Thursday, September 2, 2010

I've Been Waiting...For a Book Like You by Jess Riley

I feel like I’ve spent the summer waiting. Waiting for word on my next novel’s fate, waiting for a buyer to fall in love with our house, waiting for three nieces to be born, waiting to learn whether or not I’ll finally be summoned for jury duty, waiting to see what horror KFC will next unveil on its menu …

I know what you’re thinking. Trying to sell a house? In this market? Here’s what happened: we read the articles online about how this is the worst possible time to try and sell a house, the ball is in the buyer’s court, you’d have an easier time getting that horrid, mouthbreathing "Fresh water, just for you!" Filtrete ad out of your head than selling a home now, and we were like, “We’re in!”

Of course I’ve followed the realtor’s advice about hiding family photos, organizing clutter, and even baking cookies before showings. But if he told me to pack away my books, I think I’d have to punch him.

After you chop your way through my flowerbeds with a machete, the next big thing a potential buyer might comment on would be my bookshelves. They’re everywhere, and they’re ready to burst.

Okay, the bookshelf comment might come AFTER they recoil in horror at the upstairs bathroom layout, but still. It will come.

(*Note to self: hide the *naughty* books as soon as you post this entry.)

Many of my books have yet to make it to the shelves because I’ve just purchased them, and they are stacked like presents to myself all over the house:

There’s Allison Winn Scotch’s latest, The One That I Want, sandwiched between Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch and Little Women. The stack next to that includes our own Sarah Pekkanen’s debut The Opposite of Me, Julie Buxbaum’s After You, Wally Lamb’s latest The Hour I First Believed, and Save the Cat, which is actually about screenwriting, purchased during my "Hey, I think I'll write a screenplay!" phase.

In the spare room, you’ll find The Passage by Justin Cronin beneath Where Did You Get This Number? by Sloane Crosley. Loved it, by the way. Particularly the last essay: “From the Back of a Truck.” So good it made me want to experience a broken heart all over again just so I could write about it. Or maybe I’ll write about how I tried to write as well as Sloane Crosley and ended up just openly weeping while watching Animal Hoarders and eating mayo from the jar with one finger.

In a basket in the upstairs reading nook (some people would call it ‘the landing,’ or ‘a waste of space’), I’ve tucked Jane Goodall’s Hope for Animals and Their World next to Jennifer Belle’s Seven Year Bitch. I’m reading that during my next long car ride. Oh, how I pity people who get nauseous when they attempt to read in the car! Or maybe I’ll save it for jury duty in two weeks, because I know it will make me laugh out loud, and if you can’t laugh out loud in front of 11 of your peers in a courthouse during a trial recess, where can you laugh out loud?

I also just finished This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. I want to hate him, but I can’t. Because he has this … way with similes. I hope that if I’m selected for jury duty the defendant is not a skilled crafter of metaphors, because it could seriously cloud my judgment.

Also, there is this: I just completed two book proposals and learned my editor left for a new publishing house, so I might have even more time to plow through the stacks of my unread books while I await the verdict on my immediate fate. What’s on deck? I think I’ll make it A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. It’s also set in the 70’s, so I’m totally in. Excommunication? Mennonites? Angst? Coming-of-age? Warped humor? That should be the perfect distraction. While I wait.

Jess Riley is the author of Driving Sideways. Which is a novel about a road trip. Not waiting.


  1. If it makes you feel any better, we sold our house last year in a bad economy and made a profit. Now my husband is having trouble convincing me to ever buy again. Good luck with the new novel.

    It felt like I waited FOREVER for my first novel to release, but now I find that I'm looking forward to the selling process next year and hopefully getting pregnant again and waiting, waiting, waiting. In all this book tour business, I actually miss holding my horses.

  2. Jess! You never fail to delight-- I completely love this post. I'm glad that I'm not the only one with books scattered all over my house. And the piles, yes, the piles!!!

    We have SUCH similar tastes in books! I've either read or have most of these books on my TBR pile. The ones I don't have clearly are going right on to the TBR pile. How can BN be in trouble when I can't stop buying books?!

  3. Books as decoration? But of course (I say as I nudge over a pile(s) of books on my coffee table so there's room for my feet. I actually have a tad of room on one shelf now because I hauled over 5 books to a friend yesterday who's recuperating from surgery. The empty spot looks so forlorn. Even though the books will be coming back, I might need to go buy some to fill that lonely little spot.

    I'm not very good at waiting either, Jess . . . and especially when I'm waiting to hear from my agent (like I will be next week. Eek!), but books (and wine) are usually what gets me through.

    Hang in there . . . I'll be waiting with you.

  4. Your bookshelf has many of the same titles as mine. BTW, I love "Save the Cat." I use it to outline books. (Or beat them out as he says.)

    I think Seven Year Bitch has to be this summer's best book title. I wished I'd thought of it.

  5. Hi Jess, good luck with all the waiting. My brother-in-law sold his place in 10 days--put it on the market a year early because he thought it would take forever. I hope that happens with your books--and Judy's--and mine! I'm waiting to hear too...

    And ditto, Save the Cat. I have no intention of writing a screenplay, but it's helpful as a new approach to plotting. and I always need all the help I can get with that!

  6. I have a feeling I would fall in love with your house because of the bookshelves . . . and the dog.

  7. Ernessa: You sold your house and made a profit last year? We must talk! :) (Also, I just laughed out loud at my latest airhead moment, when I thought for just a second--wow, she had horses?)

    Brenda, I think Judy's on to something with "Book Piles as Decoration!" And Judy, good luck with your new project!!! I will keep my fingers and toes crossed.

    Roberta, good luck to you as well! Also, I was rivited by Save the Cat...went right out and bought a bulletin board, index cards, and nifty colored little pins. Now I have to find room for it. I'm NOT moving any bookshelves! :)

  8. PS to bermudaonion: I wish I could say that's my dog! It's a darling rescue who belongs to my cousin (his name is Lucky). My dog would refuse to sit that still for a photo. :)

  9. Books, books, and more books. I have to admit I never feel nearly as comfortable in a house with no books. I always wonder 'what do they do? Don't they read?' In our home it seems that, books are like rabbits, I bring home 2 and then it seems there are suddenly 4 more, and then 8, and then 22, and then....well you get it.

  10. Jess, you just made my check-this-out on Amazon list even longer! Thanks for all the great suggestions.

    I'm in a waiting zone myself and it's torrrrture.

  11. I just finished reading "This is Where I Leave You" too! I laughed out loud several times! I got another Jonathan Trooper book but I'm sticking a lighter read in between: "More Than This" by Argo Candela. I used to have a wealth of children's books when I was a teacher but I have parted with at least half of them over the last 7 years. I have some favorites hidden away in that I am not willing to part with even though I never look at them. :) Hope you get good news about your second book! Can't wait for another book by you!

  12. Maggie, you just reminded me: a few of the houses we looked at had NO books!!! It was unsettling.

    Thanks, Rose! I've read all of Tropper's books, and his newest is by far my favorite. I'll have to check out More Than This; the title sounds familiar, and intriguing. :)

  13. Jess,
    I'm sooo with you, girl. We just pulled our house off the market (if I hear - we want it MORE updated AND a lower price, I'll scream!) just to give us a breather and take some time to re-organize before we list as FSBO so we can actually lower the price a bit.

    Regarding books, since my husband is the book editor at Bookgasm, we have more books than square footage - yep, more than 3,400 books! - and all but about about 500 are in storage or were donated. I have about a hundred of mine that I'll never part with - including yours by the way. The only "pile" of books is by my bed and since I sleep on the side next to the wall, it's hidden when you come into the room so I lucked out.

    Good luck to you on the books and the house. If you happen to grab this month's O Magazine, Martha Beck's column on rest and enjoying the valley really helped me be okay with my own waiting mode.

    hugs to you.

  14. Great post, Jess!! Good luck with the house sale and the book sale -- wishing you positive (and speedy) news on both. I hate waiting...

    As for SAVE THE CAT -- it's my absolute favorite writing craft book, and I have stacks of others that I also love. I found it so incredibly helpful...hope it'll be that way for you, too ;).

  15. If not for the reference to an upstairs bathroom, I'd think you were trying to sell my house! Sending you good sales vibes!

    @Marilyn, Good to hear about SAVE THE CAT. I've been curious. I'll check it out myself.

  16. Sorry to be late to this conversation - my laptop has been in the shop for 2 weeks!! Really hope you enjoy OPPOSITE and looks like you have lots of happy reading ahead of you. Let me know what you think of SAVE THE CAT!