#BookADayUK 10: Reminds me of someone I love

(Note: The hashtag has changed, you’ll note. It turns out that Borough Press was using a hashtag that had been created by educator Donalyn Miller to encourage people to read over school breaks and summer vacations. Regardless of what you call it, I’m still talking about a book a day. Now if only I could read that fast….)

A book that reminds me of someone I love? I have to confess, today’s #BookADayUK suggestion from Borough Press had me stumped at first. I tend to think of books as their own sorts of characters or personalities, so a book tends to remind me of itself and nothing else.

That sounds weird, I know. I don’t think I’m phrasing it quite right. But anyway.

So, faced with this quandary, I went to my bookshelves and gave them a stern looking-at. The answer, to my relief but not to my surprise, jumped out at me almost immediately.

I had the good fortune in 2008 to start working for the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is doing major work to catalog and preserve plant biodiversity globally. (It’s also an unbelievably gorgeous place.) Even luckier, my boss, Elizabeth, turned out to be one of the best people I’ve ever had the privilege to work for. We clicked really well and her managerial style meshed with my work style. She knew when to let people do their thing, when to step in, and was a fierce advocate for her team of people. You can’t really ask for better than that. But she’s also an avid reader and so we often got to talking about what was on our to-read stack. In addition, she’s a phenomenal editor and gave me a lot of great feedback from an early read of my first novel.

Birds of AmericaFast-forward a couple years, to my 40th birthday, which I’ve mentioned on this #BookADayUK project. We met up with Elizabeth and her husband and our friends Julie and Bill for drinks and a few rounds of pool that evening, and Elizabeth brought me two bags of books: one was a collection of authors from her own shelves that she thought I’d be interested in, and that I could borrow as long as I liked. That’s how I came to read writers like John Banville, Jim Crace, and Orhan Pamuk. In the other bag: even more books, some from the writers who were on my wish list and others that she had a feeling I’d enjoy. Among these was Lorrie Moore’s Birds of America:

From the opening story, “Willing”, about a second-rate movie actress in her thirties who has moved back to Chicago, where she makes a seedy motel room her home and becomes involved with a mechanic who has not the least idea of who she is as a human being, Birds of America unfolds a startlingly brilliant series of portraits of the unhinged, the lost, the unsettled of our America. (from Goodreads)

Yet another of many confessions that #BookADayUK has brought up: I haven’t read this yet. But, I’ve moved it to my to-read stack. I loved A Gate at the Stairs, and the stories of Moore’s that I’ve read in magazines have been fantastic. I have no doubt that I’ll love it. Thanks, Elizabeth!