I’ve written a bunch of “Favorite books of 2012” posts for different sites because people asked me nicely, but in general I am wearying of all the list-making and choosing of favorites going on right now. Plus, my favorite book I read this year was not published this year, but in 1975 instead. That book is Light Years, by James Salter.
Lauren Groff gave the book to me. She mailed it to me when I was living in New Orleans. Lauren is a really good book giver. Also, when she loves something, she loves with a great passion and thunder. Lauren is someone who makes a difference in this world. Anyway, it turned out to be exactly what I needed, that book. I read it very slowly and almost deliriously because the sentences were so perfect I felt like my brain was changing. I am happy to have passed it on to others since.
I was thinking about this when I was talking to a novelist friend who was bummed that his book sales hadn’t turned out as he had hoped. He was feeling like he hadn’t made an impact on the world, that he hadn’t been heard, that he wasn’t part of the bigger discussion. I told him that his books would live on in libraries, and get passed on from friend to friend. I said, “Think of how many books you’ve discovered twenty years after they were published.” You don’t know what will ever happen to what you create. There is no endgame. And you only really need to reach a few people to have made a difference.
I hope I made him feel better. I was telling the truth.