Carrying on from my last post, I wonder if one needs to identify with a story in order to really enjoy it.
That was certainly the case with The Joy Luck Club. I remember reading it and being engrossed in the story, laughing aloud at descriptions of life with Chinese immigrant parents. I also remember excitedly sharing favorite parts of the story with my best friend from Chinese school, with both of us declaring in unison that I was Waverley. (I spent eight years of Saturday mornings at Chinese school. Very grateful now for my Chinese language skills, but back then, resentful because my non-Chinese friends in my earlier years were enjoying Laugh-Olympics and other cartoons from the Saturday morning line-up, and in my teens, they got to sleep in.)
There is no part of Life of Pi that I can readily identify with (but then, who could relate to such an fanciful story?), and yet it is one of the best books I have ever read. My experience may have been heightened by the fact that I was on a lazy beach resort holiday in either Phuket or Bali. The storytelling was so captivating, I couldn't put it down. For months afterwards, I was recommending it to anyone who was interested, and yet I wasn't even able to properly describe the plot, let alone the allure. "Just read it!" I kept urging.
A great read is when you find yourself in a book, and can also be when you lose yourself in a book.