The first and most obvious event was that appeal was the topic of conversation in my RA class at Dominican University on Wednesday night. The students are being asked to think about why they like certain books and don't enjoy others. Besides the most obvious appeal points in a book, things like its pacing, characterization, storyline, frame/setting, tone/mood, and style/language, people have certain things that they will like (or dislike) in any book.
These will be completely individual to each reader and not always evident when conducting the RA interview. This leads to me and the second thing that reminded me of how specific I can be when it comes to what appeals to me personally: my best friend from high school came out from my home state of NJ, sans kids and husband, to spend the weekend.
Her visit also reminded me that as a displaced Jersey girl myself, I have a peculiar appeal, at least peculiar here in Northern Illinois. I will read any book if it features NJ, fiction or nonfiction. It can be totally counter to everything I generally like in a book, but if NJ is featured prominently, I will like it. What can I say, you can take the girl out of Jersey but you can't take the Jersey out of the girl.
In that vein, I thought I would share some of my favorite books that feature the great state of NJ.
- Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence by Michael Capuzzo (nonfiction about the fatal shark attacks at the Jersey Shore in 1916)
- Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson (nonfiction about the discovery of a German U-boat off the coast of NJ)
- The Wishbones Joe College, and Election all by Tom Perrotta (before moving to the Boston area, novelist Perrotta set all of his books in his home state of NJ.)
- Two Guys From Verona by James Kaplan (a remake of Shakespeare in Verona, NJ)
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (the Pulitzer Prize winning novel about a Dominican, speculative fiction fanboy living in NJ)
- The Frank Bascomb Trilogy by Richard Ford (three of my all-time favorite books; click here to see what I thought when I read the concluding novel)
I also love books that feature circuses, baseball, academic settings, and non-battle Civil War books, but those lists are for another time. What about your specific appeals?