I know I say this too much.
Part of the reason I write book reviews (and dream of opening a bookstore one day) is so I can share good books with the world. I just can’t help myself from urging my friends, colleagues, readers, and family members to read certain books.
That’s why I was thrilled when I came across this article in the Washing Post: Ann Patchett: Owning a bookstore means you always get to tell people what to read.
Patchett is one of my favorite authors (State of Wonder and This is a Story of a Happy Marriage especially) and when I learned that she’d opened a bookstore in Nashville, I liked her even more. She writes,
“My family has long borne the tremendous burden of my suggested-reading lists. I’ve given books for every occasion: birthdays and Valentine’s Day and Arbor Day. (They’re made from trees, after all.) At my insistence, my sister’s book club picked Héctor Tobar’s “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free” the month it came out. They might have preferred to wait for the paperback, but I loved that book so much I needed them to get to it right away. But now that I own a bookstore, I no longer need to rely so heavily on my immediate circle to ensure that people are reading the books I love.”
So imagine if I too could have my own store where I could share my favorite books with anyone who walked in the door?
Until that day, I’ll continue to steer readers toward (and away from) books in my reviews and conversations. I’ll give carefully selected books as gifts. In fact, I recently gave Patchett’s State of Wonder to my friend when she was recovering from a double mastectomy. I wanted to give her something that would help her heal, that would help her escape, that would inspire her and make her smile and what better gift to give than books! Right? I wandered through my house peering into my bookshelves and pulled out the books that could deliver on that promise:
State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
Euphoria, by Lily King
The Spirit Catches you and you Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman
For a Smile:
Calvin and Hobbes, tenth anniversary book
Dream Work, by Mary Oliver
“I am not alone in my desire to press a good book into someone’s hands. We employ a host of talented booksellers who, like me, believe that recommending books is the birthright of every zealous reader. No matter how much we love a book, the experience of reading it isn’t complete until we can give it to someone who will love it as much as we do. Reading a book can be like dropping down into another world, and when we stumble out again, like Shackleton from the Pole or Darwin off the Beagle, there is a tremendous desire to grab the first person we bump into and say, ‘Let me tell you what I’ve seen.'”
I agree. Whether we are bumping into the first person we see, or gathering a stack of favorites for a sick friend, sharing a book is inviting someone into another world. It’s healing, inspirational, joyful and sometimes, it’s just fun.