Books that invite conversations:
With strangers? None; that involves talking with strangers.
With friends? All; we talk about almost every book we ever read, hear about, or see on shelves or in the hands of strangers as we pass.
For a less introverted answer, The Diviners and Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray.
Hm. I feel like books are an acceptable way to make friends? Although, maybe not as I’m reading? Like, over dinner or coffee or something, sure. I honestly don’t know how I’d react to being interrupted (by a stranger) while reading in public, but for the purposes of this Top Ten, let’s assume that I’m in an exceptionally patient mood. I’m almost always up for talking about the following books:
- Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
- Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
- The Young Elites by Marie Lu
- The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- The Arrival by Shaun Tan
- The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
Picture books! Any and all picture books are guaranteed to spark conversation, assuming I’m in the room. By now my coworkers are used to constantly being asked “have you read this one yet?” as I shove another picture book in their hands. Books that I’ve loved start conversations because I can’t wait to share them with other people, books that I’ve hated start conversations because I am a talkative, highly opinionated person who can’t wait to tell other people what I think. Fortunately, I work in a library where I’m surrounded by book lovers, so there are always lots of ideas and conversations flowing.
Just a handful of picture books that have started conversations at work recently:
The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen – Is it troubling that this picture book is encouraging indiscriminate kissing without consent, or do grownups worry too much and read too much into kids’ books?
The Hug Machine by Scott Campbell – Should sharing this story include a reminder that uninvited hugs could be considered by some people as intrusions into their personal personal space?
There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith – Racist? Kind of boring? Neither/both?
A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson – What the….? Did….did that last page mean what I think it meant? Woah…did this book just get majorly dark?
A Hungry Lion, Or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins – Awesome! Awesome, awesome, awesome! I don’t know how many kids will necessarily figure out what’s going on here, and it might get some knickers in a twist, but who cares, this is awesome!
The Tiger Who Would be King by James Thurber – Holy crap was that ever depressing. On a scale of 1-10, just how depressed were you after reading this picture book?
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont – Hey, have you used this in your story times before? The song goes like this….HA! Now try getting that earworm out your head, you’ll be humming that damned folk song all day! BWAAHAHHAHAH!
Let Me Finish! by Min Le – Are we reaching a point in picture book evolution where every hit book has to be “meta”, or quirky, or clever or witty? Can a picture book just be simple and sweet, or goofy and unsophisticated, and still be well done? Are writers embroiled in a quirkiness arms race, each trying to out-quirk and outwit the other, until one day no kid will actually be able to figure out what’s going on in picture books that have forgotten that their target audience is kids?
Hehehe, enjoy this video
For me, almost every book invites conversation. I mean, I finish reading and I kind of review it in my mind and then hand it off to a friend or family member and then talk their ear off–usually this instigates an actual conversation because, well, that’s why we love books, no? Because everyone has a different POV and way of reading, it’s the same with movies–they are entertainment, but they also instigate conversation as a part of that entertainment. Even a bad movie makes you laugh or scoff and talk about it afterwards. For me, a book is no different. Even if I didn’t make it through the book, I have something to say about it. :)
That said. I particularly enjoy conversations that involve a post-apocalyptic and natural setting, I like dystopias but find myself often arguing that a supposed dystopia was not a dystopia at all … and that’s a lot of fun.