Wednesday, May 16, 2018

New Feature: The Bookshelf

A year ago, as I was graduating from college, people kept pestering me for a list of books that I would recommend reading.

I really don’t like it when people ask for that kind of list.

When I recommend books, it’s not out of the blue. It’s in the context of specific conversations with specific people. There are books I am confident some of my friends would love that put others to sleep.

Gilead, for example.

It’s one of my top 5 favorite books. It is rich and beautiful and exquisitely written and conceived.

But there is very little plot.

So I know not to unreservedly recommend it to friends who really care about plot-driven novels.

My friend Eunice, for example, who loves Jurassic Park and spy thrillers, finds Gilead utterly boring.

She understands why I love it, and I understand why she doesn’t.

All of this to say: I don’t like handing out a list of books I recommend, since I recommend different books to different people.

But enough people kept asking that I finally sat down to write a simple list of books I’ve read and enjoyed. Title, then author. Next book.

I couldn’t do it.

There was no way I could hand out a list of titles and authors and be done with it. It drove me crazy that people would have no idea why I would recommend a particular book or have any frame of reference for whether they might enjoy it or not.

Something had to be done.

I annotated it.

The list stretched to five pages of over 40 titles, with comments for each of them. Some annotations were one line, others were more like a paragraph.

I felt almost guilty when I gave this list of books to the people who had asked for it. It seemed so over-the-top (annotations? really?). And long. Who needs to add 40 books to their to-be-read list in one fell swoop??

But over the past year several people have remarked how much they appreciated having it on hand. Furthermore, they say that the annotations have been a helpful tool, not superfluous.

Since then, I’ve read probably 50 more books. And I have things to say about most of them.

My friend Angela has been pestering me to post the original list or something akin to it as a permanent page on this blog. And when Angela tells me to do something, I try to make a point of doing it, because she gives excellent advice. 

As of today, that permanent page is up. Enjoy perusing! 

No comments:

Post a Comment