The last time I checked in with how I was spending my time during our corona virus stay-at-home spring, I whined that I’d watched everything on TV, and did you all have any suggestions? And I was watching TV because I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read for more than, say, fifteen minutes.
Well, since then, my friends, I’ve subscribed to Netflix streaming and am busy checking out your suggestions. Also, I’m reading like a fiend. And what I’m discovering, to my amusement, is that in the books I’ve recently enjoyed the most, Our Heroine works in publishing, my former occupation.
In the truism that fiction has to be better than real life, these characters are enjoying fruits of their labors that I never saw. But in the book that I’m currently whizzing through (The Flatmate by Beth O’Leary), Tiffy, Our Girl, is an editor in a small magazine publishing company (ditto), whose authors are eccentric (ditto) but knowledgeable (double ditto), who are willing to do pretty much anything to show potential readers how cool their thing is (ditto). The fact that Tiffy works for a niche publishing company that publishes do-it-yourself craft magazines, and I worked for a publishing company that published niche computing titles (artificial intelligence, anyone? Okay, big now, but it was niche back then) doesn’t make the comparisons less relevant.
This book is so much fun. Tiffy earns next to nothing (sadly, ditto), so she shares a one-bedroom apartment with a guy she’s never met. He works nights, she works days. Months go by and they never meet, but they communicate with sticky notes (I did a lot of sticky noting in my day, too). Eventually they meet. Sparks fly. The Big Bad has just showed up, but I bet it works out in the end.
Tiffy’s job and her colleagues are a hoot, much like the people I worked with. In some ways, it’s like reading a funnier and sharper and more modern biography of every editor of a small publishing house I’ve ever met (specifically like, for example, me). So who doesn’t like that?
In a shorter gig from my working past, I was a typesetter at a fairly high-end shop, doing complicated work for fussy clients. I learned a lot about type there, so I really enjoyed the book I whizzed through two days ago, Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn. In that one, Our Girl Meg does fancy hand-lettered custom journals for clients who can afford them. She inserts a warning message into the wedding invitations of one of her clients, because Meg knows when the handwriting’s on the wall. A year later, the groom-who-never-was comes to her shop to ask her how she knew. She’s in a creative slump, so they walk around New York, looking at and for signs. As in signage.
Well, my friends, what can I say? I swooned.
These days as despair and fury rage all around us, I need more than ever to find hope and happiness in the world. How about you? What are you reading? I’m looking for recommendations, publishing settings not required.