Books: Windows to Friendship

April 15, 2014

Book Recommending a person.jpg

When a friend recommends a book to me, I take it seriously, especially when the recommendation is not just, “This is a great story.” When I hear words like, “This novel impacted my faith,” or “I thought about this book for months,” I know I’m dealing with something much more delicate.

When I read a book on a friend’s recommendation, I not only learn about new characters or find an author’s voice, but I also catch a glimpse of my friend, the fellow reader. Reading a beloved book of a friend is like being trusted with a secret, almost as though I’m having a conversation through the shared words, and the experience is, in some ways, more private than an actual conversation over coffee or at dinner.

Reading is a solitary activity for the most part, but being a book lover is more about community. Trusting a friend with a treasured book involves a level of vulnerability. The book’s words become reflections of the reader as well as the author. When we say, “Oh, please read this book. I absolutely loved it,” we are sharing a part of ourselves with another person. Books are intimate.

When I’m in a crowd, especially a crowd of new faces, I listen for book titles dropped in conversation as touchstones. Somehow, I learn more about a person when I hear books they loved or hated. I’m not saying I never like someone who doesn’t like the same books I like. I have friends who despise Jane Austen or love Thomas Pynchon. We are still friends. I don’t disown people because of book preferences. But, when I hear that familiar quote from a touchstone book, I know I’ve found a kindred spirit.

So, let me in on your secret: What’s a book you’d recommend that’s a little window to your soul?

Photo Credit: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes via Compfight cc

Kelly Wiggains

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Kelly Wiggains, a high school English teacher turned homeschooling mom, likes to surround herself with good literature, beautiful things, and big ideas, and she wants her home to reflect those things, too. Here at she talks about everything From Literature to Living., 5 eBooks for $7.40!

6 responses to Books: Windows to Friendship

  1. I LOOOOVE To Kill A Mockingbird, which was recommended by you and 2 other friends. It took me a couple of years after the first recommendation before I finally read it. Then I wondered HOW in the world I had never read it before!

    One of my faves is “Jayber Crow” by Wendell Berry.

    • Yes, this is just one of the services I offer to my friends. I bring them the books they’ve always needed to read. And I hope I can read Jayber Crow soon.

  2. I love this–LOVE it. Yes, books recommends friends to us, and do so brilliantly. And since I generally only read “Kelly Wiggains recommends…” selections for my post-1965 reading selections, I feel like we have a good track record in this department. We are mostly in agreement with books to recommend, so I will go ahead and toss out a few suggestions of books I would NOT recommend to someone I wanted to befriend: /Wuthering Heights/ and anything in the /Wicked/ series. I don’t say that to be mean, but simply as well-intentioned warnings to anyone whose time and respect I value.

    • Yes! I have never understood the appeal of Wuthering Heights, and I much prefer Wicked the musical to the book series (although, I only read Wicked and didn’t attempt the rest).

  3. While I’m an Orson Scott Card fan, it was “Shadow of the Hegemon” which revealed one of my best kept secrets…to me.