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Books That Sneak Up on Me

Musing Mondays2

This week’s musing asks:

Have you ever read a book that, at the time, you didn’t feel a strong connection towards, but as time goes by you find yourself thinking about it a lot?

Yes, and these books have turned out to be ones that left a long memory trail in me. A recent read, Grand Opening by Jon Hassler didn’t appeal to me much other than the beautiful, unadorned writing. But the story quickly sneaks up on me. It’s a moral tale of a lost time. A family struggles to establish a successful supermarket while adjusting to the close-minded townspeople and their religious bigotry. They find this tightly knit, insular community as strange as foreign country. With graceful and economical prose, Hassler adroitly brings small-town life in a dead-on vividness. The figurative title finds an ironic parallel in the boy’s expanding sympathies and growing awareness. Hassler illustrates that we often learn more about God from misfits than do-gooders or saints.

Another one is The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper. The way I envision this one was a literary version of an Adam Sandler—funny, fast-paced, but silly. Self-deprecatingly funny about provocatively insightful, The Book of Joe is the story of a writer who was once an alienated youth but achieves literary success with a novel that salvages his hometown and its people. Using real people as props, Joe Goffman subjects those who rubbed him the wrong way to exaggerated proportions in his book. This is a beautiful book, full of heart and wisdom. It encompasses life in America in general, beholding an allure and hypocrisy of our society.

The ultimate classic in this category is The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I dreaded reading this tome since 11th grade when the English teacher assigned it for extra credit. I never finished the book until last year! Rand believes that there is only black and white in moral issues; there is no gray. Therefore, giving in a little is not compromise but rather forfeiting one’s values and surrendering to evil. She argues that society, tainted by collectivism, has a herd mentality that corrupts individual mind. Whether you buy her outlandish ideals, the book itself is gripping and riveting.

8 Responses

  1. Strangely, for me, that was Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”. While reading it, I wasn’t blown away and yet it left an imprint in my heart and I think about it often.

    • Glad you shared because I have never read this one. After For Whom the Bell Tolls, which put me off a bit, I was looking another Hemingway novel. I’ll go for it. 🙂

  2. The book that did that for me was Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I appreciated the writing while reading it but didn’t care of the book that much. Then it began haunting my thoughts. I was the only book I have reviewed that I posted on twice – the second time was to help me process my new feelings for the book.

    I remember your review for Grand Opening and would like t recommend it for my book group. Unfortunately our library doesn’t carry it which makes it hard for some of our members to read it.

    • Was it Home or Gilead that comes first? I read both and thought I could bath in her beautiful words forever. The story—actually it doesn’t really have much of a plot—is hard going first but it sneaks up on me as well, as we learn more about the reverend and his prodigal son.

      A friend recommended another novel by Jon Hassler that I couldn’t find, so I ended up reading Grand Opening.

  3. You are bang on about the Fountainhead. I was really skeptical about picking it up and then it turned out to be a great read (and, as you say, whether you agree with it or not).

    • I thought Ayn Rand was just too outlandishly crazy about her idea on her philosophy and that put me off. The tome of the book also added to the intimidation. But Fountainhead is a great read. It’s on my re-read shelf.

  4. Many times I find that I am more in awe of a book many months after I’ve read it. After reading something you never really forget it but are still digesting it and mulling it over. I have also found that my love for certain books waned after I let more time pass.

    • Those books that left me mulling over usually find their way to the re-read shelf. In a sense, I’m glad not everything I read is unforgettable!

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