Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year Resolutions - No, Not The Usuals

How many of us have made the usual resolutions - you know: lose weight, save more money, spend less money, get in shape, be kinder to everyone, and it's only the tough who survive. Been there, done that. So I don't make the usual resolutions, mine are less self-improvement oriented and more self-indulgent, especially when it comes to reading as this is what relaxes me after a stressful day; plus if I don't follow through I won't flog myself for the remaining 11 months of the year.

So, as I enable myself in the coming year (uh, meaning reading a good book rather than dealing with the litter box) here's what I want to do:

First of all, try to buy fewer books (she says after sending in a BOGO of 8 HCs to the Rhapsody Book Club).

Read as many books as possible - mainly because I have too many to begin with, my eyes aren't what they used to be, and I'm no longer 30-something. The equation is definitely off kilter, and who would I leave my books to anyway?

Read ONE book at time, no more multiple books going at one time; and as few library check-outs as possible.

Read more categories than usual; they're still a favorite sub-genre but lately they seem to be kicked down to third or fourth place.

Read more new-to-me authors. Thanks to the members of the various Yahoo groups I own or belong to, I discovered a number of NTM writers in 2008. Thanks, ladies!!

Cut back on the contemporaries - I'm ignoring the hist/roms for some reason and reading more contemps and (this is unbelievable) some women's fiction (ack, never thought THAT would happen).

And probably most important of all: get back to the trad Regencies. These have been my reading treasures for over 40 years and I've drifted away in the last few years. I'd like to think the listers on my Regency group will be proud.

So, as '09 looms ahead, I refuse to think of it as just another year to screw up, but as the year I lose weight, save more money, smile more at work, turn 65, indulge in my other wicked habit (good coffee) and read more than I did in '08.

Happy New Year, dear readers. And Happy Reading to one and all.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Getting Someone Hooked On Reading

A co-worker recently asked me to recommend some books for her. She's planning to go back to school, the only reading under her belt is high school must reads, and she wants to start reading to get into the habit for when she takes some college courses. I was sort of flattered but didn't have the heart to tell her that the books I read are hardly college-bound material but there was no way I was going to avoid the chance to turn someone on to reading for pleasure.

So, doesn't my mind turn completely blank when I'm trying to make a mental list of authors for her! I wanted to give her a broader view of what I like to read, a real cross-section of genres so she wouldn't be turned off by one particular author or one particular sub-genre. I didn't recommend any historical romances or categories, especially not cats because they've been given a bad rap through the years, been given names like "trailer-park porn", "sappy" or the most common (and stupidest of them all) "bodice-rippers" (this is SOOOO old it shows you how out of touch the denigraters are). But I digress - this tangent could be a post in itself.

Some of the books/authors I recommended are Nancy Bush's "Jane Kelly" mysteries (think of a PNW Stephanie Plum-type kick-ass heroine who is even more likeable); any of the Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts or Susan E. Phillips single titles; some guilty pleasures are Patterson's women's murder club books so I recommended she read those in order; as well as the Plum books in numerical order. I listed Tess Gerritsen but blood/guts/gore aren't everyone's cup of tea so I recommended she be prepared. Also Kristin Hannah, Susan Wiggs, John Sandford, and Philip Margolin.

While I didn't recommend the series romances per se, I did recommend a few of my favorite authors that she could find at the local library. So many authors and sub-genres to choose from but I didn't want to overwhelm her with quantity (or my enthusiam). As it stands now, I'll never know what she ends up liking or not liking as she'll be leaving us and taking up a new position in one of our other offices starting January 5th. We'll still be in touch via inter-office e-mail or phone but maybe it's better not knowing - this way I can hope I've turned her on to reading in some small way, and maybe she'll have a favorable view of romances if she decides to try some. I'll be rooting for her.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Having More Than One Book Started

No matter how many times I vow to read one book at a time I invariably find myself juggling up to three - something I never used to do in the past but it's become a nasty habit of late. I usually bring the smallest (or lightest) book to work where I can read before work and during lunch, and spend some evening time with the other book(s), especially in this colder weather it's cozy and comfy curling up under the covers with a great read.

Right now I'm reading an older SIL Desire (from 1995) as well as a Kristin Hannah hardcover from the library. Also being read is THE LAST HELLION (Loretta Chase), a December comfort read for the past few years. Some would debate the positives of rereading favorite books but I truly enjoy the knowing-what-to-expect from an old favorite - this is really important after reading an absolutely WONDERFUL book because you know nothing you pick up next will come up to scratch, you'll have that let-down feeling after riding the high. Zeroing in on a comfort read guarantees a smooth transition from previous book to next book. Hehehe, if you're reading this blog but aren't a reader you probably have no idea what I'm talking about but believe it when I say avid readers will absolutely know the feeling.

So, now I meander downstairs, make a fresh pot of coffee, and pick up one of my books - I wonder which of them I will finish first? Better yet, I wonder what my next reading triumvirate will be. Oh please: let me break the habit.........

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Books That Fall Short

During my reading career, when I was younger, had more stamina, and definitely more patience with some authors/books, I finished every book I started and to add insult to injury I would read other books by that "dreadful author". I'm ashamed to say how many Clarissa Ross gothics I read back in the '70s, you'd think that once burned I'd run screaming in the other direction.

Yesterday I read - no, let me reword that and say I finished a historical romance that had been mentioned positively on the Regency list and that I had high hopes for, but it fell terribly short in my opinion. Now you have to understand that Regency fans are an incredibly discerning group of readers. We take pride in knowing Our Era, not that we go into every read planning to pull it apart but when you know your subject the boo-boos simply jump out at you. To most readers this doesn't matter, the whole picture counts, not necessarily individual scenes, but I most always second-guess myself when a book falls short. What's wrong with me? I just have to accept that not every author, not every book, appeals to every reader. And that I have no right to gasp! and shake my head when someone posts that they don't like Austen, or Heyer, or Balogh, or Chase. Omigod four of the greatest icons of Regency-set romance and not everyone likes them?

So, I move on. Repost that "really awful historical romance" at PaperbackSwap so someone else on the wish list can enjoy it (one can only wonder), and continue to be hopeful when someone on a listserv raves about a book (there might really be a gem in all that hype), and the first rule of action when a book falls short is Steer Clear Of That Author forever and always. There is no second rule of action. Happy reading one and all.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Setting Aside Reading Time

I never though I'd have a blog. Heck, I never kept a diary when I was growing up but I always had lots of to-do lists which were mostly in my head, but I guess blogging is big new way to communicate, to put one's thoughts on paper but now the WHOLE WORLD can see them. This is a scary thought; I'd better behave myself.

Setting aside reading time. Why is it so much harder to do these days? I've always worked full-time, is it because I'm older now, more pooped when I get home from work? I used to read through the night, finish a book at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and still bounce out of bed rarin' to go. No more. There were months when I could read 25-30 books a month (some of them real heavyweights, literally), now I can barely read 10 books every month. Finding the reading time is a challenge. I can read your mind, you know: you're saying to yourself "then she should be READING right now, not blogging". And you'd be right. So I think I'm going to sign off and get back to my current read, a historical which has received positive online buzz but I've been having trouble staying with it. Omigod, I just had a thought: maybe the quality of one's current read is the secret to setting aside reading time. When the book is awesome you can't stay away from it.