I don’t do the whole post-book hangover thing well.
I finished this book last year and stared off into space for a good 30 minutes before I could process that it was over. I kept thinking about it day after day, looking up from my computer screen to remember a funny line and laughing like a lunatic to myself. I started asking friends and family if they’d ever heard of Guernsey, and wouldn’t it be nice to take a family vacation there?
I also seriously considered taking up letter-writing so that my future grandkids would have something physical to hold of my daily life. (“Dear Future Grandkids, Today I got up and went to work. I had a coffee while I answered emails.” Can’t you just hear the snoozing!?)
But I was just so gut-wrenched that I couldn’t live in the world of that book anymore.
Heartbreak over lost book worlds is real, and I know I’m not the only one who roams the house, kicking the pillows, glaring at the plants, and feeling annoyed that I’m not, in fact, living a magical character’s life in a magical place.
I know a lot of people felt this way after they read John Green’s The Fault in Your Stars–has there ever been such a heartbreaking and collective book hangover? And the bad news is, we still have to wait two more months for Turtles All the Way Down, John Green’s first book after The Fault in Your Stars phenomenon.
Two. Whole. Months.
Is eternity stretching before you yet?
Luckily, I came up with a handy coping mechanism for you: Step 1: lock self in house. Step 2: burrow into bed. Step 3: take a nap for the next 1,440 hours.
Just in case you’re more of a read-to-pass-the-time type (and something tells me you are), I have a back-up plan. It goes like this:
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to fill the next two months with books that would bring us back to the glory days of first reading The Fault in Our Stars? Books that would remind us of the thrill and heartbreak we felt when we first met Augustus and Hazel? Books that would reignite our John Green fandom and fill The Fault in Our Stars sized hole in our hearts?
If only there were FIVE such books. Because after all, two months is a long time, and our next John Green inspired YA reads are going to whiz right by.
You know I’ve got your back, right? Well, more specifically, our wonderful Stonesong intern, Lydia DuBois, has our backs! Here’s Lydia with the YA book recommendations you need to tide you over until Turtles All the Way Down releases:
Do you read the same things as your husband or wife? Jarrett and I can both get into old classics like E.B. White, but most of the time, we’re reading on different ends of the nonfiction spectrum.
Jarrett reads what I call doorstoppers–1,000+ page books on historical figures and events. I can’t even find a comfortable way to position myself on the couch with one of those books. (On your back with the book resting on your chest? Leaning it against your legs? Asking Pepper to hold it for you?) It’s just too heavy, and it’s not all that interesting to me, either.
Instead, right now I’m dipping in and out of How to Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly. Every last one of those is light-as-a-feather and perfect for hammock reading over the long Fourth of July weekend.
But if you’re looking for something a little more appropriate for Fourth of July, and you’re less of a wimp than I am, I’ll point you over to Jarrett, who has 6 of the best books to read if you’re obsessed with Hamilton and still can’t get Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics out of your head, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen the musical.
Even if you haven’t seen Hamilton, these are still some great patriotic books to read for the 4th of July, as well as some of the best books about America’s founding fathers. And I don’t say that lightly–Jarrett does a lot of research before choosing which biography to read about each of America’s founding fathers, and he always picks one that’s widely considered both the best work and a single-volume, yet comprehensive, treatment of that founding father.
But enough from me. Here’s Jarrett with 6 patriotic books to read this 4th of July if you’re obsessed with Hamilton.
Jarrett came home from work the other day waving a new book, which one of the editors at his office said was essential reading for writers. Excuse me, I said, but we have that book already, and I could have told you all about it if I had known you wanted more reading assignments.
(I’m always telling Jarrett, “You really should read this book—you’d like it!” when I finish a book. I think his backlog of books I really, really think he should read is really, really long and really, really ignored.)
I was in such a huff that someone had beat me to recommending On Writing Well that I pulled out my yellowing copy from the shelf and forced on him a dramatic reading of my favorite quotes as we ate dinner. (I’ve learned that the best place to trap someone is at the dinner table, and I think this is a free and fair trade for all the cooking I do.)
Anyway, as Jarrett sat rapt, or maybe bored, I told him all about how, at my first job as an editorial assistant at a NYC publisher, one of the executive editors had called me into her corner office, handed me a stack of 10 books about writing, and told me to start there, but that I could come back for more soon.
I had been working as a paralegal at a law firm beforehand, so I thought it was the coolest thing ever that I got to read books about writing instead of police reports. But 10 books is no small stack, and I didn’t know where to start.
So consider this my starter stack for you—these are the 5 books I’d most recommend to any writer, whether an aspiring writer, an established writer, or anyone who has to write or blog for a living. These are the best books for writers; the best books to teach you how to get published; the best books to make you feel less alone and hair-pull-y all the time.
Maybe others have beat me to recommending some of these books on writing to you, but I promise not to get huffy about it, and I hope you’ll still find one or two new gems here:
I hope you’re surviving these last few crazy days before the holidays. I just finished my Christmas shopping yesterday, and it felt great to get it done.
Except that as soon as I thought I’d finished, I realized I needed to buy one last thing. And then I remembered I also have to wrap that giant stack of packages that’s going to show up on my doorstep tomorrow. And I hate wrapping. Hate it really deep.
I’m not good at it; it takes forever; it never comes out right; it seems like a big waste of paper. (Says the girl who pulps trees into books for a living.)
But you know what’s really, really easy to wrap? Books. They are always rectangular. Let’s just take a moment to reflect on how magical that is. A rectangular item is a glorious reprieve when we’re elbow-deep in tape and trying to figure out how on earth we’re supposed to wrap a burlap bag of Virginia peanuts (tip: make Jarrett do it).
The other wonderful thing about books is that you can still get them in time for Christmas without having to even leave your house. Yes, right now! Even on the Thursday before Christmas! If you have 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime, you can drop a few books in your cart, check-out, and still get them Saturday morning, in time for some panic-wrapping. Or go for that next-day shipping, if you’re not into the adrenaline-chasing high of leaving things to the absolute last minute.
Of course, if you can buy a few minutes off today or Friday, you could hop over to your local bookstore and pick out a book for each person on your list. No shipping wait time there! Even better, you’re supporting a local business. Even, even better, they might have little elves at the store who’ll wrap up the books for you. Ahhh, heaven.
In my dream world, I’d have an unlimited budget to buy a giant stack of books, and I’d sprinkle them over everyone I know like fairy dust. A book for you, and a book for you, and a book for you. (I hope you can hear me doing that Oprah thing!)
But of course, people need “practical” things like socks and kitchenware and vacuums and alcohol. Even so, it never hurts to check off someone’s list and then add a little book in there for fun. Books make especially fantastic stocking stuffers, and they’re the perfect little something extra for that person you want to completely delight.
Another life hack? Buy a few extra copies of that one book you know that everyone would love, wrap it up, and have it in your back-pocket for that person or two who got you something unexpectedly. You’ll be giving them the gift of an afternoon spent in one of your favorite worlds, and it’ll give you two lots to talk about next you see each other. What’s better than that?
As I wrote about here, every year I give my mom the newest John Grisham book, and every year I write a short little inscription inside—usually just the date and a few notes.
Do you add inscriptions to books you give as gifts? If not, you should! It’s a wonderful way to track the history of your library and to turn simple books into cherished family mementos. Usually it’s the notes and scribbles and inscriptions in our books that make them meaningful to us (read the comment thread on this article if you don’t believe me!), and they’re what help us remember the time and place in our lives that was marked by that reading experience.
This year, I finally decided it was time to level up and add more character to my inscriptions, so I created these printable bookplate gift tags to put in all the books I’m gifting.
I especially love that these bookplates remind me to jot down why I picked a book for a certain person. A book is such a personal gift, and it’s important to take a moment or two to tell someone why you thought this one was just right for them.
Hopefully, each time they page open that book, they’ll think of your friendship and be reminded of how much you love ‘em.
By the way, these would also work fabulously as printable bookplates for donated books if you plan to donate some new or used books to your local library this year. I know many people love to add a little bookplate to donated books, and this one allows you the space to jot down why you love your library and choose to donate to it.
And if you’re still not sure what book to give those last people on your list, try these lists:
7 Reasons to Give Books This Holiday Season (Chronicle Books blog): In case I didn’t give you enough reasons above, here are a few more!
What Is a Hybrid Publisher? (Jane Friedman): It’s extremely important for aspiring authors to understand that hybrid publishers can vary wildly in their practices. Here’s a good primer on how to evaluate a hybrid publisher.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About How the New York Times Book Review Works (Emily Temple for Literary Hub): A nice little look into how the review process works to land on one of those coveted best-of-the-year lists.
Free Printable Bookish Holiday Cards (Bookish): In case you want a printable book gift card to match your bookplate!
32 of the Most Beautiful Book Covers of 2016 (Buzzfeed Books): So much pretty. Even if these books aren’t the kind of thing you’d normally read, you’ll be impressed by how much can be done within those little rectangles we call book covers.
What we’re eating this week:
Well, between Thanksgiving and my birthday, I am officially in hibernating-bear mode. To try to counteract all those cookies, I planned us a light but hearty week of food, all from the Clean Slate cookbook. Yes, I know that’s the prototypical post-new-year’s cleanse cookbook, but I think that if I’m detoxing for the sole purpose of retoxing over Christmas, I should be forgiven.
Monday: Poached chicken with bok choy in ginger broth. This broth was divine. Make extra and freeze it, and add a fried egg to the soup when serving if you’re a hungry person like me.
Tuesday: Spaghetti with collard greens and lemon. I fell in love with this recipe! It was immediately filed into my mental cabinet of keepers. It’s super simple, requires just a few pantry ingredients, and it has plenty of healthy greens. Win, win, win.
Wednesday: Cook’s day off = Chinese takeout.
Thursday: Red lentil soup with turnip and parsley. Soup can be just as healthy as salad but 1,000,000,000 times better.
I’ll be off next week to sleep off my hibernation pudge and spend a quiet week with Jarrett, but I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year!
(By the way, I only share books I’ve read or that I’m genuinely excited about sharing with the people I love. Life’s too short to read mediocre books. But if you do feel like picking up one of these books as a gift, it’d be great if you bought them through one of the Amazon Associate links above. It supports the many hours of work this team of two [me and Jarrett] put into this little corner of the web!)