(And probably don’t need, but here we go anyway...)
(Live look at me recommending you books)
Owning a bookstore is… strange. That’s most likely not what you want to hear (based on the amount of DMs we receive telling us, “You’re Living my Dream!” and, “I Want to Own a Bookstore Too One Day!”). And truthfully, I want that for you too! I want to visit those stores! I love bookstores to an unhinged degree, which goes a long way into explaining how I ended up owning one clearly. But I am just here to warn you that… it’s strange. Reading is personal; intimate, in a way other mass marketable art forms do not seem to be, at least not to me. A song is generally a three minute investment: if you play a favorite song in the company a friend and they skip it halfway, there is a momentary sting and a quiet judgment of their taste in music, but the moment passes quickly. (Unless that song is Landslide by Fleetwood Mac. If they don’t like that song, get out of the car. You’re in the presence of a serial killer.)
Reading a close friend's (or god forbid, a partner or lover's) favorite books only to find yourself hating every minute of it is a unique experience. It can make you question everything about them, seeing their former mystery bulldozed flat in the presence of their adoration for repetitive exposition and reductive dialogue. Did they say you’d “NEVER GUESS THE TWIST” only for you to guess it in the first 50 pages?? Well, now you know this is not a person that you want to be stuck with at a dinner party where someone is suspiciously murdered, and you all are suspects.
**If you go by the rate this happens in books, then it must be that statistically about half of all dinner parties end in murder. Consider yourself warned.**
If you’ve read and shared books among friends, more than likely you’ve found yourself in these choppy, nausea-inducing waters. My own sister has taken to reading all of my favorite books to manually check for chinks in my mental armor. She is still constantly surprised whenever she finds a book that I “HIGHLY RECOMMEND” to be good. (I try not to take offense to this repeated, offensive surprise.)
All of this is just to say: I am certain that I have no business telling you what to read. At the end of the day, you should read what you enjoy, and try to diversify your reading as much as you can to make sure you are not missing out on enjoyment by limiting your scope. It is in this spirit alone that we offer up our reviews. Don’t look at them as things we believe you absolutely must read (!!!), but only as a small joy that once beamed in our hands as we turned their pages, that we believe could shine for you too. Books that we found delectable, that we wanted to show you not just what they were about, but how they made us feel. Maybe you can read them, if you’d like to feel that way too.
Also, you may notice, I’ve left comments disabled on these reviews and blog posts. This is for the simple fact that it makes me happiest. I am speaking this into a bottle and throwing into the ocean. If you’d like to open it and hear my words, I hope they interest you. If you do not like them, please recycle the bottle and throw me back. If you’d like to drop me a line and talk books, I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to insult me, or tell me how much you hate a book I recommended, I’d prefer you do it in person at our physical location (or if I’m not in at the time, by leaving me a tiny angry post-it note, please). Why? Well, being angry on the internet (about trivial matters) is passé, and if you’re angry, it can be helpful for me to look into your face and see why. I think we could all use being seen authentically a little bit more often, even in our anger. Especially in our anger. If I recommend a book you hate, maybe we can turn it into a laugh over what you perceive as my bad taste in rabbit-hole literature. Or we can, as is usually the most comfortable solution, agree to disagree.
I will only be recommending books that we rate 5 stars, for the simple reason that if I didn’t love a book enough to give it top ratings, then I certainly don’t love it enough to write a review about it. Lots of people can write critically and helpfully, but thankfully, that is not in my skill set. I only have the capacity to beam about the things I really and truly love, and hope I can shine their light to you too.
Here’s to Papercut, to Reading, to Community. To Us.