More Books, More Problems: Introducing the Fairy Bookmother Advice Column

Courtney Smith
June 4 2020
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Get Lit is launching a helpful-advice column where your fairy bookmother (a.k.a., the always witty and reliable Courtney Smith) responds to bookish quandaries that us voracious readers know only too well. We hope you enjoy the wonderful wisdom of Get Lit’s Fairy Bookmother. Stay tuned for future posts and send us your own questions on Twitter with #FairyBookMother. And please note, this advice is for bookish entertainment only and not to be taken as professional advice. ?

Hello, fellow bookworms! Welcome to the advice column that will endeavor to answer all your bookish questions. Some fun facts about me: I own almost 500 books; on a good week, I can get through four to five books; and I tell it like it is, so you know I’ll give you advice that you can actually use. I’m honored to take on your toughest questions and if there’s one thing I’m learning, it’s that we’re all in this together. Let’s go change some bookish lives!

My friend “borrowed” my favorite book and loves it so much that she won’t give it back. WTF. What do I do? —Angry at BFF

Angry at BFF, your first mistake was allowing this “friend” to borrow a book. When I make a new friend, one of the first things they learn about me is that no one touches my books. Fairy Bookmother, you may say, you’re a lover of the written word! Don’t you want to share your favorite books with everyone? Yes, yes I do. But they can have their own copy. I’d rather take them on a trip to an indie bookstore and get them a copy than let them tarnish my own collection. I’ve made one exception in the last six years and have I gotten that book back? No, absolutely not. It’s currently on the floor of an ex-friend’s bedroom with the dust jacket in use as a BOOKMARK. Absolutely ridiculous. Beyond disrespectful. Anyway, kudos to you for having such great taste in books that your friend made an immediate connection to the story. You have two options:

  • Option one: If the book is still in the condition it was in when you lent it (unlikely), entice them with a new book they’re sure to love based on the book they stole. Clearly, they’re lacking good reading material if they’re hoarding books that aren’t even theirs. So facilitate a trade, the new book for the one you want back. You still might not get that new book back, but at least you’ll have your favorite to hold close once again.
  • Option two: If your book is not in an acceptable condition from when you lent it (likely), Venmo request them the price of a new copy of the book. I would suggest using the following as the descriptor: “Restitution for Emotional Damages.” Godspeed.

I’m moving but I have too many books! How do you recommend handling this situation? —Confounded Mover

Oh, Confounded Mover, I am in that exact same situation right now! My parents are selling my childhood home, and last fall I made the intelligent decision to move to the book capital of the world (NYC). Do you think my shoebox apartment can accommodate the 437 books I painstakingly collected during the 22 years that the house was my primary residence? Absolutely not! Also, the thought that you have “too many” books is ridiculous. There’s no such thing. Unfortunately, I know that moving every single copy may not be feasible, so here are the questions to ask yourself when deciding which of your babies books are coming with you. For each book ask yourself:

  1. Is it a special edition (collector’s copy, autographed, advanced copy, out of print)? If it is, decide if you’re just keeping it because it’s special or because it actually means something to you.
  2. Have I read this book and if so, will I ever reread it? If not, donate it.
  3. If I haven’t read this book, what is the actual likelihood of my reading it within the next, say, six months? If it’s low, donate it.

These questions only work if you answer honestly. Any books you decide you aren’t going to bring with you, you can donate to a library or charity, sell through a reseller, or give to a friend who will enjoy! The last option also increases the likelihood you can steal it back should you come to regret giving it up in the first place, not that I condone thievery.

Pro tip: If you use Goodreads, you can download a CSV file of all the books in your account, which is a lifesaver if you have your books tagged as “owned.”

A photo of my shelves and spreadsheets during my recent move.

I matched with someone on Tinder, but they don’t like to read. Help! What should I do? Lecture or ghost? —Lover of Books

Dear Lover of Books, this is a true travesty, and I’m sorry it’s something you’ve experienced. However, it could be a blessing in disguise if they’re open to trying out a few of your favorites! You know, those books you read and all you want is to forget that you’ve read them so you can read them for the first time again? This is about as close as you’ll get: experiencing someone else reading one of your favorites for the first time. When my best friend wanted to get back into reading, I gave her my current obsession, and every text she sent with her reactions as she read made my day. It also reaffirmed our friendship, because if she had hated the book, I’m not sure where we’d be today (just kidding, Paige!).

For an extra adorable bonding moment, I recommend you two go on a romantic date where you can read aloud together. If they aren’t open to exploring something you love or aren’t interested in listening to you talk about books that you’re passionate about, then it’s time to say goodbye. You and your beau don’t have to have all the same interests, but you need to feel free to express your feelings after a good read, and if they aren’t the one to listen, then you deserve better.

I’m tired of reading. What should I do instead?  —Bored in Brooklyn

Bored in Brooklyn, I feel you. I go through these whirlwinds where I’m reading four to five books a week, and then I don’t want to see a book for weeks after. (Well, maybe add to my TBR, but not actually start reading.) Thankfully, there are plenty of other things you can do to stay entertained.

If you still want to be surrounded by books, sort through your bookshelf, donate what you no longer want, and reorganize by color, author, genre, or reading status! You can also tune into the plethora of shows, movies, and limited series that are based on books. Some of our current favorites:

  • Netflix: Unorthodox; To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (and its sequel, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You); Self Made
  • Hulu: Light as a Feather; Normal People; Little Fires Everywhere
  • HBO: Big Little Lies
  • Apple+: Dickinson; Truth Be Told; Defending Jacob

For activities on the go, take a deep dive into your phone’s app store and find a new obsession. Here’s a great list to get you started. Want something more tangible? Do a bookish craft! There’s cross-stitching, embroidery, coloring pages, DIY bookmarks, and more. Not only will these activities keep you occupied, you’ll have something useful at the end of it. Finally, when you’re ready to get back into reading, check out these suggestions on how to get out of a reading rut. You can thank me later.

What book should I read next? —Emily

A fantastic, never-ending question, Emily. There are so many wonderful books that have been released recently and even more to be excited about. Here are a few of my favorites, depending on your mood:

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The Roxy Letters
by Mary Pauline Lowry

Looking for a story that’s lighthearted and fun? Look no further than The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry. Roxy is a deli maid at the original Whole Foods by day and a painter with a terrible case of creative block at night. Her ex-boyfriend is living in her spare room and her beloved Austin, Texas, is being taken over by corporations. Not to mention, Roxy’s love life has been lackluster as of late, to say the least. Roxy is determined to take charge of her story—so with the help of her two best friends, she’s going to defend Austin, or at least the corner of Sixth and Lamar, and find herself some quality loving, because balance is important. Roxy will become your new best friend, and the situations she finds herself in will have you laughing out loud.

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The Roxy Letters
Mary Pauline Lowry

Meet Roxy. She’s a sometimes vegan, always broke artist with a heart the size of Texas and an ex living in her spare bedroom. Her life is messy, but with the help of a few good friends and by the grace of the goddess Venus she’ll discover that good sex, true love, and her life’s purpose are all closer than she realizes.

Bridget Jones penned a diary; Roxy writes letters. Specifically: she writes letters to her hapless, rent-avoidant ex-boyfriend—and current roommate—Everett. This charming and funny twenty-something is under-employed (and under-romanced), and she’s decidedly fed up with the indignities she endures as a deli maid at Whole Foods (the original), and the dismaying speed at which her beloved Austin is becoming corporatized. When a new Lululemon pops up at the intersection of Sixth and Lamar where the old Waterloo Video used to be, Roxy can stay silent no longer.

As her letters to Everett become less about overdue rent and more about the state of her life, Roxy realizes she’s ready to be the heroine of her own story. She decides to team up with her two best friends to save Austin—and rescue Roxy’s love life—in whatever way they can. But can this spunky, unforgettable millennial keep Austin weird, avoid arrest, and find romance—and even creative inspiration—in the process?

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Dear Emmie Blue
by Lia Louis

Curious what book I recently recommended to my friend that got her back into reading and reaffirmed our friendship? Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis. I could go on about this book, but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. When Emmie is a teenager, she puts a secret—and her email address—into a balloon and lets it go. The balloon travels from England to France, where Lucas finds it on the beach. The two teens email back and forth, becoming best friends. Fourteen years later, Emmie is convinced Lucas is going to confess his love for her and, in turn, she can finally tell him how she feels about him. But when Lucas throws her for a loop, Emmie must pick up the pieces of her life that she let go of in her quest to be Lucas’s everything—all while not letting Lucas know that anything is wrong. With a story that reads like a Netflix original, you’ll savor every page. I know I did.

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Dear Emmie Blue
Lia Louis

“A delightful story about how the things we imagine to be best for us usually aren’t. The reason you will love Dear Emmie Blue is because you’ve probably *lived* Dear Emmie Blue, in some small part of your own journey to adulthood.” Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author

In this charming and poignant novel, teenager Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky, only to fall head-over-heels for the boy who finds it; now, fourteen years later, the one thing Emmie has been counting on is gone for good, and everything she planned is up in the air.

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? A story filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over.

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In Five Years
by Rebecca Serle

Need a cathartic read with an unexpected love story? Dannie Kohan from In Five Years is your girl. Dannie has always been a planner. It’s what got her to where she is when the story begins: with a dream job offer and a perfect fiancé asleep next to her on the couch. But when Dannie herself falls asleep, she wakes up five years in the future. She’s in a different apartment, there’s a different ring on her finger, and a different man beside her. Dannie lives exactly one hour in this future before waking abruptly back in the present day. Determined to put this “dream” behind her, she continues down her carefully laid out life plan. Until it’s almost that day five years in the future and she meets the man in her dream, in circumstances she could never have imagined. Dannie’s story will have you so enthralled, you’ll devour it in one sitting.

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In Five Years
Rebecca Serle


A Good Morning America, FabFitFun, and Marie Claire Book Club Pick

In Five Years is as clever as it is moving, the rare read-in-one-sitting novel you won’t forget.” —Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists

Perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day—a striking, powerful, and moving love story following an ambitious lawyer who experiences an astonishing vision that could change her life forever.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Dannie Kohan lives her life by the numbers.

She is nothing like her lifelong best friend—the wild, whimsical, believes-in-fate Bella. Her meticulous planning seems to have paid off after she nails the most important job interview of her career and accepts her boyfriend’s marriage proposal in one fell swoop, falling asleep completely content.

But when she awakens, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight—but it is one hour she cannot shake. In Five Years is an unforgettable love story, but it is not the one you’re expecting.

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If It Bleeds
by Stephen King

In the mood for something creepy? Stephen King’s newest release, If It Bleeds, more than delivers. This is the book I’m currently reading, so we can be reading buddies! Whether you’re a dedicated constant reader or want to see what Stephen King is all about, this is the book for you. It contains four novellas, and they’re each the perfect length for when you just need a break from everyday life. I won’t say much more, but just know that Stephen King lives up to his title of Master Storyteller. I mean, do you see that cover? Totally creepy. Aren’t you excited to read?

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If It Bleeds
Stephen King

From #1 New York Times bestselling author, legendary storyteller, and master of short fiction Stephen King comes an extraordinary collection of four new and compelling novellas—Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat, and the title story If It Bleeds—each pulling you into intriguing and frightening places.

The novella is a form King has returned to over and over again in the course of his amazing career, and many have been made into iconic films, including “The Body” (Stand By Me) and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” (Shawshank Redemption). Like Four Past Midnight, Different Seasons, and most recently Full Dark, No Stars, If It Bleeds is a uniquely satisfying collection of longer short fiction by an incomparably gifted writer.

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