I have a confession: I’m afraid of The Help.
I bought a copy months ago (joining 10 million other people in this purchasing choice). It perches expectantly on my bookshelf, with its bright cover and fetching little birds that seem to watch me as I move across the room. I even cracked the cover once and read the first line. Then I put it back down.
So many people I respect adore The Help. Many have told me they cried while reading it. I know I’ll love it too; it’s exactly my kind of book. So why am I putting off reading it?
Part of it, I think, is that I’ll only be able to read it for the first time once. There’s so much hype surrounding this novel (which, by the way, was turned down by dozens of literary agents) that I suspect I like the anticipation of knowing I can read it any time I want as much as I’ll actually enjoy reading it.
But I’m also a little scared. I think I’ve built it up a bit too much in my mind. What if it disappoints me? What if I’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t get The Help? (I haven't seen the movie either, by the way).
But here are some fantastic books I’ve devoured lately, when I haven’t been reading The Help:
The Drop by Michael Connelly. If you haven’t read Connelly yet, you’re in for a treat. He’s a master at underwriting, building tension and creating memorable characters. And he’s one of those authors who just gets better and better with time.
The Violets of March by Sarah Jio. I’ve never met Sarah, but we connected on another group author’s blog a while back, and immediately discovered we’re living similar lives: We both have three boys and both write for magazines. When she asked me to read her debut manuscript a few months before publication. I loved it so much, I offered up a blurb, calling it a “gem of a novel, perfect for reading at the beach or under a cozy quilt.”
The Silver Linings Playbook/A Pinch of Love. I paired these books because they were written by my favorite husband/wife writing duo. Matthew Quick authored The Silver Linings Playbook, and Alicia Bessette wrote A Pinch of Love. Both novels are quirky, passionate, and compulsively readable. Bonus: Look for The Silver Linings Playbook to hit movie theaters within the next year!
Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally-bestselling author of Skipping A Beat, The Opposite of Me, and the upcoming These Girls. Visit her website at www.sarahpekkanen.com