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Welcome to day 3 of Dahlia’s Top 10 of 2013! (If you missed days one and two, quick, go back!)

Today we’re looking at two very different books, written by two lovely NYC-dwelling debuts who just happen to be friends. Yes, I thought it would be cute to pair them. No, their books are in no way related except that I loved them both. A lot.

And so, without further ado!

OCD LOVE STORY by Corey Ann Haydu

When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he’s her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.

But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic… and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a lot about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she’s obsessed.

Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control. But this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. The truth is, she’s breaking down…and she might end up breaking her own heart.

*Available via Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and Amazon*

I’ve already said a lot about this book this year, so I’m just gonna keep it to the basics:

1. This is a very tough read. While I love books that are utterly unputdownable, this one begged for periodic breaks. What it took me some time to realize was that that didn’t make it a bad book; it made it a great one. It takes you so far inside the head of a teenage girl suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that it’s actually unbearable…and then you remember that’s exactly how she feels. All the time. If this book can’t grant you some empathy, nothing will.

2. This book went a long way toward helping me keep my own sanity this year as things (good things! but still) piled up and I found it tough to keep my head together. I actually learned that OCD is an anxiety disorder from hearing Haydu speak about it at a reading she did of this book, and every time I think about my own anxiety shutting me down, I remember what true anxiety is like, and I think, “I do not have that. I can get through this.” And I do.

3. The characters are fascinating, the writing is absorbing, and while the cover is lovely, it’s definitely not the boy-stalking love story I see a lot of people assuming it is. It’s a real and true and brave look at a condition that’s too often used as an idiom and not often enough looked at with the kind of depth that happens here. If I could make it required reading, I would in a heartbeat.

So, that’s what I have to say about OCD LOVE STORY; here’s what author Corey Ann Haydu has to say!

What scene from OCD LOVE STORY would/do you read at signings, and why?

I read from two scenes– one is the first chapter, which is good because I don’t have to give any sort of information and can leap right in. Sometimes giving a whole contextual explanation can come out all awkward and up-speak-ish, so it’s nice to have a scene that doesn’t require me doing that!

The other scene I read from is when Bea first goes to group therapy. I discovered this section later into my event experiences, and it’s a little funnier than the first scene, which I like. I was an actress in my former life, so it can be fun sometimes to read from a scene that requires a little more character and energy and “acting”. Bea’s pretty judgmental when she first goes to therapy, and that’s a sort of fun thing to play with when I’m reading.

I want to enjoy OCD LOVE STORY as part of a full sensory experience – where am I reading it, and what am I eating/smelling/listening to?

What an interesting question! I think you probably want to be in Harvard Square– sitting outside somewhere and listening to skateboards scraping on the sidewalk and people in fleece chatting about books and all other Cambridge-y sounds. And why don’t you eat a grilled cheese. Not because it really has anything to do with OCD LOVE STORY but because it’s pretty much always a good idea to be eating grilled cheese, and anyone that knows me knows that cheese is a major interest/inspiration/motivator for me as a writer and a human. :) While you’re at it, throw on some headphones and make sure you’ve got lots of indie pop and indie rock playing. Especially bands with both male and female voices, like Stars.

My book dream is to spot a stranger reading it on the subway – what’s yours?

Someone whose work I really admire reading it! Offhand I’m thinking Mary Karr, Lois Lowry, and Lena Dunham.

What’s the best/coolest thing anyone’s said about your book?

I’ve heard a few times now that reading the book has been a contributing factor for someone who is dealing with anxiety issues deciding to get additional help– either therapy or medication. I can’t think of a more meaningful outcome. I’m a huge believer in being honest and open about mental health struggles of any kind, and I’m proud that my work reflects that. And I’m absolutely honored that reading OCD LOVE STORY is part of people’s journey with addressing their own struggles, whether they’re similar to Bea’s or different. Open conversation, empathy, and honesty. That’s what writing’s about for me, and honestly after the first time I heard the book made someone think through their own anxiety issues I felt like I didn’t need anything else. Even if everyone else who ever read it hated it, I’d be okay.

From where would you most ideally want people to purchase your book?

Support your indie bookstores! Personally, my favorite bookstore is BookCourt in Brooklyn. Indies are great places to browse and get some unique book recommendations. And we don’t want them go to away and get drowned by bigger companies. So we have to keep buying books there! That said, I’m pretty much flabbergasted whenever anyone who isn’t like, my father buys my book. So it’s absolutely great if you buy it from wherever you feel most comfortable!

*******

THE ART OF WISHING by Lindsay Ribar

Margo McKenna has a plan for just about everything, from landing the lead in her high school play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in possession of a genie’s ring and the chance to make three wishes, she doesn’t know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else’s hands?But Oliver is more than just a genie — he’s also a sophomore at Margo’s high school, and he’s on the run from a murderer. As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than three wishes to save him.

A whole lot more.

*Available via Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and Amazon*

So, first off, I have to give major props to Alison Cherry here, because I was on the fence about buying this book at a huge Books of Wonder signing because Paranormal isn’t my usual genre and, oh right, I already had five books in my hand. But since I’d already thought it sounded really cute, and the cover is adorable, and I’d basically already half bought it in my head, which is sort of like having a coupon if you think about it…

Anyway, bought it, read it, could not put it down. The actual unputdownableness is so strong in my memory because if there’s one thing I generally pride myself on, it’s being punctual (and also finding perfect “That’s what she said” moments), and reading this was the only time I can recall making knowingly making myself late for something because I refused to put a book down. I literally got dressed holding it in my face.

But really, it’s not my fault. The main character? Has a great freaking voice. And the genie, Oliver? An obscenely compelling backstory. (And he’s bi. How many bisexual characters even are there in YA? And how many of them are guys??) And the similarly compelling villain? And the adorable musical-theater-ness which I’m not even generally a geek for? For real, there is so much great in this book, I just need everyone to buy it, whether or not you think paranormal is your thing, especially because the sequel, THE FOURTH WISH, comes out next year, and it sounds A. Mazing. (I’m not linking to it or anything about it here because the blurb is spoiler-y of TAoW but I will say that the words “gender-bending” do come into play when describing it!)

And now, enough of me – here’s Lindsay!

What scene from THE ART OF WISHING would/do you read at signings, and why?

It varies! I have to change it up a little, because (a) I’d get bored reading the same thing over and over again, and (b) there are different time requirements for different readings/panels/signings. Scenes I’ve read in the past are:

  • The one in the diner, where Oliver explains to Margo that he is a genie, and offers her three wishes
  • The scene in the park, where Oliver grants Margo’s first wish
  • Oliver and Margo’s first kiss
  • The scene in Margo’s bedroom toward the end, where they have a Very Serious Discussion about what they want from each other

I want to enjoy THE ART OF WISHING as part of a full sensory experience – where am I reading it, and what am I eating/smelling/listening to?

Ooh, what a cool question! Well, despite the fact that it takes place in March, I’ve always thought of this as a summery sort of book – so you’re probably reading it somewhere warm and relaxing, like on a beach or in a grassy park. You’re eating ice cream, or something else sweet (a Belgian waffle would do nicely!), and if you’re the sort of person who reads with headphones on, you’re either listening to upbeat folk, Irish, or Irish-inspired music, or strummy singer/songerwriter music like the Indigo Girls or Suzanne Vega.


My book dream is to spot a stranger reading it on the subway – what’s yours?

Oh man, probably the same. Although I think I might have a heart attack if I actually saw that.


What’s the best/coolest thing anyone’s said about your book?

You know, I’m still at the point (well, hopefully I’ll never get past the point) where I get all tingly whenever anyone just says that they like it at all. Or that they’ve heard good things. Or that they’ve heard the title before. Or… well, you get the picture. That aside, I think my favorite was when someone said that they wanted to make out with the book. Not just because that’s an awesome thing to say – but because the visual is kind of amazing.


From where would you most ideally want people to purchase your book?

Anywhere that isn’t Amazon, ideally – although buying it on Amazon is certainly better than not buying it at all! I’d love buyers to get a copy at their local indie bookstore, but I also love supporting Barnes & Noble. So either of those two would be great.

Are either of these books on your top 10 of 2013? If you haven’t read them yet, have they made it to your TBR? Tell us in the comments!

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