It is scary to recommend a book.
It’s hard not to feel like a book says a lot about you – what you like, what you value, what you spend your time on – and to hand it to someone else feels like you’re saying “This is me. Don’t come back and say ‘I hated it.'”
Oh, am I too paranoid? (NEVER!)
After I praised The Wednesday Wars up and down, a friend of mine, who I deeply admire, bought three copies of it to read with her two oldest children (ages 15 and 12).
About two weeks ago, this friend told me she’d finished reading it aloud with her son (the 12 year old) and when they finished he said, “This is my new favorite book.”
As you can imagine, I breathed a massive sigh of relief.
Then, about a week ago, Bart and I went to the library and he said, “I need some books on CD to listen to while I drive to and from campus” (as I’m no longer driving with him every day, he clearly needed something to replace my gripping and brilliant conversation (otherwise known as me falling asleep in the front seat)). I pulled about five books from the shelves, ones that I’d loved and thought he might enjoy, and he picked The Wednesday Wars.
After a day or two, he said “You know, I’m enjoying it, but I’m not sure I’ll like it as much as you did.”
In some cases, this might have filled me with dread, but I have so much faith in this book that I didn’t even mind. And sure enough, as each day passed, Bart would say, “This book is so good. I can see why you love it. ‘Toads! Beatles! Bats!'” He finished it today and told me he loved it. That it made the commute something to look forward to instead of dread. That it makes him less bothered by traffic or poor drivers on the road.
I may or may not have done a victory lap.
I have never thought of this blog as a book review blog. I don’t review everything I read and I never plan to (since a huge portion of my reviews would then be something like, “meh, not terrible, not great”). I try to write only about books that I feel strongly about (mostly strongly in a positive way, although sometimes a truly terrible book needs to be ranted about at length) or that I would recommend to a close friend.
And because I know a lot of the people who read my blog personally, I try and be careful to be clear about what kind of book it is – is it a Wednesday Wars, appropriate for practically any audience? Or is it a Graceling? Great story, but definitely for a more mature audience? Is it one that has wide wide appeal or will it have a smaller audience?
It’s hard for me not to second guess what I’ve thought a book when I read reviews that are very different from mine – if someone whose taste I admire hated a book I praised or someone I love adored a book I could not stand.
There just is no accounting for taste, obviously. I’m just doing the best I can.