Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Romance Readers Anonymous

I have a confession to make (re-make? I'm sure I've already made it here, but I'm still closeted at work). I like romance novels. And I don't just like them, I prefer them to almost any other type of book, and most definitely prefer them to any of the books that my friends and co-workers try to recommend to me. You see, I don't read novels to expand my mind or to make me think. Reading for me is a mindless, marvelous pasttime and the only hobby I have been able to hold on to through law school, a full-time job, major insomnia, and two children. I read to escape. I read books that I'm sure are rotting my brain specifically because that is the only time I can get the majority of my brain to turn off and just rest for a while. (Swimming used to do this for me, and I suppose exercise would do it now, but I lack sufficient time and motivation to work exercise into my daily life. I have no excuses, I know others manage to do it, I just can't seem to.) I don't read and think about what I need to get done in the house, what we need to buy at the store, and what we should get for Claire's teachers for Christmas. I can just read. All I require are three-dimensional characters, believable dialogue, and a setting completely foreign to the one I currently inhabit. If you have any recommendations, let me know!

There are a few problems with my reading preferences. One, I never get to talk about what I'm reading at work. I actually try to avoid ever mentioning that I was up late reading because inevitably a co-worker gets all excited about a new book and asks, "Oh, what was it?!" And I just can't answer with To Seduce a Sinner without feeling horribly embarrassed around my more discerning colleagues. Also, the titles are just too ridiculous to have to say out loud, sometimes ever.

For a while I'd just pick a popular novel I'd recently read and stick with it for a few weeks. My answer was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for much of Spring and Summer, but then I got annoyed at my seemingly slow progress. (I actually read all three of those books while we were on vacation in Wisconsin in August and I can't decide how much I liked them; they were far more disturbing than I prefer my fun reading to be, but I had a hard time putting them down and I think I enjoyed them while I was reading them. While they obviously could have used some editing, that didn't bother me nearly as much as some of the graphic images that now haunt my head.) Now I say I'm re-reading the Harry Potter books. It's socially and professionally acceptable reading material (which is awesome given that it's a children's series). Plus, I have in fact re-read them all at least five times and love finding new HP fans who get all excited about talking about the best series ever written. I have used these conversations to turn more than one attorney on to the Harry Potter wiki page which probably resulted in several days of decreased billing while they mined all the after-stories and family trees of favorite characters. I do love knowing what they all named their children...

So I usually stay silent during discussions of people's new book discoveries (always on the NYT bestsellers list and inevitably something that made people think too much for me to feel much interest), even though I love reading and spend too much of my free, should-be-sleeping time doing it. Which leads to my other problem- I have no self-control when it comes to reading. I've mentioned this before, but I simply won't stop. As I've tried to explain to JP when he grumbles as I turn back on the light at 3 a.m. after I've tried to be good and stop reading but then couldn't quit thinking about the plot and making up endings (or reciting a plot I already know), this is my one selfish, unnecessary, unmoderated indulgence. I don't go out anymore, I don't drink too much, and I can't even buy shoes anymore (stupid loans + daycare), but I can read fluffy books until the wee hours of the morning if I want to!

Which leads to my last problem. These books are short, fast reads, but they still cost money. The library near us is terrible, so that isn't a good option. Plus I really like owning books because I do read them over and over again. I find it soothing. JP got me a Kindle when I had Claire, and while I like it in general- it's light, portable, easy on the eyes, and great for travel- I hate how expensive the books are. I usually use Amazon's 4-for-3 specials or shop at Half-Price Books. For example, the Julia Quinn Bridgerton series that I discovered a few weeks ago, has eight books which all cost between $7-$8 per book when downloaded on the Kindle. That's a lot! I'm also a big loaner and borrower of books and it annoys me that I can't do that in electronic form. (by the way, if you're a secret regency romance fan like me, The Duke and I and the next few in that series are the best books I've read in a while. I adore the dialogue and interraction between the characters; she's a fun writer.) But I have enjoyed the instant-access nature of the Kindle. I can finish one book and immediately download the next in the series. It's dangerous, but gratifying.


Claire reading with her daddy on Monday


(not romance books; the Biscuit prefers books with texture and JP only reads boring non-fiction;
and this was not past anyone's bedtime)

Is anyone else out there an otherwise serious person with a penchant for extremely nonserious reading material? I was talking to our contract reviewers earlier this morning and one asked what I was currently reading and I just couldn't say, The Viscount Who Loved Me. But we did end up engaged in a lovely discussion about the new Harry Potter movie and whether or not it's worth JP and my Christmas-present-date-night from my sister to go see it (we concluded it was). Do you have any other author recommendations? Elizabeth Hoyt and Julia Quinn are my two new discoveries and they've been fun, but like any author with too many books to her credit, they start to get repetitive. I need new blood. (Side note, I've also read all of the True Blood series; not in my usual area of interest but fun nonetheless. As I said, I'm not picky, just don't make me think deeply about anything, that's what work and the news are for.)

56 comments:

  1. Library book sales usually have tons of romance novels available late into the sale. My mum goes on " fill a bag" day and gets a ton for $5. It works out to under a quarter a book, and when she finishes them, she donates them to the next book sale.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Georgette Heyer's novels are simply amazing, and since you enjoy Regency romance I highly suggest that you check them out if you haven't already. She is a funny, engrossing writer who focuses on the Regency period, but also wrote novels set in other periods of English history (including the days of William the Conqueror!). Think Jane Austen, with early 20th century sensibilities. If you haven't read her before, I suggest starting with The Grand Sophy.

    - S

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love (what I call) trashy fiction and I read a lot of it. Not as much romance anymore (though I used to read a lot of romance and I still love Diana Gabaldon, but that's not really your typical romance novel), but I still read a ton of trashy sci-fi/fantasy and (outrageouly priced) chick-lit.

    (And by chick-lit, I mean those $11 trade paperbacks that are always piled on the "good for summer" tables at Barnes & Noble, with a "buy one, get one half off" sticker. They are basically romance novels, but with a veneer of respectability. A fast-fading veneer.)

    I do know what you mean about romance novels. It's not just romance, though -- I rarely tell people I'm reading sci-fi or fantasy novels. I think people have a very specific mental image of who reads genre fiction, and "highly educated professional" doesn't really fit in the stereotype. (It should, though -- I know a ton of lawyers and other professionals who love trashy fiction for the same reasons you expressed -- it's a nice way to turn off the thinking brain and read something fun for a change.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Amazon is planning on having a lending feature for the Kindle. Their plans were announced in October but I haven't seen anything since then. I can't wait since I also have a Kindle. http://www.engadget.com/2010/10/22/amazon-announces-14-day-lending-feature-for-kindle-books-newspa/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Did you read the Hunger Games? It's adolescent lit, but it is fantastic! I read the first two, then pouted for the next 8 months before the third (final) book came out.

    I also liked Christopher Paolini's Eldest cycle, though I'm annoyed that there seems to be no sign of book 4 anytime soon.

    Not wonderful, but total, interesting brain candy: Kristen Gore's Sammy's House and Sammy's Hill (Al Gore's daughter, writes about a healthcare aide's perspective in DC)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Have you tried Bookswim? I know you have the Kindle, but for now when maybe you're on a tighter budget, you could supplement your downloads. For $24 a month, you get unlimited packages of 3 books at a time. All shipping is included in the monthly price, and they give you a shipping label and return bag in your package. Realistically, I can get 2 packages a month; 3 in a good month. It's been a good Christmas/birthday gift too from my mother or mother-in-law - they just get me a giftcard from the website to apply to my balance. I also second the Georgette Heyer books - she has a ton and I love Regency romance novels. I'm a junkie as well, but I am definitely out of the closet - I think they are so fun and lighthearted that I refuse to be ashamed!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have no problem telling people I am reading a trashy romance novel. Saying that might avoid embarrassing book titles, and I see no reason to be ashamed--I bet lots of your coworkers read trashy romance novel or have some other guilty pleasures.

    Anyway, onto the Kindle. Have you discovered the free downloads? There are lots of romance novels available for free (as well as other books). They are of varying quality (and a high percentage of them are religious), but when they are free, who can complain? They are great for me to read at the gym. Although most of the free books aren't great, twice, I've downloaded a free book that is the first in a series and ended up buying more books, so some of them are actually good. Also, Pride and Prejudice is a free download, and I could reread that book forever without getting tired of it.

    I also recommend the Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean Auel.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I third the Georgette Heyer rec. Great books. Also, not quite in the romance category but funny, frothy reads are anything by Sophie Kinsella. I especially like "Can You Keep a Secret?" but they are all quick reads and good for rereading.

    P.S. My first time commenting but I had to weigh in as a fellow book junkie!

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is me exactly. Though I have gotten more vocal about my love and have discovered there are a lot of other secret trashy romance novel lovers out there. I've also turned other people onto them.

    I wouldn't get a kindle because of the lack of library books for it, so I have the Sony Reader. I also take advantage of the library a lot to check out paperbacks. I recently discovered I can reread almost any book, as long as its been more than a year since I read it.

    I really enjoyed Sarah Maclean's "Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake" and "Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord."

    ReplyDelete
  10. Carole Nelson Douglas writes fluffy romance/mystery novels set in Las Vegas known as her Midnight Louie Mystery series and mystery/romance novels set in the Sherlock Holmes universe with Irene Adler. They are an easy enjoyable read and quite fluffy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I also love trashy romance, same reasons. I like contemporary romance and chick lit. Check out Sophie Kinsella, the book "Watermelon" - can't remember the author. I also love Erin McCartney (except the vampire ones, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Rachel Gibson.
    I also second the recommendation for Hunger Games. I read that book in 6 hours because I just couldn't put it down.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Okay, You are painting an exact portrait of my reading habits! I actually "Ignore" the titles 'cause they are that bad. I clicked over to your Amazon Link for "The Viscount Who Loved Me" only to be greeted with the banner telling me "Hi, you purchased this in June 2009!"

    I am almost strictly regency romance. And comic books, too. Like you, I'm not interested in the Great American Novel; I'd read all the classics by the time I was 16 or 17. Now I only "read" design or art-related nonfiction (for school and now work), and The Novels you don't want to talk about. :)

    I got the kindle a few months after its release, and was really happy to save a couple of bucks off cover price. I'll let it lie for several months and then pick it up again--but this last time I noticed that there are now almost no discounts--what gives!?

    A favorite thing to do is read in the bath. Lately I've been indulging in bath bombs from Lush and kindle re-reads. (Just pop the k into a large zip-bag)

    Cheap book tip: Sam's club has a smattering for $4-5, but are really hit or miss on selection.

    You Must Read: Sabrina Jeffries. Now, her new books (and everyone else's, really) of the last 2 or so years are more lackluster, but 2002-2007 seems to be a really good period for Regency. My favorite of hers is actually a short from an anthology: The School for Heiresses. Her Royal Brotherhood is a pretty good series, if memory serves, and I know I enjoyed The Forbidden Lord.

    Julia Quinn's Bridgerton Series is just legendary; my favorites are Duke and I (as you mentioned) and Colin's story, "Romancing Mister Bridgerton". I think there are 1 or 2 of those I still haven't read.

    Olivia Parker is also a "new" author with two refreshing, if early, books. Hope her third is out soon!

    Happy reading! I hope you'll update with post on your findings from the comments on this entry.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Have you tried this?
    http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php

    One of the frugal-living bloggers I like swears by it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. You read Diana Gabaldon, yes? Have you tried C S Harris? She writes a regency mystery/romance series featuring Sebastian St. Cyr you may enjoy. Like Gabaldon, Harris is a former academic (history prof), and her books are light, well-written, and fun. She also wrote bodice rippers under the name Candace Proctor.

    ReplyDelete
  15. OH MY GOSH! I LOVE THIS POST!!! I am a huge fan of romance novels as well. I like to change it up between regency and contemporary and whatever other time periods. I used to be somewhat closeted but have come out and in doing so started trading a lot of books with co-workers. I do Harris County Library which allows you to get books from any other Harris library but recently have started doing Half Price books alot and then just trading them in so you get some money back.
    - I third The Hunger Games recommendation. Amazing series. It's an easy read but a little more intense. I compare it to Harry Potter in that you can read it quickly and it's very good but there's a lot that can make you think as well.
    - The book my mom had me read that really got me into romance was "Whitney My Love" by Judith McNaught. She writes great characters that you can't stop thinking about. The books are a bit longer than your traditional romance novel but worth the read. She writes historical (maybe regency era) as well as contemporary. I've read several of hers and really loved them. "Paradise" and "Perfect" are two other good ones.
    - I also enjoy Rachel Gibson but she's contemporary. Her books are light and fun. I pick it up and can't stop reading.
    - I recently read all of Sally MacKenzie's books. They all have "Naked" in the title and they're kinda fun because some of the characters overlap a bit, one book will be about this girl and another one about her sister. I'm not sure how these are quality of writing wise but I found it to be a series that I kept wanting to read another one. http://www.sallymackenzie.net/books.htm
    - While trying to read all of Sally MacKenzie's books I found these books of novellas by several different authors. It's a neat way to find a new author and have shorter stories so it's easier to find a stopping point.
    - I LOVE Harry Potter. The movie was AWESOME! I am yet to reread the books but have been wanting to. I also get excited finding people who are just discovering Harry Potter and discussing it with them.
    - The True Blood series is a fun one. Have read all of those as well.
    Too bad you don't live in Houston, we could swap a lot of books = )

    ReplyDelete
  16. I also recommend paperback swap - you can swap books with other people by earning credits for books you are willing to swap out.

    I know its not close, but I know you're near San Antonio and I'm sure Austin has the same ordeal - but the Central Library in San Antonio has a basement book sale and you can get books CHEAP! Like .50 - 2.00!

    I too have a kindle but cannot justify the price of an e-book when I can get the same book for 50 cents at a sale!

    Also, try flea markets

    Lastly - for recommendations: Phillipa Greggory? I like all her books and they are pretty romancey. Also Nora Roberts has several series that are like fantasy and romance combined. I just finished the Sign of 7 series that started with Blood Brothers. And how about Geraldine Brooks - she is pretty romancy in a Scarlet Letter sort of way lol


    As for recommendations

    ReplyDelete
  17. You all are awesome. Seriously - I've been hovering over my blackberry just so I can read your next recommendation. I wish I could respond to each of these, but here are a few added comments:

    - I have already saved some Georgette Heyer books in my Amazon cart to either buy or Kindelize later. Yay for new authors!

    - I'm not a huge modern day chick lit fan, mostly because it seems that the heroines are portrayed less likeable and less "strong" (for lack of a better word) than the heroines of 200 years ago (who had fewer rights and advantages than we have now, but somehow, in fiction, are allowed to be portrayed as though they have their shit together). Not always, but it's a frequent complaint of mine. I have enjoyed Emily Griffin's novels like Something Borrowed and Something Blue and a few others. If you handed me a chick lit book, I'd totally read it, I just don't usually buy them.

    - I have found a few closet romance novel readers in the office, which is how I discovered the Bridgerton series. I have no problem with my love of fluffy books, it's more than it's hard to bring up a singular book when everyone is talking about what they're currently reading and why it's so great.

    - I have not read The Hunger Games, but my sister keeps telling me I have to. I have to admit I was slightly put off by the premise which sounded kind of sad and not my usual bedtime reading, but I respect the opinions of my readers and promise to borrow them from my sister the next time I see her.

    - Kristen Gore's Sammy's Hill and Sammy's House are awesome. If you're at all interested in government, healthcare, smart women, or just fun books generally you should read them.

    - I am looking into Bookswim, I love the idea. And I do use the free downloads on Kindle, they just haven't seemed very good lately. I need to subscribe to one of the blogs that profiles the freebies so I can catch the good ones when they're available. (Though I did get to download Outlander for free!)

    - Clan of the Cave Bear is also great. I read them a long time ago (I lived with my parents then and they still have the books) but I should really revisit the series. I only vaguely remember it- though certain scenes still stand out vividly, which is a good sign!

    - I think I picked up a Sophie Kinsella at the airport once and enjoyed it. I need to look up the titles you recommended. I need some Sarah Maclean books too-- and Carole Nelson Douglas, Sabrina Jeffries (thanks for the tip on her older ones; I've seen the more recent ones in airport bookstores and they didn't draw me in as much as I expected), and a bunch of others you all listed.

    - Ooh like St. Cyr (thanks Clare!). I like the idea of another Gabaldon-like author. And Judith McNaught (thanks Tricia!). So many! This is fabulous.

    - And I love Philippa Gregory! The Other Boleyn Girl was my first read by her and I was hooked. I have to admit her most recent books haven't been quite as good (at least not to me), but she has some classics (The Constant Princess was another fave).

    - Another favorite series of mine is the Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts. She's not a top favorite author of mine, but I LOVE Morrigan's Cross, Dance of the Gods, and Valley of Silence. They're technically paranormal romances, but really she just tells a great story with characters you want to know more about when the books are over. I read all three in two days and didn't sleep at all.

    - Oh, and while some of hers get close to books that are too fluffy even for me, but Julie Garwood's The Secret is great (as is Ransom).

    This was fun! I wish I could have been in my comments responding in real time, but there were children and a husband and dinner and other distractions. I have some great suggestions and look forward to reading more!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I recently started reading books like this (after previously looking down on them as a less-than-exemplary use of my time and embarrassing), but they are a great escape and I have found myself up till the wee hours finishing a book and enjoying myself, despite the lack of sleep it entails. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Your blog turned me onto the Outlander series and I'm forever grateful:) I love my kindle but do find i will easily download a book, not thinking of cost. I haven't read the previous comments yet, but i'm interested in their suggestions. Try Jessica Verday and The Hollow series. There is another series called The Immortals that I've enjoyed. I forget the author, or I could have it mixed up with The Hollow. Have you read any Jane Austen? I have an English Lit degree and my focus was british lit. I love Austen, especially Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. They aren't as fluffy as current romance novels but the characters develop beautifully.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yay Brandi! I love Outlander converts. Have you read any of the Lord John books? Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade? It made quite a bit of the Lord John stuff in the Outlander Book 7 make more sense (or at least seem less random). Also, the Sara Donati Wilderness series (starting with Into the Wilderness) is fabulous. I found it because Diana Gabaldon recommended it on her blog and wrote a quote for the cover of the book.

    (Oh and I love Pride and Prejudice! It as the first book I downloaded on my Kindle. I haven't read Persuasion though, I'll get it.)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Does this mean you won't be my friend on Goodreads? :)

    http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4583967

    (But it might be a good way to find new authors!)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have this habit of just picking up two or three titles suggested by Amazon. Because I read a ton of non-fiction, a self-help book by David Fox called Comfort Healing and Joy made it into my mailbox recently. It's an expensive way to add to my library but I check out books that might have skipped over.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I LOVE to read romance. What I love even more than that are classic westerns. Better yet- WESTERN ROMANCE! As horrible and as unintelligent as it makes me seem, I've come clean about my addiction to western romance novels as work. I've outed myself in front of several associates. They laugh and think it's "cute" which is more annoying that eye rolling. But at lease I don't have to be closeted anymore! It's liberating :) Honestly, we aren't alone...there has to be other secret romance readers in your office!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Oh- I almost forgot- I buy all my books on amazon.com. You can find romance novels for literally ONE PENNY! But then it costs $3 to ship them. Still, it's a bargain compared to buying them at a store!

    ReplyDelete
  25. As you love P and P, you will probably like this: the title is preposterous, but it's actually quite well written. And a bit of a bonkbuster http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Darcy-Takes-Wife-Prejudice/dp/1402202733/ref=cm_lmf_tit_9

    Then Pemberley Shades was also enjoyable, and Darcy's Story. (http://dialspace.dial.pipex.com/town/estate/xda34/)

    When stress levels were high in the days following the Christchurch Earthquake, I found reading Darcy's story perfect bedtime reading for some reason!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Romance Readers Anonymous. Sign me up. If you think admitting that you like reading fluffy Regency Romance novels is difficult...you should try admitting that you not only read them, but you wrote one and are spending your miniscule amounts of spare time trying to promote it. :)

    Except for the fact that I'm older and in a different place in my life--my little ones are grown--everything you wrote is almost a mirror image of my life and thoughts when it comes to reading matter. I read for entertainment and to escape, and while I do love Clive Cussler and some of the other high profile, best selling action/adventure authors, my first choice is almost always a funny little Regency Romance that I can quickly read and enjoy.

    Basically I love the historical settings and the wonderfully rich language of the Regency era; but I will also highly recommend the modern light and fluffy action romances of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Bounty Hunter series. They are also a quick and delightful read.

    Smiles,
    Teresa

    ReplyDelete
  27. I just love this post and I still respect you. :) Hee hee! I don't read romance, myself, although there is a series called Big Stone Gap, by Adriana Trigiani, that totally fits the "no-thinking-required, escape-from-real-life" bill for me. I think there are four in the series.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Eloisa James
    Lisa Kleypas
    Mary Balogh
    and there is another who I have forgotten because I had to thin out my collection - what do you do when your kids get old enough to see what Mom is reading?

    And then there is Mary Stewart - she wrote adventures with just enough romance to keep me happy - you could carry her books around IN PUBLIC and still get to read lines like, "What have you done with MY girl?", said hoarsely of course. I want to travel when I read hers.

    A (because I'm in the same boat as you)

    EDITH LAYTON!!! That's the name I forgot and I really did like her - now I gotta go to Half Price

    ReplyDelete
  29. Also a HUGE closet romance reader. Loved this post!! Since I have both Colin and Anthony's stories (from Bridgerton series, because Anthony and Colin are my favorite and I must go back and reread favorite scenes over and over) sitting on my nightstand right now, I thought I'd respond.

    I've gone through quite a lot of crappy romance over the years, but some of my favorites of all time have been Julia Garwood (LOVE her historicals), Judith McNaught, Julia Quinn (who has others not Bridgerton related), Linda Howard, Nora Roberts, and Lisa Kleypas. These women are the standards, the upper echelon for romance fans - so if you have not dived into one of the above, you must! :)

    And, I simply HAVE TO recommend - like drop everything and go get yourself these books!! - Karen Marie Moning's FEVER series. Because OMG. She first wrote a Highlander series, which is strictly romance and to die for good. Then, about 5 years ago she branched off and began her Fever series, which is 5 books, the 5th being released in January. The series is not your standard romance, but is phenomenal. I have been able to talk about it up a storm where I work because it is not "romance", and have gotten 3 of my coworkers hooked in the books as well. Would love for you to read these and let us know what YOU think!

    Keep writing about your closet reading habit! I'd say with 28 comments, you're in good company!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Almost forgot! If you are really into Regency Romance, then you have to try Eloisa James.

    A lot of these authors have fun websites of their own, and are also great friends with each other.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Gwen Bristow was a popular romance author from the 50s? and wrote a whole slew of historical romances. I devoured her books when I was younger. My very favorite was Calico Palace, but I really did like Jubilee Trail and a trilogy she wrote (Deep Summer, The Handsome Road, This Side of Glory) I loved the others as well.

    Another romance author I have loved over the years was Leona Blair - I still have a copy of Privilege and have read it over and over.

    My all-time favorite trashy romance from my high school days was Whitney My Love.

    Honestly? I think it makes sense that you are reading easy stuff right now. You read constantly at work and when you get home, you really do need to give your brain a break. Quit apologizing!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Oh, and I also like schmaltzy romances from the 1910's - corny at times, but sweet. The Rosary by Florence Barclay is my favorite.
    A

    ReplyDelete
  33. el-e-e, I was planning to recommend Adriana Trigiani, too! And maybe Elizabeth Berg? I'm reading a Kate Morton (The Forgotten Garden) right now. I like it. And I like Jacqueline Winspear. Nothing too heavy or disturbing for me! I definitely read to escape. And I can't put a book down at night. I'd get so much more sleep if it weren't for books.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Someone else said it already, but you definitely need to join paperbackswap.com. (Use my referral if you want - jlh8 - yay free books!) It is an AWESOME way to get cheap books (basically you get a book for the cost of sending a book - usually 2 bucks and change), and if you have a bunch of books you're not going to re-read anyway, then how great is it to trade them for books you actually do want to read? I have barely bought a book in the last 3 years since I joined, and I now have a ton of books on my "to-read" shelf. Also great for getting kids' books.

    I definitely recommend the Hunger Games too. I was hesitant at first for the same reasons you mentioned, but they're addicting - definitely stay-up-until-3 am material. I'm not a romance reader, so I can't really speak to that genre, however.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Do you know about this page?

    http://www.facebook.com/pixelofink

    It list all sorts of free and cheap Kindle books. What you really need to do is review books on Amazon and maybe you'll get selected for Amazon Vine. I get lots of freebies that way.

    I am finishing up Susan Higginbotham's new novel Stolen Crown.

    I read this trilogy a few years ago and found it to be fun brain candy:

    http://www.amazon.com/Innocent-Novel-Posie-Graeme-Evans/dp/0743272226/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1291306637&sr=8-1

    Used copies start at a penny.

    ReplyDelete
  36. We have several stores in my hometown (almost always located next to a Dollar General) that sell used books in good condition for $1-$2 each. You can also sell them your books for $1. Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas and others are always in stock.

    Have you read Catherine Coulter? She can be pretty racy and there are 10-15 pages in each book that embarass me so much, I can't read them if anyone else is in the room!

    ReplyDelete
  37. There's Liz Carlyle...

    ReplyDelete
  38. Chrisy in Chicago12/2/10, 1:05 PM

    I just found the most awesome website:

    goodreads.com

    You can share your passion on the D.L. and also get recommendations for your next foray into non-reality. I started using it just last week and I've already been able to chat with authors and have started a growing "to-read" list.

    Highly recommend!

    ReplyDelete
  39. The Dark Hunter series is great and there are tons of them, I personally love to learn more about characters I love in other books and come back to the same people like family.

    You should try a free book swapping web site, I don't have the link but some of my friends are on it, you can send other people books in exchange for theirs and keep wish lists and lists you are willing to lend.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I'm also going to recommend PaperBackSwap.com- love it and can't say enough good things about it!

    If that doesn't float your boat, have you seen if your library does inner-library loans? My local library stinks, but thru the inner-library loan system I can get fantastic books.

    As for book recs, I don't read a lot of straight up romance novels. Outlander is my most favorite series ever, but I don't consider that romance per se. Here are some of the authors I like that may fit you bill- Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Tami Hoag (old stuff- her newer stuff has a mystery bent), Jude Devereaux, Judith McNaught.

    Happy reading!

    ReplyDelete
  41. As a fellow lawyer mommy and book junkie, I loved this post! I feel the same way about reading and used it as my escape all through law school, and now trying to balance home/work/baby. Have you read anything by Anita Shreve? I really enjoy her writing and end up really involved and emotionally connected to her stories. I have not taken the plunge with a Kindle - I love the tactile "paper" aspect of a book and am not sure that I would be fully satisfied by reading on the screen. Happy reading!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Add another to the list as a fellow lawyer, mom to three, and a complete in the closet romance junkie. I love my kindle, but I think I love it even more because it lets me "hide" my titles when I am reading in public. I am also in love with the iphone kindle app. I used to have to carry a book with me wherever I went, but now, thanks to my handy iphone, I have access to my whole kindle library! God bless technology!

    I echo the recommendation of the Hunger Games. Amazing series that I could not put down. It has started me on a spiral of YA novels - another embarrasing in the closet type read for me. I just read Beautiful Creatures (sort of Twilight meets witches) and also really liked it. Another amazing YA reads are Graceling and Fire. Both books I had to read in one sitting. I also suffer from a lack of self control on the reading front.

    In the true romance genre, I also LOVE the Bridgerton series. I reread them all the time. I am also a fan of Suzanne Brockmann (navy seals! Whoha!) Have you tried Susan Elisabeth Phillips or Jennifer Crusie? I like both their early works, but they are contemporary romances, which may not be to your interest.

    I have to admit, I feel better knowing there are more like me out there. Maybe we need a support group?

    ReplyDelete
  43. Try twilight if you liked true blood.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I'm not done with law school yet, but I LOVE Romance novels. Have you read the Stephanie Laurens' Cynster series? Those are great and very in the line of Julia Quinn- funny, with smart female characters and general hilarity.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I read somewhere that romance novel readers tend to have more romantic marriages. Can't beat that endorsement.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I am not a huge reader myself, but now you have me intrigued. What would be the first romance novel you'd have me read if I've never read any?

    Anon-JLV

    ReplyDelete
  47. I am a very serious person who reads lots of mysteries when I need a break from the real world. I don't read romances because they aren't my thing. However, I'm also a librarian and I can tell you that lots and lots of serious people read romance novels for the same reasons that lots of people eat popcorn sometimes instead of steak. Because sometimes you just want the popcorn.
    I have a kindle and I love it. I always check Amazon's free book of the moment. It's usually a relatively new author and while they might not be great, they do pass the time when I want popcorn. There are other sources of free books for the Kindle that you can find by poking around on their comment section or by googling. Also, Amazon is now introducing the ability to "lend" a book to a friend for two weeks. You can't read it while they have it but then you get it back. So, you just need to find someone with similar reading tastes and buy them a kindle.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I think someone mentioned it already, but, if you haven't read the Twilight Series, I'd definitely do that! Obviously, it's not Shakespeare, but since you're ok with that, you've got to put these on your list! I love reading, also, and have precious little time to actually do any of it these days, but I read all 4 of those books in under a week...and I'm a SLOW reader. Millions of swooning adult women can't be wrong, right? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  49. Thank you for this post! I feel like I could have written it, right down to the 3 am guilty reading and Kindle complaints! I came in Monday with bags under my eyes, and had to tell a coworker that I was up late finishing Jonathan Franzen's book (which I finished more than a week ago) because I didn't want to admit to staying up late to finish the Lady Julia Gray books by Deanna Raybourn (mediocre, at best).

    I love the Kindle more than I thought I would, but I'm struggling with how to value a book that I can't lend or admire on the shelf.

    Also, I'll add another thank you for recommending the Gabaldon series. LOVE.

    ReplyDelete
  50. My library will let you download books onto kindle, you might check to see if yours does.

    I don't particularly like romance, but if you do, you should sample the Twilight series. I love Phillipa Gregory, there's enough history in them to make it interesting for me. And my 13 year old says if you liked Harry Potter, you should read the Percy Jackson novels. I have that on my list to start next, right after I finish The Golden Compass, which I've been trying to get to for years.

    My kids are older now, and I'm loving getting back to reading. I admire you for keeping with it while your kids are so little, I pretty much stopped for years.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Oooh, maybe we can start an Austin Lawyer's Romance Novel Swap? I have dozens that I end up THROWING OUT (because, unlike you, I don't re-read them). There used to be a great used book store in NJ where you could take your books in, get store credit for them, and buy other books at half price. I cycled through a lot of novels that way. Unfortunately, even the Austin Library Main Branch has a poor selection, as does Half-Price Books.

    The other associate at my office and I both love romance, but different types. I like your type more - I'd suggest Sabrina Jeffries and Teresa Medeiros if they haven't already been mentioned, and of course the queen of all - Johanna Lindsey (especially her older stuff). And if you want a paper bag full of read and loved novels, let me know. :)

    ReplyDelete
  52. Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series (and she stated writing them in law school)

    ReplyDelete
  53. Sorry LL I am posting this without reading all the recs, which I promise to go back and do, honest.

    I just finished listening to "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas" by Tom Robbins. It is seriously weird in a funny way that makes it nearly indescribable. There is a wiki page for it so perhaps that would help! It will be a while until I go back for more, but I am sure I will. Just read all the fun stuff before Landon can read and you have to edit what you leave around the house!

    I highly recommend I Don't Know How She Does It which is the story of a British professional woman that opens at midnight when she is "distressing" the store-bought version of the mince tarts she has promised for the school party before learning everyone is expected to make homemade. Absolutely hysterical. I have purchased and lent out several copies including the tapes and have yet to get a single one back as they continue their rounds!

    I am sure people have mentioned ebay, where I buy the tapes by the sack, and library book sales, ditto. Here, joining the "Friends of the Library" is usually about $10 a year and gets you early notice and first crack at sales!

    BTW, I think it is perfectly OK to say blithely, "Oh, I'm reading a trashy romance novel. Compensates for all that lawyer reading, y'know." Ought to stop the subject. Then you can say, "But tell me about YOUR book."

    I think I've stumbled onto something LEXIS or Jurisearch needs to capitalize on: After-hours escape reading!

    ReplyDelete
  54. I remember going to my first Women Lawyers Association meeting for Women Law students and one of the lawyers said that after reading legal stuff all day all her brain was ready for was Mills and Boon/ Harlequin Romances.

    So you are not alone!

    Me too - I find I can only read serious fiction on holidays by the beach, and really serious stuff - Dickens, is best in another country - Germany is perfect - where I'm not getting my fill of English so all the description has space in my brain to fill up.

    I also second "I don't know how she does it" and the Sophie Kinsella books

    If you want inspirational fiction with interesting women who can think for themselves(none of your Bella insipidness) then Jennifer Manson's books are good.

    Link to Amazon is here: to The Moment of Change,

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Moment-of-Change-ebook/dp/B003ZHVEHS/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1291540269&sr=1-4

    The Old Occidental Writers Hotel,and Tasha Stuart Interviews are the next two, another book is due every 2 months between now and June next year.

    I have to declare an interest - Jennifer is a friend. Her books are proving very popular with businesswomen as evening reading (my accountant is a fan). Again, good post-quake bedtime reading for me!

    ReplyDelete
  55. I saw this article in the NY Times about romance books and e-readers. You're not alone! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/books/09romance.html?_r=1&hpw

    ReplyDelete
  56. I completely use my Kindle to read romance. I am a "very serious professional" with a very serious job, to say nothing of a PhD in very serious literature. And I have loved reading romance since I was a teenager. The Kindle has been terribly for my bank account but so very great for my habit. I loved Outlander (and did you know there is a free kindle version? snap it up, just to have on hand wherever you go!)
    and I regularly download Sample beginnings from all manner of books from Amazon. Then I click to buy the ones that I find most intriguing. Here are my recommendations of the one's I keep going back to reread from the past couple of years:

    1. Older Lisa Kleypas novels (you can download her first chapters and go from there. Her early books are fantastic).
    2. The Iron Duke (Meljean Brook). This is steampunk regency and totally not my normal genre, but it was SO GOOD.
    3. Written on Your Skin (Meredith Duran). Amazing writing.
    4. The Spymaster's Lady (Joanna Bourne). The voice of the main character is perfect in every detail.
    5. Not Quite a Husband (Sherry Thomas) Heartbreaking and with a happy ending (of course)
    6. Loretta Chase (anything by her. Seriously. If you love regency, she is your very next stop. Lord of Scoundrels may be a good place to start).
    7. Jennifer Donnelly's Tea Rose and Winter Rose series

    ReplyDelete