If you follow author Jill Shalvis’ Facebook page, you’ll know she asks that question at least once a week. It always makes me feel inferior. I mean the woman is a PROLIFIC writer. A rock star! She publishes at least four books a year. What’s she doing reading?
Forgive me, I’m just cranky because I’m in the middle of a manuscript and I don’t have time to read the bock of a box of cereal. Apparently, my productivity pales in comparison to Ms. Shalvis’. Or, perhaps, she’s just torturing herself contemplating all the books she hasn’t read—just like me. We’re like two chocoholics sniffing the wrapper of a Milky Way bar.
I’ve read only two books so far this year, both were book club picks. The first was Sharon Draper’s Out OF My Mind. This book was a light easy read, beautiful in its message. It’s written in the first person, the story told by eleven-year-old Melody who has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. She’s by far the smartest kid in her whole school, only no one knows it. Melody, you see, has cerebral palsy. The story deals with her struggle to communicate with her family and to “fit in” with the other kids at school. The overall message is one we all should embrace: tolerance and inclusion. I’m so glad I took the time to read this book.
I read the February book club selection because I kind of had to: it was my month to host and I chose the book: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. I’m going to say it right now, I loved this book. If my manuscript is late, I consider it well worth it to have been able to sift through the prose of Ben Fountain’s debut novel, already a finalist for the National Book Award. It’s the story of nineteen-year-old Army Specialist Billy Lynn, and the eight surviving members of the celebrated Bravo Squad. They are on leave from Iraq for an eight-day victory tour across the U.S. after surviving a harrowing firefight caught on film by none other than Fox News. The book takes place over Bravo Company’s last twenty-four-hours stateside: Thanksgiving Day at a Dallas Cowboy’s football game, complete with Destiny’s Child as the half-time performers!
Mr. Fountain’s writing is brilliant; his descriptions very visceral. The men of Bravo Company are depicted eloquently both as the teenage boys that they still are and the men they’ve become as soldiers. The book also contains some wonderful commentary on society as a whole, complete with some unforgettable one-liners. My favorite: when he describes the trophy wives in the owner’s box as having “the pinched look of angry vegans.” I. Love. That. Line!
So my TBR pile grows on my Kindle and beside my bed (including this month’s book club selection) as I trudge through the last half of a manuscript due the week after my first book comes out—I have to remind myself I wished for this. So you see, I have serious reader envy. But I’m going to ask anyway.
Go ahead. Torture me. Whatcha reading?