My current book stack.
I gathered the book from beside the bed, the one from the library bag, the one from the kitchen counter, the one from beside the family room recliner and placed them on the top of a continually evolving and growing collection that I’m interested in reading but haven’t started yet.
I have this annoying habit of starting multiple books at one time and never actually sitting down to devote time and proper attention to one good book. I’ll read a quote that grabs my attention and pick up a book from the library. Then a friend will recommend another author and I’ll add that one to my stack, reading an opening chapter or two before placing a marker inside and returning to a third book, an old friend that I want to read again. A second-hand discount rack selection will end up in my bag in the car and I’ll read a few pages while waiting at the dentist’s office.
This sort of inattention hardly seems fair to the authors, if you ask me. Unfortunately, it’s the way I usually manage my reading.
This tendency has often plagued me but it came to light again this weekend when a friend was wondering how to best promote his novel in the world of self-publication. We had talked with him numerous times about the book, his progress, and cheered him when he showed us a finished copy of his novel in his own hands, his name emblazoned on the cover.
A friend, in print. I had purchased his book weeks before, and it still sat in a tower of authors, waiting for me to settle down and pay attention.
It finally hit me that of all the books in my stack, I would ever only know the author of one of them. And if there was one book that I should read, before famous authors, before deceased poets, before religious thinkers, before civil rights advocates, the one that I should prioritize would be the from the hands, the thoughts, the dedicated work of several long months of an actual friend.
And so last Saturday, I opened the cover of Henry’s Lady, written by my real life friend Bill McCleery.
When I poured my coffee that morning, book in hand, I can’t say I expected to read all day long. I really thought I’d read a chapter or two, do a bit of laundry, poke around in the garden awhile and then come back for a few more chapters. To my surprise, each chapter ended with a knack of making me want to start the next one and before I knew it really, I had read nearly half the book, the day was converging on lunch time and I had switched from morning coffee to a glass of iced tea. Perhaps it was the intrigue of knowing the author that kept me reading and hearing his voice stretch across the pages, at times autobiographical forcing me to separate fiction from fact, at others journalistic in nature and always offering bits of interesting local history surrounding the characters. Those, combined with some comic relief and a general spirit of unresolved mystery led me to finish the book in one day’s time, feeling enriched in Indiana lore and not at all like I had wasted a Saturday doing nothing productive around the house.
I won’t spoil the story for you. If you’re a reader, I hope you’ll take a chance on an aspiring author and order a copy for yourself. It’s available from Amazon for Kindle or good old-fashioned book format that I prefer.
A bit about my friend Bill, from the Amazon site: Bill McCleery is a reporter for The Indianapolis Star whose articles also have appeared in such publications as USA Today, Old Cars Weekly and World Magazine. He lives near Greenfield, Indiana, with his wife and three daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, bird-watching and motoring in his father’s 1931 Model A Ford. “Henry’s Lady” is his first novel.
Be prepared, reading this novel may make you feel like you’ve made your own new friend in the author. And if any of you, dear reader friends, have authored a book, send me a link. I might have another free Saturday coming up. Or at the very least I can add it to my ever growing stack.