Every week or so, in this space, I will publish a review of a book I’ve read. There are excellent blogs about books and literature, such as Life of Chaz or Book Hub, Inc. I realize that I’m not a replacement for the New York Review of Books or the Times Literary Supplement. Maybe I’m just having a week of self-doubts but, as I was working on a book review for this morning, I found my self asking, “Why do I write these?”
To begin with, I read a lot of books – one or two books a week. I cannot stop myself. I did not have access to books as a child. I grew up in a little Quebec town. The only bookstore was French. I borrowed books from the small school library and I had books I had won as prizes at school, but I did not have more than a dozen books of my own. I had lamented this to everyone who would listen. The Christmas I was six, my Godfather, who was always problematic as far as my mother was concerned, gave me fifty-two books. Fifty-two!!! One book for every week of the year. He also gave me a book shelf. Even though there was very little space in the room I shared with my sister, I found a place for that bookshelf and my books. I was so excited that I placed cards in my books and started my own library, allowing my sister to borrow my books – and charging her fines when she didn’t give them back on time. I didn’t charge her a lot – just a penny for every day late.
I have always found books to be especially exciting.
When I started university, I began to get book suggestions from my friends in residence. Their suggestions and descriptions of why they liked or didn’t like a book were always so interesting for me. By the time I was in medical school, I had discovered book reviews in the Montreal Gazette. I had never seen a book review until then but I soon realized that these could save me a lot of time since I might not ever have to read a poorly written or boring book again.
From the moment I received those fifty-two books – which did not take a year to read – until today, I have been taking suggestions from friends, coworkers, neighbours, blogs, social media and book reviews about what to read. I have been helped so much by these suggestions that it seems only natural to make my own book suggestions in the form of book reviews.
For all those who read my book reviews, I hope you find some of my suggestions helpful. When you read them, if you can, think of my six-year old self sitting by the bookshelf in my room wishing so much that she could tell everyone about the book she was reading. Then you’ll realize why I write book reviews.