Reading and Recharging

Last night Hubby and I were totally burnt out. I don’t know if it was because we were getting up earlier this week, or if we had both had arduous weeks at work, or if it was just a slightly-higher-than-normal level of tiredness, but by 8:45 we were both on the couch, unable to move. If we’d had battery meters, there would have been barely any red left. We were some tired people.

Hubby sat with his laptop, figuring out his fantasy baseball freeze roster, emailing friends, and watching 56,314,852 simultaneous basketball games. I thought that was the most stressful way to relax I’d ever seen. Me? I was curled up with an ebook reader, reading and reading and reading until nearly 12:30 am. I was tired, but not in a way that needed sleep. I just wanted to read. A lot. And do nothing but for a stretch of several hours.

Even while I make review notes in my head (which holy shit is a bad place to keep them), reading is the ultimate relaxation for me – which is part of the reason I like reading romance. I can completely surrender and engage in the narrative, comforted with the promise inherent in the premise of romance that it will all be ok in the end (and, if it’s not ok, it’s not the end. Or it’s a series). Reading is a true indulgence, sometimes, as much as it is a necessity. I don’t leave the house, for example, without keys, wallet, phone, headset, and something to read, and any moment when I have 3 minutes to myself: it’s reading time. I know some folks can meditate their way into a space of peace and tranquility, finding a center of calmness and restoration. I do that with reading.

I spoke with some of the authors attending the PASIC conference this weekend, and from their stories, the tone of the industry was both grim and determined. Orders are down, sales are down, print runs are down… yet romance is not as dire as other sections of the publishing world. Things are grim, but in romance, all is not lost. Much like the tenets of the genre, it’ll be ok in the end, and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end. Romance has a strength of readership behind it that many other genres do not have.

But that doesn’t mean the messages as they were translated to me weren’t discouraging. So to all the romance writers and editors and agents: I’m still reading. And buying. And reading some more.  Because for me, and many other readers, a night with a blanket, a sofa, and quiet to read uninterrupted is as close to a happily ever evening of perfection as I can get, and that can’t happen without you.

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Random Musings

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  1. 1

    I’m buying and reading, too. I think I bought about five books in the past two weeks. I especially love it when a story won’t let me put the book down, or I find myself thinking about a story/characters even when I can’t read it at the moment. I feel very lucky to enjoy this pastime.

  2. 2
    Terry Odell says:

    Let’s see—this week I ordered 3 books from the Mystery Guild, bought 3 e-books from eBookwise, downloaded a free read or two and got 3 books from the library.  And hubby is out of town for a few days. I am definitely A Reader.  I work out on a recumbent bike 4 times a week, motivated by the fact that I can sit at the Y and read without any guilt whatsoever, since I’m also getting some exercise. If I hit the light red at the elementary school while everything comes to a halt in all directions so the kids can cross, I grab my book. I slide it along the counter waiting at the post office. I crawl into bed every night and read. When I hit snags in my writing, or feel like I’m running in place, I grab a book. Yes, I am definitely A Reader.

  3. 3
    Harlequin says:

    Amen! Reading has always been my favourite way of escaping – during the worst times in my life, I turned to Heyer, Keyes and Binchy for comfort. And I’m still buying. More than usual in fact!

  4. 4
    Peggy P says:

    I agree that an evening spent reading is a luxury and a requirement, I need that time to recharge and disengage from “my world”.

    My book buying has changed in that I’m more focused on getting something I’m pretty certain I’ll like. I don’t spend time in the bookstores, wandering, as I used to but I spend more time gathering recs, reading reviews and blogs and all that. I think I read more winners than losers now and that, of course, makes me want to read more and buy more. I read more variety now as I have more opportunity to find out about a “good” book that is outside of my usual reads.

    I’m still buying a steady 2-4 books a week, mostly ebooks (Kindle), Audible and print books only sometimes now.

  5. 5
    Bonnie says:

    Cheers to that, Sarah!  I don’t know what I’d do without reading. 

    I’m still buying 2 or 3 ebooks a week.

  6. 6
    ev says:

    I have spent almost as much on audio books on this trip as I have on presents for myself. I mean gifts for others. I only brought one bound book with me because it’s part of a series and I need to finish it and leave it with my daughter in CA. My ereader has gone everywhere with me. I spent a nice, leisurely dinner in a tex-mex place in Old Town last night, drinking a couple beers, eating and reading. That was so nice. Since I was walking, it didn’t matter.

    No matter how bad it gets, I will still be buying books.

  7. 7
    JoanneL says:

    Frankly I can’t understand people who don’t read for pleasure.

    My husband’s idea of relaxation is to watch anything on tv that makes him sneer, jeer, yell, or wonder in awe at an autopsy, murder scene or animal documentary. The sports games with bad coaches, players, rulings & fans give him great joy. Food channels where people eat the strangest things and travel channels and sci-fi channels and the Discovery channel are all to be revered and then he wonders why he didn’t sleep well the night before. WTF?

    I’ll take a romance book HEA any day over tv. (and it damn well better have a HEA or it will get bounced against a wall)

    The publishing world may be changing but the demand for good fiction will never go away.

  8. 8
    rebyj says:

    I’ve bought 5 new print books and 1 audio book this month so far. I’m poor as heck and I’m still buying. The romance industry will survive!

  9. 9
    She Reads says:

    Well put, and I couldn’t agree more.

    I’m buying as much as I can budget, and my TBR list is growing (to buy and to read, actually). Like you, I can zone out and get my chill on with a romance book and I do love them so!! I’ve got one in my purse at all times and I’m always looking for new reads.

    That’s my big economic contribution I suppose- I’m still buying books!!!

  10. 10
    amy lane says:

    I saw Bruce Springsteen on the John Stewart show the other night (uhm, talk about an unholy fangasm… *shudder*  I’m still getting aftershocks!) and he said something I’ve always believed:

    “It’s when times are toughest that people turn to their storytellers the most.” 

    Lurve that man…  by all means keep reading:-)

  11. 11
    Tina C. says:

    Good times, bad times, perfectly meh times, I’m a reader.  I read at red lights.  I read on breaks at work.  I read during the commercials while watching tv.  I never, ever not read, regardless of my finances.  For example, for various reasons, my income has dropped a little over $100 a month and I still spend about $30 every other week on books.  So add me to the ranks of “still buying despite the economy”.

  12. 12
    Becky says:

    I, unfortunately, am not buying right now.  (It was books or rent, and there’s no point in buying the books if you don’t have somewhere to put them.)  I am in the library once a week, though.  My local library has an excellent website, so whenever I hear about an interesting book I hop online and request a copy.  I read four excellent books this week, and there are eight more waiting at the library for me to pick up this afternoon, including several DA BWAHA nominees.

    When my personal situation improves you can bet I’ll be back in the bookstore.  I can’t imagine a life without books.  I’m just thankful that at least a few of my tax dollars are spent on books to keep me going in the mean time.

  13. 13
    Nadia says:

    I’ll read the back of the cereal box if that’s all that’s available.  And I’d much rather read the antics between the Queen of Illusions and the Demon King than the envelopes full of epic fail coming monthly from Charles Schwab.  Still buying, still reading.

  14. 14
    Stelly says:

    Reading definitely helps me relax.  Even if I’d had a super stressful or emotionally draining day, a bit of reading helps a lot.

    I never leave the house without music and/or a book.

  15. 15
    SonomaLass says:

    I started using the local library more because of space—my DP and I have bookshelves everywhere, and they are all full.  This despite the purges caused by the two divorces, me ruthlessly giving away any and all duplicates from the merging of our two collections, and the two oldest offspring taking chunks with them into their new homes.  Now I “only” buy things that I can’t get from our extensive county library chain, or things by very fave authors (and sometimes those lists overlap).  That’s still a lot of books, because there are certain authors whose work one or both of us feel we HAVE to collect, and because our library’s buying pattern doesn’t run toward less-than-well-known romance writers (go figger).  I’m a fast and voracious reader—if I don’t finish half or more of a book in a night, it’s either an epic or I’m reading several different books and read some of each in my two to four hours of “me time” before bed.  And I also read while waiting to pick up one or another teenager from their activities, which adds up to quite a few chapters a week.

    The obvious answer for me, of course, is to switch to ebooks, which only take up virtual space.  That’s where the economy comes in; I can’t justify the expense of an ereader right now, especially with the VHS/Betamax question still unresolved.  I do occasionally get a freeeebook to read on my laptop, but that’s not curl-up-in-bed comfy, so I don’t get through those very fast.

  16. 16
    DeeCee says:

    Someone needs to tell the books at the local stores to stop jumping into my cart!

    I’m definitely still buying. I just can’t afford to go out and buy the big trade paperbacks anymore. $14 on one book isn’t economical anymore…well it’s not like it was before either. I’m buying more audiobooks from audible, and more ebooks.

  17. 17
    LaurieF says:

    Still buying. I buy ebooks. I buy new and used print books (I collect some authors and series). I read the books in the store I work at, a used book store. I reserve hardcover books at the library and then buy the same books when they come out in mass market. When you love to read…  however and whenever you can is my motto.

    police62 – It would take more than 62 to drag me away from my
                books!

  18. 18
    'col says:

    Oh, huzzah to all of you! I’m a reader too…and a bookseller. And things have been a little grim ‘round our parts. It’s wonderful to encounter people in my daily life who are still buying books, and equally wonderful to hear your enthusiasm here. Thanks!

  19. 19
    Glynis says:

    Life without books would be unbearable.

    Yesterday, at the bookstore, I bought five books. Got home and downloaded two books onto the Kindle. Average monthly purchases, in all formats, about 20 books.

    Oh yeah. I’ll forgo eating for books. Always have. Always will.

  20. 20
    Lisa Richards says:

    I can’t imagine leaving the house without taking a book, just in case. I mean I may have a flat tire- time to read while my hubby comes to the rescue. Really, if there is more than a two minute lapse of conversation in the car, out comes my book. When I worked outside the home, I kept a book in each vehicle I might drive, one at work, one in my purse and one on the head of my bed. When I got half way through any of these books I carried them home to finish and immediately replaced each with a new book to start next time. If I had not been a reader, I can’t imagine how I would have survived the hours I sat and waited on my kids as they practiced dance, ball, music, and lord the hours you could waste in a doctors office. I am one of these people who have a couple of dozen books at my fingertips at all times.  Books are to me, what golf is to my husband. I probably average purchasing 10 to 12 books every month minimun and as long as I breath, I can’t imagine not doing this.

  21. 21
    krsylu says:

    Amen, Sister Sarah! I’ve probably said this before, but I’ll say it again. My mother tells me I taught myself to read before I turned four years old, and the ongoing family joke has always been that I’ve never had the good sense to know when to stop. I skip meals, put off chores, ignore the world around me, etc.

    And now I have my lovely little Pocket PC with both a pdf reader and MobiPocket. I *always* have a book with me. Yea! I love technology.

  22. 22
    robinb says:

    I don’t think my personal book buying habits have changed at all.  I’ve always been a library user and I still am.  I’ve always bought books by my favorite authors, and I still do.  And, now that I don’t have to buy ginormous and expensive books for school, I have more money to spend on other things.  My WORK buying habits have changed a lot.  The economy has brought more people into the library, and books that used to have 10 people on a hold list, suddenly have 65 people waiting.  I rarely saw triple digit hold lists for audiobooks, and that has become almost the norm.  We have an unofficial “rule” that we buy 1 book for every 2 holds for print, slightly more for audio.  So you can imagine if hold lists are increasing, the number of books we purchase is also increasing.  And it isn’t just for new things.  I’m not sure if it is websites or magazines, amazon, twitter or what, but the backlist (especially in romance) is HUGE.  As many of these books are only available in paperback, they don’t last very long.  So, we re-purchase them.  Who wants to take home the book that smells like a soft pack of Marlboro Reds?  All of this is to say that libraries are spending much more money on items, even though that money has to be split multiple ways now.  Last month when I was doing my Feb. requests for purchase, 30% of them were romance.  Most of those were backlist items.  Readers haven’t gone anywhere, they’re just trying to keep up with their habit in a way that lets them buy food and pay rent at the same time.

  23. 23
    Lisa Richards says:

    I have to agree with Robin. I belong to several sites on line where we swap used books and the lines have grown from the 60’s to as much as 460 on the wait list of some of these books, mostly paranormal romance. Having romance in their lives allows them a few hours of total forgetfulness of the difficulty of day to day problems.

  24. 24
    sugarless says:

    I feel the exact same way, SB Sarah. Reading becomes m ultimate escape – particularly when I’m at home. I just want to spend all the time I have reading – and since I can’t read at school (a combination of no good library nearby, no money to buy books and no time) I make up for lost time, whizzing through book after book, ignoring almost everything else around me.

    I probably would have gone nuts a long time ago if it weren’t for books.

    Also: large84. Rawr.

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