I’m a painfully slow reader.
I can only think of a few books I’ve read in under a week and some of my favorite books took me over a year to finish (I’m looking at you Cryptonomicon). I met Jen Miller through twitter in 2007. Back then she was working on a project reviewing 52 books in a year on her blog. The genres were all over the place from Julie and Julia to books on how to get into a threesome.
Why did she do it? Her grandfather died, her income had gone down, and she’d been dumped for the 3rd time in 12 months. Sometimes a project, ANY project, to focus your time can help get your mind off things.
I was aware she was doing the project, but I don’t think I read a single review. When she told me she was releasing the entire run of blog posts as an ebook I thought the work vs payoff ratio made it a worthwhile project for her (the writing was already complete), but was skeptical about how good it would be. I’m a big proponent of self publishing and selling digital goods as you know if you read my blog. Sometime last year she released Book a Week with Jen as an Amazon ebook for $2.99 and I downloaded it to my phone.
In retrospect it seems so dumb that I thought this would simply be 52 book reviews in a row. The book reviews are, of course, a vehicle for working out issues with love, career, and not fitting into the role others want for her. Each review is like an episode of a TV show where 90% is about the plot that week, but there’s this little sliver of time devoted to the overall story arc. You can’t skip any of the book reviews that sound boring because you’ll miss some important piece of the story. It’s great and it helped illustrate to me what separates writers from people who just write (like me). Part of it is a willingness to share their thoughts and problems. Jen and I have this increasingly common type of friendship where you have a bunch of asynchronous online messages back and forth and a few real life hangouts throughout the year. Book a Week with Jen gave me a clearer picture of who she is and who she was when we first met. Some chapters made me want to give her a hug. After others I felt happy knowing where she is now.
There’s a bunch of reasons to read Book a Week with Jen by Jen Miller, but the easiest is that it’s good.
I read the ebook when she released it months ago, so I’m a painfully slow reviewer as well.