I once read a post by Meg Cabot where she said that there are two types of readers: those who read to escape and those who read to relate. Now, I don't know if she's the first person to say this or if it came from somewhere else (this post was years ago), but it really struck a chord with me. Because I am definitely in the second camp; I've always always always read to relate. To understand others, understand myself, see my own feelings and actions reflected in stories that have nothing to do with me. This is a big part of the reason I'm so drawn to contemporary stories -- I like seeing myself in the books I read.
Recently I reread a favorite of mine, Sara Zarr's novel, Sweethearts. I've heard it referred to as a romance but, to my mind at least, it's definitely not that. But it is a love story. It's about the people who are so much a part of you it's impossible to separate yourself from them, the people you love more than anyone and for reasons that aren't entirely clear. It's about unbreakable, often unexplainable, bonds. And I adore this book not only because of how brilliantly it's written, but also because that feeling of love and connection is something I can relate to, something I know so well.
And Sweethearts captured it perfectly, explaining it so much better than I was ever able to.
There are other books, as well, that sit beside my heart and feel so incredibly personal. Almost as if they'd been written with me in mind. And that's the crazy thing about writing, about books and the authors behind them. It continues to amaze me, in spite of how much I read and how much I know about writing and authors and publishing and books, that these stories can hold so much power. The power to help a person realize something about themselves or someone they love or the life they lead. It amazes me how great and powerful and personal a novel can become to a reader. And to the authors who write these books, all of my favorites, all of the ones that have spoken to me, a million thank yous. Unfortunately, it would take so much space to list you all.