Recommended Reading: Wool, by Hugh Howey

Each year, our town library chooses an all-town summer reading book, and then hosts events related to the book in the fall. I love summer reading, and I love talking about books with other people, so I’ve been looking forward to checking out this summer’s book.  Two years ago the book was Rocket Boys, by Homer Hickam (a great memoir, which later became October Sky, one of my favorite movies), and last year the town read To Kill a Mockingbird.

This year, I’d never heard of the book, but only a few display copies were left out, so I asked a reference librarian about it. She said the seventy-five copies the library had ordered flew off the shelves so fast that they’d had to buy another thirty, of which only six were left the next day.

The book is Wool, by Hugh Howey. Here’s part of what Jill, a reference librarian at the WFPL, has to say about it:

Why have you probably never heard of it?  Because it was a self-published work by an unknown author. That means it was not in most libraries or bookstores, there were no print ads for it in magazines, and review attention was sparse at best.  Yet this novel managed to gather an army of loyal readers who passed it on, one copy at a time, to family, friends, and co-workers, slowly building it into a New York Times bestseller.  That all of this took place outside the confines of the traditional publishing model is testament to the direct relationship that now exists between the writer and the reader.

I was a little skeptical at first, but I liked the title, liked the idea of reading some sci-fi, and liked the heft of the paperback (I love paperbacks), so I started it that night.

Holy cow. This book is scary.

I had to force myself not to read ahead: that’s how suspenseful Wool can be. Howey’s pacing is spot-on, the short chapters enhancing the uneasiness of the frightening world he’s created. No spoilers, as usual, but praise is due to Howey for his tough, and admirable, female characters. Highly recommended, whether or not you’re a fan of sci-fi.

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