Wednesday, April 25, 2007


There's nothing like the powerful influence of friends and relatives. They seem to have an opinion about all topics under the sun (and everywhere else, for that matter). Whether it's what movie you should go see, what sort of person you should date, what your career should be, where you should live, how you should wear your hair, what you should invest in...There are always going to be those friendly dictators in life who are determined to "gently suggest" or "nudge" us in one direction or another.

I usually stand firm when those "you should" people start to slyly introduce such commands-- I mean suggestions-- and politely say something to the effect of "Go fly a kite!"

When a truly friendly suggestion comes along, however, perhaps pertaining to books and music, my mind and ears are always gladly open. Obviously, the great thing about knowing a large bunch of people is that you are inevitably going to become inducted into a variety of worlds...Different cultures, different interests, tastes, smells, sights, philosophies, beliefs, etc...Such marvelously human attributes will come flooding into your world, expanding its already bright and diverse spectrum.

When your friends and relatives really take care to know who you are, and are genuinely interested in contributing to your individual world, it is a delight. This past weekend, for example, a friend and I went on a long drive and began to discuss books. We shared our favorite stories, characters and authors. We made lists of our favorite novels and children's books. We recommended titles to each other, focusing on our favorite genres and writing styles.

I even managed to sell a book to my friend! She had just finished Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and was searching for something to fill the void that appeared upon its completion. I told her that if she loved Jonathan Strange, she would undoubtedly enjoy Freedom & Necessity, which is a book that I am rather obsessed with. My friend took my suggestion and I was so elated! That is the sort of friendly give and take that I adore. It's kind of like that movie with that creepy Haley Joel kid...The one who looks like someone stuffed two pale blue marbles into his face and mistook them for eyeballs...You know...What is the name of that film...? Oh, I think it's called "Pay it Forward". Anyway, it's a cheesy movie and Kevin Spacey's face is as crispy as a toaster strudel, but the basic concept is true: to be able to give something to another and receive so much in return is rather incredible. Even if it's something small, like making someone a CD filled with music you think he or she may enjoy...It's marvelous! I want to recommend books, etc. more often than I already do!