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Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Discussion: What's Your Favorite Feeling?

In past Monday Discussions I have asked about people's favorite frames in their reading. Today I have a similar question. What mood, tone, or feeling do you most look for in your leisure reading choices? In other words, how do you want the book you are reading to make you feel?

I realize this question has different answers based on what is going in your life at the moment. For example, I have a patron who normally loves literary fiction and mysteries, but now, she is going through a rough time as her husband was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Both she and those of us at the RA desk who have been helping her to find her next good read for the last 10 years all need to switch gears. Now we are trying to find her "nice," "happy," "easy on the mind and spirit" reads. For the next year or so, this will be her main appeal determination.

But all things being equal, what is your "go to" feeling? Right now? In general? How has it changed over the years?

For me, this is easy. I most enjoy books that make me feel unsettled.When I look back at my favorite books, no matter the genre, when the overall mood and tone of the book is a bit off, I enjoy it more.  For example, three of my favorite classics are Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Twice-Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. The only feature these books share is the unsettling feeling they elicit from the reader.

This mood is not limited to a genre; however, the most common genres it appears in are literary fiction, psychological suspense, and literary fiction. So, it should come as no surprise that these are my favorite genres. I like this mood all of the time, but even more so when I am stressed because the dark and unsettling things in the book are way worse than what is going on in my life. It gives me perspective.

Suspense and mystery have a such a range of moods and tones that it is really imperative that I have a way to assess the book's mood before diving into it.  This is why I spend so much time training librarians and library students to be able to both determine and articulate a book's tone and mood to potential readers. After pacing, I think it is the biggest issue that readers do not articulate a preference for in the casual RA interaction. The librarian must come out and ask the patron what kind of mood they are looking for at that moment. Their answer makes a huge difference in terms of what I would suggest.

So again, I ask you, what is your go-to mood? Right now? In general? How has it changed over the years?

You can also follow past Monday Discussions here.


Anonymous said...

I often like to feel vindicated (i.e. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest)

Jackie, BPL Youth Services said...

Whether a good outcome or bad, I want to care about the characters. I want them to be memorable, distinctive, or life-changing in some way.

My go-to books are those that elicit a feeling of familiarity...a camaraderie if you will. Those are the books that I want to read again and again.

I love books that tell of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. One of my favorites is I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. In essence, I want to feel some connection to the character.

erikawong said...

Currently I'm into the theme of love, of social justice, of humanity. Any story that brings out the good in us, to make me want to be a kinder person, more compassionate. "The Help" does that. It speaks to people's sense of right and wrong.