When writing my last entry, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Picture Books,” I believed I was resurrecting an already laid to rest discussion about the New York Times’ obituary for the picture book. My post was uploaded on December 14th. The day AFTER Publishers Weekly’s cover asked “Did the New York Times get it wrong?”
Grace can attest to the fact that I actually wrote my entry weeks prior. It was one of the last things I checked off of my “to-do” list before I went here:
Yes, for the first time in my tenure as an agent I took an honest-to-goodness, no access to email vacation.
And what does, a literary agent do during an honest-to-goodness vacation?
A little of this…
A bit of that…
A whole lot of this…
And a good dose of this…
Yes, on a vacation, a literary agent reads. For eight whole days I would not read emails or manuscripts. I loaded my kindle with published, adult books. On deck chairs, on beaches, on a balcony off of a very small room I shared with my mother and sister, and on an elliptical machine overlooking the ocean we were moving through on a very large ship, I read…
What is wrong with me?
Just to be clear. Both books were wonderful, and I would recommend them for sure…but they are not the kind of book that you read on a beach or on a cruise. I think I would have liked each so much more if I had read them on a cold New York day like today. I must admit that I have a tendency to read books in inappropriate places. I once read Lolita on a car trip and as a (slightly?) pretentious teen I tried to read Joyce at overnight camp. You would think I would have learned my lesson by now.
Of course, there are books that I have read in just the right place, in just the right time of my life. In my eyes, part of being a literary agent representing children’s books is championing work that is pivotal in a child’s development, and that they will remember well into their adulthood. I know that middle grade and YA fiction can be read by a pre-teen or teen at the very moment when they need it, when it can open their eyes, show them a place they never knew possible, change their perspective, or affirm what they are feeling inside. So much of children’s and young adult literature succeeds because it reaches a child or teen at the most fitting moment of their lives.
While Freedom and Little Bee both had an impact on me; I can’t help but feel my reading of them was somewhat skewed by the setting I was in. I would love to hear about books that you read in both the wrong and right places in time. (I’m a new blogger. I thrive on comments!)
I now realize that I should have been reading a book like this on my most recent vacation:
Pointing to a book by my colleague, Merrilee Heieftz’s bestselling author, Laurell K. Hamilton.
I have learned my lesson and given the opportunity (read: I don’t think I should wait another 9-years to take a manuscript and email free vacation), I promise to do better. Well, at least I can look at the glass half full…after Little Bee, at least I was smart enough not to read the next book on my kindle… Room by Emma Donoghue.
Wishing you all Happy Holiday reading!