Thursday, August 21, 2014

Recommending Favorites

Yesterday someone asked me to recommend a good book that wouldn't take forever to read, wasn't about or for teens, but would be exciting and clean.  As most of you know I write a review column for Meridian Magazine and I knew just the book to recommend--Ring Around the Rosie by Julie Coulter Bellon.  You can read my review of that book here

I come in contact with a lot of people and I'm often asked to suggest books they might enjoy.  This discussion often begins with "I've read all of your books, can you suggest . . . "  Last night I had this discussion with a fourth grade teacher and I had to admit I don't read a lot of middle grade books, but I did recommend my daughter, Janice Sperry's Rebel Princess. Someone else asked about books for teenagers, again an area where I don't read a lot, but I told him I was enjoying a series by Margot Hovley and one by Robert Wells.

Discussions on book recommendations usually bring up a question I don't answer well.  What is your favorite book?  I don't have a favorite whether we're discussing books I've written or books I've read.  I read well over a hundred books a year, representing nearly every genre.  I'm currently writing my twenty-fifth novel and I've never stuck to just one genre. Out of all those books I can't settle on just one favorite, but I could probably name a dozen favorite authors.  When it comes to my own books, that's like being asked to name a favorite child. Each one has its own special place in my heart and memories.

Years ago I was told no one reads the same book someone else wrote, meaning we each bring our own life experiences, prejudices, value system, etc., to each book we read and they may not be the same as the author's.  I've always been aware that my tastes in reading material changes as my life changes and I think it's the same for most people.  In the fourth grade I devoured fairy tales.  By the sixth grade it was Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Trixie Beldon, and such young sleuth type of books.  I went through a science fiction phase, a detective phase, read tons of romances,  and even read every Western I could get my hands on.  Somehow Westerns led to Historicals.  The one common thread I've detected in my reading taste is action.  I much prefer characters who do something over ones that philosophize.

I've never been a big fan of the so-called Classics though a few like Silas Marner and The Light in August made a lasting impression on me and are among the few Classics I've reread. I've never regretted reading the classics and enjoyed most of them, but I'll admit I prefer genre fiction.  This is why I try to be careful when asked to recommend a book for another person.  Just because I love a certain book doesn't mean everyone will.  When giving or recommending a book to someone else it's helpful to know something about the person, his/her tastes, age group, other books that person has enjoyed, and their values.

As I've gone through my different reading phases I've learned that reading one sole genre for months or years on end is not a good thing.  There are some genres I seldom read or enjoy anymore because of my prior saturation reading.  It really is a good idea to try new genres and new authors.  I find as a reviewer I enjoy my "favorites" much more by interspersing them with a wide array of "others". And sometimes I strike gold, finding a new "favorite".

For any who are interested, here is a list of the books I've read this summer.  If I were giving these books starred ratings, none would rank lower than three stars and many certainly deserve five. 

Ring Around the Rosie - Bellon
Run for Your Life - Mathews
The Insider - Bessey

Imperfect Love - Talley
Becoming Lady Lockwood - Moore
Waiting for You - Halverson

Science Fiction
Assault on Cambriol - Borrowman

Rebel Princess - Sperry
The Keeper's Defiance - Nelson
I'm Not Cinderella - Montgomery

Trouble at the Red Pueblo - Adair
Willow Springs - Steele

Persona non Grata - Stirling
Quantum Breach - Acey
Twisted Fate - Abramson, Luke, Black

Counting Candles - Bradshaw
Behold Your Little Ones - Brown

Hope - Wilkins
In All Places - Ayleworth
Men of Destiny - Brobst


Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Thank you so much, Jennie! Your opinion means a lot to me and I'm so glad you liked my book. I think I'm going to print out that list of books for my own TBR list. It's a good one!

Rebecca Talley said...

Thank you for recommending my book! Thanks for the suggestions of other books to read. and I loved Julie's book.