My book club recently read a book titled, The Book That Matters Most, by Ann Hood. The book tells the story of people in a book club where a year’s reading was chosen from the “book that mattered most” to each member of the group.
I won’t go into detail of the book, but I will say that in my book group, we were all struck by the title, “the book that matters most,” and had a really fun evening discussing the books that have been most meaningful in our lives.
Of course, I put the Bible, at the top of the list. The Word of God has transformed millions, even billions of lives over time and shaped much of Western thought.
But leaving aside the Bible, we played with the notion of books that mattered. For many of us, it was childhood books., those tattered volumes that taught us to love reading. For me I’d say Mother West Wind Why Stories, by Thornton W. Burgess. Burgess was a conservationist who wrote about the natural world, particularly animals, for children. This site lists his work totalling 172 books. My mother had read many of the books aloud as bedtime stories. My brothers and I knew all about Sammy Jay and Unc Billy Possom, and Grandfather Frog, and Reddy Fox, and Blackie the Crow. By the time we reached Mother West Wind our family was growing and Mom was short of time. It was also a period when I was learning to read for myself.
In school we had Dick and Jane books. If ever there was a series designed to discourage reading, that was it. How boring is “Look, look. See Dick. See Dick run?” Using those texts, I’d learned to read words, but Mother West Wind was the first time I read a story for myself.
Another of our book club named Anne of Green Gables as a seminal book for her. The reason? Her teacher read it aloud to the class. My friend’s home was different from mine – no one read bedtime stories. So, for her, hearing a book read aloud left a lasting impression.
Our group had a lively time calling up Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Cherry Ames and Little Women as favourites from childhood. One woman mentioned Catcher in the Rye, a book that was included in Ms Hood’s novel. My friend read the book as a teenager and found it “perfect” for the time.
As an adult, I discovered Georgette Heyer while travelling through non-English speaking countries. When I found Frederica in a book store, I had to buy it. It was my first experience of Regency Romance and opened a whole new world of books to me.
My book club had a delightful evening. I won’t expand on our discussion of The Book that Matters Most, you can read it for yourself and form your own conclusions, but we all agreed that the title was a great conversation starter and proved that books matter.
How about you? What book matters most in your reading life? Leave a comment and I’ll enter you in a draw to win an advance copy of my not yet published book, Her One True Love. Two winners to be announced May 2, 2018.