As a reader I have found myself more then once picking up a book, starting it and then deciding that it just isn’t working for me. Sometimes the book happens to be an old favourite and other times it is a new-to-me-author or book. There have even been those that I have put aside… then can’t get them out of my mind, so I am forced to go back to them. And then there are those books that sometimes, even years later, are recommended by someone whose book advice I trust. So I grudgingly give them a try and end up glomming the rest of the author’s backlist.
In each of those situations, I usually blame it on my mood or mindset that I have at the time I was attempting to originally read the book. As the new year started I thought about that and how that is actually a negative way to look at books and moods. So I wanted to turn that ‘thought’ around and take a look at times when my mood or mindset drives me towards a certain book, author or series. So I started randomly thinking of moods/events and the books I wanted to read and it turned into a lot of fun. I found several different instances, then talked to a few friends about some of those moods and they added theirs. I wanted to share some of them with you along with reasons and hopefully you can add to the list. I always enjoy a good excuse to read a book *grin*.
These aren’t organized in any sort of chronological or even mood arrival order. The first one that came to mind was Dune by Frank C. Herbert. I was spending a year in the deserts of the Middle East and just had to dig out my battered copy. Due to weight and luggage limits I could only pack the first book, but I had both versions of the movie and the unabridged audio book. I like to think that re-reading, watching and listening added to my compassion and ability to do my job.
When I made one of my many moves, this time to the southwest portion of the United States and visited a couple museums, I had the sudden urge to glom through my Louis L’Amour westerns. As I was re-reading them I noticed cities, mountain ranges and passes that I had driven by or stopped in. I had a deeper appreciation for the things Mr. L’Amour put his characters through. While exploring my new surroundings, I stumbled upon some small wineries. After visiting the first winery and finding my new favourite spot to relax, I had to dig out all of my romance novels set in/amongst wineries. My choices were The Vineyard by Barbara Delinski, and The Villa by Nora Roberts. I refuse to confirm or deny that part of my motivation for reading those had anything to do with the young handsome vineyard owner *wink*. I also eagerly anticipated the release of Laura Anne Gilman’s Flesh and Fire; the first of her Vineart War series, which contains…wine and magic.
As one of the bookpushers, I am pretty active on twitter talking about books and a random assortment of other topics. One of the things I love about twitter is finding new-to-me books and authors. Another side effect involves the mention of a book or author that I happen to enjoy. Over the ensuing discussion I have the urge for a re-read. Most recently that involved historicals by Julie Garwood like The Bride, the second romance novel I ever read, and Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series – starting with Grimspace.
There are certain authors that I fall back on if I have had a mentally stressful/mind draining week. Those are the books I call my ‘thumbsuckers’ because when I am reading them it seems like I am a small child again; curled up under a blanket sucking my thumb and all is good with my world. Depending on my mood, I will reach for a rather innocent romance by Betty Neels or a funny story by one of my favorite childhood humorists Roald Dahl. When I emerge from my thumbsucking cocoon I am ready to face what the world brings once more. When I caught one of my co-workers wondering what I was scribbling down, she became my first target to ask about comfort reads. Her response was to start talking enthusiastically about Jane Austin and the Brontë Sisters. She also agreed with my Roald Dahl choice.
I attended college in the North Eastern area of the United States. One spring I had the opportunity to attend the local Scottish Games with a fellow student and his family. I had an absolute blast and was a judge of the “Bonniest Knees Contest.” Being able to fondle different male knees and pick the best-feeling was hilarious. Somewhere I am sure is a blackmail worthy photo of me blindfolded feeling up a stranger’s legs. Anyways, that evening I dug through my stash of books to find The Secret by Julie Garwood. It has some very touching scenes that take place at the Highland Games when the heroine meets her best friend as a child. Attending and participating in those games gave me a new appreciation of the scenes that Ms Garwood described so well.
In my current line of work I am rarely ever bored, and usually have some interesting stories about what happens any given day. Some of those are full of frustration on my part and others are more of the “you won’t believe me when I tell you this” but here goes. For the frustrating ones – when I really wanted to just unleash on the various idiocies that occurred but couldn’t – I tend to reach for Urban Fantasy. I use the kick-rear and take names mentality to channel my frustration so I am prepared for the next day. After I tell my “What had happened was” story I tend to reach for humor. My go-to authors in those cases tend to be Shelly Laurenston, G. A. Aiken and early Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books. All three of those authors will have me laughing so hard that I have to reach for a tissue to dry my eyes.
I also have what I call annual re-reads. I haven’t identified a specific trigger for them other then the passing of time. Some like Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, where I learn or get something new from it each time I re-read the book – based on my changing life experiences and personal growth. Others bring back fond childhood memories and allow me to escape. Anne McCaffrey is one of those authors and her book The White Dragon was my introduction to the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Robin McKinley with both her retelling’s of fairytales: Beauty, Rose Daughter, and Spindle’s End. And her other original books: The Blue Sword, The Hero and The Crown, and Sunshine are also a constant source of comfort.
I am blaming my Mom for these next two, lol. She got me into the habit of reading a series from book one in order. As a result when one of my favorite authors *cough*NaliniSinghPatriciaBriggsIlonaAndrews*cough* has a new release in one of their ongoing series, I have to re-read the entire series from start to the new release. The other involves the debate between book vs. movie. Do I read/re-read the book before watching the movie? Do I read the book after I watch the movie or do I just avoid the book/movie all together. I tend to re-read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien both before and after my annual movie marathon. A book that I prefer by a landslide over the movie is Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. And then there are the ones that seem to be written for movies like some of Michael Crichton’s books such as Jurassic Park and The Lost World for example.
Speaking of my Mom. I told her about this essay and she said I could include the following from her. What I found fascinating is that while we mention some of the same authors and books — most of whom she introduced me too — is what she takes from them is different then what I take from them. “When the weather is cold and rainy, I think back on Watership Down, The Lord of the Rings trilogy or any one of the David Eddings series. I pull those out and get comfortable under some lap blankets and have a wonderful adventure. Those always make me feel warm and cosy. When I am feeling expansively creative I prefer Octavia Butler, and urban fantasy authors like Ilona Andrews. Those stretch my imagination; pulling me outside of my box. When thumbsuckers are the only thing that will work, I select romance novelists like Janet Evanovich, Julie Garwood, or Nora Roberts. Louis Lámour is an author that I read for pep talks. His characters are always pitting themselves against incredible odds and by grit and by golly coming out on top.”
I hope you enjoyed this trip down my moods and memory lane. If you don’t mind, please share some of your moods and books. Like I mentioned earlier: I love having excuses to try a new-to-me author or books. Happy reading.