I love you. Yes. You. The patrons and customers of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. You see, this is how I get when I finish a book that I love, particularly when I learned about it from a customer. All of you get credit for it, even though it was only one person who came in, having heard about it on Fresh Air, and asked me to help him find it.
Okay, I’ll tell you what it is… The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett. I have never, ever, had any interest in reading Proust, before I read this book. I had never heard of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love, until, in this exquisite little novella, it was the catalyst that got the Queen of England on a reading binge. What happens is, Queen Elizabeth is out walking her dogs, when they suddenly go tearing around a corner and stumble upon a bookmobile parked outside the palace. The Queen apologizes to the librarian for the ruckus, and checks out a book (a novel by Ivy Compton-Burnett), just to be polite. That particular tome doesn’t actually get her started, but when she dutifully checks out The Pursuit of Love the following week, again not wanting to seem unappreciative, her life changes. The next thing you know, she’s suggesting titles to the prime minister and asking people about what they’re reading, much to the chagrin of her private secretary.
What’s so fabulous about this book, aside from the hilarious response of the royal court and the prime minister, is to see the Queen discover what reading does for a person. So while she finds herself seeing others in a new light, for example, thanks to her reading, I experience a renewed joy and gratitude for my own reading, and for those many people, whether they’re customers, friends, talk show hosts, or book-jacket designers, who introduce me to one great book after another. Which, as you can see, inspires me to professions of love for all humanity.
While this particular book got me interested in reading new authors and titles, here are some others that might lead you to something wonderful:
- Book Lust and More Book Lust, by Nancy Pearl.
- Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, by Nick Hornby.
- You’ve Got to Read This Book: 55 People Tell the Story of the Book that Changed Their Life, compiled by Jack Canfield, Gay Hendricks, with Carol Kline.
Alright, it’s your turn now. What books are making you gush these days? Tell us about your latest amazing reading experience.