Some books stand the test of time. Have you ever looked through your bookshelves (or your digital library) and decided to re-read the volumes that you found especially entertaining, meaningful, or enchanting years ago? Did you find it as it was the first time? When I re-read Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” I noticed many subtle yet captivating nuances that I clearly missed the first time. Austen’s books are best read leisurely if one is to appreciate her wit, social acumen, phrasing, and style. Jane Austen kept me spellbound then and now. On the other hand, when I re-read John Kennedy Toole’s “Confederacy of Dunces,” which I considered highly entertaining when I read it decades ago in college, I thought to myself “What was I thinking?” to recommend THIS to a new book club whose members might not appreciate the book’s colorful prose.
The post-reading discussion was a tad strained. I was mortified. To quote avid reader Colonel Robert F. Meyers who I introduced to you last year, the protagonist in “A Confederacy of Dunces” arguably had “a brilliant mind – unbelievably warped!” Yet, this is what makes talking about books so delightful. We may not agree on what makes a book “good,” but we can agree that reading is “good,” whatever that may personally mean to each of us. Reading is subjective in its experience and the task of recommending a book to someone can be daunting. I was reminded of this during a recent visit with members of yet another local book club during their monthly gathering. As luck would have it, I had just finished “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine,” by Gail Honeyman (2017), the book the group had chosen as their selection for the month.
A quirky yet engaging story, discussion was free-flowing and fun with these gracious readers. Of course, the evening’s conversation turned to a lively discussion about “What’s your favorite book?” Years may pass but book lovers can always recall with enthusiasm and wonderful detail their favorite literature. For me, there have been many favorites over time; I could not possibly choose just one. And after my Dunces’ blunder, I am cautious in waxing poetic about my favorites. How about you? Do you have a favorite you have read more than once? And perhaps you too have a cringe-worthy book recommendation faux pas? Do tell! Your emails are always welcome, enlightening, entertaining, and a privilege to read!