Overall, mood is probably my favorite thing in a book. Beautiful writing doesn’t do as much for me unless I’m transported back someplace. I can feel the wind or sensations that I associate with better times and different parts of myself. I love finding a book that just gives me certain feelings that I can’t even begin to put into words. Mood for me means making me feel vivid sensations and not reading a book, but experiencing it.
Think back to when you’ve felt most alive. Think back to those rare feelings that you have, the sensations that you only get to experience once a year. That dark little thrill around Halloween, settling in with candy and watching Halloweentown as it slowly gets colder outside. There’s this FEELING that comes with Halloween that never happens every time of the year and I love books that capture that feeling. Around this time of year, I start hunting for those books that capture that mood. It’s the same for me with winter and the beach – there are some books that I just NEED to read around that time of year to get that feeling again.
This post is spurred by Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Amy McNamara, my current read. It’s filled with so much mood and sensation. It’s quiet, calm, and sad. The mood perfectly matches the setting; all of it is just so perfect. It’s such a mood-and-setting book and it’s exactly what I’ve been wanting in a book.
Recently, I’ve been aching for a fall book. I want a book that just screams classic fall: vivid leaves, fall festivals, hay rides and the smell of apples and cinnamon. I’ve been annoyed with Florida weather because up north, people actually get seasons. I want a book that contains the season of fall. Every year around Christmas and Halloween, I do a major rereading session of all the books that remind me of those seasons. For example, I read Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater and Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins because they remind me of the feeling that I get around Halloween.
There are some phrases and some writers who just manage to capture those moods perfectly. Sometimes I just want to be transported again to the first time when I read that book, when I was caught up in the story and completely forgot about my own world. I love reading those books where I’m just experiencing the same things that the characters are.
There are even a few books where it’s just a particular scene that I’m in love with. In I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, when Number Four and Sarah are at the carnival or festival and they go on the haunted hayride? For some reason, that scene just reminds me so much of fall. I want Halloween books around Halloween, fall books in fall, winter books in winter, and mermaid books at the beach. There are some books that are just so purely that mood that I can’t help but reread them whenever I yearn to experience that sensation again. I just crave books like that.
Give me mood and I’m hooked. And setting? If you’ve got a good setting, I’m pretty much guaranteed to love the book.
For example, boarding school. Set a book at a boarding school and I’m pretty much in love. Granted, there are exceptions to this rule (Private by Kate Brian, for one, but that’s mostly just because I’m not usually a fan of drama books) but I’m constantly on the search for new boarding school books. I read a lot of paranormal boarding school books as well (Hex Hall; Fallen) because I love the setting and the genre.
I’m also a sucker for the small towns. I want to live in New York, but I wish that I grew up in a small town. While reading Burn for Burn by Siobhan Vivian and Jenny Han, I would kill to live on that tiny island. I feel like I would get so annoyed if I grew up in a small town but I would love to live in one now. I love the idea of it. Festivals and events and community and all that. I would love to live in a picturesque small town, the one that you read about in books or you see in movies.
When I was younger, I wanted to live in a small town by the ocean. My point is that I love reading small town books now just because I love the classic feel of them. Lovely, Dark, and Deep is set in a small, wintery town by the ocean. The mixture of snow and ocean as a setting just kills me. I’m in love with it! The setting perfectly matches Wren’s emotions and it just makes for an incredible experience.
Setting and mood are the number one most important traits in a book for me. I appreciate beautiful writing but it has to weave in the mood and setting. I’m a sucker for imagery, even purple prose. As long as it paints a picture in my head, I’m good. The most beautiful writing for me is the writing that can transport me back with only a few words.
The point of this blog post is just to talk about those books that remind you of certain feelings and settings. What are your Halloween books? Are they different from your fall books? What books do you read that just serve as a tugging reminder to a certain memory? Which books do you read when you want to experience something again? Which books just paint such a vivid picture in your head of a particular time that you just have to reread them again? Are setting and mood the most important traits for you?