Does anyone else balk at making book recommendations to trusted bibliophile friends? It is rare that I feel unerring confidence when I advise someone to read a book I love, because, to be honest, it is seldom that I don’t love what I read. If I don’t, I have usually not completed it, though that, too, is pretty rare. And it’s gotten rarer still as I’ve stuck to my resolution to write something about every book I finish.
That act of consciously attending to something about a text, whether it’s a powerful quote—even one somewhat extraneous to the book’s merit but resonant for me—or a quirk of character or place, once I’ve given that attention to a book I’ve completed, I almost always cement my fealty to something about it, sort of the difference between a first impression and a deepening relationship.
A while back during one of our almost-monthly Zoom chats (that last at least an hour), I recommended Lily King’s latest novel, Writers and Lovers, to Maria, a dear friend and deep reader. I ascribe that adjective as a distinction between her reading and mine. I’m a “gobbler” of text, she a connoisseur, one who savors and lingers. We have been held in mutual thrall with Margaret Renkl’s Late Migrations, and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, but after I suggested Writers and Lovers, I worried.
I needn’t have. On Saturday we will have a Zoom dedicated to W & L, and Maria has invited her book-lover daughter-in-law, too. In rereading it, another habit I’ve yet to cultivate with any great success—”Too many books too little time” my mantra— I’ve deepened my infatuation. We’re in a relationship now.
A truly captivating story demands that we pass it on, doesn’t it? With any luck, everyone wins, and the wonder grows. So that’s what I’m doing today, passing it on. Fingers crossed… .
14 thoughts on “Choosing Wisely”
When a book speaks to us it is hard not to recommend it to someone we know who might also enjoy it. Kathy and I always tell each other about what we are reading even though our tastes are completely different.
My husband and I do, too.
A good friend and I recently started sharing book recommendations. first Educated and then Where the Crawdad’s Sing. We enjoyed talking about them while she stayed in our cabin. I hesitate to recommend to most people though. Typically, I like historical fiction and have found most people I know to shy away from that. We agreed to share more titles that we found enjoyable.
I am a huge fan of historical fiction, so please give me recommendations, seriously. This is how I love my history delivered!
Well, I can highly recommend Mary Doria Russell who wrote A Thread of Grace and Dreamers of the Day – both great historical fictioin. Also, City of Light by Lauren Belfer is excellent. It’s a murder mystery set in Buffalo/Niagara Falls and deals with the development of Hydro electric power. She also wrote A Fierce Radiance which was also very good – I think, if I remember correctly, it was about the development of antibiotics. There are several others I’ve read that were great but these come to mind first! Enjoy!
Book titles are something my sister and I share every time we talk. I love hearing what other people are reading.
I think you would love King’s book even though I know you’re in a nonfiction reading phase right now.
But someday I will return to fiction.
I have learned something about myself as a reader by reading your post. I can also call myself ‘a connoisseur, one who savors and lingers’ I always wish I was the opposite.
And I wish I was less greedy, more careful. Beauty deserves attention.
I once felt offended when a friend said, I love sharing books with Marilyn because she is so non-discriminating. I thought she meant that I didn’t know much about books. It turned out that she meant I was game to try lots of different kinds of books. I agree that it is tricky to share book recommendations. (Sometimes, I selfishly don’t share just so I can savor what I savor without interference.)
Better she should have said, “Non-judgmental,” but maybe that carries the same implication? I understand that “selfishly don’t share” aspect, too. I sometimes don’t want to hear what someone else has to say about something I love.
Patricia, thank you so much for the lovely book recommendation. I have added it to my To-Read list. I love that you have chosen to write about each book you finish. That is a lovely habit, and I like how you put it as a deepening relationship.
That habit has been a delight actually tho’ at times I rue the day I began. I do love when my husband asks, “What was that book where…?” and I can retrieve it after a look in my index. An index?! Imagine that, definitely a luxury of retirement! Thanks for reading.