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Themes: Recommendations

If you really wanted to challenge yourself, you could put yourself out there and take up the cause of reading things other people suggested, watching movies that made their eyes light up. This is the apex of vulnerability; we live our lives increasingly customized. I only watch the tv shows I record when I feel like getting around to it., for example. Since graduating school, none of us have read a book we didn’t pluck off the shelves in complete self-actualization.

So the challenge with the theme "Recommendations" is to ask your parents, your best friends, your coworkers, your neighbors: What’s the one book they can’t live without? What’s the one movie they think you HAVE to see?

This theme is not for the weak of heart. The fact with recommendation is that it’s really hit or miss. If it’s a great recommendation, I like you and feel closer to you.

But what if it’s the opposite? What if you were one of the people who told me to read One Day? Or what if you told me I just HAD to see Miami Vice, the only movies I have ever walked out of? (The line “if you do the crime, you do the time” was just too much for me) What happens is: I judge you. Your recommendation may tell me things about you that it’s better I not know!

I can’t count the number of times someone has told me to read something. Sometimes people suggest or go ahead and give me a book and I genuinely just don’t get around to it, which is my bad. My habit is to read it 5 years later, then write a completely untimely (but heartfelt) apology, detailing why I loved it. Other times they will recommend, and I will point and laugh.

This happened with the friend who told me to read The Hunger Games. I told her “I hate reality tv. Why would you possibly READ A BOOK about it?” And then I ate my words. Every time I passed the book forward, mentioned it to another person, I cringed at how wrong I was to have such disdain for a well-meaning (and on point) recommendation.

But let’s be honest -- other times they’re dead wrong. You read the book and wonder “How am I close to someone who thinks this is 'the best writing ever'?" (see also: my dad, The Da Vinci Code, 2004) If one more of you suggest Tuesdays With Morrie, we’re gonna have words (just kidding- that’s in the “haven’t read yet” pile).

On the flipside, maybe you will be pleasantly surprised. You may find out that some of the books and movies that fall into your hands change your life, change your perspective on things, or at least change how you view the person who lent them to you -- for the better.


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