24 September 2008

Hitting the books (not literally)

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random
As part of my “15 things to do before I’m 30” list, I pledged to read 10 books in the next year and I’m falling behind. I’ve been too focused on knitting my legwarmers! So now I’m trying to balance reading, knitting and fall TV. 
Anyhow, Monday I had the day off so I launched into book number one: “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read a lot of her books in the past and they always make me think and sympathize with characters I normally wouldn’t.
And I have to admit, I cheated when I read her book, “My Sister’s Keeper.” When I say that I cheated, I meant that I got about halfway through the book and then, feeling a bad gut reaction, I skipped ahead to the last three chapters to see if I was right. I know, it’s wrong, but I had to know. I won’t ruin it for anyone, but when my suspicions were confirmed, I threw the book halfway across the room and let it sit there for three days before I returned it.
On my big day off, I only planned to read for about an hour but three to four hours later, I was still on my couch reading this book and now I am 70 percent of the way through it. And I have to admit, I don’t know if I can finish it.
For those who don’t know, the book takes place around a Columbine-like massacre at a high school and the ensuing trial of the kid caught when the gun. But like Picoult’s other books, it looks at the story from multiple points-of-view, such as the popular and unpopular crowd. While the book is well written and balanced, I personally found it very hard to get through and am still disturbed by what I have read. Why? Well it is a heavy subject matter, but it is also a bit more personal than I thought it would be.
When I was in middle school, a former student walked into the neighboring high school one day, found the vice principal and shot him multiple times in the hallway. Fortunately, no one else was hurt, but the high school and my middle school went into immediate lock down, especially after there was a rumor that the shooter was going to the middle school next. Cops and parents crowded the streets and my dad came to get my brother and me and he had to show ID to pick us up and walk us to the car. They eventually found the shooter and he’s in jail now, but the entire community was a raw nerve for a long time. My dad was a high school principal for over 30 years and wasn’t always well-liked, so after this happened, I spent a lot of time worrying about him, fearing something like this would happen to him too, and fortunately it didn’t.
I know this is a little heavy and I might be reading into the book a bit too much, but it hit a big nerve for me, outside of the shooting, such as the relationship between two teenage characters. I had a harder time reading this than I thought I would.
So I hope I haven’t brought the mood down too much, but after seeing people’s response tweets to me on Monday, I felt I had to share this. I’ll still finish the book because I’m really almost done with it, but I think I’ll take my time. 
For book number two, I want to find something fluffier to read. I’m open to suggestions. Help a girl out.
Reader note: I was loving everyone’s comments about yesterday’s post on dining out alone. Really, I’m glad I’m not alone in this feeling. But now if I call you up on a Saturday night asking if you want to get food, this is why :) Thank you everyone for your great comments, I loved reading them!


  1. Lauren says:

    I was really interested in reading that book. I didn’t care so much for Picolt’s “The Tenth Circle,” but since I was a teacher, I was incredibly interested in that one. But, like you, I think it’ll be a bit too close, too emotional.

  2. lifeintheleftlane says:

    I read this book last year, and it was good but very heavy at the same time. A lot of her books are like that, but I think that’s why I like them so much. I can totally see how it would be hard for you to read.

    I was trying to think of books to recommend to you that are lighter, but I just realized that I don’t really read those books very often. Hmmm…I read the Nanny Diaries recently, and it was cute!

  3. Ashley says:

    My fluffy reading ususlly involve Janet Evanovich, but that’s just me. ;-)

    This was soooo interesting for me to ready – I just read the book a few weeks ago and LOVED IT. It was hard to read, a little depressing, but oh-so-interesting.

    You HAVE to read the whole thing. You. Have. Too.

    It’s not optional. :)

  4. A Girl says:

    I loved “The pact: a love story” (from Jodi Picoult also), but it doesn’t qualify as a lighter read…

  5. Tipp says:

    I havent read any of her books yet, def on my to-do list!

  6. Erin says:

    Can you knit me some legwarmers??? That’s awesome.

    So, something light to read…how about Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs? No? Well, if you haven’t read Bridget Jones, it’s a must. Also, Lamb by Christopher Moore is laugh out loud funny. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is, without a doubt, the best book I’ve read all year. Not exactly light, but a fantastic story.

  7. stealthnerd says:

    Do you have a list yet? B/c I’ve been reading like crazy lately and have tons of suggestions. I just finished Water for Elephants and it was so good that I read the last 14 chapters in one sitting–I couldn’t put it down!

  8. Katie Killary says:

    I always wanted to read My Sister's Keeper. Is it really sad?

    I've read 'Salem Falls' and 'Second Glance' – both were great.

    I haven't read '19 Minutes' yet but when I was at Simon & Schuster I worked on it's production so in a way I've read bits and pieces… heavy stuff!

  9. Megkathleen says:

    So I take it you’re really looking forward to the movie My Sister’s Keeper.

    As for a fluffier book a friend gave me the book Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro and it is now one of my favorite books. From what I’ve read of your blog I think you would really enjoy it too.

  10. Katelin says:

    i read this book earlier this year and i couldn’t put it down either. although i’ve never experienced anything close to what the book describes or what you’ve been through but i just couldn’t help but sympathize with everyone involved in the story of that book. but yeah i agree, i had to read ‘the devil wears prada’ afterwards. i needed some serious fluff to lighten my mood, haha.

  11. Little Miss Obsessive says:

    Wow, that is a scary story =/.

    I’ve never read any of Jodi Picoult’s books.. they always seemed too tear jerker for me. If you haven’t read Bridget Jones Diary that is really one of my very favorites and such a fun read (even if you’ve already seen the movie). Another good, fun read is Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass,Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office..
    It’s a memoir and it’s hilarious.

  12. PomJob says:

    Eerie that you bring this up now. The other day I was searching for the annual 5K that benefits the foundation formed after a junior high student murdered his principal and then killed himself in front of a cafeteria full of students. The principal was vice principal when I roamed the hallowed halls, Dr. Se-no-hair-gro. And my counsin was in the cafeteria. Heavy stuff, right there.

    As for book suggestions, I love Jen Lancaster’s books, especially her newest about losing weight. I’ve only read There No Place Like Here and saw PS I Love You, but I think I really like Cecilia Ahern. Plus, she’s only like 26 and amazingly accomplished.

  13. laurwilk says:

    I can’t stand Jodi Picoults books. The woman brings me down every time! I also don’t really enjoy those ‘chick’ books as much. Which may be what you refer to when you ask for ‘fluff’. However, I have a few recommendations.

    Time Travelers Wife – interesting but not dark by any means.
    Water for Elephants – I loved it!
    3 Cups of Tea – teaches you a bit and I appreciate that.
    Last Days of Summer – a very quick and easy read. You may especially enjoy it with the Cubs season this year!
    Dewey – I’m biased because this book is about my hometown library cat. The story is charming, and it is a Barnes and Noble best seller!

  14. Angela says:

    Hmmmm an excellent book to read?? How to Talk to a Widower, by Jonathan Tropper. This book is fabulous. It’s fiction, even though it sounds like a self-help title. It made me laugh out loud, scream out loud, cry, everything. It’s absolutely awesome. Another good one is called Innocence, by Kathleen Tessaro. It’s kind of like Perks of Being a Wallflower, except its main character is a girl.

  15. HBee says:

    Yes, sounds like that book would hit close to home. I would be disturbed as well. I also read My Sister’s Keeper and like you I have a very bad habit of skipping to the end. Although not the last several chapters…just the last page. I always feel “guilty.” As if I’ll get in trouble, but I always skip to the last sentence of books – sometimes the last paragraph. So sometimes I really don’t completely spoil things, but more than often I guess I do. It’s a weird habit.

  16. Nilsa S. says:

    I know I’m in the minority, but I really can’t stand Jodi Picoult’s books. Interesting, eh? Probably the first person you’ve heard say that. But, it’s true. And I’ll keep quiet as to why because I’m quite certain I’ll offend people, including you. Here’s hoping you like your next book better!

  17. RecoveringActor says:

    I heart Jodi Picoult.. and I’m pretty sure I sobbed for 3 weeks over My Sister’s Keeper. At home waiting for me I have The Tenth Circle and Vanishing Acts.

    I don’t know if you’ve read any of her books, but if you want to speed through about three book you should pick up Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It’s a series of 6 at the moment. The first 4 books I read in about two weeks. They’re impossible to put down. So long as you don’t mind a little harmless time traveling. They’re historical fiction romance books…and wonderful. And set in Scotland. I’m also a big James Patterson fan also… his Women’s Murder Club books are super fast reads also.

  18. Cass says:

    funny I was going to suggest water for elephants too. how about eat,love,pray? that’s pretty feel good. I have that one, I think amanda gave it back. you’re welcome to my library anytime as usual! btw, do you have any idea how many times I’ve wished I could knit and read at the same time??!

  19. Rebekah says:

    I’ve never read a Jodi Picoult book, although my sister keeps shoving them at me. Might have to grab that one… and a pair of legwarmers.

  20. Mandy says:

    I am sorry you had to deal with that and can see why the book hit so close to home for you.

    I loved Water for Elephants, but its not really fluffly. It is a great read though. Jen Lancaster, Sophie Kinsella, Sarah Strohmeyer anything by them is a good, light read. I turn to them to read when I dont need to think about what I’m reading.

    Am I correct in assuming you haven’t read Twilight yet? Check that one out and the three that follow…you’ll have almost half of the books on your list knocked out with that series. :-)

  21. Anonymous Amy says:

    I like this book too; Jodi Picoult is fun to read she really has her plot line down. Another really good book is Water for Elephants, although it isn’t fluffy. hmmm, fluffy…maybe something by Jennifer Weiner?

  22. kelly says:

    All of Jodi Picoult’s books deal with intense subjects —
    that’s her formula and it sells– (I know because I’m being pressured to write another novel like that too!)

    Try The Godmother by Carrie Adams. Funny and light-hearted. Or maybe a little David Sedaris is in order . . . Holidays on Ice is the best, I think.

    Kelly Simmons
    author of STANDING STILL
    Publishers Weekly starred review

  23. wontletlifedefineme says:

    I posted some book recommendations on my blog a week ago. If you want to read something funny I’d recommend Michael Sadler’s Englishman a la Campagne. It’s hilarious.

  24. jenn says:

    I also love that you’re knitting legwarmers! That’s awesome…

    Jodi tends to be pretty intense. But I always find her a good read.
    In terms of ‘fluffier’, I have read a couple by Sheila O’Flanagan lately. She’s definitely fluffy, and quite enjoyable.
    I tend to just go to the chick-lit section and pick whatever catches my eye. But I read a lot, and quickly, so it’s not that big a deal when I hit a lemon.

  25. bianca says:

    You are fabulous – I heart that you’re knitting legwarmers! What color are they???

  26. Maki says:

    It must have been a very scary experience for you. I had this guy walked in to our classroom during final exam when I was 13. He was high on drugs and it was very scary…

    I love “Breakfast with Tiffany” by Edwin John Wintle. It’s about the author who is gay becoming the guardian to his neice. It’s great story. It’s not “Breakfast @ Tiffany” by the way…

    Also “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. Hands down! or “Sun Flower”… Good luck!!

  27. thegoodnamesaretaken says:

    I just finished I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley and thought it was pretty good.

  28. Athena Valentine says:

    Oh my gosh. I say that because I actually read this book last year and although it didn’t precisely hit a nerve by hitting close to home, it still made me think.

    In this book, the two main characters are so different you think and then you find out the story. And then you find out incident after incident about what they put this boy through, starting the first day of school and how the best friend chooses her path away from him. It seriously broke my heart because I am so against bullying in my after school program and I am now even more so. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but I can definately say it’s a bit shocking. And its definately deep.

    As for your next fluffy book, the something borrowed, something blue two parter is a good one by emily griffen. :)

  29. Ray says:

    I unfortunantly had to give up reading for pleasure when the fall semester started because now my life is consumed with stuffy public administration text books. :(

    One of my favorite books is Water for Elephants. If you haven’t checked it out, it is excellent.

    Also…I may have to check out this book you recommend over Christmas break. I am an NIU undergrad alum and also getting my master’s there…and needless to say, the February 14th shooting is still a little raw. It may help to read about it.

    Thanks for the suggestion!

  30. Ginger says:

    Wow, I can’t even imagine how you feel–I pretty much put myself in books to begin with, but with your history, I’m not sure I could handle that one.
    For something light..chick lit rules the day. Or if you like kinda weird and quirky, anything by Christopher Moore (but it’s definitely weird).

  31. Stephanie says:

    I’m so sorry you had to go through that stress.

    It’s odd to think of the way a certain generation has grown up. On the second anniversary of Columbine, there was a rumor around my high school that something similar was going to happen. It didn’t help that there were a few guys that wore black trench coats. Thankfully, nothing happened, but between that and 4 years full of bomb threats, school wasn’t where I felt the safest.

    I can’t think of a “fluffy read” right now. But if I do, I’ll recommend it. :)

  32. Maxie says:

    I hate to admit this, but I only read chick lit. I get INCREDIBLY invested in whatever i’m reading, so if the book is depressing I get mega depressed. Now I only read stuff that I know will be happy– I’m a chicken.

  33. Sandy says:

    Uh, yeah I can definitely see why that would hit a nerve! I’m having a similar feeling right now. I’m reading “Come Back”, and really loving it, but all the detail on the drugs and the rehab is hitting a bit close to home for me. I would recommend it, though. Maybe not for your next book, especially not if you’re looking for something fluffy!
    For fluff, I’d certainly recommend either “Walking in Circles Before Lying Down” or “Good in Bed”. Two of my favorites.

  34. LBluca77 says:

    Oh I love that you are knitting legwarmers, it sounds so fun!

    The book does seem a bit heavy. I just finished 2 of Emily Giffin’s books and they were great. Karyn Bosnak who wrote Save Karyn and 20 times a lady. Not sure if you read her blog Prettyinthecity.com but her books are great.

  35. Vanessa says:

    I can easily see why this book would hit close to home for you. What a horrible thing to go through as a teen. For something light, maybe try a Sophie Kinsella or Alison Pace book. Caprice Crane is another good one and if you haven’t read Jen Lancaster, good lord, go, go now and get all three of her books!