I am reading Blood Meridian, because Guy Gavriel Kay said it was the sort of recommendation he didn’t immediately make; that he was careful doing so; and there is no surer way to get to me to read a book than to imply that I am somehow inadequate to the task, or that you might regret having recommended it to me, or that there must be special circumstances in which the recommendation and subsequent reading of said book is deemed acceptable.
That’s how I ended up reading Gravity’s Rainbow and Remembrances of Things Past and The Possibility of an Island and…you get the idea. And, in the gentlest way possible (because no one making these recommendations was A Bad Person), I’d like to point out that every single book I was recommended with a caveat was recommended thusly by a man. No woman ever told me “maybe you can handle this but…” or “this is a great book but officially I’m not recommending it to you…” or “this was powerful to me when I read it but maybe you should wait.”
Now, to be fair, fewer women than men have ever recommended books to me. But those who did, refrained from making assumptions about my “readiness” for a book. Or tried to scare me off, or protect themselves with disclaimers about not officially making the recommendation. (On the one hand this seems partly a product of a lawsuit-happy culture; in the other, why did those few women recommending books to me feel comfortable dispensing with the screen of demurrals, whereas the men felt the need to impress upon me the degree to which they were not recommending the books? Am I such a liability?)
Anyway. Blood Meridian. Onward.