When I talk about a book that I really enjoy, that makes me think, I say, “This resonated with me.” If something is resonant, it’s something that resounds or echoes. So, I guess when I think about a book that really moves me, I think it has what I call “emotional resonance.” I thought about this recently when I was reading By the Book in the New York Times, and the question posed to Peggy Noonan was: “What kind of reader were you as a child? What authors and books stick most in your mind?”
This is a two-part question: What kind of reader were you as a child? and What authors and books stick most in your mind? It’s the second question that made me think of the emotional resonance of books. Noonan’s response to the question included her saying, “I remember thinking something like, ‘Books are so good you cry when they end.’ This made me a reader for the rest of my life.”
I completely understand this. While I don’t really remember specific books from my childhood having a huge impact, I can think of ones I’ve read in the last 15-20 years that have. I don’t always cry at the end of a book, but I might choke up in the middle of one. Margaret Atwood’s book Cat’s Eye is one of those books. And Memoirs of an Invisible Friend by Matthew Dicks got me all choked up. Other books are ones that I just simply like, enough to read and then re-read, and then buy my own copy, and re-read. I wore out my first paperback copy of The Stand by Stephen King. I had to replace my copies of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.
So, comments are welcome. Any books that have emotional resonance for you?