A friend of mine lent me Outlander at the end of summer 2005. I don't usually read books that others lend me because they're not my type, but this one sounded really promising - World War II era, Scotland, history, how could you go wrong? - yet I nearly stopped reading at the point where Claire Randall mentions how full the shops in Scotland were just a few months after the end of the war. I was worried that the rest of the book might have other such discrepancies. Ha! Never have I been so glad to be so wrong (Diana is a master at historical research and accuracy) and not since The Lord of the Rings have I been so excited to have a book enter my life.
A great book affects you not only at an emotional level - when you can't let go of the characters - or at a mental level - when you learn new words and information at every reread - but at a life level.
It's a stack of dominoes - if I hadn't read Outlander, I wouldn't have joined the (awesome!) Compuserve Books and Writers Community (and its group of wonderful readers and writers!). If I hadn't joined the Forum, I wouldn't have started taking my writing seriously. Imagine, I used to finish a story or novel and just leave it by the wayside. Now I've got two fully edited novels - one out on queries! - and I'm in the process of overhauling a third. If I hadn't started taking my writing seriously, I wouldn't be blogging, and I wouldn't have met all you wonderful people!
Yay for Diana Gabaldon!
And, of course, who can resist Lord John
or Jamie Fraser?