Writing a readable book is one thing; writing a page-turner is another.
Writing a book that resonates with the reader, one that strikes a chord deep inside and reverberates with meaning, pulses with purpose, is another step beyond.
I'm reading one of those extraordinary books now. Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
A book about a young, clueless, broken woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Who would have thought she'd be so relatable?
But she is, not only for those of us who have suffered great personal trauma and struggled to pick ourselves up and move forward, but also for those of us who are unsure of who we are and which direction out lives should take. Cheryl is one of those authors who isn't afraid to make herself look bad. And in so doing, she allows her readers, with all of their flaws, to feel pretty good.
It's a skill that can't come easily. The natural tendency of writers is to make ourselves look good. We want to be admired, respected, quoted. Cheryl strips herself down to her core. She reveals herself to be a tempestuous, immature, emotionally fragile, hedonistic young woman who finally decides to do something about it. And although the method she uses to "find" herself is unconventional, and even dangerous, the reader understands and roots for her because, face it, her life had spiraled out-of-control in tornado-like proportions.
Cheryl's ability to flog herself for her mistakes, but at the same time work on setting herself on a straighter path is commendable. Her scene descriptions are apt, and complement her story without overshadowing it. Her physical and personal journeys are memorable and inspirational.
It's a story that will stay with me for a long time. Maybe forever.
Now, that is something.
What book have you read that has that kind of staying power?