book·ish : How Do You Choose a Book?

I read this really lovely quote the other day from Wentworth Dillon, IV Earl of Roscommon : 

"Choose an author as you would a friend." 

It made me think about all the books I've read and how I met them. Most often, I choose books at the recommendation of someone whose opinion I trust. In recent years, those recommendations most often come from you - my blog community. But sometimes it's a serendipitous happenstance that I recognize as a blessing in retrospect.

I rarely choose a book at random and enjoy it. The one exception was The Reader; it's one of my favorites, and now Bernard Schlink is one of my favorite authors, and the way that I found it felt sort of providential, like I was supposed to find it. It was sitting on a shelf in my local library, where I worked as a teenager. Its cover was beautiful, but when I opened the book I realized that it was placed upside down - to read it, you had to flip it over, and so to the rest of the world it looked as though you were reading it back-to-front and upside-down. The description on the back cover was intriguing, but I felt compelled to read it because of the misplaced cover, because I noticed that if patrons picked it up and noticed that the cover was a mistake, they often put it back down and found something else. When I read it, the secret in the story made it feel like I was meant to read it and if someone else didn't choose it because of the cover, then it was a secret between me and that book alone, one that I would always treasure. They didn't know what they were missing and I wasn't about to tell them.  

No matter how we meet books or people, the relationship requires trust, mutual interest, shared language. I love reading a book and thinking quietly to the characters and author, "Me too."




1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.


Andrea Beltran said...

Lovely post, Bethany. The Reader is a favorite of mine as well. Schlink also has a book of stories: Flights of Love. Have you read it? And thanks for sharing this quote. I wholeheartedly agree.

Jim Woods said...

I read books from referrals too. Some are great and some don't resonate with me as much. I think a LOT of it depends on my mood and what is going on in my life too. I didn't like the War of Art a year ago but I loved it when I reread it 7 months ago. 

Pilar Arsenec said...

I love this post, so good...  Thank you!

Faith Y said...

Great post, Bethany. I read books from recommendations too. I have a mile long list of books to read. Others are just picked up because it's a favorite author of mine.

Brynna Lynea said...

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your
longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated
from anyone. You belong.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald

Beautiful. I've found many of my favorites through classes I've taken, and many others through friends. But I love to discover on my own, as well.

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