Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Looking for Ms. Vadino by Jess Riley

I didn’t really make any year-end lists beyond Things I Need at Festival Foods for a Cozy Buzz while the Ball Drops, but if threatened with a two-day Kardashian marathon with my eyelids propped open with toothpicks, I’d say my five favorite books read in 2011 were as follows:

The Passage by Justin Cronin, which I resisted for a full year until I heard an interview on public radio. Read this one at the salon with my hair in foils, in front of the stove while stirring risotto, even while driving. Okay, not while driving, but I thought about it while driving. I am completely prepared to pay full price for the sequel the minute it’s released. (On my Kindle. It was a bitch trying to read the first and final pages of the 750+ page hardcover while lying in bed.)

The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta. Again, I had this one for more than a year until I plucked it from my shelf on a whim this summer. Devoured it in a matter of days. If you or anyone you know has ever tried to make it in a band, you will recognize nearly every character within.

The End of Everything  by Megan Abbott. Dear LORD did this one suck me in…disturbing subject matter, but handled so elegantly and honestly. Another red-eyed book bender until I hit the final page.

Ready, Player One  by Ernest Cline, which mildly piqued my interest until yet another interview on public radio pushed me over the edge. Anyone who enjoyed Family Ties, War Games, Pong, and Pac-Man in the eighties will enjoy this one.

Throw Like a Girl by Jean Thompson—I had this one on my shelf for over a year. Inspired by a glowing blurb from David Sedaris (oh, the holy grail of blurbs!!!), I picked it up on an end cap at Target and promptly forgot about it until this summer. Jean Thompson is one of those writers who can take seemingly mundane scenes and characters and infuse them with life until you can see, smell, and touch them. She effortlessly captures people you know (yes! you truly know them!) with a few select gestures or descriptive phrases and for this you love her deeply, but if you’re a writer and prone to mild peer envy like me, you also secretly hope that she pees just a little whenever she sneezes.  

Then there are the authors I stalk, constantly wondering if they’ll have a new book out—Shannon Olson, Jill A. Davis, Diane Vadino, Jennifer Belle---they aren't necessarily active self-promoters, and it’s becoming a little Searching for Debra Winger, although instead of a documentary about the pressures actresses face in youth-obsessed Hollywood, it’s just my impatience for new books by my favorite female authors. Authoresses, if you will.

Speaking of which, isn’t that a demeaning word? Authoress. We’re lucky nobody really uses that term anymore. But hearing some yahoo on American Restoration refer to a veterinarian as a “lady doctor” got me kind of fired up last night. Stewardess, waitress, and even secretary have mostly disappeared from the general lexicon, but actress probably won’t go away until The Academy dumps the category, which will happen when someone with a vagina is elected President and The New York Times reviews more books written by women than by men and my five favorite books in a given year are written mainly by women. *sigh*

So. Paging Shannon Olson….Are there any authors you love who seem to have evaporated? Who do you wish would release another book tomorrow?

Jess Riley has a book out on submission right now and is trying not to obsess about it. She's here or here when she's not here. And the rest of the time she's searching for Debra Winger.


  1. Good list. I love Jean Thompson and her latest is one of my fav books this year. I didn't know about Wishbone. Will have to check it out.

  2. I adore her--have the new one on my Kindle, can't wait to get back to it. Until I read Throw Like a Girl, I was under the strange impression that Jean was a guy!

  3. Ha! Great post, Jess! I actually stalk all of the same authors! Perhaps we could combine efforts....

    I totally want someone to call me girl author. Does that set back the feminist movement 30 years, or is that okay?

  4. Girl Author is much better than Lady Author...it's like Miss vs. Ma'am.

    A united Fan Girl Author front! I like it.

    1. I love Jill A Davis, too, but she's been very quiet... great post. I love knowing a novelist's favorite books. It's like asking a doctor who they use!

  5. Anne Tyler, is she still alive?!?!?

  6. I could whine all day about how much I miss Marian Keyes. I even wrote a sad little blog post about it: http://fierceandnerdy.com/oh-its-tuesday-missing-marian-keyes