Whenever someone from outside my trusted posse of five recommends a book to me and it seriously misfires, a question invariably runs through my thick skull: When will I learn my lesson?
How often does this happen to you? Although I'm semi-obsessive about tallying things, to this point, I haven't kept track of the ratio of my non-posse hits vs. misses. But a recent very distressing reading experience has persuaded me it might be time to do so. Or, maybe I'll avoid book conversations with a select group of people.
Actually, that putative group might have already begun forming. Caveat first: I remain committed to not bad-mouthing any book by name until I finish writing one myself. Now, let me be clear to any potential non-posse recommender: Any book - literary quality aside - featuring sustained and graphic sexual, physical, and verbal abuse inflicted by a father on his daughter is not for me. I don't object, at all, to dark books. And I get the cathartic value of a monster getting his just desserts and the heroine surviving, perhaps even thriving, despite horrific circumstances in childhood and adolescence. But reflecting on this recommendation made by someone with whom I'd discussed many books, I had trouble escaping one disturbing thought: What exactly led this person to think I would want to read this?
Then, that dark thought morphed into some coaching for myself: Be more thoughtful about what you recommend to others, Pat, and ask more questions about things that others find upsetting. Some recommendations are about more than a book.