My favorite thing to read is a novel. And my favorite thing in the world is being lost in a novel, pining for the story during the day while I work, eager to get in bed at night with the book or have half an hour alone on the subway with it. Reading a story that I get lost in is a very specific and palpable experience for me. The novel can eclipse the world. My husband has said that I look most at peace when I’m sitting, reading a novel. For every birthday and holiday, he gives me several novels, and I read them within a month. When I’ve finished a great novel and haven’t yet picked up another, there’s a limbo period that can actually get disturbing. Sometimes, I don’t find the right next book easily, and I’m stuck reading a novel I can’t get lost in, or I just read old New Yorkers on the subway for a month straight and don’t get the escape I crave. Well, I’m in one of those limbos right now. A few weeks ago I finished Barkskins, Annie Proulx’s latest novel, about the deforestation of the world, spanning 400 years and about 15 generations of “barkskins,” men and women who stripped the worlds’ forests of their trees. This book enveloped me and took me into its far-flung worlds, and since I put it down I’ve been re-reading Flannery O’Connor short stories and New Yorker articles. Then it struck me this week. I have three friends whose recently published books I haven’t read yet; Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, Joseph Boyden, and Leland Cheuk. Confession: two of these books, I never got around to purchasing. I’ve now rectified that. The books are on their way in the mail, and the plan is to read three friends, back to back. As friends often do- they’ve got my back. I’ve been excited to read these books for a long time, and I would have thought I’d have read them by now, read them as soon as they were available. I’m wondering if the reason I haven’t is that it’s a bit harder to get lost in a book written by someone I know. I might get distracted thinking, ah I know where Miranda got this idea, or did something like this really happen to Joseph, or is this how Leland really feels? I’ll read them and I’ll let you know. But I already know I won’t be disappointed. I’m excited and proud of these talented writer friends as I contemplate diving into their ideas, their words, their books.