Book Report: Book Conversations

Some of the best conversations include talk about books.

Recently, my husband and I had dinner with our granddaughter Maren and along with talk about her first semester at college, the reunion she had during winter break with the women from her wilderness canoe trip in Alaska this summer, and her plans for the 2022 summer, we talked books. Maren is not only a voracious reader, like everyone else in the family, but she is a careful and insightful reader. I trust her recommendations and value her appraisals and judgment. She is also an excellent writer herself–perhaps someday I will be able to recommend a book written by her.

Over pasta, we shared titles. She had recently read The River by Peter Heller, and I had just finished and really enjoyed his earlier book Celine. I have added The River to my own TBR list now. She had read Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, and I urged her to read Little Fires Everywhere. She and her Dad are watching Station Eleven, and I mentioned how excellent the book by Emily St James Mandel is and later gave her my copy of the book.

When she was a baby, we sent her at least one book every month, building her library from babyhood through the toddler and childhood years and on into middle school. The regularity of the book-giving routine eased as she got older, but there were still occasional book-buying sprees with her and always the gift of a book or two is part of birthdays and Christmas. For Christmas this year we gave her two books related to her own wilderness experiences, The Twenty-Ninth Day, Surviving a Grizzly Attack in the Canadian Tundra by Alex Messenger and Hudson Bay Bound: Two Women, One Dog, Two Thousand Miles to the Arctic by Natalie Warren. As she shared her impressions of these books, we learned more about her own 30-day plus canoeing and hiking trip above the Arctic Circle this past summer with five other women.

Earlier this year I gave her a stack of books about writing as part of her high school graduation present. Some were new copies of books I have loved and valued, but others were ones I plucked from my own shelves and passed on to her, including Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, Freeing the Writer Within. A true classic for all writers. My copy included a note written to me by Natalie after I helped publicize a writing workshop decades ago. How gratified I was to hear Maren say how reading that book has given her a new and renewed outlook on writing practice.

Talking books, sharing titles with other readers is always a delight, a way to connect and enrich our understandings of each other–and what a treat to do that with our granddaughter.

On another note, my book piles continue to grow. Over the weekend my husband and conducted a Book Raid at one our favorite bookstore, Content Bookstore in Northfield, MN. Here’s my stack–stay tuned for more book reports!

An Invitation: Have any recent conversations included book talk? I would love to know.

5 thoughts on “Book Report: Book Conversations

  1. Just ordered “Writing Down the Bones”. You are third person to recommend it so I took this as a sign. Thank you for the insights and recommendations. Wishing you well.


    • Oh my goodness–how lovely to see your name. All sorts of memories of your dear Mom, and, of course, Kay, floated through my head. I would love to hear what you think about Natalie’s book. Thanks so much for connecting. Blessings.


  2. Oh William is a wonderful book. It will make you want to go back and read some earlier Strout books as Oh William gives you more insight into the earlier characters. How wonderful that you can have this conversation with your granddaughter. Our dear girl is much younger, but she loves books and we often chat, on FaceTime, about what she is reading. We haven’t seen her since Thanksgiving so we are due for a trip to the bookstore. She and her brother always come out each with a tall stack.


  3. Your granddaughter sounds like an amazing young lady in all sorts of ways!

    I’ve read both Oh William and Transcendent Kingdom – got them both from the library and loved both books. In fact, Transcendent Kingdom was one of my favorite novels from last year.

    Writing Down the Bones is a classic. That’s been in my bookshelf (writing section) for many years. Three of my other favorite books on writing are Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; On Writing by Stephen King; and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

    I’m currently reading, The Floor of the Sky. I found it in a used book store last summer. It’s an old-fashioned story about a family in rural Nebraska…their roots, their hardships, their relations. I’m really enjoying it.


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