Does this count as productive?

March 1, 2010

Do you ever go into a bookstore promising yourself you won’t buy anything and leave with a book you’ve been dying to read and instead of spending your Sunday writing blog posts and doing week-old laundry and otherwise getting your life in order you spend the entire day on the couch reading the book because it’s so good you can’t put it down?*

That’s what happened to me yesterday. The book? The Autobiography of an Execution, by David Dow. (Here’s a review by the New York Times.)

I may be biased because I’m fascinated by the death penalty (not obsessed with being for or against it, just obsessed with learning about it), and I can picture some of the places Dow describes, including the execution chamber itself, because I covered an execution as a reporter in Houston… but this book sucked me in. It reads like fiction. I’ve got fifty pages left, and I hope the ending is as good as what I’ve read so far.

What was the last book that made you drop everything and read?

*This entry written Julie-Kraut style (except she’s funnier). Julie, you should copyright that so people like me can’t steal it.

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    0 Replies to “Does this count as productive?”

    • Oooh, you know, I just started in on an ARC of Eight for Eternity (comes out in a few weeks, preordering available) of Eight for Eternity by Mary and Eric Reed, and it opens with an execution scene set in 500-something AD, during Justinian’s reign as Caesar. FASCINATING. You might love it, considering your fascination.

      At the same time, I happened to be gripped by Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep. Wonderfully dark. I’m sorta frozen, because I’m dying to finish both of them NOW.

    • Jerry Waxler says:

      Part of a writer’s job is to read, especially in the genre we want to write in. So you were doing your job. Another question is “Why beat yourself up about it?” Maybe you needed the time off? Maybe you wanted a change of venue. The weird thing about guilt is that while it’s supposed to enforce the rules, a lot of times it’s so demoralizing it disrupts everything. Anyway, you ended up okay. You were able to write a lovely blog about the experience. Oh, by the way, have you seen Julia and Julie (or was it the other way around). It’s a great story about blogging and memoir writing, right up our alley.


    • Caitlin says:

      The last book I picked up that sucked me in was The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. I think I expected that, because it was a classic written nearly 100 years ago, that it would be dense and tough going, like many “classics” are, but I read it in two days.

    • Karen Walker says:

      The last book that sucked me in was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peal Society.

    • Alyssa says:

      The last book that made me drop everything was “Up for Renewal.” It’s a memoir about a freelance writer who decides to follow magazine advice for a different facet of her life each month for an entire year (Ex: eating, exercise, dating). It’s kind of a silly concept, but it’s a quick and fun read! Which I think is important to incorporate into our repertoire of reading 🙂

    • Zoe Zolbrod says:

      I love “The Age of Innocence,” too, and Wharton’s “House of Mirth” is one of my all-time favorites. But the latest book that swept me away had nothing to do with those two. It was “The Adderrall Diaries” by Stephen Elliot, a sort true crime book that’s more a memoir and mostly is a fascinating excavation of memory, storytelling, sex, love, and surviving trauma.

    • Shelly W. says:

      Hey Karen! I was going to say that same book: “The Geurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.” But since Karen already took that one, the book I’m reading right now (and am pretty well sucked in) is “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.” I hope I can find time to read tonight!

    • That happens to me all the time. I love to wander around bookstores and it’s impossible to leave without buying something, even if it’s just a book for my grandson. The last book I dropped everything to read, was a gift. It was “Under the Dome” by Stephen King. It’s such a huge book that I wanted to hurry and read it so I could quit carrying it around with me!

    • krpooler says:


      Once I started “The Shack” I couldn’t put it down. As writers ,we are natural readers and anytime we read we are not only feeding our passion but we are honing our craft..besides we need to take a break from the grind once in a while!


    • simonemarie says:

      James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk. Such an incredible writer.

      Noticed Julie Schwietert over at Matador is also reading The Autobiography of an Execution. I’ll have to take a look.

    • Julie says:

      Ha ha! I’m flattered.

      The last book that sucked me in like this was The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors. I got an advanced copy and read it all in one snowed in day. It’s out in April. Run, do not walk, to the bookstore to get your copy.

    • Jennifer says:

      Oh it’s so hard for me to find a book that makes me drop everything. I’m reading a book now that I have to let soak and seep into every crevice. It’s that good, that deep, and the language has to be waded through. Greer Gilman’s “Moonwise”. It’s gorgeous and giddy and I can’t get enough of it. But I have to put it down for fear of brain overload!


    • jessiecarty says:

      i have to avoid the bookstore cause it is so hard to come home without a purchase even when i have so many unread books waiting for me!

      my guilty hard to put down pleasure right now? Pride & Prejudice & Zombies 🙂

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