Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why I Read - A Shout Out to Trish Ryan!

So I've explored the whole notion of why I write here on the blog, but given that today is Trish Ryan's pub day, I wanted to also explore the notion of why I read. Obviously I read to be entertained and to get sucked into a story that sticks like taffy on my emotional radar, but sometimes, I read because it educates me in ways that I didn't even realize I needed or wanted to be educated.

Cue: Trish's debut memoir,
HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT: A MEMOIR OF FINDING FAITH, HOPE, AND HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

A while back, Trish sent me a note asking if I'd take an advanced peek at her manuscript and if I liked what I read, if I would be comfortable blurbing the book. Now, Trish's memoir is not only about finding a man (something I could relate to), it's also about finding religion, specifically, Christianity (something I couldn't). I wrote Trish back and said, a) I'm Jewish and b) I'm not such a good Jew on top of that and c) the subjects of Jesus and God and all of that make me a little squirmy. But because Trish is a generous friend, I also said, "But, if you still want me to read knowing all of this, I'm happy to."

So the manuscript arrived, and I worried - because, as I said, Trish is a friend - that I would flip it open and find myself in the middle of the literary equivalent of The 700 Club. (And I mean NO disrespect to people who adore The 700 Club or anything similar...I just mean that it's so outside my bounds that I was worried about relating.) But lo and behold, I started reading, and then read some more, and finally, after two or three days, downed the entire manuscript with yes, a few squirmy moments that took me outside my comfort zone, but mostly with an entirely new view and perspective into Christianity, into Trish and even into my own spirituality, whatever that may be.

And I realized that I'd done both Trish and myself a disservice by prepackaging up her book into its "religion" box because really, this book, not unlike my own book which gets packaged up into a "cancer" box, was about much more than finding God. It was about how one woman found her way in the world, and at its heart, the underlying story or message, truly resonated with me, even though Trish's life - in some ways - so wildly differs from mine.

Oh, and yes, I gave her a blurb.

So...anyway...all of this is a long way of saying that sometimes, consider picking up a book that you've heard great things about, even if you don't think it's entirely up your alley. Stretching yourself (and your reading list) even a teeny bit might be just what you need to open your eyes a little wider and gain insight into your own world.

So tell me, what books in recent memory have surprised you, sucked you in when you didn't think they would?

7 comments:

The Writers' Group said...

I met Trish at Grub Street's conference this weekend (you have to come next year, Allison), bought her book which I've been dying to read, and then spent the rest of the weekend trying to find her so she could sign it! Can't wait to tuckinto it.

Amy MacKinnon

Keetha said...

When I started Bel Canto, I had no idea what the ending would be like. If I had, frankly, I'd have never read it. (I've never seen The Lion King, even when I had the opportunity while visiting NYC, because IT'S SAD. I like happy endings.) But. I didn't know that and I read it and it was breathtaking. I still think about it sometimes.

Jen A. Miller said...

I got an advance of Trish's book too and for some reason didn't realized that there was a Jesus part to it. But I'm happy to say I had the same exeperience you did -- it's not a religion book. It's a book about someone's life, and I really enjoyed it.

Larramie said...

First of all, what Allison hasn't mentioned in this post is that her blurb was SO good and universal that it's on the front dust jacket flap!

And, while there was a certain hesitancy on my part about reading Trish's spiritual journey to find a husband through God's help, I loved this honest-to-goodness tale.

Patricia Robb said...

I just ordered both books from Amazon. Trish's and yours. They both sound like great reads for the summer.

I've been reading so many professional books lately I thought a nice read would be good for a change. Something to make me think, cry, laugh and just enjoy. These books sound like they might just be what the doctor ordered...

Patricia

Suzanne said...

I'm looking forward to reading Trish's book!

Re: surprising reads: I had that experience recently when I read "Water for Elephants". I'd resisted it for a long time because I couldn't imagine liking a book about the circus. Luckily I eventually picked it up and read the prologue and was hooked until the very end. That was a very nice surprise...it also taught me a lot about the use of a prologue to hook a reader!

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Hey Patricia, thanks so much for picking up the book!