Monday, September 25, 2006
Search for an uplifting read
We get requests large and small for all manner of individual tastes and general weird stuff. But one of my biggest challenges for this week turned out to be one I at first thought would be easy. It was for a customer who was looking for suggestions for uplifting reads for a recently bereaved relative. Not difficult on the face of it, until I started trawling the shelves and seeing how many books I quickly rejected. Anything of the triumph-of-the-human-spirit-over-adversity type seemed to be relentlessly grim for most of the book and not ideal. Generally, I was forced to conclude, good writers seem to prefer to write about the sort of challenging subjects that are simply hopeless if you're feeling weepy and want something to take you out of yourself. Even reliable stand-bys such as the utterly wonderful Salley Vickers' Miss Garnett's Angel, has quite a lot of death in it and I hesitated over saying whether it was at all appropriate. Obviously some sort of frothy romance was hardly the ticket and I wouldn't necessarily describe those as 'uplifting' in any case (perhaps that's just me). I was really struggling until I hit upon Elizabeth Von Arnim's The Enchanted April. That was written in the 1920s. And then I was saved by Persephone Books, classics all, but not a recently published volume among them. Where are the modern 'uplifting reads' ? So I am probably missing something (probably quite a lot) and have decided we have far too few uplifting books. So I am turning to our ever-reliable bloggers for helpful suggestions to put those rays of sunshine on our shelves. We all need a few uplifting reads ever now and again. I have to admit that I indulged in something I find less of an uplifting read than a guilty pleasure when I had a bit of a cold at the weekend. In a bit of a snuffly mood my fingers sought an Agatha Raisin (MC Beaton) detective story from my 'to be read' shelf. It has been sitting guiltily there for a long while and I promise I will return to a more respectable path this evening, especially as we are launching our Book Group this week and I have been busy concentrating on all sorts of erudite books to brush up my image as a bookseller of wide knowledge and exemplary good taste. I also indulged by watching the new BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre. Not one of my personal favourite books, but an excellent adaptation. I think I'm going to enjoy this one. But could I be the only person who, when Rochester's horse stumbled, I was half expecting to see Thursday Next lurking on the scene?