Frequently I trade book recommendations with clients. It’s one of the fun parts of busy season, taking five minutes away from the numbers to chat about our favorite reads of the year. I don’t always have the same taste and sometimes our politics or interests are polar opposites, but the recommendations that challenge me are often the books that stick with me for one reason or another.
Reading the story of a character who makes choices that go against popular opinion or against my own moral or ethical code somehow validates my own choices. We all are faced with seemingly impossible choices, and often the “I would never” becomes “I see why someone would do this”or “I guess I am making this choice, I had no idea it could be like this”. I love the books that humanize and illuminate those who make choices that might be frowned upon by others.
The first Jove Belle book I read was Edge of Darkness. The character of Ali had me writing Jove (who did not know me at the time) and asking what she envisioned for Ali’s future and could she please give her her own story. I wanted a happy ending for her. Ali is not a “good” girl. She is driven by her own ethics which would make many of us cringe, yet make sense for where she is in life.
Making incredibly difficult choices and haunted by tragedy many would struggle to survive, Claire in I. Beacham’s Salvation is an amazingly strong and touching character. I found myself wondering what I would do in her situation. How would I react? What choice would I make? The book makes you question notions of fidelity, love, sacrifice, and living.
Rachel Spangler’s Does She Love You deals with issues of fidelity, forgiveness, and how we treat those who unintentionally hurt us. Is “the other woman” always the bad girl? What pieces of ourselves can we find when we reach out to to those convention says we should avoid?
Kara in Adrian J Smith’s Oblique is awash in grief early in the story. At first it appears she’s running away from the loss of her girlfriend and looking for a place to raise their child. As the book unfolds, the reader slowly realizes how incredibly courageous Kara is. Her choice in moving to Kansas is both heartbreaking and heartwarming and proves to be healing in the end.
I didn’t know what to think of Karin Kallmaker’s Paperback Romance. I got invested in the early part of the book and was completely thrown for a loop. I ended up liking the book, but it was a challenge for me as well. We have expectations and sometimes it’s hard to see what’s right there because we think our destiny should look like something else.
Two books I have mentioned before stick with me because they challenge me- Requiem for Immortals by Lee Winter- how can I possibly love a story about an assassin and want the happy ending for her?
After Mrs. Hamilton by Clare Ashton- what would I do in Laura’s position? That book also had me writing the author wondering what her perspective was, as she leaves it somewhat unresolved.
What about you? What books challenge your perspectives or make you think about difficult issues? Do you like reading books for that purpose?