Last week, while looking for books at the library I needed some help finding a book. The librarian was able to find the book quite easily. I had missed a letter when writing the author’s last name on the square scrap of paper I picked up near the computer catalogue. I secretly blamed it on the short golf pencils they keep there. Normally, that should have been the end of it, but instead I asked her for a book recommendation. She asked me what I liked to read.
That’s always a tough question. I read lots of different genres–fiction and non-fiction. I read a lot of books and go through author’s catalogues quickly. I am always happy when I stumble upon a good writer that has already written lots of books. That usually means many happy weeks of reading. When that is done, I am left in a bit of a lurch about what I should read next.
So what do I want when reading? Basically, I want a book that when it’s over, I will feel that it is completed, but I will wish that it weren’t. I want to turn the final page with bittersweet emotion. I want to desperately savour that final paragraph, closing the cover only when it has been fully digested, when the final words have sunk in.
Don’t misunderstand. I neither expect, nor need, complete resolution. A clumsy final paragraph that tries desperately to wrap things up (like the last episode of How I Met Your Mother) would be horrible and leave a bad aftertaste, which seems only to grow more horrible in memory. Some redemption, on the other hand, is required. Not all books have it, not even all good books, but having to close the cover on a book with one hundred percent sorrow is much more bitter than bittersweet. The reverse, or so called “Hollywood ending”, is just as undesirable. I don’t take sugar in my coffee, why would I insist upon it in literature.
Though I have had more time to think about it since the librarian asked me, and have had time to edit the explanation enough to where it sounds clear, I think (or at least want to believe) I said much the same when she asked me. At that time, it came stumbling out of my mouth, being partially tongue tied due to my shyness and partially due to her eyes and perfume. I think I concluded with “… a well written book.”
She suggested Jeannette Walls’ book “The Glass Castle.” She claimed that it was a beautiful and well written book, and though she didn’t use the word “favourite”, I suspect that she would have. She seemed earnest and I checked it out without hesitation.
I read the book this week and I can affirm that it was exactly the book I was looking for.
I am probably not telling anybody anything new, because the book is popular and will be made into a movie, but it was a great discovery for me.
If you know of any books that fit this description, please do not hesitate to share them with me.