Of the last three books I’ve read, I’ve had such varying reactions that I’ve been thinking about what makes me love a book. The best explanation I can give is that I love a book that completely consumes me and makes me forget where and who I am for a time and takes me to a place I’d rather be with people I wish I knew. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski was such a book for me. I didn’t like the ending, but since I’ve made a vow to myself never to recap plot, I won’t explain much except to say that I never like endings about death. The two other books I’ve read lately I liked less. The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer I found diverting at best. I didn’t dislike it and will read another book by her when I am in the mood to be entertained mindlessly. Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick I found to be underdeveloped. It felt thrown together or unfinished to me. I liked the premise of the book and the plot points, but it felt like an outline of a plot that could have been a great book with some character development and more extension of the story.
It’s been several days since I finished Edgar Sawtelle, and I find myself missing the characters and places of the novel. That’s what makes a book one of my favorites. When it’s over, I miss being in the midst of it. A quote from the book explains best this feeling of connectedness that I miss when it’s gone: “On those nights, he felt connected to something ancient and important he couldn’t name” (p 11). We can consider ourselves lucky every day we are allowed to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. Literature isn’t the only path to this oneness even for me, but it is one of the ways I remember, at a deep-seated, not completely rational level, that I am participating in the history of humanity just by virtue of being alive.