"You should read this book; I'm sure you'll love it!"
Whenever I hear these words, the inner child in me comes to the forefront, folds her arms and stamps her foot. "No, I don't want to read your stupid book! How do YOU know I'll love it? This feels like a school assignment." Of course I don't say that out loud, but politely accept the proffered tome and put it on the table in my house where all incoming items seem to land. With the passing days the book is slowly covered with a snow-like drift of mail, until the mail is sorted and the irritating book rediscovered.
"Have you read the book yet?" asks the one who loaned it.
"Not yet, I've been SO busy."
"I'm sure you'll love it."
"You can have it back if someone else asked to read it."
I move the book to a less frequently glanced upon spot; a shelf in the hutch on which the microwave sits. Dust gathers on the book, since it is a less frequently dusted spot as well.
Eventually, the owner of the book tires of asking me whether I've read it. I wonder how to give the darn thing back without having to admit I never even glanced at the first page. Grudgingly, I open the book and read the first sentence, "Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person." Humm, not too bad. I read a little more. And a bit more. That is how I came to read Back When We Were Grownups, by Anne Tyler. (Yes, I did love it).
I don't love every book suggested to me; that's why I don't like to push books on other people. But I will mention a few books (besides the aforementioned title), which I have enjoyed and feel provide a good read.
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher, was first published nearly 26 years ago, and became a best seller. The story centers around the character Penelope Keeling, who at age 64, recalls the passions, tragedies, and secrets of her life in Cornwall and London during World War II.
Published in 1988, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, is now a standard in many college literature classes. The spirited protagonist, Taylor Greer, escapes poverty in rural Kentucky. While traveling West, she unexpectedly finds herself the guardian of a little girl. The book explores the themes of love and friendship, abandonment and belonging. Taylor's saga continues in the sequel, Pigs In Heaven.
Finally, there is Love For Lydia by H.E. Bates. This novel was first published in 1952, and much later was the source of a Masterpiece Theatre series. The focus of the story is Lydia, an orphaned English heiress growing up in the turbulent 1920's.