One of my favorite things in the world is Slightly Foxed: the Real Reader’s Quarterly. It’s a quarterly magazine, published in London, that features short essays written by people about books they love.
Often these books are out of print, and often they’re eccentric choices — but I’ve found so many great books from Slightly Foxed. (The name “Slightly Foxed” refers to a term used to describe the age-related spots and browning that appears on old paper.)
If you’re a serious reader, it’s great to have a reliable source of recommendations, especially for books that were published years ago. It’s easy to find out what’s being published now, but what about a great book that came out forty years ago?
That’s one of the reasons I started my own book club — there are so many books that I love, and I wanted a way to share those suggestions with other people looking for great reading ideas. Want to know when I have a list of book suggestions? Sign up here.
In the Winter 2014 issue of Slightly Foxed, which I happened to pick up again yesterday, for some reason mysterious even to myself, there’s an essay by Richard Platt about Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories.
According to Booker, the seven basic plots are:
- Overcoming the monster (Beowolf, Jaws)
- Rags to Riches (Aladdin, Oliver Twist)
- The Quest (Odyssey, Watership Down)
- Comedy (Aristophanes, The Marx Brothers)
- Tragedy (Oedipus, Macbeth)
- Rebirth (Sleeping Beauty, A Christmas Carol)
- Voyage and Return (Peter Rabbit, Brideshead Revisited)
Booker says that a few works even combine all seven basic plots, and the one example he gives is…can you guess?
He says: The Lord of the Rings.
I would add: Harry Potter!
It’s fun to think about what plot or plots a particular story embodies.
Do you have a favorite plot? I love them all.