Monday, December 13, 2010

A Good Recommendation

During the holidays, many people ask us to recommend a book for their (insert various relative here - uncle, grandmother, nephew), most of whom they don't know very well. This makes it hard for THEM to pick and hard for us as well. We've never met them, and books are so personal. It often feels like a stab in the dark.

Occasionally, though, I feel as though I can make a good recommendation...

A young woman in her 20's, lots of long dark hair, wearing a black wool coat, came in and put down a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.

Me Talk Pretty One Day

"Do you know anything about this book?", she asked. "My Mom read it and she liked it..."

"Oh yes, I love this book. This is probably one of my favorites of his."

"What's it about?", she asked.

"He writes books about his own life. The title of this one comes from when he was a child and had to go to speech therapy. And you know how that is, you're singled out as a kid, everyone knows you're going to a 'special' class, it's not a good thing. David Sedaris makes it hilarious and touching."

"I'm trying to figure out what to get my friend. She's really smart and I think she'd like this, I just don't know."

"Well, I think that's a good choice...he does have another that I really like too, a more recent one, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, which is about his attempt to quit smoking."

"My friend smokes! That might be great for her!", she said.

I laughed. "He writes about living somewhere else for a while during the time he's trying to quit. His thinking is that when you are trying to change a habit, you sometimes have to change more than the bad habit. If you always smoke at the kitchen table when you have your coffee, and you're trying to quit smoking, then when you sit at the kitchen table with your coffee, you're going to want to smoke. So if you change your situation, then it's easier to change the bad habit. So he decides to move to Japan."

"My friend is Japanese!", she said.

I laughed again, taking her over to the David Sedaris display. "Then this could be perfect for her. Not only does he talk about quitting smoking, he also talks about how it is to live in Japan and navigate the new culture, as well as trying to learn Japanese. It's laugh out loud funny. And great."

"I think that sounds perfect for her, thanks for your help!", she said, taking the book and walking away.

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