Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I read many books. Pre-published books, published books, bestsellers. But there’s nothing that delights me more than books that surprise me. Let me talk about a few.
Several years ago I was in an airport with my friend and colleague, Janet Grant. Pre-Kindle days meant we had to detour by the bookstore since we were fresh out of books and the plane ride home would be a long one. Janet carefully read back covers and selected the perfect book based on the back cover copy, the author and the genre. I happened upon a book featured on a gondola and the cover took my breath away. I’m almost ashamed to admit I bought the pricey hardcover book because of the cover. But the surprise came in the story–The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark– it was as compelling as the cover.
Another book that surprised me was Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I had heard people describe the book of 365 devotions in superlatives. Yawn. Any book that is the new hot thing is generally not my thing. When I finally succumbed out of curiosity and opened the cover, I was hooked. I’ll humbly admit I’m on my third year through the book myself and have watched it change lives.
Many friends, knowing I love character-driven historical mysteries, recommended the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. I didn’t jump on the series immediately because it took place following WWI and I tend to avoid that awful aftermath. But when I finally dipped into the first book, titled simply Maisie Dobbs, I was hooked. So much richer and more challenging than anything I’d read. An investigator who was also a psychologist who took listening to a whole new level? It definitely belongs in my books that surprise me category. I’ve devoured all ten books and am waiting for mid March when the 11th will be out.
My most recent surprise came with the least likely book I might ever pick up. Written in 1939 and virtually unchanged in every edition since then, this book has sold some 30 million copies. Time magazine named it one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923 (the birth of the magazine). The Library of Congress designated it one of the 88 books that shaped America. The book? The Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous). A friend challenged me to read it. She said that we all need to understand the twelve steps if we are to change and grow. In a thought-provoking talk she offered the premise that Christians tend to do steps one, two and three and then jump to steps eleven and twelve. We skip over things like “make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Bingo. Reading this richly inspired book puts The Big Book high up on the books that surprise me list.
And of course, aside from books, there’s nothing that I enjoy discovering more than a manuscript that surprises me. 🙂
So how about you? what books have surprised you lately?
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