Have you ever had one of those moments in books where you get the overwhelming DESIRE to do something described in what you’re reading? I’m not talking about some food that sounds good (although that totally happens – the Turkish Delight from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? Sounds delicious in the book! In real life, it’s basically just nasty covered in powdered sugar, and I am not the only one who feels this way.)
I’m talking about an itching need to do something you read about – something you would never do in real life, but you can imagine yourself doing it in a past life, and crave the feeling again.
Recently I was reading Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina, where she describes a whole family of people who drink and chew tobacco and do all sorts of things that you would expect a family of hillbillies to do, and I got the urge to do something that I have never in my life wanted to do: smoke a cigarette.
The way she describes it, it just sounded so comforting and normal, like it was something you would naturally do (which is true for a lot of people, I guess). I was shocked at my urge to smoke a cigarette, because I come from not only a family of non-smokers, but a family that is heavy into the medical field (I have a lot of nurses in my family). I know that if I ever started smoking, I would get bombarded with factoids, pictures and other paraphernalia that is used to scare smokers into quitting. It’s never really been an option to me, and even at my most rebellious (which, lets face it, was nowhere near rebellious), I would never have even considered starting to smoke.
To me, it is a sign of an excellent writer that they can spark such natural desire in a reader to do something so uncharacteristic.