Happy New Year & Happy Birthday (to me)!

happy new years

2013 has been quite the roller coaster, with both ecstatic highs and frustrating lows. While I’m thankful to have accomplished quite a lot, I must admit that this past year definitely paved the way for room for improvement. So sayonara, 2013, and HELLOOOOOO 2014! I’m excited for the next 365 days and am determined to make this year better than the last.

I’m still working on my list of resolutions, but of course I’ve got a few bookish ones sprinkled in there. Like I said, last year was quite the roller coaster, resulting in a neglected blog and a reading slump that lasted WAY too long. I refuse to let that happen again. Books are my life (she says dramatically) and I need to get back to what makes me happy. As for this blog, I need to write for myself and stop worrying what others think and whether or not they do(n’t) like it. As much as I LOVE the book blogging community (another resolution is to become more involved with commenting, social media, etc.), it’s easy to get caught up in comparing my blog/reading speed/ARC piles to other bloggers. My plan is to look to others for inspiration, NOT envy. Besides, the only person who can do RtR justice is moi!

Along with today being the start of a new year, today is also my birthday! Talk about a starting-fresh double whammy! While today was pretty low-key, I made sure to do two of my most favorite things: browse the bookstore and eat cupcakes. I also indulged in a personal birthday prezzie to myself, but I’m keeping it hush-hush until it arrives a few days from now. Needless to say I’ll be obsessively stalking the “track my package” until then…

…Starting now! Kidding (maybe). But I do hear a red velvet cupcake calling my name. Happy New Year, lovlies, and here’s to a healthy, prosperous, and BOOKISH 2014!

happy new year

My Thoughts on “Emo” Books & Why I Avoid Them

“There can be no knowledge without emotion.” — Arnold Bennett 

Yesterday while chatting about scary movies (and why I avoid them them) with the beau, I confessed my extreme aversion to not just scary movies but to tear-jerkers too. He didn’t seem to understand why I prefer movies/TV shows that are cheery, comical, and over-all lighthearted. Not surprisingly, the same goes for books as well.

I got to thinking about my indifference toward books that are more emotional and “heavier” than the typical lighthearted, fun books that fill the majority of my shelves. I’ll admit, I tend to gravitate toward books that are typically more upbeat, but I look at it this way: reading is — and always has been — my escape. If I’m going to live on my own Fantasy Island, I want it to be happy-go-lucky, cheerful, and filled with sexy times (just being honest!). I don’t want to get over-emotional and become a blubbering mess because something tragic happened to a character who I’ve fallen in love with. (Reason #1 why I don’t read Nicholas Sparks books.) I don’t want crying on Fantasy Island, I want laughter!

All the feels!That said, whenever I hear buzz about certain books that actually seem interesting, I feel as though I’m depriving myself and not giving them a chance simply because I KNOW they’re probably tear-jerkers. Sure, I’ve read books that have made me cry, but in those instances, they’ve all taken me by complete surprise! The books I tend to avoid are the ones whose plots scream “Bring tissue!”

In an effort to experience all spectrums of the emotional rainbow, I’m making a personal decision to pick up at least one book that I’m sure is likely to “give me the feels.”

A few titles that have caught my interest while floating around the book world are:

Feel free to suggest any others that you think I should check out! I will definitely make sure I’m fully stocked with Kleenex before venturing into Emo City (the opposite of Fantasy Land, obviously).

ROAMING QUESTION: Do you tend to avoid certain books for emotional reason? Or am I just crazy for depriving myself from a whole world of great literature simply because it’s “too emo”?

Bookish Books for Bookworms

For a bookworm like myself, the only thing better than reading and books is reading books about books. Did I confuse you there? What I mean is that I’m a sucker for plots centered around books, settings that include libraries and/or bookstores, and characters that are librarians/writers/readers.

After a trip to my charming local library this weekend, I fell even more in love with libraries and bookish establishments. Then I thought, what better way to feed my need for all things book-related than to, well, read about all things book-related? So I sifted through my TBR list and searched for titles that feature libraries, bookstores and/or bookish characters. Unsurprisingly, I had more than a few that fit the bill. Instead of listing them all, I’ve compiled a short list that covers a variety of genres — after all, bookish books span beyond the romance genre!

  • The Major and the Librarian by Nikki Benjamin: A category romance featuring — you guessed it — a major and a librarian. No need to even read the blurb — you had me at “librarian”!
  • How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson: a fictional tale about a girl whose parents try to get her to read by having a book written especially for her.
  • Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman: a collection of essays in which the writer recounts her love of books.
  • Provoke Me by Cari Quinn: Both the hero and heroine manage a bookstore and love books… but can they admit their love for each other?
  • Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett: the first in a cozy mystery series about an entire town known for its abundance of bookstores.
  • Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: A contemporary YA featuring two bookish teens, the infamous Strand bookstore, and a crazy fun scavenger hunt around New York City.

Roaming Question: Do you read books about books? If not, what topic or hobby are you a sucker for & can’t help reading about?

Reading is Sexy

I came across the piece below while fluttering around the ‘net and I couldn’t help but share it with those who’ve never read it. I know it’s not technically part of the romance genre, but seeing as it combines love and reading, which is essentially the basis of this blog, I suppose it does in a way relate. That said, as a lifelong reader, I can totally identify with this essay since I have been known to do many of the things described in it. Lucky for me, I’ve found a beau who not only understands my passion for reading, but encourages and enables it as well. What can I say, I’m a lucky gal!

“Date a Girl Who Reads” by Rosemarie Urquico

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

Romantic (and Real?) Gestures

As an editor, it’s my job to have a keen and critical eye when reading manuscripts. As such, I often home in on repeated words, awkward sentence structure, POV shift… all the little things that can turn an “okay” story into an amazing, can’t-put-down story, and vice versa. However, when all the submissions and acquisitions are put away and it’s time for some R&R (relaxation and reading), it seems my editor’s hat is still on, and I can’t help but notice certain niggling details even while reading my “just for fun” books.

Of course, grammar and misspellings are the first things I usually spot, but I’ve also started to find myself fixating on character gestures and wondering just how realistic they are. Don’t get me wrong — I realize that when it comes to fiction, there are some things in particular that are acceptable in books that wouldn’t necessarily fly in the real world (i.e., use of the words “thus”, “hence” and “unaware”). But when it comes to quirks and gestures, I wonder if these things really happen, or if it’s a “fiction only” action.

For example, snorting. I see this all the time; a hero and/or heroine snorts in disbelief at something, or in sarcastic reply to another character. Now, my personal sarcasm level is pretty high up there and yet I don’t think I’ve ever snorted. An abrupt “HA!”, yes. An out-loud huff? Sure. But never a snort. Am I the only one?

Another one that gets me is when characters (mostly men) growl — be it during a bedroom scene, or in the midst of a building rage. I can’t help but read this gesture literally and think of a snarling dog when it feels threatened. Furthermore, I become especially irked when growled is used as a dialogue tag. Authors, take note: “You’re gonna be sorry after I get through with you,” he growled is NOT correct. Unless your characters moonlight as ventriloquists, they cannot growl an entire sentence!

The last one I see a lot is the all-too familiar jaw drop. No matter how surprised or shocked I’ve been, never once has my jaw dropped, which leads me to believe that this gesture is strictly fiction-only. However, I’ll be the first to admit that it comes down to personal preference and that I cringe a little every time I come across this phrase. Blame it on countless hours of Looney Tunes cartoons as a kid, but whenever a character’s jaw drops, I can’t help but think of a cartoon wolf whose eyes bug out and mouth hits the ground when he lays eyes on a sexy she-wolf. Again, is it just me?

I’m sure there are more gestures and instances where characters do things that I wouldn’t deign to do in real life, and for the most part, I’m okay with that. As they say, “The best stories contain just enough fact to make it interesting and the right amount of fiction to make it plausible.”

ROAMING QUESTION: What about you? Do you actually do any of the things I’ve listed above? Are there any gestures you’ve come across in books that are “fiction-only”? If so, what are they?