The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time question

What makes you love a book?
Dwight Okita Dwight Apr 25, 2012 09:40PM
I really love Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. I am also a writer and I would love to hear from readers to know what makes you fall in love with a book. In the most memorable books, what happens in the plot that puts you over the moon? What happens to the characters in the best books? And what does NOT happen in the books that don't sing to you? I've heard what critics and authors like. But I'm especially interested to learn what other readers treasure, get ecstatic over. After I hear from a couple readers, I will add my two cents about why I love this particular book, and books in general.

I love getting an insight into someone elses mind. I find in real life conversations most people keep there guards up and only let out small snippets of hat they are truly thinking but in a book you have the opportunity to get inside others heads and get honest answers. Curious was a fascinating journey into the intricate mind of the autistic I can't say I loved it but I may never have that chance again.

I love the question, and I could focus on a number of things. But what makes a book a classic is that it sticks with me over years. Some books are great to read and may influence me, but a few months later I can not recall a thing from them. I know I read them, but nothing particular sticks in my mind. But not to contradict myself, some books are an overall portrait of an event or a people, so a particular scene does not stick in my head, but a particular feeling is attached to the book.

I used to read a lot of action/adventure and science-fiction/horror novels (mostly J. Rollins, S. Sigler and J. Maberry). I liked them, but I always found that there was something missing. A certain sense of authenticity, if you will. Every once in a while, I would come across a book that showed that to me. An interesting plot, characters that I could relate too or sympathize with, wonderful character analysis, meaningful or witty passages and a feeling of sadness as well as happiness once the last page is turned.

Swan Song by Robert McCammon made me realize that I drew more satisfaction from such elements in a novel. It had them all. However, it wasn't until I read The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. I said, "This is the type of novel I want to read." I went out and found spectacular novels that had everything that I was looking for. Sure, I might still go back to the "old" stuff, but I know that those are just for entertainment. They don't provide the sustenance I need.

A good book is one that will stay with you the rest of your life. You have to be able to look at your bookcase at, peruse the titles and be able to claim, "this book changed me or inspired me somehow." That is satisfaction.

Personally, what I do not like is cliched descriptions, frivolous romances and "black and white" characters. These things fail to make me discover anything about myself, and are therefore useless (to me, that is). No, descriptions must flirt with originality as much as possible. They also need to flow together, or else I lose interest. A lot of authors have their own writing style, and this is something that I will take note of. Romance is only good if it is not sugarcoated with unneeded passages or dialogue. The Gargoyle, I believe, as well as House of Leaves, contain excellent examples of romance. Lastly, characters MUST be flawed. There are so many interesting flaws that can be assigned to characters, and this is what offers a great chance to really see into the minds and relate to them.

I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time a few years ago while in high school. I found it among the sparse collection of English books available(it was a French school). I was enraptured by the original narrative. I loved all the subtle details, like the pages in primes and how the protagonist would flip from the story to talking about math. The father's struggles felt so real, I could sense his fatigue. It represented a taste of real life, incidents that happen in the real world. It had substance. It felt real. I can't say it was the best novel I have ever read, but it did leave quite an impression nonetheless.

I like books that draw me into the story within the first 30 or so pages. When I'm reading for pleasure and not for a class or for work, I want the characters to be interesting and feel that the storyline is going somewhere. I have so many books on my to-be-read list that I don't want to waste time plowing through a book.

I love any book that makes me FEEL, whether I react in laughter or tears or it makes me go hmmm...two of my favorite books are "To Kill a Mockingbird" & "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", both classics, but also very insightful & meaningful & helpful in letting me walk in another person's shoes. I read "Curious" ages ago & confess I don't remember much about it except for the autistic boy but I do remember that even if I didn't LOVE it, I liked it a lot.

Why do I love this book? Simple question. Because despite being fictional it represents real life and real problems and it has an huge sense of humour. I've read another version, not that one on the top of page, but one with a blue cover and even the cover is funny and attractive.

Reading the first sentence and knowing immediately that I want to read the next, then the next and on and on... . I must, must, must connect to the characters. Books are my "escape" mechanism.

For me, it’s good writing that causes me to learn some important insight or meaning, often in an artistic or unique way, which could also be simply cathartic, or simply express a certain beauty. These truths should be supported by the book as a whole, there should be a good fit between most or all the parts, which also has to seem realistic, not manipulated. For me it’s the insight, the beauty, the emotion. Insight for me is often psychological or philosophical, but it could be broader when intricately linked with beauty, like introducing me to a new world, such as geishas, Middle Earth, or climbing Everest, with lots of wonder, curiosity, or fascination. Drama and conflict help, but like good characters or good plot, they are not necessary for me to love a book.

One example of this last idea might be Cannery Row. I don’t recall the plot or any conflict or most of the characters, but the writing, the imagery, the wonder, beauty and compassion of that story all make it great for me. And, I think most of these things - insight, beauty and emotion, will be different for most readers, so that the love of particular books is deeply personal and perhaps idiosyncratic.

And just to add, I know it’s personal, but The Curious Incident doesn’t meet most of my above criteria. For me, it was upsetting, but not in a meaningful way. I thought the betrayal of the main character by both of his parents is horrible, but it didn’t provide any deep insights or any great catharsis. Pity, maybe, anger possibly, but not something I ultimately loved. And the fact that he overcomes some of his difficulties and begins to relate a little better didn’t really save the story for me.

I appreciate the question - it made me think about what I really like in a book, and the above is my summation, I guess. Thanks Dwight.

Sharon Mitchell I agree that the writing must be good and the characters engaging. But what I think makes books like Curious Incident stand out is that you learn some ...more
Nov 19, 2012 02:57PM

It is easier for me to identify why I do not like a book then to describe what it is I look for in a book, so I guess the opposite of the things I don't like would be a good place to start! First, I have to like at least one of the main characters (for this reason I did not like The Blue Orchard: A Novel) and second, the book cannot leave me with no sense of hope (for this reason I did not like Strangers at the Feast: A Novel). Sometimes it is the use of language that makes a book special (e.g., Housekeeping and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek). Sometimes it is how the story is told (e.g., The Shadow of the Wind, The Book of Lost Things, The Poisonwood Bible, The Year of the Flood. Sometimes it is the originality of the style (e.g., The Book Thief and Mountains of the Moon.

Good spelling.

Usually for me it's breath taking worldbuilding. This book didn't have that as much- except when it came to the world inside the ehad of the protagonist. So a great character can make up for a more sparse worldbuilding.
What I don't like is minimalist writing all the way through a book. I love sensing the unsaid, or making connections between characters based on solid culture details.
In this book, it was the way a reader could figure out what was going on in the background of the protegonist's perception- the things he didn't pick up on. And he was a delightful and believeable character all by himself.

I heard once the best things comes in the shortest package.. well here i found one
i like the cover of the third edition where it is blue and blood is depicted by maroon shade ..outlines black ..the size of the boook .. the spell bounding inclusion of mathematics in narration..the fear factor when outside in the streets , it was such a refreshing quick tale telling experience that i was like when did i finish and when did i read it again ..
the books offers fiction and logics together..
I was super thrilled by the book ...

I love a book when I can experience the emotion the character feels , almost as if I were the character myself..transported to that era ..

I love a book that takes me somewhere I have never been before, emotionally. A book that teaches me about things or issues that I have never dealt with before. A book that surprises me, and that has a strong impact on me emotionally (this is probably the most compelling criterion of all) and finally a book that does not answer all the questions or try to 'tie up' the loose ends too neatly. 'The curious incident' certainly took me into a space that I have never explored, and to my astonishment I felt that I could understand the mind and motivations of the main character very well, and even connect with him sympathetically. What happens to him in the plot is neither here nor there - the issue is the insight the reader is given into his experience of the world. I have felt differently about people with Autism-Spectrum behaviour ever since I read the book.

I absolutely loved this book. It is so rare that we get a glimpse into the mind of someone living with autism. This book truly represents a different way of taking in information and interacting with the world. It fosters understanding of an issue that is very hard to grasp in a way that is entertaining as well as insightful. Loved it.

Sharon Mitchell There are a few other books like this now - books that offer insight into the thinking of someone with autism. Joanne Lewis wrote one and I have a sim ...more
Nov 19, 2012 03:02PM

I liked this book and it made me think about autism and thank my lucky stars as a mother.
I think the most memorable books for me are those the author doesn't create a "Mary-Sue" character. And then throws everything at them without kindness, Robin Hobb's Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders, #1) by Robin Hobb series and Dragon series does this for me. she is not kind to her characters and they are not perfect. Jim Butchers Harry Dresden Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1) by Jim Butcher series is another I enjoyed.
I love books that'll surprise an "out-loud" laugh, out of me.
Unwind (Unwind, #1) by Neal Shustermantook my breath away, the world was subtly fully realised and terrifyingly possible, but the characters journey was surprising and elicted my concern.
I love non cliched descriptions I really don't want to hear about the heroines emerald eyes ect ect

I hate books that tell and don't show (Jim Butcher did this but it was different it was in the first person and the character was conversationally interacting with the reader. Which I enjoyed) I don't want screeds of dry information just inserted in the text, like a mini lecture.
Certain writing styles frustrate me I struggle with Stephen King for example, but that purely personal

I have to love the characters.

well, I like books that bring me somewhere I haven't been, that aren't predictable. Characters should matter but I have a wide and varied set of likes -- I like to work a little as a reader and keep my interest up. Curious Incident met my criteria for an interesting read

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (other topics)
Ship of Magic (other topics)
Storm Front (other topics)
Unwind (other topics)
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