Monday, April 5, 2010

Jim McCarthy Told Me What to Read

So the other day I scrolled through my Google blog reader and opened agent Jim McCarthy’s post. Jim (of Dystel & Goderich) offered a book suggestion to those who commented with a list of their five most recent reads. Now, I know Jim is a nice guy, from my correspondence with him when he read three of my manuscripts. (So close!) So, I jumped right in.

Thanks to Elizabeth, who reads more than any of us, I have been on a mission to keep track of my reading. I’ve done this over the past few years, but I’d guess some titles never made the list—maybe they were forgettable books or maybe they truly slipped my mind. Anyway, I’ve read a lot so far this year and the last five books actually showed a good representation of my interests.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Paula Spencer by Roddy Doyle
Shannon by Frank Delaney
Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

Jim wrote: “Taking a cue from the wonderful spookiness of two of your books, Joan, might I suggest an oldie but a goodie: Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle.”

A few days later after reading it in one night, here's what I wrote to him:
I loved it from the first page: “Everyone else in my family is dead.” And the magic continued throughout the book where she’d drop in little bombs like that... To me it felt like a mix of two of my favorites, Diane Setterfield’s Thirteenth Tale and Sarah Waters’ Little Stranger. I’m sure you’ve read them, but if not, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. (I never miss an opportunity to tell others about those two titles!)

Jim gave me a mention in his blog today which was very exciting! (Here’s the post)

I told him I’d pulled out four more of his suggested titles I’m sure I’ll enjoy and others will likely do the same. He probably didn’t count on that one post taking his whole day! I think he was still responding with recommendations long after the end of the work day. It was a big hit though. Let's hope he does it again sometime!

Jim wrote on his blog today, “For me, reading is a great individual pleasure, and there’s something exceedingly exciting about finding a novel on your own that you just tumble head over heels for. But there is something equally invigorating about finding yourself in a community of readers.” I agree!

If anyone has any recommendations, feel free to send them in. And I’ll offer a title back to you.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Lynd said...

I posted my past five reads to Jim as well, and he suggested Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, by ZZ Packer, to me. I got a copy of it on Friday and started last night. So far, so good. I don't know whether or not I'd have picked this up on my own if I'd seen it at the bookstore or the library, though I might have. I'm eager to see how the rest of the stories play out; I'm about to start the fourth one when I log off. But I agree, it was generous and fun what he did. And I was glad to be a part of it.