Saturday, September 8, 2012

In The Mood


Here comes some rambling thoughts. See, the other day...or week. I was reading a post over at Must Love Books. It was a review of a Girl of Nightmares which unfortunately didn't quite do it for her. Not because it was a bad book but because she thought her setting just didn't mesh well with what was happening in the book. You can check out her post if you'd like. You should because it's what inspired this post.

She mentioned that the first book in the series, Anna Dressed in Blood, was read during a thunderstorm on a dark night. The perfect setting for the book. It got me thinking about our settings and if it could effect our like or dislike of a book.  I'm fairly certain it can. I read the book Stolen by Lucy Christopher on a crowded, noisy plane that I couldn't quite get into because I was too distracted. I like the book but a different setting and I might have loved it.

Another experience has convinced me once and for all. Let me explain.I don't get scared easily. I actually go to horror movies not to be scared but to have a good laugh. Scary books just aren't scary, and that strange noise in the other room doesn't evoke fear but annoyance that something is probably broken. So when I tell you that the only book or movie that has ever actually scared me was Stephen King's Salem's Lot, you would think, "wow, that must be one scary book." But the truth is, it wasn't THAT scary, it was the setting  I was reading it in. Let me elaborate. I was reading at night in my basement room with only a single bedside lamp on. The house was empty except for me and I was at a very intense part in the book where the characters are hiding in a house from the evil vampires. They think they're alone when they hear the floor boards creek from the upstairs. Right at that moment, in my own room, my bed side lamp's bulb burned out without a sound and I was left in darkness. Not two seconds later the front door above me opened and someone stepped inside the house and the floor boards creaked. You can imagine my fear then. Perfect setting for that book right? What might have been only an intense book became freaky as hell! All because of setting.

I also find it fascinating how books can actually effect our emotions. A happy book with a happy ending leaves us elated and a bad book with a disappointing ending can have us snapping at everyone.


But books also effect us physically. I've read books about freezing conditions, snow storms, and frost bite that had me shivering on a hot summer day and books about hot deserts, dry heat, and dehydrated characters that had me baking on a icy day. Similarly, I've read books that describe food so well that I'm suddenly quite hungry.

Yep, books are funny that way, agreed? What say you? Have you ever read a book in the perfect setting or vice versa? Do books effect you physically and emotionally too?

26 comments:

  1. First off, I absolutely LOVE the picture of the kitty draped across the pile of books! Awesome! :D

    Really enjoyed your post as well. I know that I tend to enjoy those light summer beach reads more in the summer than during a winter snowstorm. And sad stories are even sadder during a cold, rainy day.

    Love the story of your experience reading Salems Lot! I remember reading a vampire book once and not being able to sleep until I went down in the basement to verify that all the windows were securely closed (and that there were no vampires down there).

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    1. I know, isn't that kitty hilarious?! I'm glad I'm not the only one who was freaked out by a vampire book.

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  2. That is so freaky about Salem's Lot. I can't think of anything in particular that has happened to me as far as my setting in conjunction with the book... but I have had books invoke emotions and feelings in me suddenly--like weather and the like.

    This is such an interesting post, I've never really put much thought into it before. I may have to pay better attention while I read to see if I notice anything like that. ^_^

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    1. It made me think about setting a lot more. I'm not sure we always can make the perfect setting for a book but once and awhile it just happens. :)

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  3. I read The Historian while alone in the house and that freaked me out... even though the book isn't necessarily that freaky. Also, I'll never forget how Shannon Hale's Enna Burning made me feel all smoky... kinda like the air during the summer when we have all fires burning all around us. I didn't like it! For that reason, it's my least favorite of that series!

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    1. I LOVED Enna Burning...except for the end. :( That's funny that The Historian scared you...I don't remember it well enough or even if it evoked any emotions in me.

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  4. +JMJ+

    When this happens, I say that I've read "the right book at the right time." Isn't it wonderful when the "stars" align in your reading life? =D

    The reading experience which always comes to mind for me involves A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin. It was a dark, rainy Sunday afternoon, and I was reading the book in a warm kitchen with gold accents on the tiles. I can't even begin to explain how wonderful that was.

    Interestingly, it's one reason I don't want to reread the novel! I don't want it to be just another novel; I want it "to remain" in that afternoon. (But I have pulled my copy down from the shelf to look up some passages--and the association with that day has remained strong. As soon as the prose kicks in, I feel the darkness, the rain, and the gold accents again.)

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    1. Yep! I'm not sure we can control our settings all the time but when it all aligns perfectly, it's wonderful! Thanks for sharing your experience. That sounds like a great setting for A Wizard of Earthsea.

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  5. Excellent post! I am totally affected by mood and setting before I read a book and a book can totally affect my mood too. Every book I've read on a plane I've pretty much not liked, which is why I don't read on planes any more!

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    1. Yeah, reading on a plane just doesn't work so well for me. I don't know why I keep doing it. Nothing better to do I guess.

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  6. As you know from my blog, I used to travel a lot for work. Well, on one of my earliest trips when I wasn't used to being out alone in places I had never been, I decided to read a Mary Higgins Clark book. Her books never scare me; they just creep me out because her villains are just always creepy in a you're-a-gross-pedophile kind of way. Does that make sense?

    Well, I was in Albany and to my surprise the book I was reading took place in Albany. All of a sudden the book seemed more real and I was worried I was going to be murdered in my hotel room. I had to call my husband for reassurance that I wasn't going to murdered, lol.

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    1. Oooo! That was serendipitously freaky! Good thing it was just a book. ;)

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  7. Books about eating disorders make me hungry.

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    1. LOL! That's really funny to me! They just make me crazy!

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  8. I completely agree. I really can't get into a book if the atmosphere around me is chaos. And yes, I must admit to having to eat if they're referencing food in the book.

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    1. Yeah, books that mention food inevitably send me to the kitchen.

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  9. Hi, this is just a note to say that I've nominated you for One Lovely Blog Award, if you pop over to this post you can see what you can do to get the award :D

    http://thehouseofliterarymirrors.blogspot.co.uk/#!/2012/09/one-lovely-blog-award.html

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  10. Very interesting post! I never really thought about it much past the fact that I like to read summer books in summer, winter books in winter, etc. It just puts you in the mood. As for other settings...I suppose you're right. I freak out easily, so I think I would have had a heart attack with what happened to you while reading Salem's Lot! lol

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    1. Yeah, it was pretty dang scary! It's funny what books can do.

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  11. I'm pretty sure I've rambled (a lot) about mood and how it affects my reading. But it's more geared toward if I'm in a rotten mood, I don't really like anything I'm reading. Even if it's good :)

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    1. Yeah, I'm with you. My bad moods ruin books for me all the time.

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  12. Jenny, this is such a great post topic! I'm having a similar experience right now with Graceling, although it's not my setting so much as the narration style used in the audio. The audio book is done more as a dramatization, with a different actor for each voice, music, etc. The overall book, though, is narrated by what sounds like a middle-aged man, so it makes connecting with a teen female protag a bit more difficult. I am trying to remember that as I read. But you're right, it's amazing how many things out there effect the way we process a story.

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    1. It really is. I'd be so bothered with all those narrators and the music. But that's just me. I hope it doesn't ruin the book for you cause I really loved that one!

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