Bestselling novelist Jenny Jackson shares the books she most loves to curl up with to escape from it all…
Nothing quite beats curling up in a comfortable spot with something decent to drink and a good old-fashioned page-turner. At Pooky we love cosy lamplit corners and secret reading nooks (illuminated, naturally, by a beautiful reading light). So we thought it would be fun to invite some of the best current authors to share their comfort reads: the books they love to indulge in when they want to escape from it all.
First up is the brilliant Jenny Jackson, whose Pineapple Street is the must-read debut novel of the summer, becoming an instant New York Times bestseller and garnering rave reviews (“It's marvellous - clever, funny and brilliantly well observed” - India Knight; “An absorbing, acutely observed novel about class, money and love” – Nick Hornby).
Jenny is an editor and publisher who lives in Brooklyn Heights, New York. She describes herself as “a ridiculous person who writes wherever she can…. I sometimes write at my dining room table, I write sitting on the closed toilet lid while my kids are in the bath, I write in the car while my husband drives, and I write on my phone on the subway. Whenever I think of something good, I have to get it down as soon as possible! I envy those writers who have beautiful, calm desks, but with two kids, a full-time job, and a laptop, I just have to embrace the happy chaos.”
As for her favourite place to read? “Of course, given all choices, I would like to be curled up with a book in a sun lounger at the Four Seasons in Sicily, resting in the delicate shade of an umbrella while snacking on red grapes and French fries. But, on a daily basis, I curl up very happily on a bench in Brooklyn Heights along the promenad that overlooks the bluffs of the East River, offering views of the harbor and downtown Manhattan. It’s incredibly beautiful, but it also supplies fabulous people-watching. I actually can’t decide which I prefer—reading a book on a bench, or strolling the promenade to look at what other people are reading.”
Here are Jenny’s Comfort Reading choices…
1) Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny
This book is a literary anti-depressant, a cure for world-weariness, a booster shot of hope and joy. It’s a hilarious love story about an unlikely family, a woman named Jane who falls in love with a man named Duncan and ends up having to welcome his entire world—his friend Jimmy, his terrible ex-wife, Agnes, her current husband, Gary, and a seemingly endless parade of Duncan’s old girlfriends—into her life.
I think part of the great pleasure of reading a book by Katherine Heiny—and if you have not read her, you should immediately—is the worldview that permeates every page. There is a belief that life is inherently funny and that people are inherently good. Yes, hard things sometimes happen, but beneath it all there is a shimmering bubble of golden humanity and that as long as we can keep seeing that shimmer it will all be ok. She’s one of those rare writers who makes you feel good, but never like an idiot for wanting a happy ending.
2) Happy All The Time by Laurie Colwin
This book was published before I was born, and yet feels as funny and fresh today as it did forty-plus years ago. It’s about love, family, and jealousy and features one of my favorite characters of all time. Her name is Misty Berkowitz and when Vincent first encounters her “She looked bored and misanthropic. The sight of her caused Vincent’s heart to leap in an unexpected manner.” If that isn’t a meet-cute, I don’t know what is.
Laurie Colwin died in 1992 and yet she has remained a beloved author for so many writers. I feel like her name has become this strange password among my kind of writers—if I adore someone’s work it is now completely unsurprising to me when I discover they are also Colwin fans.
3) The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank
Melissa Bank was a master of the happy-sad, the chocolate-pretzel of the literary world, the kind of writer who makes you laugh while delicately, elegantly, oh so politely cracking your heart into pieces. The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing is about a young woman navigating love and the treacherous waters of New York publishing, and the first time I read it I was twenty-two and had just moved to Manhattan for the Columbia Publishing Course.
Over the following years I took a job as an Editorial Assistant at Vintage, I worshipped the writers I got to meet, I fell completely in love with publishing and with about a dozen ridiculous boyfriends. Melissa Bank’s book never really left my mind. It caught me at the exact right moment in my life and let me know that I was on the right path. I’ve reread it countless times and the book somehow never loses that magic.
Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson is published by Penguin Random House and is available in hardback, audio and ebook formats here.
Love reading? So do we! That’s why we’ve created a range of highly stylish reading lights to illuminate your favourite book nook – take a peek at them here.