How to Read a Book

Monica Wood's sensitive, beautiful fifth novel, How to Read a Book, explores the unexpected ways literature can draw people together--even (or especially) when they least expect it. Retired English teacher Harriet Larson, known as Bookie to the attendees of the book club she runs at a women's prison, believes in the power of books to change lives but struggles to find selections that will connect with her particular (and persnickety) audience. When club member Violet Powell is released early after serving 22 months for manslaughter, she turns to Harriet for help to find her feet on "the Outs." Bookstore handyman and retired machinist Frank Daigle is wrestling not only with the death of his wife--the woman Violet killed--but also the difficulties in their marriage. Wood's narrative draws these characters together as they face their respective challenges and gradually learn they don't have to do so alone.

Wood (The One-in-a-Million Boy) portrays her characters with warmth and candor: Harriet, deeply compassionate and deeply lonely; Violet, terrified she's not up to the task of building a post-prison life; and Frank, able to fix a book cart or mend a window, but floored by his complicated emotions. Through small interactions, the unlikely trio grows closer. They share meals, book recommendations, and, eventually, the deep truths of their lives. With compassion and honesty about the hard parts of life, Wood moves her characters toward redemption, connection, and even joy. How to Read a Book is a wry, hopeful celebration of literature, unlikely friendships, and the power of small gestures of connection. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Powered by: Xtenit