Books are my drug. Some become addicted to Valium or alcohol in order to relax and unwind; my drug of choice is embroiling myself in a captivating story to the exclusion of everything else. Unlike television where your mind can easily wander, the process of reading demands enough attention that all those concerns rattling about your brain are effectively quieted. Imagination is duly engaged as you fill in images and details of characters and places the author paints for you.
From the moment I decided to blog, I knew I would write about books. There’s been this neglected category sitting off in the right column for books and writing from the very first day my blog was published. It’s time to put something there. While looking for new things to read, I found Charlaine Harris’s website and thoroughly enjoyed her approach to reviewing books. She is committed to no negative reviews, simply covering the books she enjoys and not mentioning others. Every few weeks, she gives you only a few sentences regarding each book she’s read that she recommends.
Before you decide whether you’d like to follow what I may babble about books, let me share a few things. One, I am the kind of person that if while waiting in line for a movie some cretinous fool exits and loudly gives away the ending – well, I’d duly love to angrily pummel said fool into unconsciousness. Don’t like spoilers. Preference is to let the author unfold the story line at their own pace. For this reason I rarely read book reviews. Too many have adopted a style that closely follows their grade school requirement for a book review detailing the story to prove to a teacher they’ve read it. I won’t even read the book jacket synopsis – they often share what you wouldn’t find out from the story until the 4th or 5th chapter. If I like something, I simply tackle everything else that author has ever written, usually in seriatim order.
My current approach to books is 100% enjoyment. Having an English lit degree, I’ve spent more than the requisite time engulfed in the writings of famous depressed and suicidal authors. Although I don’t disparage anyone from reading these classics now, I’ve no desire to read books to trigger empathetic emotions regarding life’s hardships and inequities. Real horror gives me nightmares. What I voraciously revel in is fiction, specifically urban fantasy, fantasy and mystery. My complete addiction is to books that present the world as a place of magical possibilities, although you’ll see some books seep in that are strictly mystery. You may wonder that I’m not compelled to continuously improve myself through my reading selections. Working in a business environment, constant learning is a given. Besides, my reading is replacing the mind numbing dribble that occupies most of network TV. Given that, I find my choices a huge improvement. If well-stocked with a pile of books or files on my Kindle, I’ll read a book a night rather than watching TV to unwind.
Pet peeves include reviewers that appear to set out to prove themselves more intelligent than the next person through their negativity or those who demand the story itself be different than the author chose. I have as many opinions as the next person (if not more). Might occasionally let myself point out certain devices I attribute to a publisher more than an author in hopes that authors can take this information to their publishers to facilitate change. Two devices I detest are the 1. The cliffhanger “tune in next week…” and 2. diluting the intensity of a story with constant repetition of previous developments. The cliffhanger annoys me as many feel forced and if I like an author I will buy the next book in the series. I don’t need them to shoot someone in the heart on the last page to compel me to return and see what happens. With repetition within a book or from previous books, it can become insulting; I wonder if some believe their readers are complete morons who have to be told points over and over.
Favorite authors include Janet Evanovich, Patricia McKillip, C.E. Murphy, Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Deborah Harkness, Charles de Lint, Charlaine Harris, Sue Grafton and Dan Brown. There are many others I’ll cover when I mention their books. If you have some that fit with the above, please share in comments. I’m constantly searching for new authors to add to my reading pile. I avoid realistically gruesome and books that put more weight on detailing sexual encounters than plot. I’m not addicted to vampires – guessing that it’s publishers denoting them popular and pushing them as the fantasy character of choice. That’s what’s out in fantasy, so that’s what I’ve been reading (and enjoying).
There’s so much more I could say about books and reading. To prevent this post from becoming a painful and tedious dissertation, I’ll stop here and add a bit with each post of book recommendations. However, sharing this as you may find my approach to book reviews unorthodox.
What’s Worth Reading:
Deborah Harkness debut into the world of fiction and grown up fantasy, A Discovery of Witches, is a truly enchanting read. There’s good reason that it’s currently number two on the New York Times Hardcover bestsellers list. Genuine, fully developed characters pursue the threads of this well written and inventive mystery. My only complaint is that I must wait for the remainder of her trilogy to be published.
C.E. Murphy is one of my all time favorite authors. Urban Shaman is first in her witty world of fantastical creatures, The Walker Papers Series. You might call Joanna a reluctant shaman, but regardless of what you call her you’ll love this character. Each book in the series is so arresting that I only pick them up when I can read them cover to cover without interruption.
As a push to get myself writing a bit more about books, I’m resurrecting this for the Gallery Of Favorites with Alea at Premeditated Leftovers.