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Friday, March 2, 2018

The Book That Matters Most - Ann Hood

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

First Paragraph(s):

Ava saw it as soon as she turned the corner.  She stopped, squinting as if that would change what she was looking at.  It was a week before Christmas on Weybosset Street in downtown Providence.  The Christmas lights already shone, even at five o'clock, because the day was so dark and gray.  The air had that festive holiday feeling that came from people bustling about with oversized shopping bags, cold air, tired decorations, a guy selling Christmas trees on the corner.

My Thoughts:

I wanted to change up my reading for a bit after suffering from 'psychological thriller'-itis and this book definitely helped with that.  I took my time and, though I didn't love every character or every decision made, I really liked the book as a whole.  The idea of a book group using the theme of 'the book that matters most' for an entire year was lovely.  I liked how the chapters took us through the calendar year, gave us quotes and a bit of discussion about the various books chosen, and also presented the story from more than one viewpoint.  I also liked the fact that the book group had a couple of men.  I've moderated (as part of my library job) two of them, have participated in several more, and one of the commonalities is that there are never very many men.  Right now, our mystery group has two - at one time.  We've rarely have that happen.

The story is told mostly from Ava's point of view, but we also see what's going on with her daughter, Maggie, and a detective that investigated when Ava's younger sister, Lily, died when they were children.  Maggie is frustrating.  She's a young woman supposedly studying art history in Florence.  Actually, she's in Paris and reeling from one bad decision to another - drugs, men, more drugs, more men.  She's got a lot to learn.  Ava is trying to recover from the end of her marriage and the fact that her husband's new 'love' is a yarn-bomber - someone who covers important statues and monuments with knitted covers as a protest or a form of art.  I found that rather odd and had never heard of it.  Is it a real thing?  (I looked it up - it is a real thing.)

In the end, the characters discover that the book that matters most is one that comes to you at just the right time, depending on what's going on in your life.  And then, at another time, another book might matter most.  It's flexible and, as our lives have seasons, so will our reading.  For me personally, there have been books that seemed to come into my hands at just the perfect moment.  Two that I can think of are Still Alice and Being Mortal.  They were both very meaningful to me when I read them, based on my life experiences.  So, what book has 'mattered most' to you?  Share with us.

Oh, and Ann Hood tells the reader that before she wrote this book, she spent a year asking everyone she saw the question - what book has mattered most to you?  Her results can be seen here.  Also, my friend, Les, wrote such a good review of this book here, it encouraged me to try it.  So, my thanks, Les!

Blurb:

Ava’s twenty-five-year marriage has fallen apart, and her two grown children are pursuing their own lives outside of the country. Ava joins a book group, not only for her love of reading but also out of sheer desperation for companionship. The group’s goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood—one that helped her through the traumas of the untimely deaths of her sister and mother. Alternating with Ava’s story is that of her troubled daughter Maggie, who, living in Paris, descends into a destructive relationship with an older man. Ava’s mission to find that book and its enigmatic author takes her on a quest that unravels the secrets of her past and offers her and Maggie the chance to remake their lives.

26 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this one especially as much takes place in Providence RI. Many familiar locations and a good story as well.

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    1. Your part of the world, right? I'm guess this author lives somewhere near.

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  2. This sounds really good and thoughtful. I agree on the books that matter most - those books are different for all of us.

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    1. All based on where we are in life and what has happened. In my opinion anyway.

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  3. As bermudaonion mentions, the books that matter most are different for all of us and as your review mentions the timing is flexible and seasonal (as to when in our lives they arrive). I'm interested in this one because I think all readers are curious about the reasoning of other readers.

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    1. I did like this one and enjoyed the various characters sharing why their book was so meaningful.

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  4. Our book club group had one man (the hubby of one of our members) and his insight on the books we read were awesome.

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    1. We had a husband too, but the couple recently moved. We really miss them.

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  5. This book sounds lovely - I love when you can find a book at that exact moment you need it or are looking for it. Like when I'm super stressed out and I come across a childhood favorite.

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    1. Exactly. I've had that happen, Angela.

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  6. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. My club read it last month.

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    1. I remember your reaction, Ti. You were surprised that it wasn't more of a romance type book. LOL

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  7. I love books about books. I'm with you on "thriller-itis" - if I read too many dark, heavy books in a row it's not good. I need to sandwich lighter reads in between to even out my reading!

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    1. My thoughts exactly, Susan. I'm trying to do a bit of that these days - sandwich in some change-up books.

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  8. This sounds like a good one, Kay! I hope it works out well!

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    1. It was a good one, Tara. I really liked it a lot.

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  9. I like the first paragraph and the cover!

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  10. Hmm... I can't think of a "book that matters most" to me in that way, though obviously I have favourite books. I think books in general do, though - I retreat to books if life gets too stressful, but it could be any book, so long as it holds my attention...

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    1. Yes, I agree, though I do think some touch us in special ways at certain times.

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    1. Hope you get a chance to do so!

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  12. I really liked this book, but Maggie was a very frustrating character! I mentioned the book that mattered most to me in my post, but I agree about Being Mortal as well. It inspired me to move to Oregon to live with my mom. We all should be blessed to age and die in our own homes, rather than in "nursing homes." Lovely review, Kay. Thanks for the shout-out. :)

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    1. I agree with all you said, Les. And loved doing the shout-out!

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  13. Yep, my book groups usually have more women (or all women!) compared to men in attendance. It's always nice to have both sexes to get different views. I remember Les mentioning this book too and so glad you enjoyed it. Must read it!

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    1. I suspect that book groups are just more appealing to women - we like to talk, right?

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!