Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hey, what do you think I should read?

I just finished reading The Borrowerauthor Rebecca Makkai's first novel.  It was, admittedly, a bit self-indulgent because it focuses on a librarian but --  for the record -- that's where the similarities end (the story centers on the time during which librarian Lucy kidnaps/runs away with a 10-year-old patron).  Still, a moment that rang particularly true for me is when Lucy identifies what she calls "the world's best question".  It's, "Hey, what do you think I should read?"

There's something really great about connecting over a book. When I love a book, or when one gets in my head, I often gently and kindly ask my friends to read it so we can talk about it. (And if my friends tell you that it's more along the lines of me shoving the book at them while rudely demanding they read it, well...potato, potahto, right?)  But, as much as I love the connection you can get from a shared book and as much as I like sharing ideas about what to read, I get a little nervous when someone I've never met asks me to recommend a good book to read.  (Given that this is part of my job, that could be a serious problem.)  If I have a chance to talk with that person and find out what she loves and hates, what her favorite book is and what bestseller she thought was over-rated, I can feel pretty good about finding the right book.  But, to pick a book for someone who hasn't got any preferences and is just looking to start reading more, well -- that's some pressure.  It's happened a few times recently, and all I could think was, what if I misjudge what she would like?  What if I pick something he hates?  What if I single-handedly destroy someone's love of reading by suggesting something that I loved but that someone else thinks is a real dud?  What if, just maybe, I'm overreacting a bit?  What if what they're really looking for is just any book that someone -- anyone -- has liked?

In the past few weeks, I've had to read a few books with absolutely no idea what they were about.  It was a surprisingly great experience and I ended up reading some great books I might not otherwise have found.  It got me out of a reading rut, where everything was starting to sound the same.  It can be a way to find new authors or genres to start following.  And, it can be just good fun to stretch your reading choices a little.

So, how about this?  I'll throw out the titles of a few books I've really enjoyed reading lately, with no extra information, and you do the same.  I don't know what you like to read and, unless you read the blog regularly, you probably don't know what I like to read.  So, let's share:

War by Sebastian Junger
Gardens of Water by Alan Drew
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (who continues to impress me as one of the best writers around...sorry, I couldn't help it)
The Good Life by Jay McInerney
Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner
You Wish by Mandy Hubbard
The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly
Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
The First Husband by Laura Dave

Okay, now it's your turn:  "Hey, what do you think I should read?"


Sara said...

"The Iron King" series by Julie Kagawa :)

Anonymous said...

Savage Garden by Mark Mills
Spellman Files series by Lisa Lutz