I was scratching around yesterday looking for a blog topic - I felt pretty bad for neglecting my blog so much lately! - and one helpfully showed up on the bus this morning. If I didn't spend so much time on buses I'd never think of anything useful.
Backtrack a few days.
I was at work and I'd forgotten to bring a book to read at lunchtime. Had one picked out and everything, just forgot to throw it in my bag. This is a catastrophe in my world, just so you know.
Luckily I work in a pretty well-serviced suburb/village/town, so I hit the charity shops and the second-hand bookshop looking for something. I didn't find anything, but I did see a copy of The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. I already own it and have read it lots of times, so I couldn't justify buying a second copy even if it was just what I fancied that day (it isn't Forever Amber and I'm not a week from home, after all) but at least I had my next book picked out.
I restarted The Secret History yesterday and I was reading it on the bus this morning. As I've probably said ad nauseum because it annoys me, my bus journey can be anything from forty minutes to an hour. Today it was closer to forty minutes, but I can't remember the last time I was so absorbed in a book. Bearing in mind I've read The Secret History before, lots of times, and I know every last little plot twist.
No spoilers follow, if you haven't read it.
It was the part that took place over the winter break, when Richard's college closes for two months and he has to move off-campus in the coldest Vermont winter for twenty-five years. I've never experienced that kind of cold (aside - my dad once told me that on a business trip to Norway one winter, he left his hotel on the first morning and when the air hit him, he thought he'd forgotten to put his trousers on). I'm Irish, and all we do is whine about the weather, so I like to pretend that I have, but I haven't. We don't get extremes here.
But the sense of place was evoked so well. My bus stop sneaked up on me, and I got off the bus feeling like I'd just woken up. It was a surprise to see Dublin in 2010 and not Hampden in the 1980s.
What books have done that to you? Has any book ever drawn you in so completely that looking up from the page feels like waking up?