The Cool Book-Recommending Mom

Is there such a thing as a cool book-recommending mom? Because if there is, I might be one. My kids have always been big readers, and I kept them supplied with the latest and greatest by reading lots of book reviews. For a while, I was also their school librarian, so the other kids got the benefit of my obsessive searches for the really worthwhile books. Several of them would come to me every time they finished a book and asked me to find something else they would like.

At some point, my kids began to reject kids books and even young adult books. That was about the age of 10 or so. It was a bit of a challenge to find reading material for them in those “tween” years that was challenging enough for them intellectually but not grossly inappropriate for them emotionally.

The most fun has been since the oldest started high school, when I was able to recommend books that I really like and know they were old enough to appreciate them. They both enjoy reading fiction (although they’re not in the habit of it the way they used to be) and they usually ask me for a suggestion when they’re in the mood to read. Our reading taste has a lot of overlap, so this is fun for me and, I think, useful for them. I have several hundred linear feet of bookshelves in the basement where I store the fiction I’ve read. We go downstairs and I start pulling books out for them.

When my older son was in high school, the book recommendations extended to his friends. He would sometimes lend them books of mine (which I didn’t always get back) or give them titles to read. Occasionally when one of them was at our house we’d look at the shelves together and choose something.

A couple of days ago, my younger son had a friend over whom I don’t know that well. I was upstairs trying to fix a desk drawer when my son came into the room and said, “How about I work on that while you go downstairs and give N some book recommendations.” Recommending books is way more fun than fixing a drawer, so I handed over the screwdriver and headed down the stairs. We spent 15 or 20 minutes talking about what sorts of books he’d enjoyed in the past (Dostoyevsky, Ishiguro) and I tried to match him up with some new authors (Richard Powers, Donna Tartt). I’m looking forward to getting a progress report from him.

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