Pssst, come here...I have something I want you to try. Yeah, you're gonna really like this. It will totally change your world. Expand your mind, enlightenment. Come one, just one hit.
Pictures create images that people can reflect on for years to come. When I take that picture I want my clients to be able to be swept back to that moment in time when they were seniors in high school, newlyweds, new parents, the moments when their children were small, etc. I want to capture that memory, put that image in their head. Somewhat the same is how our favorite books create an image in our minds and stays with us as a cherished memory. A moment in time that resonates so strong, it alters your future. Like a photograph, you can go back to that feeling and get that image just by re-reading. Once you experience that moment, you aren't the same anymore. You get swept away by the reflection of where you were when you read it, how it made you feel, and knowing you can capture that again just by opening the cover and stepping away from your reality.
I read. A lot. More than I should (as if there is such thing!). My home is filled with books. I had to put two large bookshelves in my dining room to hold 'some' of them. Some are in closets. In the garage. I hoard them on my kindle so my husband won't know (do not tell him, ok? This can stay just between us, right?) I spend more on books than makeup (and I like my pretties). It drives my non-reader husband crazy. Hey, I could have worse habits! He cringes because he knows that when I see a bookstore, my heart starts pounding, and we are going to be spending some time in there. A used bookstore sends me over the edge. I could spend hours, days. The library; just give me IV sustenance and I could live there. I have this dream of having a bookstore/bakery with all my artwork hanging on the walls.
Growing up, I wasn't a big reader. It wasn't cool to read. I had more important, active things to do with my friends. However, when the teacher said it was time for silent reading, I may have groaned right along with the class but secretly, I was euphoric! Books from 5th grade stand out the most as planting the "love to read" seed: Nothing's Fair in 5th Grade, The Indian in the Cupboard, Where the Red Fern Grows, Bridge to Terabithia...sigh
I may be viewed as lazy because you can find me reading when I should be working, exercising, cooking, or cleaning. Really, it's an addiction. All the things you should be doing are waylaid by your need to get your fix. Like a drug. Like a habit. My daughters are readers as well, so they understand. You'll find them snuggled up with a book when they could be on their tablets or phones (SO PROUD!) You say to yourself "Just one more chapter" and it turns into finishing the book and realizing you've stayed up way too late to be a functioning part of society the next day. Maybe, just maybe, this is why books and coffee go so well together. Like a codependent relationship. Rainy days, books, coffee, maybe a pastry and no plans....best.day.ever.
You can travel around the world and enrich your life without actually going anywhere just by opening a book.
I admit that when my children were smaller, I didn't read as much. Mama duties came first. I probably went about 5 years without reading more than a couple books per year. Between diapers, nursing, sleep deprivation, there just wasn't time. But, when I eventually started to become myself again, not just the mom, I threw myself back into reading. Always interested in history and my heritage, although mostly interested in fiction, I began with reading all of John Jake's books. I mean, it just went one after the other after the other until there were no more. His North & South series, then onto the Kent Family Chronicles, then the Californians. I love anthologies. I ripped into Fern Michaels' Texas, Vegas, and Kentucky series, then, I was turned onto a series of books that forever changed my life and what I look for in a book (no babies were neglected in the creation of my obsession). Now, I read a book every couple of days. They fill my house and my TBR (to be read) list is ever growing.
So let's discuss for a minute the book that messed me up for other books. That one that you measure all other books against. The book that messed you up so you had to mess others up with it. Outlander. Although written in 91, I didn't even know of it's existence until 2004 when it was recommended to me because of my interest in Scottish History and looking for a good book to read. Being a Scottish lass myself (well, made in America with mostly Scottish parts), I was immediately hooked on this story. Then, to find out it continued for several more books (and counting), I became obsessed. Was it because the hero in the story reminded me of my husband? Um, not so much a tall, scottish, red headed highlander from the 18th century. But, in personality, strength, and honor, yep (now if I could just get him to don that kilt and master the accent...). I know what you are thinking: Fabio emblazoned bodice ripper. Nope. Although the book has been categorized as fantasy and romance, it is more historical fiction than anything else. My favorite. Historical fiction novels that aren't soft porn are hard to find, though! Just this past year, the author teemed with Starz and made the books into a television series! Dream come true for those of us obsessed. So yes, I am a pusher of this book. I pushed so many people into reading the Outlander series, that I am sure it's messed them up as well (in the best way ever). I've received texts from those reading saying "OMG" and "WTH?" and I love it. I needed company in my obsession. I'm the dealer in the dark who says "Hey, wanna try this book?" I am really not sorry. I'll take every one of you down with me. I've purchased about 5 copies of the main book and loaned them out. Finally, I just went ahead and bought the whole series on my kindle because I know I'm not gonna get my hard copies back.
Ok ok ok, moving on. Moving back to other books, because all books matter and there is life outside of Outlander. No really, there is. This series set in motion the need to dive into other similar books. A placebo book before the next fix is released (or the next episode is on). The Wilderness Series by Sarah Donati, The Plantagenet Series by Sharon K. Penman (this one, wow, very enlightening on the history of the English Monarchy), The Robin Hood Trilogy by Denise Domning (A little more romance than history, but very cool read), The Garden of Allah series by Martin Turnbull (Golden age of Hollywood). All highly recommended by this bookworm.
Not all books are created equal, we know that. Not all are going to be good. I rarely do not finish a book once I start it. However, there have been some that are so dreary, or boring, or pointless that I just put them down. If it's really bad, it gets a bad Amazon review (ahem, 50 Shades of Gray AKA WTF is this crap? Friends don't let friend read 50 Shades of Gray)
I do venture outside of Historical fiction. Some of my favorites in the romance category are anything by Robyn Carr. Good stories, well developed characters, and many anthologies! I also enjoy the more literary fiction writings of Kristin Hannah, Sarah Gruen (although her last book was terrible), Ann Easter Smith, Francine Rivers, Lucia St. Clare Robson, and I continue to be entertained by mystery writers CJ Box and Craig Johnson as they speak to the cowgirl in me.
I know that Nora Roberts has a huge following and is a reading fan favorite. I admit, she has some I like. And while I enjoy her books, I get bored as they all follow the same formula. Before it happens, I already know what's gonna happen. Her Montana Sky and Carolina Moon are a couple of my all time favorites, though. And, the Garden Trilogy is good.
So, here is a list of must reads for you:
- Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
- Into the Wilderness Series (Sarah Donati)
- The Lord John Series (Diana Gabaldon)
- The Virgin River and Thunder Point series (Robyn Carr)
- The Kent Family Chronicles (John Jakes)
- The Joe Pickett Series (CJ Box)
- The Walt Longmire Series (Craig Johnson)
- Riding Lessons & Flying Changes (Sarah Gruen)
- On The Island (Tracy Garvis Graves)
- Ride the Wind (Lucia St. Clare Robson)
- Auntie Mame (Patrick Dennis)
- Call Me Tuesday & Call Me Cockroach (Leigh Byrne)
- Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
- Firefly Lane (Kristin Hannah)
- A Gentle Rain (Deborah Smith)
- Anything by Dorthea Benton Frank and Ellen Hildebrand
Here is a list of ones to walk away from quickly, and maybe boycott the author (JK, to each their own)
- Anything written by EL James or Stephanie Meyer (come on, we are better than this).
- Hungry for Happiness (James Villas)
- A Reliable Wife (Robert Goolrick)
- The O'Briens (Peter Berhens)
Now, reflect on what your favorite book was and share below!
Hey, don't you wanna go read? Everyone's doing it. Don't you want to be enlightened and expand your mind?