As promised our discussion of A Land More Kind Than Home has ended but I’m still here.
I’ve had a question that I think all of you might be interested in hearing (reading) my response.
The comment and question.
“The novel wasn’t anything I would have picked up on my own, but I really enjoyed it. How do you choose your books?”
- Be well written. I’m an eye roller. Have you ever begun a book and right off the bat something is off? If I get a few pages in and I’m already rolling my eyes or find myself thinking about how many household chores need to be done I might as well put the book down and walk away.
- Transport me away from my everyday existence. I mentioned in the discussion of Burial Rites that I thought that Hannah Kent did a fantastic job of painting a picture of life in Iceland in 1862. I may never get to visit Iceland but I got a feel for the atmosphere, and quite frankly after reading the novel Iceland has made it onto my “want to visit” list.
- Make me feel for the characters. I don’t have to love them, but they must feel real and show depth.
Beyond the criteria above, I love to find that gem sitting on the shelf that hasn’t caught on with a wider audience. There are so many great books but some I consider “orphan” books. They haven’t been widely reviewed, haven’t had a three page spread in the New York Times, and for whatever reason, in my opinion, seem to be left out to dry by their publisher. This may not have been the case with Burial Rites or A Land More Kind Than Home. I honestly don’t remember, but there have been cases recently that made me scratch my head. The one that comes to mind is A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon. It was truly a different and well written novel, but seemed to be passed over for other authors and novels that in my opinion were inferior. You may see it here in the future – I haven’t decided.
I do read more popular books, but I probably have read them before they became popular. My problem with choosing a “best seller” is that they’ve been talked out by the time I can get enough copies together to do a discussion. I considered doing The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (congratulations on the Pulitzer), but beyond the number of pages, everyone has read it and discussed it to death. That just doesn’t interest me. Having just said that if any of you want me to consider a book that has reached that level of popularity I will. All you need do is ask, suggest, or post a comment!
Now that I have bored you with my overly long response I will allow you to get back to reading. Beware though the next post will announce our new selection.