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Bookflurries is actually one place where you can feel free to say, "You have to read this!" and people will listen and maybe get the book and enjoy it.  That is why I do the series each week.  I have found so many interesting books by paying attention to what people here are excited about reading.

But, in the outside world, this can be a hard thing.  You want to be polite, but it may be the kind of book you would never read in a hundred years.  Maybe you have tried one of their loved books before and discovered you did not agree about its greatness, but you were polite and now you are stuck again.  Ouch!

Maybe your book club has had a long list of clunkers and people are defensive in the discussions so you can’t say what you really think.  What to do?

People have such a wide range of interests.  Basically, I like having people mention books that are new to me, but I thought we might suggest some ways to handle the situation when a favorite friend or relative insists that we must read a book and let them know what we think.

We can plead being too busy, but then they discover that we have read a dozen other books since then and that makes them ornery or hurts their feelings.

We can say we will try it, read the first few pages, and then return it to them and say thank you, but it is not my cup of tea.  Sometimes that works.

We can stop answering their calls, but that is a bit extreme.

When I give my sister a bag of books, I explain that I understand she may not like some of them and that I will not be upset.  I usually know which kind she will like, but not always.  She does give me feedback which helps.  We both get a kick out of the Donna Andrews mysteries.  They are not profound, but they are fun.

I have given some books to Better World Books that have green boxes in grocery store parking lots that I don’t think anyone else would want.  I feel good that the books will be sold to people who really want them and raise money for a good cause.  

Of course, sometimes I will bite the bullet, read the story, and find something in the book that I really do enjoy so I can say so honestly.  I did that for my daughter a couple of years ago and to be honest I did enjoy the book mostly.  

One good thing about Bookflurries is that we can read what we want and report on it unlike the real world book club that forces us to choose just one story a month.  I know about a book club that does that, too.  People just tell about a book they liked and they don’t discuss a particular story.

I enjoy hearing my friends discuss a book that I didn’t want to read.  It is interesting to see what they think.  Discussion is good, really.  It shows me things that I wouldn’t necessarily think about on my own.  

I do know from experience that sometimes an author’s first book is not so good and it is fair to read a few more before deciding it if is your type of story.  Most often the author does get better.  Sometimes, they do not.  Such is life.

I shake in my shoes thinking about how I almost quit on Louise Penny after her first book.  In that case, a friend said to try more and I did and I am thankful.  

Does it really hurt me to read a book that I don’t like because someone else loved it?  In a few cases, I have to say yes, it does.  I have learned what some of my limits are.

I am always sorry when someone says they hated a book they were forced to read in school and that they will never read others by the same author.  That is sad.  Moby Dick was one that I disliked in college, but when I read it much later, I loved it.  I was so upset with the ending of Eliot’s Mill on the Floss in college that it was years before I read Middlemarch and that was because I loved the movie.  Oh, what I might have missed!

Speaking of good books, I just finished A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell.  It will be on my list of the best books that I read in 2014, but it is heart-breaking to the very last page.

The story is set in Italy in WW II:

It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian with a suitcase in her hand. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to be safe at last, now that the Italians have broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as it becomes overnight an open battleground among the Nazis, the Allies, resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive.

Mary Doria Russell sets her first historical novel against this dramatic background, tracing the lives of a handful of fascinating characters. Through them, she tells the little-known but true story of the network of Italian citizens who saved the lives of forty-three thousand Jews during the war’s final phase.

History books can explain an era in a few words, but when characters are added and you live a life with them history comes alive.  Russell is superb and the book is unforgettable.

I understand that some people can not read this kind of heart-breaking story even if it is wonderfully written.  

What do you do when someone says to you, “You HAVE to read this book?”

Diaries of the Week:

Write On! "You're likable enough, character."
by SensibleShoes

DK VA Hospital Support Project: Detroit
by Sara R

Sara says you can still send books:

Attn. Mr. William R. Browning, Volunteer Coordinator
John D. Dingell VAMC
4646 John R Street
Detroit, MI 48201

Bel Kaufman, Author Of 'Up The Down Staircase,' Is Dead At 103

By Susie Madrak July 25, 2014

Bel Kaufman, a former New York City schoolteacher whose classic first novel, “Up the Down Staircase” — shot through with despair and hopefulness, violence and levity, all manner of bureaucratic inanity and a blizzard of official memorandums so mind-bendingly illogical as to seem almost Kafkaesque — was hailed as a stunningly accurate portrait of life in a gritty urban school when it was published in 1965, died on Friday at her home in Manhattan. She was 103.
She's back!!!

Contemporary Fiction Views: A worthy nominee
by bookgirl

Robert Fuller says:

Here's the latest chapter of The Rowan Tree:

Here's the link to the (still free on Kindle) novel:

I believe those who download the free ebook still get a great ($2.99!) deal on the audiobook. I spent months recording that with a wonderful local sound artist who works at the Berkeley institution Freight and Salvage. The sound is great if I do say so myself. If someone can pick up the audiobook of The Rowan Tree when the price is right, I hope they will get it.

My memoir Belonging on Smashwords:

Also, get my father's memoir: The Making of a Scientist free while you can:

NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


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