One of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “Now that you’re writing full-time, do you ever get the chance to read?”
The answer is, “Yes and no.” When I was writing On the Island, I wasn’t able to read at all. I was so new to the process of writing a novel that I couldn’t crowd my brain with anything that might take me away from creating the story that was in my head but still needed to be transferred to the page. I was also nervous about inadvertently picking up another author’s voice. I was still trying to find my own, so I didn’t want to do anything that might interfere with that.
But now it’s getting easier for me. There are still times during the drafting process where I intentionally don’t read any fiction, because I just can’t, but I’ve discovered that I can read non-fiction and memoirs with no problem. It’s not quite the same as reading a novel, but it satisfies my need to read, and that’s a good compromise.
When I turn in a manuscript and I’m waiting for my editorial notes, I go on a fast and furious reading rampage, because I know as soon as I receive my edits, it’s back to work. And I’m not talking about the manuscripts I beta-read or the ARCs I read so I can provide a blurb (I have read eleven of those in the last six months or so). While I love being able to read a book before it’s published, that type of reading still falls under my “writer” job description, and as awesome and cool as it is, it’s still “work”. When I read for pleasure, it’s a book I’ve chosen based solely on my own subjective preferences as a “reader.” Sometimes it’s a book I’ve wanted to read for a while, and sometimes it’s a book I buy on a whim.
Lately I’ve received several requests for book recommendations, so here are some of the books I’ve read in the last nine months:
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – I can’t recommend this book enough. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it because I had a feeling I knew where it was going, and that it would make me cry. I was right on both counts, but it didn’t matter because it was so, so good. I’ve also got Jojo’s The Last Letter From Your Lover on my towering TBR pile. I love the title and I’m intrigued by the premise, to say the least.
Home Front by Kristin Hannah – This book was fantastic. I love Kristin Hannah and I connected with this story on a personal level because my friend Angie (we’ve known each other since Kindergarten) is in the military and was deployed to Iraq. Thankfully, Angie made it back home safe and sound, but this book really drove home the fact that many men and women who are deployed do not. Have your Kleenex box handy.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Just read this book. Okay? Okay.
This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers – My first zombie read. It was awesome. And kind of scary. I loved it and made Sarah Hansen read it and then we sort of bombarded Courtney on Facebook with our rambling praise. You should read it because ZOMBIES, people.
Breaking Night by Liz Murray – This is a memoir about a girl who graduated from not only high school, but Harvard, despite the fact that she was homeless the whole time. I finished reading this one in bed. I was afraid my crying would wake up (and freak out) my husband, but thankfully he slept right through my little meltdown. This book will make you think long and hard about just how lucky you are to have a roof over your head.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – I loved this one. The writing is simply beautiful. I felt smarter while I was reading this book. It’s literary fiction, which is not usually my thing (I’m a straight-up genre girl, and proud of it) but wow. There was just something about The Interestings that I found very refreshing.
The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen – This novel is set primarily in Jamaica, which is where my husband and I went on our honeymoon. It’s about a group of college friends who reunite for a birthday celebration. I love ensemble books like these, and Sarah Pekkanen is one of my favorite women’s fiction authors.
Bossy Pants by Tina Fey (memoir) – I’m such a fan of Tina Fey and this book only makes me like her more, not only as an entertainer, but as a person. Super enjoyable read.
Market Street and Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes – I loved both of these books. Not only do I connect strongly with Anita’s writing style, but I love how she weaves the descriptions of fancy clothes, beautiful shoes, gorgeous locations, and gourmet food throughout her stories. It makes a yoga-pants-wearing girl like me want to class up her game a little bit.
Family Pictures by Jane Green – Upmarket women’s fiction at its finest. I just love Jane Green.
What She Left Us by Stephanie Elliot – This book kept me turning pages because the author does a great job of raising questions I wanted the answer to. It also highlights – beautifully – the relationship between two sisters, and how much they rely on and support each other.
Composing Myself by Elena Aitken – This is a contemporary novel that focuses on family relationships and personal growth. I love that the backstory of one of the characters was something I hadn’t read before, making this book feel original and fresh. I predict this will be Elena’s breakout book.
So, there you have it! And now that I’ve met all my deadlines I’m very eager to go on another short reading binge. But right after Memorial Day I’ll be setting down my Kindle and picking up my laptop because my next book is just begging to be written and I’m very excited to get started. I’m currently in the research and outline stage but looking forward to starting the drafting process.
Happy Friday, everyone!!