The fast and the furious

By Amy Sutherland
Globe Correspondent / May 15, 2011

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It may have taken Jenna Blum five tries to get into Boston University’s graduate writing program, but it only took her one novel, “Those Who Save Us,” to land on The New York Times bestseller list. Her most recent book, “The Stormchasers,” is just out in paperback. Blum lives in Boston’s Back Bay with her black lab, Woodrow.

Do you have time to read when on a book tour?

I always have time to read. If I don’t read every day I get really cranky. I have to carve out a little bit of down time even if it’s just 15 minutes before bed.

How long have you been like that?

Always. When I was a kid I used to sit in my family’s kitchen with my back against the radiator and a book in my lap. My mother would scold me for being antisocial, but it was my very favorite thing to do.

What kind of books do you prefer?

Fiction. I always tend toward novels, but when I’m writing myself I like short stories. I read a lot of Pam Houston’s short stories. “Cowboys Are My Weakness” is one of my favorite books.

I really like to read Richard Ford, even though you come away with a hangover of depression. I feel the same way about Alice Munro.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading this amazing debut novel, “The Bird Sisters” by Rebecca Rasmussen. The writing is so good. When I open a novel, I desperately want to be seduced by the book. It’s great if the author can bring me along on the ride of the story. But if you have the bonus of really good writing, it’s totally delightful.

Do you tend to like long books?

Yes. I didn’t realize that until I made a list of my top 10 favorite books on my website. All my favorites are epics. “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry is the first. “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell is the second. Stephen King’s “The Stand” is the third. I reread those every year.

You sound like a fast reader.

I devour books. There are probably things that people who read more slowly extract from a book that I, in my impatience, don’t get from them. When I have the luxury of time, I can read three or four books a week.

What is your favorite reading situation?

Sitting on my couch with a bowl of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich and a book. It can be lunch or dinner, but I try really hard to make that happen every day.

Recently I’ve been driving to events and began listening to books on audio. It’s kind of like going to a movie but without the screen. I just eat popcorn and listen to books for 12 hours. I devour bags of popcorn while listening to like, Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom,” which required a lot of Smartfood.

How do you choose books?

The worst thing about the demise of bookstores is my browsing has been curtailed to Amazon’s suggestions of if you like this you’ll like this. I find that to be very artificial. I really like being in a bookstore and walking around finding books that catch my attention.

Do you get books from the library?

I have a library phobia. When I was a little kid growing up in New Jersey we had a really mean librarian who yelled at me for being noisy. So I cultivated a fear of libraries. Instead of going to libraries, I went to my local bookstore and spent my allowance.

But I’m happy to say that I’ve gone to many libraries to give readings, and the librarians were quite nice to me. Nobody yelled at me for being too boisterous.

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