At the moment I’m reading The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie, but I stopped, because I was so embarrassed at a main character’s actions. Do you know this phenomenon? You read a novel about a character you generally like and admire, and at some point the character acts in a way that makes you feel deeply embarrassed on his or her behalf. When this happens, I am usually pulled out of my reading, and often the book languishes for days, even weeks or months on my bedside table before I pick it up again, if ever. So feeling embarrassed about otherwise likable characters can be a serious hindrance to my enjoying a book.
In my work life, I couldn’t survive without being relentlessly organized. My office bookcase is alphabetized and arranged by subject. My home? Um, not quite so orderly. The books in that picture on the left may not have been stacked up quite like that until right before I took the picture. Also, Laura Lee Guhrke and Cheryl St. John apparently have a feline fan who needed to be flushed out of the TBR, where she was curled up around their latest releases. So, while I’m not normally into New Year’s resolutions, I did find myself getting very into the idea of reading resolutions. Here are mine:
I spend a fair amount of time calling out some of the things in romance that hurt the genre and absolutely make me crazy. However, having read romance since the early 90s (ah, the days of sneaking books past my mother!), I’ve also noticed a lot of things about romance for which I’m truly thankful. It’s almost Thanksgiving here in the USA, so here are some of the Romanceland things I’m grateful for:
With the premiere of New Moon looming, suddenly everyone’s talking about vampires. The diehard Twilight fans I know never entirely stop talking about it, but the chatter grows ever louder. I’ve read all the books and I suspect I’ll end up seeing all the movies, but there is so much more to read once you’ve run through Bella and Edward (and Jacob)’s story. If you’re hooked on vampires, there are a ton of good books out there.
I never thought I’d say this, but here’s my answer to the reading slump: Stop reading.
About three weeks ago, I had a period of major crunching, and for two solid weeks I didn’t read a thing. My review books lay sulking on the table. The books I’d borrowed from friends were abandoned. Comfort reads were no longer a comfort – how could they be, when I couldn’t even face opening their covers? No newspapers, no magazines, and had the Bernstein Bears appeared I would have shunned them too. In short, I went into total reading freeze. For me, that’s huge.
The main reason was simply a question of fatigue – I’ve been too tired to do anything except work, eat, and sleep, emphasis on the latter. But when it was over, and after getting a solid ten hours of sleep, I successfully opened a book. And from the ashes arose an interesting realization: I was glad to take a break from reading. I was satisfied that I had stopped. I read that book enthusiastically, even though it turned out to be a dud. I was once again happy in the world of literature. All because I’d stopped reading.
I normally adore Bookmarks magazine. While more than half my reading is romance, I read all kinds of other books as well and Bookmarks gives pretty good coverage of the non-romance world. They tend towards covering mainstream fiction without a lot of pretentious B.S., and their historical fiction articles by Sarah Johnson in particular have given me fantastic reading suggestions. However, when I saw their Guilty Pleasures article in the November/December 2009 issue, I was rather taken aback. The article (part I in a series) goes through types of books the author considers “guilty pleasures” and ranks them as Paradise (practically guilt-free, you could even be seen in public with these), Purgatory (nightstand reading) and Hell (books the author says “shame on you” for reading).
This confession will probably give some of you a heart attack, but I haven’t read any of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I know, I know. It’s like I’ve been living under a rock buried 3 miles below the surface of the Earth. But lately I’ve been thinking about giving the first book a try. So I sent out a half-joking tweet on the subject. To my surprise, I received a personal response from my local library letting me know that Outlander is available for checkout, should I so desire. Now granted, I’m kind of a dork, but I thought this was really cool. So cool, in fact, that I decided to explore more of the digital/virtual features my local library offers, and get the perspective of the Sacramento Public Library’s Digital Services Librarian Megan Wong on the subject of libraries in the digital age.
Recently, I sorted some of my bookshelves. Truth to be told, I mostly did it in order to procrastinate doing some other work, but when I had finished, I was really pleased: The books looked so neat, with many from the same publishing house standing next to each other, and next time it won’t take me ages to find a specific book. An added bonus, I unearthed my copy of Meg Cabot’s The Boy Next Door, which I had been hunting for the last two years and which I accused both my sister and my father of having borrowed and forgotten to return.
A friend recently started a book club, and I was delighted to join. Sure, what I like best to read are romances and mysteries, but to include one book per month that was outside my usual reading range sounded like a great idea. So far we have met twice, the one book I have read until now was not quite to my taste, but still interesting to peruse, and I like other participants, all women. None of the other women read romance extensively, although one is like me in that she openly and unabashedly prefers happy endings. The other thee women are more into literary fiction, with some women’s fiction and detective stories added. So far, so good. There is only one thing that is driving me up the wall.
DIK. Desert Isle Keeper. Most of us have dozens of them, those tried-and-true favorites you re-read time and again. Unfortunately, most desert isles don’t have room for all of my DIKs. Nor does carry-on luggage.