THE NIGHT CIRCUS, by Erin Morgenstern
I finished this book, turned to page 1 and started reading again, which is what I do with books that can teach me something about writing, but are too engrossing to read slowly and with a technical eye the first time through.
It's not easy to define what lifts a book off the page and into your soul. Books get called "magical" all the time, whether or not they are about magic, which this one happens to be. It's a good word because it describes something basically undefinable - a shifting, elusive quality that is different for every person (which, on an unrelated note, is the reason that getting an agent to pick up your book is such a subjective process. What one agent / reader loves is different from what will move another. Can you tell I'm a little obsessed with agent querying right now?) It's a process very similar to the attraction between two people. You might go gaga over some schlub, and I might stand next to you and wonder what the hell you see in him, until the same thing happens to me with some other schlub, and you're the one standing next to me shaking your head. My sister, for example, picked up this book and put it down. Different strokes.
And yet... a lot of people have fallen in love with THE NIGHT CIRCUS. Why? For me, the true magic of this book is how devastatingly simply it is written, despite it's fanciful subject matter. How much the author accomplishes with startlingly simple language. It's a stunningly visual book, and not just visual but sensual in all possible ways. And yet, if you bore down to the level of language, the writing is simple, clear, precise. When the author means something is wet, she says it's wet. When something is red, it's red, and not carmine, crimson, or vermillion. It is precisely this simplicity that gives the book its power, its immediacy, and its ability to attach itself to to your heart. And it's very much a book ABOUT this process of losing yourself in a dream that is both public and private.
It is a book about art.
YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY, by Steph Cha