I have a love/hate relationship with recommending books to people.
I LOVE sharing my love of books.
But I hate having to do it on the spot.
Recommending books is a lot like ordering for someone at a restaurant. Sure, you can do it blindly. But shouldn’t you first make sure they’re not allergic to cilantro? Or find out if they’re vegetarian? Or keep in mind that they have a serious sweet tooth?
So…ask me to suggest a book for you and the next thing out of my mouth will be not a book title, but a set of questions.
What’s the last book you read and loved?
What are you in the mood for next?
What are you absolutely not in the mood for?
It also helps to know a bit about where you are emotionally. For example, I once suggested a book about a woman who was getting divorced to a friend who was having marital problems (she did not enjoy the book as much as I did).
All that being said, when you get it right, suggesting a book that someone ends up loving is as satisfying as hooking up two friends who end up getting married. Some of my greatest hits include:
In Malice, Quite Close by Brandi Lynn Ryder – I suggested this to a friend who was looking for a smart, dark, and edgy mystery. It’s about a French expat/art aficionado who becomes enamored with a 15-year-old girl, kidnaps her, and stages her death. Years later, the pair are living an opulent life in a town known for its art, but when a series of paintings are discovered, all their secrets and manipulations threaten to come to surface.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – I’ve suggested this memoir to so many writers (really, you cannot go wrong with this one). King retraces his steps from his beginnings as a struggling writer to his daily writing habits and insights of the (not-so-recent) present. I highly recommend getting this one on audiobook and listening to it during your next road trip, or when you drive around town doing errands. Because it’s narrated by King himself, it ends up feeling like he’s your personal writing coach.
This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park – Some books break your heart so tenderly you feel more human having read them. If you’re a sucker for a good “what if?” story or enjoy rooting for star-crossed lovers, this is a book for you. Set in post-war South Korea, This Burns My Heart is the story of a Soon-Ja Choi, who falls in love with a young medical student on the eve of her wedding, but, bound by a sense of duty to her family, chooses to go through with her loveless arranged marriage. As her story unfolds and the man she fell in love with remains in the background of her mind, thoughts, and life, you wonder if we can ever truly right our wrong choices, or live the life we should have.
What books have you recommended to friends with great success? What books have you suggested that friends hated?
Latest posts by Natalia Sylvester (see all)
- What It Really All Meant, In the End - Tuesday, August 26, 2014
- Book 2 Is Coming Soon, Eventually, Someday… - Tuesday, August 19, 2014
- Renee Swindle on Letting Go of the Rules + GIVEAWAY of A Pinch of Ooh La La! - Saturday, August 16, 2014
- The One Thing I Hope to Do Differently for the Next Book - Tuesday, August 12, 2014
- Anish Majumdar on Writing About Mental Illness, Fiction as Truth + Giveaway of THE ISOLATION DOOR - Saturday, August 9, 2014