Brilliant books

As an avid reader with catholic (and I don’t mean the religion) tastes, from time to time I discover books that I think certain friends and family members would love to read. 

Occasionally, I act on this impulse.  Only occasionally, because sometimes being given a book with an instruction to read it (“You must read this book!  You’ll love it!”) can feel like being given homework.  And you just know the gift-giver is going to stalk you about it later.  (“Have you read it yet?  Did you like it?  I must send you the author’s other works.”)  So it can be a bit of a bore, being given a book.

I try to avoid being that kind of bore. 

So the book is given in a low-key manner, and – usually – received in much the same way.  “Oh…a book!….Thanks…”   You can tell they’re unenthused.  But if you’ve chosen wisely, the fun is in the next part. 

Six months later, on a rainy Sunday afternoon and with nothing better to do, they finally crack the book open.  A while later, you get a phonecall:

“THAT BOOK!!!” they exclaim.  “Is a GREAT BOOK!!!”  And then they rave on for ten minutes about how much they enjoyed it/are enjoying it. 

It gives me so much satisfaction. 

[Twice, it was about Straight From The Horse’s Ass by Lee Hughes, about a man’s journey on horseback across America, from Canada to Mexico.  Lee hadn’t ridden a horse before he made that journey, so it was a true greenhorn effort.  He had been living in rainy London and saw the movie Dances With Wolves, and it inspired him to do something bold and frontier-like.  It’s a wonderful book, and very funny.

Another time, it was about Anthony Bourdain’s muscular memoir, Kitchen Confidential.  The teenage boy I’d given it to glowed with delight when he thanked me for the book.  I think it’d been a long while since he’d read something that had spoken to him so directly.]


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