Earlier this year I joined my first book club. I almost didn’t, because I primarily read to rest and relax at the end of the day, and I associate book clubs with “good” books. You know, the ones that make you think, that have a point to make.
This week I read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards.
I came away from it with very mixed emotions. On the one hand, the writing is excellent. It creates very vivid, beautiful images for the reader. On the other hand, the book revolves around an action that is reprehensible on many levels. The characters are very fallible, very human, which as an author I recognize as an amazing achievement, and as a reader I can often find challenging to read.
So, do I love a book like this, or hate it? Is it a beautiful book, because the story is so exquisitely crafted? Or is it a terrible book, because so many of the characters behave badly?
Ultimately I believe there is a lot of be learned from a book like The Memory Keeper’s Daughter. As a writer I find myself inspired to push myself to choose my words as carefully as Edwards does, to bring images to life as successfully as she does. As a reader, it is a good reminder of how one decision can completely change your life.
I read, and write, for entertainment. I love telling characters’ stories and knowing that they’re basically going to end well. But I am thankful for my book club, too, for exposing me to beautiful books I would never have read otherwise.
What about you? What books challenge you as a reader or inspire you as a writer?