Writing. Life. Writing.

What Makes You Want to Read a Book? Make a Friend? Fall in Love?

Two things I'm thinking about this morning.

1) At my sister and brother-in-law's holiday party over the weekend, when they put an advance copy of I Remember You out on display, two teenage girls immediately started to read it--standing up, eating canapés all the while. "I must get this," each one said.

Very cheering, of course, but also made me wonder, What specific thing about the book drew them in? The picture on the cover? The voice on the first page? The promise that it was going to be a love story?

2) I think this question's on my mind, because chatting with a friend who has a book out, he admitted that he really was curious, "What makes someone want to read my book?" Which led our conversation quickly to, What makes a person want to read any book? Sure, there are people, like me, who will read the copy on subway ads--my brain just likes reading. But what's making people want to read Unbroken right now more than anything else? That it's hopeful? That you get sucked in by the story right away? That it makes you feel lucky not to be lost at sea on a life raft or stuck in a POW camp?

What makes you want to be friends with someone? A smile? A laugh? A necklace they're wearing?

What makes us fall in love?

In college, a professor drew a triangle on the board and said that every coming together of two people in a novel requires a third element, a spark. Something that's often small. You might notice a person's necktie. You might hear, "He said he liked your hair." It's just a little thing that makes us feel the possibility of a connection, the idea that a person or a book or a friend might belong to us.

Which reminds me of a song, and also a scene in a movie that shows us what falling for someone can look like in the best of possible worlds.

The song is "You Were Meant for Me," written by Charles King for the 1929 show Broadway Melody. Here, it appears in a Cary Grant and Irene Dunne film Penny Serenade. (Watch the scene below, or to see what happens after Cary Grant enters the store, check out the full clip here.)

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