April 05, 2009

Are you...

a bookworm? I've been thinking about this a lot lately—in fact, since our dryer repairman gave me that Eckhart Tolle book. He told me he'd given away more than 200 copies of A New Earth, and that he'd also passed out nearly 300 copies of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Then yesterday, I ran into a friend at a bookstore. She was buying three copies of The Sociopath Next Door. "You have to buy it," she told me. "I've bought 25 copies already to pass out to friends."

I'm trying to think of a book I loved that much—a book I adored to the point where I had to pass out copies not only to friends but to strangers.

How about you? If money was not an object, which book would be on your mandatory reading list?



jothemama said...

I never did it. I don't think. But I think my favourite book of all might be Barbara Kingsolver's first two, The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven.

And Beloved.

And Jayne Eyre.

But I don't know if they're books you press on people.

I MUST have read some of them. I think my brain just freezes up whn I'm asked these questions.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Nighttimeby Mark Haddon, maybe.

Yikes. I don't know!

Alison Tyler said...

Oh, my. I don't think I've read any of those! I've been trying to think of books people have given me. And they're all self-help books! I mean, one of my friends even gave me Who Moved My Cheese?—no, seriously!


Sienna said...

I read so many books, and so many are wonderful. But when asked this question I'm like Jo - freeze!

Uhhmmm... the most recent would be Story of O - it was just amazing.

jothemama said...

Not even, 'Who Spanked My Cheese?'

I recommend self help books now and again. But I don't think it works if you give them to people.

I sent my sister a book about seaprating emotionally from your family. She was not impressed! Just as well I didn't find the one I was looking for about managing money...

cutesy pah said...

yes, I'm a bookworm, and yes I've given away my share of books. The two books I've given away the most are "The Tao of Pooh," (I can't recall the author, and I gave away my last copy) and "When Things Fall Apart," by Pema Chodron.

Both of these books were very beneficial to me while struggling through the breakup of my 17 year marriage. In fact, a divorced friend gave these books to me, and said that she had given them to others. So, I read them, and continued the tradition.

As I'm very much the introspective type, I like to give away books to help people through difficult times. It seems that people are willing to spend money on fiction and fun reading, but won't often spend money on things to help them along the pathway of life.

I've also given away "Women Who Love Too Much," and another favorite, "Women Who Run With The Wolves."

My alltime favorite fun girl reads to give away would be "Jemima J" or "Good in Bed," or "Fast Women."

Another fun read I've given away was the "Undead" series by Mary Janice Davidson.

and, yes, I spend a LOT of money on books! Once upon a time, before my divorce, my kids used to tease me that Barnes & Noble would have to lay off people if I stopped buying books. Seriously, the staff knew me by my first name, and knew what kind of mocha I would order! But, hey, I was also there on the weekends to study for law school, so, it wasn't like I was only in there to purchase books.

great question! thanks.

Alison Tyler said...

Hey Sienna—I'd like to stand by and watch you give out copies of that to strangers! And Jo—I guess I am unhelpable. Or unhelpful? I've never been big on self-help books, and yet I've been helped by a lot of books that aren't intentionally self-help types. In fact, the other day I was re-reading Written on the Body, and on the last page, after the last line, I'd written: "I will not lead a tragic life, no matter how lush or inviting that tragedy may be. I will not."

No idea when I wrote that or what in the book triggered that response in me. But I do think that books can save people. And I like your concept, Cutesy pah—to pass on books to others that you personally found useful.

Okay, but I did just pose this question at a picnic, and one man responded with the following: "A book I liked? Or a book I think other people ought to read?"

So now I'm confused. I think that the books people have most often given me are ones they think I ought to read. And yet, I'm more of the type to send people books I really liked.


jothemama said...

Actually, someone gave me Elizabeth Gilbert's eat pray love for Christmas, and I'm getting through it deliciously slowly.

It's gorgeous and I feel like she could teach me anything. That might be one I'd give away for both reasons.

Erobintica said...

I don't really give books away - can't afford to. But I do find there's certain ones I recommend a lot. Probably the one I do the most is Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. I also recommend Chuck Palahniuk books - but only to those who already have read him (like Sommer!).

Oh, to be rich and give books away! How fun!

Alison Tyler said...

Well, that is what started me thinking this in the first place, Erobintica. Because the man who gave me the Eckhart Tolle book is anything but rich. He drives a car that is a million years old. He wears clothes with patches.

But he seems to be rewarded by giving away books that he finds important. If he has paid cover price for this one, then he's spent $3000 giving "A New Earth" to people. That's pretty astounding, you know?


jothemama said...

Maybe he's Eckhart Tolle in disguise, on an altruistic mission.

Alison Tyler said...

And my friend who gave me "Who Moved My Cheese?" is really a rat?


Smut Girl said...

I am a huge book slut. What do you mean that's not the right term?

Books would include:

Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

The Stand by Stephen King

Freedom from Fear by Harvey Something or Other (Liebgold, I want to say)

The entire Southern Sisters Mystery collection by Anne George

Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

all of the Repairman Jack books by F. Paul Wilson



brain went blank. I could not read Eckhart. He put me to sleep. My new earth went night night. Zzzz...

oh yeah, oh yeah! Bridget Jones's Diary of course, durr...!

Alison Tyler said...

I have given people Bridget Jones! And The Godfather. And The Snapper. And High Fidelity. And Kitchen Confidential. And Wrecking Crew. And Moab is My Washpot.

But I still don't know which title I'd choose if I were just going to keep a big box in my car and pass them out like candy. Or, um, buttons.


Emerald said...

Actually, A New Earth would be one of the top books on my list too in answer to this question, and I feel like I understand why the gentleman who gave it to you would do so, AT (not with you personally, but why he would want to give that book to people). The two books with which I would do this if money were no object, as you said, are that one and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

Incidentally, I have wanted to do so with both of these books since I first read them. :) It's not a new idea to me, but it seems money has been an object, so I have not yet bought and handed them out like I would like to. I have given Wisdom as a gift several times.

Anonymous said...

when i was younger..and still lived home (which means that my mother paid my books:-))...i often gived away leaves of grass...its a book which i totally loved since i found a old french copy of it on my uncles shelf..back then i read it as well in english and german and just was fascinated by its earthy and vibrant speech...i liked it so much that i gaved away a lot of copies to my friends and even to people i didnt know...when my uncled died i had the very first copy in the pocket of my coat during the burrial (is that a word?)...and in the end i left it on his coffin.....for a while i didnt gaved this book away any more....but a few month ago i was in the library and discovered that they dont have leaves of grass...because its just not popular in germany....an idea which i couldnt get along with...so i bought a copy and placed it in the library ...the place where it belongs to

but there are other books to i would give away if money wasnt a subject...which ones?..depends on the day..the mood..the person...

i also gave away 43 septembers by jewelle gomez a lot and a few month ago a older woman i had met online told me that she has to go to the hospital and didnt know what to read during the two weeks she would stay there and i even though i d never had seen/meet her in real i sent her some books...i do this a lot...passing on books i dont want or read anymore..i just have enough space and shelves to keep all the books i buy...but that doesent count as giving books away in the sense Alison meant..does it? i also gived away a lot copies of where the wild things are by maurice sendak...its a childrens book..does that count too?

when i think of books people gave me...oh dear...i hate to recieve books from friends ect because somehow they never give me books i like..:-)...the only thing you can give me any time are different copies of alice in wonderland..my all time favourite book..:-)

the last book i recieved as a gift (and which i really really loved) was the six word memoir which i got from kristina ...:-)

i really wish i had the money to give away a lot of books..not only the ones i dont wanna keep but also books i d like people to read..most people in germany dont really read anymore..and the ones who read read only twillight and harry potter...:-((((

as always:

best wishes from europe


ste said...

I've never given books to strangers. and even with friends, I haven't done that with books i'm crazy about very often, but the two that I have are: Kurt Vonnegut's 'A Man Without a Country', and Ursula Le Guin's 'The Dispossessed'. both stunning, wonderful books. I'd choose the former if I had to pick just one to hand out like buttons.

Alison Tyler said...

I hope people keep adding—because I'm compiling a little reading list of my own here. This does remind me of the few years I was part of a book group, though. We were a pretty incendiary group of ladies. The #1 rule of the club seemed to be "violently dislike any book you did not choose yourself." Actually, the #1 rule was probably "drink heavily." I offended 6 out of 7 of the women with my choice of "Geek Love."


P.S. ste, this button is for you!

Anonymous said...

I've been on a kick of mailing books to friends, so I'm all over this topic. The only book I struggled giving away though was The Wishing Year by Noelle Oxenhandler because I loved her story. That's one I wanted to buy and send to several people, and keep a copy.

I feel the same way about Eastern Body, Western Mind - - it's psychology mixed with chakra wisdom, so I won't be sending that one your way, Alison. :)

The other book I haven't sent out because I couldn't part with, was Pretty Little Dirty about two high school best friends and their coming-of-age. It's one of the few books that inspired tears for me.

Honorable mentions go to The Lisa Carver Diary and Bride Stripped Bare.

Has anyone read 3 by Julie Hilden? I should probably mention that one, too.

Yeah, I'm a whore for books.



Alison Tyler said...

I was just teasing about the chakras, you know. I shouldn't make fun of things I don't understand.

There was a time when nearly everyone I met seemed inspired to give me self-help books, though. Which is kind of tragic.

One of my favorite gift books was Macho Sluts, which Tristan Taormino gave me once for my birthday, and which may be one of the hottest books ever written.


Alison Tyler said...

P.S. There are worse things in the world than being a book whore!

Kristina Wright said...

Coming late to the conversation (but better to come late than never, eh?), but for inspiration/motivation I have given Paulo Coehlo's The Alchemist, Richard Bach's Jonathon Livingston Seagull and Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth (which is really a transcript of his conversations with Bill Moyers). I think I'd give those three to strangers, even.

I've given away I don't know how many copies of Stephen King's On Writing and Peter Reynold's Ish, which is a children's book that is great for creative types of all ages.

As far as "fun" reading, for years I gave away Dean Koontz's Watchers because I loved that book-- and Einstein the dog-- so much.

I worked in the children's department of the public library for several years and fell in love with so many children's books. Every kid I know has gotten a copy of Diary of a Wombat just because I giggle every time I see that silly wombat.

ste said...

that's a cool pin, Alison!

other books that I could have mentioned before (if I had been including birthday presents and the like) would include: Moondust, by Andrew Smith, where he tracks down the surviving Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon and finds out what it was like to go, and what the years since have been like. what do you do with the rest of your life once you have walked on another world? it's fascinating stuff.

Kristina Wright said...

Jessica-- I loved The Bride Stripped Bare and I read and liked 3, though I think I recall wanting it to end differently.

Alison Tyler said...

KW, thanks for adding to the list — and for tossing out links. Loves me some links. And ste, it's sort of fun to remember which books you've given (or gotten) isn't it? I tend to give friends with kids the Maurice Sendak Nutshell Library, which I adored when I was little. Something about those teeny books in a box. And for my wedding, an editor gave me The Art of Spanking. Hmmm. I wonder why?


Anonymous said...

AT - it's cool, my man has referred to me as 'Chakra Khan' one too many times, so perhaps I'm a bit sensitive. :)

Kristina - I wanted Bride Stripped Bare to end differently, too, or at least not so abruptly. But, I'm hoping for a sequel.

- Jessica

jothemama said...

Ohhh, Diary of a Wombat is so good!! So funny!

But don't get me started on children's books.

ste said...

interesting - if cheeky (sorry) - wedding present, Alison!

I had a couple of Sendak's books when I was a kid, but I don't recognise any of the titles in that set.

this has all got me wanting to give out books randomly more often.

Cora Zane said...

If I was going to give books as a gift, I'd probably give away books that I like, that were a reading milestone for me. Or something equally weird and sentimental like that. I'd probably choose copies of Watership Down (Richard Adams), Frankenstein (Mary Shelley), 1984 (George Orwell), or The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood). I'm all the time recommending those books.

JM Stone said...

Oooh, I love books. Bookworm, Bookwhore, bookslut...yup, they all apply.

Let's see...here's what I'd hand out if I had the funds...and it's a strange collection:

Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel Series - so beautifully, erotically written. I could read them over and over. But, I don't even own a set myself yet!

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan - This would be the one I would give away by the hundreds. He shows in startling detail how far Americans have strayed from how we should truly eat.

Real Food by Nina Planck - another eye opener. One day I'll own a cow because of this book. (by the way, I'm an odd duck if that wasn't apparent by now *grin* )

There are others, but those are my top three. Those last two are the ones that I would gladly set on benches to be found, in museums, tuck into people's shopping carts, hand to people as the walk down the street. The first would be something more personal, I think.

Sorry to be so late to the party! I started writing that reply the day the post came up and forgot I hadn't finished it.


Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention the one book I've sent out to several friends (it's on sale at B&N for $6) - - The Wilde Women by Paula Wall. It's a deliciously sexy tease of a novel.

Another one I'd mail out is Taming the Beast by Emily Maguire, and the main character is modeled as a modern Jane Eyre .... I'd have to screen who I sent it to, but it's a thought-provoking read.

- Jessica

Alison Tyler said...

Wow, there are so many books on this list that I haven't read. I'm totally excited to work my way through them. Last night, different friends suggested Running With Scissors (which I did read and like), Leaves of Grass, and a very specific fairy tale collection that I have to look up. (When I say "look up," I mean "locate the tiny receipt that I wrote the title on—probably swimming in the detritus at the bottom of my purse").


Angell said...

I absolutely LOVE Nora Roberts as J.D. Robb. Her IN DEATH series is so amazing. The main character is a woman to look up to, that's for sure.

I love reading. I think Wicked by Gregory McGuire would be amongst my favourites, along with Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone. Oh, and anything by Olivia Goldsmith (rest in peace). She was a brilliant author.

I think my all time fave would have to be Wuthering Heights. Heathcliffe is THE all time sex symbol for dark, brooding, dangerous men.

I know, I need to get into the current times. What can I say? All my money is spent on erotica these days. *grin* Wonder who the bad influence was there?

cerulean said...

Oh, yes, as an English Lit and Writing major, I also have a degree in book whoring.

I'm not into the self-help books or modern romance or mysteries. I tend to like older books and dead authors--Shakespeare, Faulkner, Hurston.

My favorite is "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston. The imagery is incredible. Every woman should read it.


Jade said...

Wow, so many good books listed-many that I have read and enjoyed, many more more that are now on my reading list. I am definitely a bookworm. And while I don't give books to strangers, I frequently give books away to friends, family & acquaintances...not books that I think they should read so much as books that I have loved so dearly I have to share them.

In that vein, I keep a shelf of books in my office that I have read and loved and encourage my coworkers to take any that they want...I don't check them out, I don't require that they return them, I just want them to be read (no book should sit on a shelf and grow dusty!) and to give others a chance to read something they may not have thought of reading before. (On it currently are Eat, Pray, Love; Lost in Translation; Water for Elephants; On Writing; Fear of Flying; and The Left Hand of Darkness, but the titles are always changing as people borrow and return, and occasionally leave their own, books there.)


ste said...


The Left Hand of Darkness is wonderful, isn't it?

Alison Tyler said...

I'm so excited about all of these titles! Keep 'em coming.


Anonymous said...

Most definitely a book slut but they're all bad for me. Nothing enlightening, no self-help, pretty much all smut, paranormal, or cheesy romance novels. Looking at my shelf, I know I've lent out Confessions of a Shopaholic umpteenth times, my Janet Evanovich and Laurell K. Hamilton collections. Not to brown-nose but the last books I gave away were duplicates so I gave them to a girlfriend who devoured them and wanted more: your Bad Girl and Naughty Spanking 1 by Miranda Forbes from Xcite.

My "oldest" books that have stayed with me since childhood: Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, and Dracula.


Alison Tyler said...

Book slut is such a fun term. Book slut, book whore, book trollop, book harlot. We could definitely have some fun here.

Does anyone else have book fear, though? That sensation when you want to give away a book, but you're scared your friend won't like it as much as you do?

I've had that.

tygre said...

The only book i've ever passed out copies of is Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller. He's a fairly well known Christian essayist but I always push people to give him a chance. I'm pagan and I love this book. To individuals I've given Blue Skin of the Sea (don't remember the author), Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz. If I had to pick one to hand out, I'd pick two- Blue Like Jazz and From the Corner of His Eye... and Blue Skin of the Sea...

the problem with picking is that they're all amazing for different reasons...