“And when he did talk with Margaret, usually quietly over a cup of tea or a drink of Scotch, she never hesitated to make an honest comment if one came to her.” (A Good House by Bonnie Burnard)
This is a book that I saved from being weeded from our fiction collection. It is a lovely, simply written family saga – just the sort of thing patrons would take to, but it just didn’t get enough attention here when it was published so it hasn’t been plucked off the shelves in a few years. It doesn’t look like much from the outside: a sturdy hard cover with an old photograph and deckled pages. Yet the content is rare and beautiful, the characters so real that I could take their actions and beliefs to shape my own.
Reading this book made me think about how reading is considered more and more as an investment. We look around for guarantees that we are going to be satisfied by a book; that it will be worth the time and energy we put into it. Whatever happened to the childlike act of just picking a book off the shelves, without the benefit of a recommendation or review? I’m sure a lot of speculation could be done about how the modern proliferation of information has fettered our sense of adventure and bravery (in reading and elsewhere), but I am not going to do it here. I’m just going to suggest that you enter your library next time with vim and go blindly to the shelves to look for some forgotten book to take home with you. Make sure it isn’t flashy or eye-catching, and that it was sturdily and lovingly bound, a very thin layer of dust on top won’t go amiss.
I have had to throw away so many good books these past few months because they didn’t make a splash when published – so think of it as a favor to your local librarian when you check out a seldom-used book; you are saving them the heart-break of having to toss yet another perfectly good read. You can smile at them knowingly when you leave, confident in the knowledge that you’re making their day better.
Buy – Borrow – TBR – Avoid
Ending: Satisfying, but not neatly wrapped up into a tidy package
Further Reading: Family sagas are a whole sub-genre to their own. I know of a lot of British ones, like the Forthsyth Saga, but not of a single other post war to turn-of-the century, small-town Canadian one.