What Fascinates You?


What I decided to do was to sit down and, very quickly, make a list of things that I most liked in other people’s fiction — these could be thematic, character driven, very general or very specific. I found that when I started this list, it began to incorporate ideas and items which I was inventing as I went along.

This post by Sherry at Semicolon made absolute sense to me.  I find too many things fascinating, but it was fun to write down my list of fascinating elements in fiction and memoirs. 

1.  Community.  This is what I like about Wendell Berry’s fiction.  What draws and holds people together?

2.  Island/Insular/Isolated life.  The rules seem different in closed communities and I find this fascinating.

3.  Loss of mother.  Since I lost mine at age ten, I’m always curious how other families fare when mom is gone.

4.  Homesteading and pioneer stories.  Moving to a piece of land previously uninhabited, and actually living on it.

5.  Clerical life.  Trollope, Pym, Chesterton, Karon.  Put a Father in the title and I’m engaged.

6.  Travel to different cultures.  Colin Thubron is my current guide; the observations of an outsider looking in.

7.  Scotland.  If it’s not Sca-ish… (Stevenson, O. Douglas, Buchan, Scott, Gunn); I can sniff phony Scotticisms.

8.  England: Victorian, Edwardian, Regency, Elizabethan.  Austen, Trollope, Gaskell, Dickens, P.D. James, Miss Read.

9.  Conversions.  When one changes his/her fundamental paradigms, I’m intrigued.  Why? When? How? My interest is in all directions: Protestant » Catholic or Orthodoxy, Islam » atheist, agnostic » Mormon, Armenian » Calvinist…

10.  Specific references to literature, art, music.  I look them up.  Google and I are good friends.

11.  Kitchen life: the preparation and consumption of food.  Specifics are special.

12.  Names: allegorical, patronyms, eponyms, clues in names.  (e.g. Malfoy means Bad Faith)  Dickens, Trollope, and Bunyan are particularly fun.

I’m interested in what you find fascinating in fiction.  Care to play? 😉


6 thoughts on “What Fascinates You?

  1. Pretty much what’s on your list, I would add for Historical types of book, based on original sources, (And I am thinking specifically of things like Undaunted Courage where Ambrose talks about their joy at returning to civilization) ways that people then expressed that kind of emotion, compared to today. The human touch then and now I guess. Did Ma on the Oregon trail kiss the owies to make them better?How many travelers and/or Immigrants, when encountering wide stretches of water, sang Shall We Gather at the River?Then things about human observation, did PG Wodehouse observe and base his characters on people he witnessed or people he knew? Did they recognize them selves, and did that change their relationship with him? Autobiographical things such as if Alf White had chosen something other than James Herriot for his Nom D’ Plume, would his work have sold so well? (The name ‘Herriot’ being taken from a rather famous footballer.)I wonder why something was done the way it was (When putting the story/book together) and what the out come would have been if it had been done differently.I guess, from reading this, what I find fascinating in fiction is truth and where that truth came from.

  2. Oh, Carol, thanks for this list. I’m interested in all of these things, too. What is that word, oh, yes, dilettante—I hope I’m not just a dabbler in everything with no real knowledge of anything. At any rate I love many things.James Herriot’s real name was Alf White? How prosaic. I can’t imagine it at all. I suppose Siegfried and Tristan are not his partners’ real names either.

  3. I knew Mal meant bad good to know what foy means! I just don’t seem to have the brain power to do anything complicated these days.Let me know when you are ready to start Out of Africa…

  4. I second on the community. I go to a tight knit church and it never ceases to interest me how certain personalities mesh, others don’t the roles people take for themselves, how when your with someone they might act a little differently than they do with someone else. How God can use a third party to reconcile people… People who haven’t really been close in the past suddenly become friends when their kids start to play together. It’s a never ending ebb and flow. I also like to sit in alternative type neighborhoods and watch people. Kids in general are fascinating. How you can start to see aspects of their personalities even in babyhood with some, and then watch how they develop and change over time…And the process of art. I love it when a painting has a story behind it. 

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