Never Have I Ever: Joshilyn Jackson Reveals Her Bookish Secrets

Never Have I Ever: Joshilyn Jackson Reveals Her Bookish Secrets

Joshilyn Jackson

It’s a classic slumber party game for a reason: “Never Have I Ever” has a way of getting people to admit some shocking truths about themselves. Here, in honor of her new thriller Never Have I Ever, author Joshilyn Jackson joins Bookish for a round. Read on as Jackson dishes on the bookish sins she may or may not have committed.

A game of “Never Have I Ever” usually starts off innocently enough. “Never have I ever been to Spain,” you might say, assuming you have not gone, and your friends who have just returned from Madrid are playing. They have to drink, and you don’t.

The goal is to get the other players tipsy enough to get a little raunchy, a little wild, and a little more willing to admit to their juiciest sins. 

I’ve been trying to come up with a “Never Have I Ever: Readers’ Edition” but as it turns out, all I’d get out of it would be a massive hangover. I’d have to take a drink for every single one of these. What about you?

I have returned a library book late
I probably still owe fines to libraries all over the continental United States. If they ever hire debt collectors, I could lose my home. I’ve also ended up buying umpteen books from libraries, as the fees had become higher than the cost of replacing the book. At a certain point, I accepted that I was not capable of returning a library book on time, and I took a decade off. I am proud to say that I am a much more responsible library patron these days. (But neither of my children is as yet capable of returning a book!)

I’ve stopped reading a book partway through
I do this all the time. I am not ashamed. If you finish every book you start, let me tempt you to my path. Life is way too short, and there are too many excellent books to waste precious, never-enough reading time on a stinker.

I have claimed to have read a book I haven’t read
This one is quite shameful. I was in grad school and some pontificating youth was being exhausting about Proust. I pretended I had read the whole seven series so I could be dismissive about it and make him stop holding forth. I felt so guilty that I did go and read Swann’s Way, but in a spirit of bitter penitence did not help me enjoy it. 

I’ve read (and loved!) romance novels
I have and I do and I will again, and genre snobs who poo-poo romance need to recognize that there is misogyny at the heart of their disdain. Women even do this to other women, because they have internalized the pervasive cultural message that chick-things are silly and cute and a little pathetic. Our culture loves to trivialize female pleasure. No one has ever tried to shame me for reading the manlier pulp fiction that I also adore: Conan the Barbarian, Jack Reacher, 1940s crime paperbacks. These, like most romance, are pure pleasure reads, but they are taken seriously because men read them. 

I have viciously damaged a book
I drag my books around, dog-ear the pages, break the spines by propping them open to keep my place, take them to the beach and on scuba boats and into the bathtub. The more I love a book, the more it looks like I want to do it harm.

I’ve borrowed a book from a friend and not returned it
This is a high crime, but I did not realize it for years because I am such a book junkie. I buy a lot of books. I have been known to spend the butter and egg money on books. They proliferate in my house, breeding when I am not looking. I have so many, I am under constant family pressure to cull them. When I “loan” a book, I never mean for it to return. Now, when someone offers to loan me a book, I say no, unless they mean for me to pass it on when I am done. My house has so many books in it, it’s very easy to lose a borrowed one or accidentally “loan” it to another friend.

I have read a “forbidden” book
Now that I am an adult there is no such thing. But when I was a kid? I read so many of my parents’ books on the down-low! Before I was ten years old I had read Roots, To Kill A Mockingbird, Tender is the Night, half of the Ian Fleming James Bond books, and Jaws. Sorry not sorry!

Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including Gods in Alabama and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. A former actor, Jackson is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.


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