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?

Diving Head-First into 2012

Wow, it’s been a while since my last post. I didn’t intend for my hiatus to be so long, but then again, I’m all about the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” philosophy. That said, instead of harping about the past, let’s dive right in — Happy New Year! Despite what the Mayans thought, I believe 2012 will be *my* year. My reading drought has finally passed (hooray!) and I’m adding books to my TBR list at lightning speed! Speaking of TBRs, am I the only one who gets just as much pleasure from looking for books as I do from actually reading them? I can literally spend hours surfing Amazon, Goodreads and the bookstore just skimming through books and deciding whether or not to add them to my constantly expanding list of books to read. What can I say, I just love books — paperback, e-book, hardcover… If it has words, count me in!

Which brings me to my next point: my 2012 reading goals. Goodreads has a section where you can set your own personal reading goal, in which I plan on participating. The thing is, though, I haven’t quite decided what I want my numerical goal to be. Fifty books? Twenty-five? Sixty? I’m still mulling it over, but in the meantime, I have made up my mind about other reading goals for the year. This is only a quick ‘n dirty list of what I’ve come up with so far, so I’m sure this will change and expand as the days weeks go on:

1. Read books outside my comfort zone. As if it wasn’t obvious from the title of this blog, romance is my favorite genre. However, I know there are other amazing books out there and I don’t want to limit myself simply because it falls outside my “happily ever after” expectations. I plan to test the waters with YA, thriller, comic books — anything that I normally wouldn’t jump to read, I plan to.

2. Read more. This sounds absurd since I already read a lot, but believe it or not, there are times when I choose to watch TV or surf the ‘net instead of picking up a book. Don’t get me wrong, I cherish my TV/internet/etc. downtime, but there are times when I’m mindlessly flipping through the channel when I could instead be getting lost in a good book.

3. Visit my local public library. I go back and forth with this one. Not because I don’t like libraries — I love them! In fact, I used to check out a dozen books a time when I was younger — but because of the state of them nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, I completely empathize with the whole lack of public-funding, catering-to-everyone ordeal, but the last few times I went to the library my experiences were less than stellar. For instance, a librarian asking “Who?” when I asked where the Jane Austin books were (don’t even get me started on that day). And of course there’s the likelihood of them not carrying a book I want to read or the “checked out indefinitely” status. Plus, it also comes down to the lack of instant gratification. Why would I put myself on a months-long waiting list to read a book when I could just go out and buy it? Nothing against those who do, and I’m definitely no Mr. Ms. Moneybags, but buying books is something I will always allow myself to do. And also why I bought a Kindle.

Well, that’s about it for now. Three things may not seem like a lot on the surface, but it’s definitely enough to keep me busy in the next upcoming months. Oh! There is one more:

4. Blog more! Or should I say, blog more regularly. I did a decent job last year of updating RtR, but I don’t want to fall into another three-month dry spell. Plus, perhaps blogging more could help me through my reading droughts (which is inevitable in every reader’s life). I won’t set myself up for unrealistic expectations and vow to blog every day, or even every other day (if I do, though, great!), but a minimum of once a week seems manageable.

Okay, so there you have it. My reading/bookish goals for the year. When I decide on a numerical reading goal or if I think of more general goals, I’ll be sure to fill you all in. In the meantime, I’m off to add more to my TBR list. It’s times like this I’m proud to be a bookworm!

Harlequin “Treasury” Chest

The phrase “oldie but goodie” has never been more true! NetGalley announced today that they will be releasing books from Harlequin Treasury, a new imprint that features digitized back-list titles. I admit, many times I chuckle and make fun of decade(s)-old romance titles (and covers), but after reading the back cover copy of a few titles, I can’t help but get excited about this new addition.

That being said, there are currently four galleys up for request, with more to come, I’m sure. I personally have my eye on Irresistible?, a romantic comedy by Stephanie Bond (her first, actually!), as well as The Getaway Groom by Molly Linholm. Despite already having a mile-high TBR list, I plan to request both of these gems as soon as I publish this post!

For more about Harlequin Treasury and its back-list books, check out this short ‘n’ sweet writeup on the Dear Author site. Interested in requesting a galley from the new imprint (or any other Harlequin or romance publisher)? Head over to NetGalley. If you’re an avid reader like myself and haven’t already signed up for Netgalley, I suggest you do so ASAP! It’s a great way for readers to connect with publishers and review new releases and ARCs… for free (the magic word)! And don’t worry; if you don’t see a Netgalley title that catches your attention but are still interested in taking a peek in the Harlequin “Treasury” chest, head over to Amazon to check out more titles available for download for only $3.60.

Imagine that — for the same price as a fancy cup of coffee, you can purchase one of these “treasures” instead. Or, you can splurge and buy BOTH for a perfect afternoon of reading and sipping!

Hitchcock and Cookies

A thunderstorm rolled in tonight, making it the perfect evening to curl up on the couch and watch a murder-mystery. More specifically, a Hitchcock movie. So I closed the curtains and popped in “Rope,” a 1940s classic about two men who execute the perfect murder and then hold a party while hiding the deceased in plain sight to test if they can really can get away with the crime.

Like all Hitchcock films, it was thrilling, no doubt. Afterward, I needed something sweet to counteract the bitter taste of deranged murderers. Luckily, there was a plate of cookies in the kitchen that were calling my name. Macadamia nut. Mm, mm! One bite of those babies and my tongue was doing a happy dance like it had just won the lottery; cinnamon-laced, with just the right amount of nuts, and a hint of vanilla… Seriously, the best macadamia nut cookies I’ve ever had.

So what does all this have to do with romance books? Well, nothing. At least, not technically. But, the cookies and movie did remind me of a book that I recently added to my TBR list:  A Sheetcake Named Desire by Jacklyn Brady. A Sheetcake is book one in the Piece of Cake Mystery series and is about a pastry chef named Rita who inherits a bakery…and her ex’s dead body. Rita’s determined to get the shop back up and running, but before she can focus on cakes and pastries, she has to first find who killed her ex-husband.

Sounds intriguing, right? Unfortunately, it won’t be released until Aug. 2, which means I’ll be [not-so] patiently waiting for it to hit shelves! Until then, I suppose I’ll just have to bide my time with more cookies + murder-mysteries…

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Who wouldn't want to live in this charming small town?“Gilmore Girls” is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. From the witty, fast-paced banter to Rory’s love for books to the close-knit mother-daughter relationship (my mom & I used to watch it together, and still sometimes refer to each other as one another’s ‘Rory’ and ‘Lorelai’), what was not to love? To this day, I still religiously watch the reruns on ABC Family. However — books and banter aside, another love of mine was the show’s fictional town, Stars Hollow. Each time I watched the show, I marveled at the town’s quaint structure and charm and its friendly (and often quirky) residents. Everything appeared perfect and picturesque, and I fantasized about moving to Stars Hollow and living out my days gossiping with the nosy dance teacher and quarreling with the uptight grocer.

This got me thinking about contemporaries I’ve read and the fictional towns where I wouldn’t mind living, especially if it meant stumbling across the unavoidable hunky hero (because in romance, every town has one). So let’s take a roadtrip to my favorite I-wish-they-were-real-so-I-could-live-there small towns (seat belt mandatory, cheesy girl-pop playlist optional).

First stop is in Truly, Idaho. Readers are first introduced to this little Northwestern gem in Truly, Madly Yours (aka, The One That Started It All) when Delaney Shaw returns home and is forced to stick around for a year as indicated in her stepfather’s will. Delaney might’ve snubbed her nose at the tiny town, but being surrounded by sexy bad boys like Nick Allegrezza doesn’t seem so bad to me! (PS: Truly makes another appearance in Gibson’s Tangled Up In You…as does another bad boy hottie)

After a quick stop for fuel, 7-Up and gummi bears, we head south to the aptly-named Heaven, Texas (penned by one of my fave authors, Susan Elizabeth Phillips) where everything really is bigger — from the hair-dos to the men. Prime example: Bobby-Tom Denton, the cowboy hat-wearin’, over-the-top, flashy football player. Poor Gracie may have her hands full with him, but in a town where the hospitality is as grand as Bobby-Tom’s cowboy boots, you just can’t help but want to take a trip down south to experience some good old country livin’ for yourself. (PS – for those who’ve read Heaven, Texas & are looking for a little something extra, SEP has posted a never-before-seen epilogue for Bobby-Tom and Gracie HERE)

We wrap this roadtrip up with a trip to Tumble Creek, Colorado, which is the small town setting for Victoria Dahl’s Tumble Creek series. So far, I’ve only read Talk Me Down (Tumble Creek #1), but it was uh-mazing! The characters were so realistic, yet were still people I’d actually want to hang out with! Plus, the town’s sheriff, Ben, is my kinda hero — I definitely wouldn’t mind being pulled over by him for speeding!

There you have it — three towns where I could happily see myself as a resident. Sure, small towns may have their downsides — nosy neighbors, no Starbucks, 9 p.m. curfew — but I still think it would be fun to live in a place where everyone knew your name and watched out for each other. As someone who’s lived in the city for all of her life, I welcome the eccentricities and intimacy small towns offer.

By that notion alone, I’ve added a few of Debbie Macomber’s books to my TBR pile. Her stories are set in the fictional town of Cedar Cove, which is loosely based on Port Orchard, Washington. I have an affinity for coastal towns, and as far as I can tell, Cedar Cove seems like the perfect place to add to my “I-wish-they-were-real-so-I-could-live-there” list!

ROAMING QUESTION: Do you have your own I-wish-they-were-real-so-I-could-live-there small towns? If so, what are they and where did you find out about them?