Last week, my mother asked for some book recommendations. She had some time between semesters, and she wanted to pick up a few things to read. I sometimes get a little nervous recommending things because I don’t want to suggest something I love to someone I love, only to have them hate it. I’ve done it, and I’ve had it done to me. I disliked a movie called Dogville so much, I actually called my friend Ali, who had recommended it, and yelled at her a little.
Picking out books for my mom is especially tricky. When we go shopping, sometimes she holds something up and asks what I think about it. I always ask: “For you or for me?” Because those are two different answers. I have an idea what she likes, but I’m not sure much of what I’m reading would appeal to her. Months ago, I’d given her some mysteries I liked, but she was in the mood for something different now.
A few years ago, my Grammy discovered Jan Karon’s Mitford series about an Episcopal rector living and working in a small town. She cornered me at a family gathering to tell me about them. “Oh, they’re wonderful. They’re so funny and sweet. They’re just nice books. They’re not pornographic or anything. They’re just really good, nice stories.” She placed it on the sofa beside me and patted it affectionately. My first thought was that I’ve not only read some books that probably fall within her definition of “pornographic,” but I’ve read a fair number of books about pornography. And strippers. Not to mention burlesque and an excellent book about brothels in Nevada. Oh, and once I watched American Pimp with a stranger on his laptop as I was flying home for Christmas. What can I say? I’m a naturally curious person, but I don’t tell my Grammy this.
She left the book with me and headed into the kitchen, so I was pretty sure that was her way of suggesting I check it out. I flipped through it a bit and glanced over at Mom, who’d been reading the series as well. “Would I like this?” I asked her, holding it up for her to see.