Monday, January 11, 2010

For Keeps

I have a sweater.  A black turtleneck, nothing special about it except that it has been washed so many times that the synthetic is as smooth as silk.  The sweater is old but it’s like a chameleon.  It fits everywhere for every occasion, under a business suit, over jeans.  Comfortable enough for long days of travel and great for lounging around in.  It’s a keeper. 

The topic of keepers has come up quite a bit this week.  First with a contest I’m holding where part of the prize package will be a few books I think of as keepers. And the term keeper came up again with Michelle Moran's "Cleopatra's Daughter" who I featured this week on my blog.  And that made me think, what makes a keeper?

Well in clothes we know it's comfort and versatility and maybe something more.  Maybe it's a memory the piece might be attached to or maybe it's survived through the majority of your adulthood and there's a certain loyalty in that.  Can one feel loyalty to clothes? 

And what about books? I love to read but truly the majority of books don’t make the keeper shelves.  I might keep them but I may never recommend them or take them out for that second read. So what makes a keeper?

The first thing about a keeper is that they stand out from the pack.  There’s something unique about every one of them.  And often there's something to be learned, a lesson to be taken away.  Many  of them cut to the heart of an emotion or force us to look clearly at issues.  They take the reader so deeply into the pages of the story that there's no doubt that this is real.  We taste, smell and feel the characters' emotions and can't help but cheer for them. There's something about the story that imprints itself so that you find yourself thinking about it long after you finish that last page.  It's the book whose end is met with that feeling of regret and the wish that you had read slower and savoured each word.  There's magic to a keeper and that's not easy to pinpoint or define.

So back to my original point - what makes a keeper?  Could it be as simple as they touch a nerve?

What books do you consider keepers?  

The contest for Michelle Moran’s, "Cleopatra's Daughter" is still running. Commenting here or anywhere on my blog counts as an entry. Post often through January 17 to up your chances to win. 
But to make things easier for me, if you’re responding to an older post, please enter the title.
Good Luck!


audrey said...

i have always been fascinated with Cleopatra and archaeology and would love to win this!

Judy said...

I have so many keepers!! I guess the majority of my keepers are based on the author. There are alot (more than my pocket book should allow) of authors that I try to read everything they write :) I read and love so many genres of romance. I do find quite often a new author that peeks my interest on a certain genre. The story has to keep my attention, with good plots, great characters, and I like happy endings !!

Ryshia Kennie said...

Audrey - It's a fascinating era and I bet a good read! I'm starting with some of Michelle's older works and working my way forward.

Judy - That's interesting that the majority of your keepers are based on author. I used to do that, still do to a certain extent, but I do notice that in recent years many of my keepers are more random and I'm not sure why. Hmmm.

buddyt said...

Keepers, Oh Dear !

I am one of those people who keeps just about every book I have ever received. My bookcases have grown until now I have 8 !

Eventually, about every 5 years or so, I make a decision to get rid of some of the books by selling, donating or just giving them away, which works for awhile but then I discover a new book in a series I read years ago and enjoyed and of course I then have to go and try and find new copies of all the older books in the series that I do not remember so well.

I think with books I just have to live in a Catch 22 situation where them end up breeding faster than rabbbits on Viagra !

LAMusing said...

pretty much ny book by Isabella Allende is a keeper for me - I love magical realism - just the words themselves are wonderful "magical" "realism"

I Want That! said...

I have been trying to get ah old of this to read.

Ryshia Kennie said...

buddyt - Thanks for the laugh. I can completely related. While I try to follow the keeper rule of "that was one of the best books I've read in a long time." There's all those other books that need to be kept for other reasons too numerous to mention.

LaMusing - thanks for the author tip - not much help on the weight of the keeper shelves though :)! and I may be muttering magical realism for the rest of the day - I love that phrase :) :)

I Want That - Great handle - very straight forward. I'm looking forward to reading "Cleopatra's Daughter" too. I imagine it will be just as richly steeped in history and the characters as vibrant as the books that preceded it.

wendy said...

A keeper for me is a book that I not only read but become a part of..

madamerkf at aol dot com

purango said...

I always find myself wanting a book after I have given it away. Sometimes I can't find the book again. Some of the books I keep turn out to be ones that I wish i had not keot.

memetu said...

The legend of Cleopatra made me a history buff. Cleopatra's remains have never been found.

kcatlin said...

Books with a favorite character makes it a keeper to me.

Ryshia Kennie said...

kcatlin - That's interesting that it only needs to be one character.

Ryshia Kennie said...

Purango - maybe you need to let the the book sit for a while after you've read it. Then if you find yourself thinking about it weeks later you know it's a keeper.

Memetu - That's fascinating stuff. I didn't know they never found her remains.