Reading is beyond a doubt my favorite hobby. You probably wouldn’t be reading this blog if it wasn’t one of yours as well. One of the many things I love about books is finding words that express what I feel. So often authors concisely say in a few lines concepts I have been struggling to give words to. Over the years many of those lines, or rather quotes, have made up a large part of the thread from which I weave my beliefs and behaviors. But some I collect just for fun. And among those just for fun favorite quotes are pithy comments about reading. I am surprised – and delighted – at how I find them everywhere. For example, I was tickled when in the film Ratatouille brother Emile asks hero Remy, “You read?” in an accusatory voice. His slightly defensive response? “Well, not excessively.” Yep, I’ve been in that defensive position myself when someone asks, “Is that another book?” in much the same tone you would ask, “Good Lord, is that heroin in your pocket?” Continue reading
My early recollections of the dangers of reading center around sunburn. I would lie out on a beach towel in the backyard and get so engrossed in Nancy Drew or some other thrilling story that I would forget the time. Then, lobster-like I would come inside the house suffering.
As I grew, however, the perils of reading became even greater. Three stories illustrate my point.
When I was in high school, I was a page at my local library. For some reason that totally escapes me, I was enthralled with the Jalna series, one of those sprawling historical sagas, by Mazo de la Roche. I remember one afternoon leaving the library with the newest book in hand and wanting to get home quickly so I could continue the story.
What happened is that I backed straight into the brick side of the library. My father couldn’t understand it. “The library wasn’t moving,” he said to me. “How could you just deliberately hit it?” I don’t remember what my answer was, but it certainly wasn’t that reading was dangerous. Yet that’s what the real reason was. In my haste to read, I’d become a hazard in my car.
I hadn’t realized until this week what a liar I was about romance books. If anyone asked what kind of romances I like best, I would have said those that transport me away to somewhere I haven’t been in either time or place.
Then I read three books in a row that convinced me I was lying to myself.
- Because of You by Jessica Scott looks at love in the setting of today’s military between a wounded sergeant and a nurse. In many ways it reminds me of Cheryl Reavis’ The Older Woman, another in my personal AAR Top 100 list, except with buddies for the nurse and soldier instead of a grandmotherly landlady as charming peripheral characters. Like The Older Woman, Because of You explores war wounds and breast cancer, two of today’s hot spots, and like the other book isn’t an easy read. It reminded me all too vividly of visits I made to my cousin Jerry in a VA hospital after he returned from the Vietnam War as a paraplegic. Instead of taking me away from reality, it brought all the memories and feelings back to me.
- Continue reading
Because, truth be told, I don’t think I am. When LynnAAR sent around her request for Buried Treasures from all of the AAR staff, I racked my brain (I don’t keep a book list) and realized that I hadn’t read anything that would qualify.
Why not? Well, I’m jealous of my reading time. With work and my responsibilities to AAR, leisure time is sparse and there’s a lot competing for my leisure attention. Would I rather read a book by an author I’m not sure about or play it safer with an author I already know and love? The safe bet wins almost every time.
And, gee, what about TV? Would I rather take a chance on a book or catch up on episodes of Angry Boys?
Digital downloads have changed far more than the world of books. Now with my Roku player, I have access to almost every movie or TV show ever made — and that’s a whole lot different from the VCR days when I had only what I’d taped and the limited availability of my local video store. Want to watch the British version of The Office again? I can. That and a whole lot more.
In the past, I’ve talked about the plethora of series books out there and how I sometimes wish for standalones, and Leigh blogged about her own series ambivalence. However, instead of answering questions or completely relieving a pet peeve, thinking about interrelated series books begs one big question. What is the magic number for a series? How many books does one need in order to fully develop a series, get closure on the various plotlines and yet not start annoying readers?
Obviously, if it’s not a good, well-written series, one book is probably one too many. Even the good series can go on too long, though. Continue reading
Heroes making big assumptions… They’re so common in romance. So much so that they were labeled “Big Ass” heroes” in an ATBF column several years ago. Readers often use shortcut terms like “the Big Miss.”
But what about readers making big assumptions? Whoops. Guilty as charged. I finally figured out something I hadn’t wanted to face. I have been a Big Ass reader.
The book that shook me up wasn’t a romance. Far from it. It was a collection of Mickey Spillane’s first three Mike Hammer books. Sure I was familiar with Spillane. I had enjoyed his beer commercials. I had fun watching him get interviewed on TV. I watched the Mike Hammer show on TV.
And no, I’m not talking about certain recreational activities. I’m just wondering where you guys like to read.
See, I used to have this image of a “proper” reader: Someone who sits straight-backed in a chair, or lounges with dignity in an armchair, legs crossed, holding a book in two hands, serenely flipping the pages.
But I discovered early on that I’m not like that. Me, I sprawl. I fidget. I cross my legs in a chair, then turn ninety degrees and hang my legs over the arms, then flop onto the floor and lean against my desk. I do all sorts of random stuff. And that’s only at my desk. So I need space to move.
By and large, there are four reading options for me:
If I’m reading in bed, it’s at night. And if it’s at night, that means a limited period of time. Which kinda sucks if I’m in the middle of a really gripping passage, but hey – self control, right? I also sometimes do work in bed, because I like having the space to spread out. But when it comes to leisure reading, I find that no matter how I start off (leaning back, cross-legged, etc.), I always end up on my stomach with a pillow under my chin.
In a bit of serendipity my blog piece this week mimics Blythe’s blog in asking the question of nature or nurture. Except mine is not about readers but readers who exercise. Once you have developed a love of books, how hard is it to make the commitment to get your nose out of the book and exercise? Do some individuals just enjoy activity more than others? Is it learned behavior or is it genetics? The recent evidence seems to point to learned behavior or contagious social behaviors.
The Trust for American’s Health recently released a list of how each state is doing, and it is not pretty. Along with the release of the list of the state’s ranking, I made note of something else. When Blythe went to New York for the RWA Convention she didn’t use that as an excuse to not exercise (Sandy and Lynn- no offense if you were up there sweating away too!). And guess what, Blythe is from Colorado, the state with the lowest obesity ranking.
While poverty does play a part in the same states continuing to top the list, part of the reason also seems to be that if your friends are heavy, then it more acceptable for you to be heavy. If your friends exercise and incorporate a healthy lifestyle then you are more likely to do so, too. If you haven’t read the Framingham Study then do so, because it quite interesting. In a way it helps explain more about our obesity epidemic.
You probably wonder why someone on a site that talks about books now is talking about healthy living. I could say that it is a “public service message.” But the real reason is that that our love of books can keep us sedentary. Plus if you are like me, you have made some internet friends built around your love of books. Friends influence friends and I hope to get some great feedback from those of you that are successful balancing activity and reading. And along with teaching our children to love books and reading, I believe it is just as important to remember physical activity.
It All Ends. An end of an era. The end of childhood. I’m pretty sure everyone in the industrialized world knows that the final Harry Potter movie came out on Friday (in the U.S.). This is it.
People of all ages have felt the loss, from children who weren’t alive when the first books came out, to retirees. I think, though, that my age group has felt the end more keenly. After all, we are the Harry Potter Generation.
Do you ever hit those points in your reading where you just don’t know where to start? Usually, at this time of the year, I’m brimming over with reading ideas and books that I cannot wait to dive into. I’ve actually read some VERY good books this year (One Was a Soldier, The Bride Finder, Unveiled and a few more), but for some reason I feel like I’m hitting a wall. I have plenty of books in my TBR, but I just can’t decide where to start.
I would distinguish this from a regular reading slump because my problem isn’t that I just can’t find anything that grabs me. My dilemma is more about being spoiled for choice. I’ve got books on my Kindle that sound fantastic, I’ve been getting fun-sounding review books and my print TBR hasn’t exactly shrunk all that much. I look at my books and feel myself being pulled into way too many directions. I always have a review book to read, but it’s what to read on the side that gets me.