If Colonel Sanders was still around, perhaps he could answer a question for me...
I'm not jones-ing for a bucket of Original Recipe, not exactly. But I am curious about something I've been chewing on for days now. (not as disgusting as it sounds)
It started with a conversation about movies. There was champagne involved, but then, champagne is only barely alcohol, right?
What the subject, and the booze, got us thinking about--and subsequently chewing on--are the movies that stick with us, that we watch over and over, that become personal classics in the I-can't-get-enough-of-it category. When the results were in, the titles each chose as a "repeat offender" left us scratching our collective heads. What is it about Twister that makes it so re-watchable? I don't remember that one collecting any Academy Awards. Why is it that I have seen Armageddon 365 times and still weep uncontrollably for the last 45 minutes? (despite coaching myself each time, that I KNOW what is coming) I will eventually watch it again--it's not a question of if, but when--and I will, no doubt, bawl my way to the credits. How can something still be that touching after 367 viewings? Still be funny? Still be remotely interesting???
And that led us to books. It wasn't a huge jump--there was more than one author in the room. As an author, one would like to think, that their work might some day fall into the re-readable category. We checked--sure enough, each of us had a list of repeat offenders in the book world too. We scratched our heads again. What IS it that makes this mish-mash of titles so engaging that we revisit them regularly?
We had some ideas, but we ruled them out one by one...
humor? no joke is funny 255 reads later.
subject? not a chance, we're all over the board here and our re-reads fell right along side one timers in the same subject/genre.
plot? They say there are only a few plotlines in existence, repeated with variation. I ruled this one out by simple example. Deep Impact had the same Plot as Armageddon. I fell asleep half way through and can guarantee I will NEVER watch it again.
Writing Style? Nope, one author can have a dozen books or more and only one will fall in the repeat category.
Characters? This one almost had me...nobody loves good, quirky characters more than I. Could it be these fictional personas that seize our interest and cause us to invest emotionally? It's possible, but there are characters I adore in some of my one-time-only reads.
We were left to ponder, and sip, and consider what remained. How can an author catch something so elusive and pin it down? What is it that one can incorporate to inspire such devotion and adoration in one's work? Damned if I know. But there is something, something that touches the reader personally and draws them back to visit again, and again. The secret ingredient.
So I ask you, if you care to venture a guess. What is that one book that calls you back to re-read over and over? Why? Maybe the secret ingredient is an individual thing...can you pin it down?
Inquiring minds want to know.