Timing is Everything

Cindy: There are times when life’s events make for great reading. I’ve posted here about selecting fiction books set in places where I am traveling, like when I read Turtle in Paradise while I was on spring break in Florida a few years ago. But, there are other times when the coincidences are troubling…even painful. I was recently assigned Regine’s Book: A Dying Girl’s Last Words by Regine Stokke to review for Booklist. I had just started to read it when I learned that my college roommate was in her final days of her battle with pancreatic cancer. I followed online care pages every night while reading Regine’s moving blog entries from her battle with leukemia. I had to take a short break from the book for my own sake, but deadlines loom when you write 3 blog posts a week plus review on the side and read for your day job. So…I picked up the next book in the blog schedule (I’m always reading for the next deadline it seems) and it was Invincible Microbe by Jim Murphy, which we blogged on Monday. Great. Tuberculosis….kids dying in sanatoriums. That’ll cheer me right up. (Nevermind that Lynn has been waiting for months for me to read this book).

With that deadline past, I still needed some space to resume the dying girl’s review book and so I moved on to another blog book. I needed a funny book. I grabbed one Lynn has been recommending: Croak! by Gina Damico. But while I read about this girl who goes to spend the summer with Uncle Mort who is training her to be a grim reaper, I realize that while it is funny and well written, it is perhaps not the book I needed. When she is at the bedside of aging cancer patients I am unable to stop thinking about a close friend who is caring for his mother in her final stages of uterine cancer. So, folks. I need pure fun escapist reading to move to the top of the to read pile. Suggestions? And please, NO bloated dystopian recommendations. I am sick to death of those!

P.S. I’d also love to hear about a time that you HAD to read a book at the worst possible time.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Timing is Everything"

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  1. After 9/11 when the whole world seemed to know just what kids in NYC needed mine needed humor desperately. What did they want me to read? The Best School Year Ever. As for me, I was reading comfort stuff — Austen, romantic YAs.

    Good escapist recent stuff? Started to read Necromancing the Stone and enjoyed it so went back and read the first book. So much fun, both of them. Good adult escapist fare: Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel.

  2. andykaiser@gmail.com' Andy Kaiser says:


    While I can’t recommend specific books, I can commiserate by way of my childhood: My entire life of reading, I’ve realized, has been escapism. I’m not eager to read real-world stories, unless there’s a bit of the fantastic about them. Don’t know the exact cause, but I’ve always loved science fiction, mysteries comedy and fantasy.

    My condolences for your rough times. That kind of stuff is never fun. Speaking for myself, escapist reading is the way to go.

    As for an example of me having to read a book at the worst possible time…

    Like so many kids of my generation, I was in a Judy Blume phase when I was young. There was a period when I was cranking through all of her kid-focused stuff: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Superfudge. Freckle Juice. “Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret” (a little hard to empathize with, with me being a guy, but still a good book).

    And then I saw another Blume book in the library catalog called “Forever”. So I ordered it. When it arrived, I went to the library to check it out.

    Forever is Judy Blume’s fictional exploration into teen sex, as told from the perspective of a high school girl. This was the cover art:


    Let’s just say that after I took this home, I made sure to leave the book well-hidden when I wasn’t reading it. And *always* face-down. Just in case.

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