I had a lot of fun/was totally overwhelmed last Monday when I offered to suggest the next book any commenter should read based on the last five titles they had completed.
Beyond the fact that I love telling people what to do, it was an interesting challenge trying to draw connections between titles individuals had read (often without having read those books myself). And coming up with fresh books to recommend each time was tricky. Happily, since 2007, I have kept a list of everything I read.
For me, reading is a great individual pleasure, and there’s something exceedingly exciting about finding a novel on your own that you just tumble head over heels for. But there is something equally invigorating about finding yourself in a community of readers. I thank everyone who took part for sharing what they’ve read and entering that community for a moment. It was also an exciting opportunity to mentally revisit my own reading habits, and I can say that I’ve been browsing my bookshelves quite a bit over the past week. I was surprised to find that I didn’t recommend anyone read Prague by Arthur Phillips, a novel I adore and have tried to convince many people to read over the years. For some reason no one ever takes me up on it. So I’ll offer it as a group suggestion. It has one of my favorite openings ever, and there’s a small scene on a funicular over the river between Buda and Pest that thrilled me so much I can still remember the first time I read it.
One of the most interesting comments (I thought) came from Michael who noted: “Too lazy to check for myself but of all the books mentioned in the last five read list, has any book been mentioned by more than one reader? So much for the idea we all are reading today's ‘Bestsellers’.”
Good question! I went through all the lists and counted. Five books were read by three people. They were:
Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls
Kathryn Stockett’s The Help
James Dashner’s The Maze Runner (repped by our very own Michael Bourret)
Gail Carriger’s Soulless
Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth (repped by yours truly)
Soulless totally surprised me. Two books that agents here represent makes sense since our readers might share an interest in…you know, us. Wintergirls and The Help are great big books that have gotten tons of attention. Soulless doesn’t seem to have those characteristics, which makes it kind of exciting. Are we seeing a book in the process of really breaking out? Go Gail Carriger!
And then one series truly set itself apart: seven people had read either The Hunger Games or its sequel Catching Fire. Rock on, Suzanne Collins. I haven’t loved a YA series more since Harry Potter. I root for the success of these books as a reader and a fan.
But let’s get to the MOST exciting part of my suggestions: the ones people have already taken! Three people have been in touch so far to let me know that they read what I suggested. How’d it go? Well…two hits and a miss.
Kristi had this to say: “I don't often read books involving male protagonists but I absolutely loved "Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You." It was a quick read but has stayed with me for several days and I love it when books do that to me.” Yay! This makes me happy.
About We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Joan offered this: “I loved it from the first page: “Everyone else in my family is dead.” And the magic continued throughout the book where she’d drop in little bombs like that... To me it felt like a mix of two of my favorites, Diane Setterfield’s Thirteenth Tale and Sarah Waters’ Little Stranger. I’m sure you’ve read them, but if not, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.” Hurrah! Success AND other recommendations. I’ve read the Setterfield but not the Waters. Add it to the list!
Peggy was less thrilled with her suggestion. “It was... OK…I'm glad I read something by de Maupassant, though, since he's one of those authors I was probably supposed to read in high school and never did. I have found, as I have read those sorts of books through the years that most of them are disappointing. I suppose the moralistic tales that can teach us what to be - or not to be - in high school don't have much effect on us years later.” Drat! Ah well, you can’t win ‘em all!
To wrap it all up, I got a lot out of this exercise and hope others got a bit of fun out of it as well. And I hope that if any more people do read the books I recommended, they let me know what they think, good or bad!