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… .