I can’t stress this enough. Read books you aren’t interested in. That may sound counterintuitive and yes, you will find the occasional dud, but every once and a while you will not only stumble onto something truly remarkable, its discovery (at least it feels like one to the newly-smitten reader) will open new doors of interest. This is an invaluable process.
On a recent trip to New York, I had lunch with a friend at a so-so Mexican spot not far from MoMA. She works in the publishing business and always makes a point to give me a few new books that she “just knows” I will love. This strategy is hit and miss. This particular trip falls into the “hit” column.
For reasons still unknown to me, I immediately gravitated to a book called “The Fly Trap,” a fairly small memoir by Swedish biologist Fredrik Sjoberg, mostly dealing with his seemingly endless fascination with hoverflies (sometimes known as “sweat bees”). The book, recently translated into English and the first part of a trilogy, appeared in Sweden more than a decade ago. Messages in bottles are more punctual.
I don’t really read books like this. No Amazon algorithm would have suggested it. It took a friend to bring it into my life. And I’m grateful. For like all great works of memoir or writings of nature, this is obviously not a book about hoverflies. It’s about everything, about us.
There’s been a lot of talk this year about Harper Lee’s follow-up and the fourth novel in the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series. No thanks. I can’t wait for volume two.
My name is Jeff Martin and I am officially a Fredrik Sjoberg groupie.
Jeff Martin is the founder of Booksmart Tulsa. He said it is almost impossible to pick a favorite book, but “I guess my desert island book would have to be The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis.”