It's late on Tuesday evening and I brought home a portable record player, like the the kind with a turntable and needle, from my mother-in-laws.
Digging in the closet, I pulled out an old Donny Osmond album, his last before the current era, that's never made it to digital. I thought it'd be fun to hear it again. It's been more than 20 years since I had a way to play it. #timeless
Music takes me back. It's a powerful tool that impacts our emotions.
But what about books? Can't they impact our emotions too? Become timeless in our hearts. Absolutely.
While driving to Tennessee for vacation week before last, my husband decided to listen to The Wedding Dress, a book I wrote almost six years ago, since it recently hit the New York Times Bestseller List.
I cringed off and on the whole time. I heard every mistake, every over used word, but at one point my husband said, "Wow, I just teared up."
And as the reader read the final scene, I teared up myself. Why? Because I loved the characters all over again and I didn't want to part ways.
When the book ended, we were both silent for awhile. The story took us some place, Impacted us.
That's the power of story. Never sell yourself short as an author to move the human heart.
My good friend Debbie Macomber said, "We don't write to sell units, we write to impact hearts."
The books that moved my heart are the ones I talk about, the ones I remember years after I've read them.
What about you? Do you have a book like that?
Softly and Tenderly, the second Songbird Novel I wrote with Sara Evans is still one of my all time favorites. Weird uh? A friend asked me during Christmas why I liked it so much. Don't you know I teared up telling her all the reasons!
Here's a list of novels that have impacted me:
The Little House book by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Introduced to these stories in 5th grade, they became a permanent part of my DNA. While Laura was born 93 years before me, we were somehow alike, the same, sisters from a different time. We were both the second born, but while she lived on a prairie in little houses with three sisters, I lived in the 'burbs in little houses with three brothers and one sister, we were kindred. Laura's heart and strength were my heart and strength. Her life is a part of my life forever.
The Song of Abraham by Ellen Gunderson Traylor. I read this mass paperback in college and never forgot it. In fact, for a writing class, I wrote a Biblical story mimicking her style. Outside of the Bible, this book probably had the hugest impact on my spiritual walk. At a time when I was spreading my wings, growing up, figuring out who I wanted to be I read the story of a man who would be called Friend of God. And I wanted to be a friend of God. Traylor's story invoked a truth in me through the fictional depiction of a real life man.
Shouldn't that be our goal. To inspire? To point the way to hope and truth?
Rind The Wind by Lucia St. Claire Robson. The story of real life Cynthia Ann Parker, kidnapped as a girl in 1836 by the Comanche, eventually marrying one of their leaders. I've not read this book in eons, but it has everything. Drama, tension, conflict, humanity, glimpses of truth, a bit of fiction, and romance with a mysterious, notorious warrior, Peta Nocona as the hero. Look them up, it'll have you reading and thinking for a long while.
The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Loved this book, set in World War 2 on the English island that was occupied by Nazi's. The story of Elizabeth McKenna, caught on the island when war broke out, is challenging, impactful, a woman with the strength I'd hope to have given similar circumstances. A story to be savored and not forgotten.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. A piece of history, a story of the south. Engaging, real, I was drawn into the story from the get go. By the end, I could feel the truth, the heart and read the last few pages through tears. I love stories dealing with racial issues.
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah. Another World War 2 tome about the Nazi occupation of Paris. Two sisters find themselves dealing with the war in very different ways, but each one finding the courage to fight the war on her doorstep. Moving, deep, detailed, engrossing, a story to stay with you for a long time. Again, challenging me to ask, "In the face of evil, what will I do?"
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. Okay, if you've been around me the past year and a half you know I loved, loved, loved this book. I wrote my editor and said, "I want to write like this." She read the book too and loved, loved, loved it. I was first drawn in by a story set in the '30s New England, then by William's writing style but quickly it became about story, story, story. Tears at the end. Even cooler is Williams endorsed my next book, The Wedding Shop! Pinch me!
There are more stories but I'll stop there. What about you? What books impacted you and linger with you through time?
As a writer, how can you aspire to impact your readers. Hint: It's about character!
New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Rachel Hauck lives in sunny central Florida.