Diana Renn’s Nightstand Paralysis
Author Diana Renn’s young adult mystery novel, Blue Voyage, is available now. To celebrate its pub, she shares the books currently giving her “nightstand paralysis”. What’s that, you ask? Diana explains….
I would like to find a word for the special state of indecision that can set in when you finally settle in to bed with the gift of uninterrupted reading time, and you reach to the nightstand for – which book?
Maybe I’ll call it Nightstand Paralysis. Sometimes I’m so hungry for this quiet evening reading time, so desperate to read, that my competing choices all clamor for attention. I have spent up to ten minutes just staring at spines and covers. Should I read a book that puts me into the mindset of a current writing project? With luck, the information or ideas will drift into my dreams. But sometimes that feels too much like “work” for bedtime reading. So I reach for one of the many recently released novels I’ve been meaning to read for months. But no – it’s past ten o’clock. A classic beckons. Why do I no longer read classics?
Some evenings I resolve these issues and manage to read a few pages or even chapters. Other evenings I succumb to paralysis.
Here’s what’s currently competing for attention on my nightstand, including a couple I actually finished and have yet to put away!
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.
Am I the only one left who has not read this apparently wonderful novel? Maybe I can get an award for the most-traveled nightstand book. This book went to London with me this summer, where it sat on an Air BnB Nighstand and continued to go unread. Now it’s back on the home nightstand. I fully intend to read this book. But I’m almost afraid to. I’ve peeked at the opening pages, sure I’m going to fall in love with it, and I’m not sure I have time to fall in love at the moment. I dread being pulled away from it or having to read it in short bursts; this is a book I really want to lose myself in.
Tonight the Streets Are Ours, by Leila Sales.
This is a brand new contemporary YA novel written by my very own editor at Viking! (She wears at least two hats!) In a way the title of the book feels like a rebuke, staring out at me from my nightstand. Tonight the streets are not ours, or not mine, anyway. Tonight I’m trying to find a good book and relax and eventually sleep. But I love the pulsing young adult energy of that title – the very rhythm of the words – and the premise: a girl takes a road trip to find the author of a blog whose voice she loves, but the boy isn’t quite what he seems to be when she finally meets him. Leila’s such a wise observer of human nature, and I love the sharp characters she renders, and her even sharper wit.
Rethinking Narcissism, by Dr. Craig Malkin.
This nonfiction psychology book, written for laypeople, I finished in just a few nights and really enjoyed. This book was actually a gift from Dr. Malkin to my husband (we know Dr. Malkin), and I was mildly dismayed to find it inscribed to him and not to me because, well, what about me??? Me! (I’m joking. I’m not really a narcissist). Wait – actually maybe I am. A healthy one. The intriguing argument of Dr. Malkin’s book is that narcissism exists on a spectrum. We need some degree of feeling “special” in order to succeed. This book presents a more nuanced notion of narcissism than we’re used to hearing about, and shows narcissists at a range of ages and stages and types, including extroverted narcissists, introverted narcissists, and communal narcissists. (That last category really intrigued me). I enjoy reading about psychology because it helps me to develop characters in my own fiction, and I can see how this book will be a great addition to my reference shelf. Or it would be, if it were really mine. It was a gift for my husband, remember? It’s not really all about me.
Half in Love with Death, by Emily Ross.
This is an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of a YA book that will be published in December from Merit Press. I was given this book to provide a blurb, and I have to say, even if I hadn’t been asked to blurb the book, I’d still rave about it. I am SO excited for the publication of this book and I think Emily Ross is a talented debut writer to watch. This is a “historical” mystery I supposed in the sense that it’s set in the 1960s, which Ross vividly brings to life and makes relevant to contemporary teens. It’s a missing person story – a girl is searching for her sister who apparently went off with a boy – but there are twists in the search for her that you won’t see coming. The story is based on a true crime story, though heavily fictionalized, and is beautifully and suspensefully written.
A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me, by David Gates.
This is a new collection of short stories and a novella (definitely for adults) by an incredibly talented author I only recently discovered. I find each story so deeply moving, so completely “accurate” about people and relationships – in all their raw imperfection – I sometimes find I’ve been holding my breath while I read. I parcel out these gems of stories, one every few nights, because I don’t want the book to end. This is one of those books that reminds me why I wanted to become a writer.
Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland.
This is a permanent fixture on my nightstand. I periodically reach for it and read a random page. I either find it comforting or it keeps me up all night.
Diana Renn is the author of the young adult mystery novels Tokyo Heist, Latitude Zero and Blue Voyage all published by Viking/Penguin. She is also the Fiction Editor at YARN (Young Adult Review Network), an award-winning online magazine featuring short-form writing for teens. Diana grew up in Seattle and now lives outside of Boston with her husband and son. Visit her on the web at DianaRennBooks.com.
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