thing, and rare too, because all too often the alchemy doesn’t happen. You’re NOT sucked in for whatever reason, and you just don’t buy into the world the author’s created. But when you are...gosh, it's just like falling in love. You don't see the flaws, you only see the good things.

I just finished Just My Type by Erin Nicholas. It's my second book of hers and I've loved them both. What's the latest book you've loved?


Eileen said...

I just finished reading three books by Jennifer Ashley, her McKenzie bros. series. Absolutely fantastic reads of intrigue, suspense, and romance. Her second book, Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage, is my favorite! I don't remember exact parts in the books but the way it made me feel all mushy inside stayed with me for awhile. I love it when books do that to me. That to me is what makes a good book.

Harlie Williams said...

Actually it was a beta read that I just finished for an author. It was a complete switch for her and I'm very proud of her and the book. The second best book right now is The Seduction of the Billionaire by Kate Carlisle. Its a Harlequin Desire that I would have bought regardless of the publisher. Very well written with characters that I liked from the first page to the last page.

Harlie Williams said...

I think that for a book to good it needs to have a great plot/premise, interesting characters that we care about and some tension within the story.

Plus, I like it when there are real emotions and a gradual build up with the couple.

Call me strange but there you have it.

Jen B. said...

I won a book on Goodreads. It was a book that I would have never purchased but the description so intrigued me that I entered the contest. I loved it. I laughed. I wondered what would happen next. By the end, I couldn't put it down. It's called Sisters of the Sari by Brenda L. Baker. I was a wonderful surprise!

Taryn Elliott said...

Well, this one's all your fault...Hearts in Darkness, Laura Kaye.

I gulped that down at work when I wasn't supposed to and didn't even take out my dog before I had the thing open this morning.
SO, SO, SO good.

And yes...Alchemy is a VERY good word. Reminds me of my Beauty and the Beast days. ;)

Janice Seagraves said...

I've been reading God Stalk by P.D. Hodgell. It's high fantasy that occurs on another planet.

I've read it five or six times and it takes a lot for me to reread a book, so it has to be good. But during this last read through, I realized that the author head hops. I was so completely sucked into this world before that I didn't even notice.