Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In the Name of Friendship

When a friend or family member says, "You must read this book." Must you?

Many of the books I've read lately have come to me by the way of friends. They are not books that I've researched or read about in the many magazines or online sources privy to those in the business. When I get these suggestions sometimes I want to say, "Recommending books -- that's MY job."

Most of us behind the desks at libraries have a long list of books we want to read. We don't "need" suggestions. When a friend's suggestion dovetails with my list, then life is good and that title moves up in order. But often I read the suggested book as an act of friendship.

The last three books I read were not recommended after a series of questions about my reading preferences or interests. Instead they were given to me with wide eyes and smiles big enough to make me happily stray from my methodically prepared list. It's hard to resist the opportunity of a shared experience under such pleasant circumstances. And happy I was. All three - different but engaging. One mysterious, one thoughtful, one funny...mirroring the good friends that recommended them.

The Help A debut novel by Katherine Stockett that portrays black maids' perspectives of working for white folks in 1960s Mississippi.

Sharp Objects
A city news reporter goes back to her small rural hometown to write a story about unsolved murders. A suspenseful, psychological story by Gillian Flynn.

Foreskin's Lament Shalom Auslander writes his memoir about growing up in contemporary America as a male in a Jewish Orthodox community.


Roberta said...

I have a good friend who has a pretty good idea what I'll read and what I won't. She recommended one of my favorites: How I Paid for College by Marc Acito, and just described The Magicians by Lev Grossman as "Harry Potter: The College Years." I'm looking forward to it!

Anonymous said...

I always cringe when someone exclaims, "You have to read this!" No, I don't have to read The Da Vinci Code. And I have no desire to read The Last Lecture. While I appreciate a suggestion from a trusted fellow reader and readers' advisor, I'd much rather stick to my own "to read" list.

Laura A. said...

I like it when friends, patrons, and fellow Readers' Advisors give me reading suggestions (although I'm not able to read all of them, obviously!) Even if the recommended book isn't up my alley, learning what others like helps me do my job, and I can sometimes pass along the suggestion to someone who WOULD like the book.

Although I had read few mysteries before I began working here, I discovered I enjoy them after one of our wonderful volunteers recommended Elizabeth George to me.

Karen said...

Always a tough call. Some of the best books I've ever read, "Life of Pi" comes to mind, were suggested by close friends. But sometimes I can tell the recommendation is not my style without even picking up the book and I've suffered through some movies I disliked because I was assured I "had to" see them. When someone is really pressing me about a book, movie or album they think I'll love when I know I won't, I find it's best to change the subject rather than disagree - an argument can erupt over what simply amounts to personal taste.

Linda K. said...

Several years ago Roberta had recommended Julie and Julia by Julie Powell as a must read. I loved it and of course that book led to reading My Life in France by Julia Child and picking up some of the Julia Child cookbooks again, and finally going to see the movie with two friends on my birthday. If the person doing the suggesting knows you well enough friendly suggestions can be great.

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