A while back, I bought a wholesale lot of books on eBay — a few of which I’ve since listed in my own auction. Granted, as a would-be author I wrestle with the propriety of buying used books since the royalties don’t go to the author. On the other hand, many of the books I purchased are no longer stocked in most bookstores, and yet having read and enjoyed them I’ve since purchased other works by the same author. In other words, having read something that didn’t earn the author money led me to purchases that have.
Right now, I’m reading a book that I’ve ignored for the five months it’s been on my shelves. Why? Well, because Oprah recommended it and, while I’ve got nothing against Oprah (in fact, I rather adore her), I’ve previously assumed her book choices would be geared toward the mass audience: folks who want an easy read, a fast-paced story, and lots of emotional warm fuzzies. Thanks to running out of fiction to read before bed — I save non-fiction for daylight — I wound up grabbing Jewel by Bret Lott off my shelf.
Since then, I’ve been coming up with reasons to go to bed early. The story of Jewel Hilburn, a Southern woman pushing 40 and pregnant with what she knows will be her last child, speaks so poignantly of motherly love and angst. Not since Styron’s book, Sophie’s Choice, have I read such divinely crafted sentences. Some are so powerful I find myself setting the book in my lap, my eyes fixed on some distant point while I just repeat the words in my head, rolling them around like candy on my tongue.
I’m halfway through Jewel right now, and I don’t want it to end. I long for writers like this, for words so carefully written that I, the reader, know I should take care to read each and every one. I don’t need to know the end of the story to know this is a book that will stay with me — and on my shelves — for a long time to come. If not life-changing at its conclusion, well, I can say the book has changed me already: I have a new understanding of the beauty of a story unhurriedly told.
So… what book has rattled your cage lately?