BY STEPHANIE E. PONDER
WHEN The Connection spoke
with Ann Hood earlier this
year on April ;;, she was having a “complicated” day.
She was two days away
from getting married. She
had celebrated her son, Sam’s,
birthday two days earlier, and
April ;; is both the birthday
of her adopted daughterAnnabelle and the anniversary of her daughter Grace’s death from a
virulent form of strep in ;;;;.
Despite it being a “crazy week,” Hood set aside
some time to talk about this month’s book buyer’s
pick: her novel The Book That Matters Most.
Set in Providence, Rhode Island, the book
tells the story of a book club that spends a year
reading the books that matter most to each member. The various books serve as a backdrop for Ava
to come to terms with her divorce while still
grieving the decades-old losses of her sister and
mother. And then there’s Ava’s daughter, Maggie,
who ditches her study-abroad program and falls
headlong into a life clouded by drug addiction.
Hood, who always knew she wanted to be a
writer, took a brief detour by first becoming a
flight attendant. “When I graduated with my
English degree from college and I still wanted to
be a writer, I thought, ‘Well, writers need to have
adventures,’ ” says Hood.
One of the perks of her job was the long inter-
national flights that gave her time to work on her
first novel, Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine,
Since that first novel, she’s written fiction
and nonfiction titles, including The Knitting
Circle, The Obituary Writer and Comfort: A
Journey Through Grief.
“The idea [for The Book That Matters Most]
came to me when I was driving home from a book
club visit for my novel The Obituary Writer. I loved
that book club so much, and they picked a theme
every year. I thought that was kind of interesting,”
Hood tells The Connection on a return trip from
New York City to her home in Providence.
“I was thinking about the camaraderie, and
how talking about books can be so comforting and
From there, Hood imagined a woman in crisis
joining a book club, and by the time Hood’s hour-
long drive was over, she’d figured out about two-
thirds of the book. Within the following two days,
Hood began asking everyone a question: What
book matters the most to you?
Quickly, ;; titles surfaced as the frontrunners, which Hood needed to whittle down to nine.
“I spent almost a year reading those ;; books, and
it became pretty clear the nine or ;; that suited
my purposes,” says Hood. The titles she selected
include The Catcher in the Rye, Pride and Prejudice
and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Some of the books that didn’t make the cut?
Jane Eyre, Great Expectations and War and Peace.
When she’s not writing or talking to people
about writing and reading, Hood enjoys knitting,
a habit she picked up to help deal with her grief
after Grace’s death. She’s so devoted to the hobby
that she compiled essays for Knitting Yarns:
Writers on Knitting and has tried “to put a knitter
in everything. In The Book That Matters Most,
it’s an evil knitter.”
To add to the complicated nature of the day,
she shares how pleased she is with herself for
having recently mastered a new knitting tech-
nique. But she’s also frustrated, because the day’s
commute didn’t allow her time to pick up her
needles and yarn.
Says Hood, “If I don’t knit every day, I feel like
I’m missing something. Knitting and reading—
I need to dip into [them] every day.” C
THE STACK of books that I
want to read grows and
shrinks with recommendations,
a shift in my mood or simply
picking up something that
looks interesting. No matter
how I make my selection,
I continue to marvel at how the
right book always finds me at
the right time. That was definitely the case for this month’s
book buyer’s pick, Ann Hood’s
The Book That Matters Most.
When heartbroken Ava
joins a book club, she has no
idea how the written word,
and the members of the book
group, will alter her thoughts,
behavior and life.
As long as I’m a reader,
I will love opening up a book
and not knowing where it will
take me, but having the faith
that the destination is where
I need to be.
The Book That Matters Most
(Item #1176165; 8/1) is available
in most Costco warehouses.
For more book picks,
see page 97.
—Pennie Clark Ianniciello,
Ann Hood explores the power
of the written word
Costco has 50 signed copies of Ann Hood’s
The Book That Matters Most to give away. To enter,
NO PURCHASE, PAYMENT OR OPT-IN OF ANY KIND IS
NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPS TAKES.
Purchase will not improve odds of winning. Sweepstakes
is sponsored by Costco Wholesale, 1045 Lake Drive,
Issaquah, WA 98027. Open to legal residents of the U. S.
(except Puerto Rico) who are age 18 or older at the time of
entry. One entry per household. Entries must be received
before the September issue is available online, which will
happen around August 26, 2017. Winners will be randomly
selected and noti;ed by mail on or before October 1, 2017.
The value of the prize is $15.95. Void where prohibited.
Winners are responsible for all applicable federal, state
and local taxes. Odds of winning depend on the number
of eligible entries received. Employees of Costco or W. W.
Norton and Company and their families are not eligible.
SIGNED BOOK GIVEAWAY
© CASEZY IDEA / SHUTTERSTOCK