If you could shove a friend into a chair and compel them to read just one book, what would it be?
It’s a little like picking your favorite book of all time. But maybe not quite.
This topic came up recently in a conversation with my friend Evan Ronan and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And specifically because the book I’d force him to read (I’ll get to that in a minute) isn’t necessarily my favorite book of all time.
Maybe I’m loath to choose just one. There are thousands of amazing books and dozens that make me cringe at the cutting emotion, gape at the style, goggle at the deft characterization, etc.
(OK. There’s no maybe about it—I’m definitely loath to choose just one.)
But if you’re forced to choose just one book you wish you could make a friend read, your choice might say a little bit about your friend or how you perceive them. And maybe a little about you.
Think about this: if you said to your best friend, your lover, your parent, that of all the millions of books in the world, this one is the one you’d make them read, isn’t that an intimate act of communication?
It’s akin to saying, “Here. This emotional tone, story, character, all hit a note perfectly in tune with how I see myself and the world. This collection of metaphors is somehow me.”
And the book I’d recommend, at least for certain friends, is Cormac MacCarthy’s Blood Meridian.
Now. I wouldn’t recommend that to everyone I know. (My mother would haaaaaaate this book if she even got to page 10.) But for a fair number of friends who have a certain type of fortitude, this book, all the way.
I don’t believe really good writing can be paraphrased, so I’ll just say that I’ve read this book a number of times, and each time, its power and brutality leave me feeling shaken and wounded and amazed.
What that says about me or what I think of my friends’ reading proclivities? Who the hell knows. Maybe nothing. Because after all, it’s just a book recommendation.
So what about you? What’s that one sledgehammer of a book that you wish you compel others to read?