There are books and then there are books…
We’ve all read books that have taken on a special importance in our lives. Maybe it’s because we are going through something in our lives that make us more open or vulnerable. Or maybe it’s because a particular book has characters or themes that we can relate to or that influence us. Whatever the reason, we can all name books that have made an impact on us. These books tend to leave a lasting impression, changing our outlook on life or renewing our hope in the future.
Ann Hood touches on this idea in her fictional work The Book that Matters Most. This compelling novel follows the middle-aged Ava as she tries to piece her life together following the shocking betrayal and divorce from her husband. As if by fate, a spot in a popular book club, led by her dear friend, opens up. We become traveling companions on Ava’s journey as she evaluates her life through the books and discussions of the book club. But, when the members’ reading list is decided by each person’s “book that matters most”, the intrigue for Ava and us as readers begins. Ava’s book choice leads her and her daughter, Maggie, on a journey of rediscovery. The subplot of Ava’s daughter, Maggie, initially seemed to pull the story in a different direction. But in the end, Ann uses these multiple threads to masterfully weave together an intriguing novel.
The Book that Matters Most is easy to read and and full of authentic characters. Warning: the subplot of Maggie is full of drug use and sex and I found myself aggravated with her at every turn. Life is full of choices and I can’t understand people or characters wasting that life on such self destructive behaviors.
That aside, I did enjoy how this story made me contemplate the books that have mattered to me. From the books that hooked me on reading at a young age to the books whose characters have become my friends and their world my escape, books have been my constant companions for many years. Ann understands this relationship people have with books and uses it as a wonderful foundation for The Book that Matters Most.