Mood Reading

Lately I’ve been craving a few things: hot tea, a particular wool blanket that my husband’s late grandmother made, and contemporary romance. The first two mean it’s fall, but the last one I’ve been puzzling over.

Usually, when I’m in need of some comfort reading, I reach for historicals. A few good petticoats, some stays and cravats tossed on the floor, maybe even a rogue pelisse in inclement weather, and I feel much better. But the past few weeks, I’ve been more tired than usual, and to my surprise I’ve been looking for the spark and zest of contemporary romance. I want current settings, modern dialogue, and spicy attraction – almost as if I’m looking in the book for energy that I don’t have right now.

Then, the other evening, after a particularly good dinner, when the house was quiet and I was very content, I was all “Ooh, historical, please.” Historical romance literally was my cup of tea, the hot beverage after my meal that made me all warm-bellied and satisfied. It’s almost like mood reading reversal – not that I’m complaining. I just find it curious.

Do you have mood reading? Which genres match your moods?

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Random Musings

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  1. 1
    Kayleigh says:

    I go through strange reading phases depending on my moods. There are some nights, like my current phase, where I crave biographies and memoirs (just finished Anderson Cooper’s memoir and am moving onto the Harvey Milk biography) but then when I’m exhausted or want to get out of my current state of mind, only the trashiest paranormal romance will do. I’m a Celtic/English literature student so I also have to read lots of strange poetry and old texts so I try and keep a balance between the school and extra texts so I don’t burn out on either.

  2. 2
    Maria Geraci says:

    When I’m in need of comfort reading I tend to reach out for those authors I’ve read forever that I know won’t disappoint me. Madeline Hunter comes first to my mind. I also really love historicals and she’s always on the top of my list:)

  3. 3
    Abby says:

    Historicals are my standby, and I tend to find that certain authors suit my mood… if I’m feeling sentimental and want something lighthearted, it’s JQ.  If I want angst and tension, it’s Kleypas (my real favorite!).  If I just want something rather ridiculous to take my mind off real life, it’s Tracy Anne Warren (who has fantastically bizarre plots and good writing).  And if I want to feel like less of a freakshow, it’s the historically anachronistic but wonderful Suzanne Enoch, whose historical heroines seem not to suffer from a biological imperative to reproduce… and whose books are delightfully free of epilogues in which the heroine has had a litter.

    I haven’t read much in the way of contemporaries, but if Kleypas’ Sugar Daddy is my go-to when I want something that will both make me cry and feel better simultaneously.

  4. 4
    JoanneL says:

    If it’s for ‘energy’ then I’ll read Romantic Suspense. Nothing says “move your ass” better than a bomb about to go off or a murderer in the attic.

    Right now with the cold & damp in the Northeast I’ve been seeking comfort with a glom of Jo Goodman’s Historical romances. Long and meandering stories with heroes that aren’t afraid to say “I’m sorry” and funny dialogue. And every room has a fireplace. Warm.

  5. 5
    Brooks*belle says:

    Historicals are my comfort food.  Contemporary chick-lit is my mood-elevator.  Romantic suspense is caffeine.

    I tend to usually go for the comfort food.  Especially in this cozy-craving weather.  Thank goodness reading is calorie free!

  6. 6

    I do actually have mood reading, though I’ve never thought of it like that. When I’m cranky and on a tear, I need a rough paranormal or a dark suspense. For some reason, I need the similiar emotions to be able to deal with my own. I love a good contemporary romance, Robyn Carr being a newly discovered storyteller that I’m enjoying immensly.
    All in all, I like particular authors more than particular genres. I know that Allison Brennan writes some great spine tingler suspenses. Roxanne St Claire gets me going with her great characters and what happens next. Laura Kinsale really gets me with her emotional characters who are not perfect but we love them nonetheless. Tracy Wolff and Maya Banks crank out steamy that distract me from my day.
    Certain authors for me are better than certain genres. They just fit the mood, whatever the mood might be, better.

  7. 7
    Caroline says:

    My comfort reads are big romance/historical fiction, and the occasional fantasty series (David Eddings is my fave). I also go back to my favorite romance novel of all time, Montana Sky. My dog-eared, tattered copy gets pulled out when I am in serious need of a pick me up. The other one I re-read, when I am feeling sorry for myself, is Palomino, by Danielle Steele. I read that book when I was 15, and it was my very first “romance” novel.

    My mood reading, well, I vascillate between historical romance (love, love the Scottish laird and English lady scenario, and time travel is the bomb) and the tried and true contemporary cowboy story with no real indicator as to why. They have to be realistic (do your research, a horse has “hooves, not “feet”. Horses eat hay, not straw. I tend to like the “small town girl come back for good and rekindles her affair” kind of setup, or the “city slicker woman gets bowled over by cowboy hats and horses” epiphanies. And me a fusspot “english” rider to boot!

    My last read was Linda Lael Miller’s Montana Creed series. Seriously good, and very much fun.

  8. 8
    Keira says:

    I’m currently on a category kick. Old categories especially from the 70s-80s. :) Does that count? On the other hand I suppose it might be glomming…

  9. 9
    Elizabeth says:

    When I’m in need of comfort I reach for older Nora Roberts category romance, especially the ones about big, boisterous families, like the Stanislaski series, some of my favorite trilogies like the Gallaghers of Ardmore.  When I’m feeling cheerful, but don’t want to read something new, I always go back to my favorite historical authors, JQ, Lisa Kleypas, and Eloisa James.  They never fail to keep me in my good mood.  And when I’m needing something exciting?  Definitely romantic suspense; it doesn’t get much better than Eve and Roarke.

  10. 10
    Francesca says:

    When I just want to feel good and have a few gentle laughs, I read Eva Ibbotson if it’s grey and blah outside. If I want to feel stimulated (mentally, not teh other way) it’s Kathleen Gilles Seidel for me. Sometimes I need a sugar fix; then it’s old school category: Betty Neels, in particular. When I just want to wallow it’s Jean Plaidy or an Angelique marathon, or, if I’m feeling particularly wallowy(?), it’s a bodice ripper: most likely Bertrice Small.

  11. 11
    michelle says:

    my comfort zone is definitely the historical romances. i pretty much have to be forced to read anything else, and i’m always shocked when i enjoy other genres.

    for ultimate comfort reading, i go right for the christina dodd/judith mcnaught/julia quinn/lisa kleypas/stella cameron historicals.

    recently i found myself absolutely craving some harlequin suspences… that phase last about a week—but it was a good week!

  12. 12
    willa says:

    (Possibly heretical opinion ahead!)

    Just lately I read a Georgette Heyer, The Masqueraders, and for some reason the ending really bugged me. It was just too frickin much! All of these irritating people running around being irritating, augh!

    Heyer is, to me, a petit four of a food. it looks really good but I can only have a few bites before it’s too much for me.

    So, in a huff, I stopped reading the Heyer book and rooted through my bookshelves until I found an old Victoria Holt novel, The Shadow of the Lynx. Victoria Holt! Oh how I’ve missed you!

    Victoria Holt’s books are like a delicious, slightly bitter tea. A great antidote to Heyer’s too-sweet, too-cute petit fours.

    I’ve found that when I’m reading a book, I’ll read it’s “antidote” immediately afterward.

    When I’m in a sorry or sad mood, though, I go straight to the YA fiction. Tried and true and makes me feel so much better.

    When I’m in the mood for fun and delicious fiction, I go to the romances, mostly historical.

    When I’ve OD’ed on romances and need something else, I go to the dark literary fiction (right now I’m reading a Margot Livesy novel, The House on Fortune Street.)

    And then the literary fiction sends me straight back to the romance novels, sometimes adding in a good fast mystery novel as well.

    Good stuff.

  13. 13
    Patsy says:

    My comfort books for Winter are definitely Historicals.  It’s not winter yet, but I just finished Tessa Dare’s A Lady of Persuasion and I found it delightful.  I liked it much better than the previous two, which I enjoyed.  And, it’s quite modern for a historical.  A cheerful hero, people acting reasonably (for the most part), diatribes on labor and cash crops. 

    Otherwise, I don’t need comfort reading in Spring—it’s my time for challenges.  In Summer, I love beach-read contemporaries, especially Crusie.  And, in the Fall, I turn to books I loved when I was young—especially Christopher Pike’s and L.J. Smith’s (The Vampire Diaries are much better than Twilight, and also the Secret Circle).  I think it’s because I like to remember the excitement of starting school all over again.

  14. 14
    Leslie H says:

    When I am moody, it is not so much genre as author.

    Self Pity= Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. (Dresden’s life sucks more than mine)

    Annoyed= “In Death” series by JD Robb. (Eve Dallas opens a can of ass whoop on the universe. A BIG can.)

    Tired= Discworld books by Terry Pratchett (He makes me laugh no matter how many times I read his books.)

    I only try new authors when I am in a fairly good mood, otherwise it seems like a risk.

  15. 15
    Anne Calhoun says:

    Very interesting question. I don’t tend towards mood reading as much as remembering something about a book or series that sends me back to the shelves for a reread. If I’m tired, I tend towards nonfiction, usually guaranteed not to work me up. I agree with Leslie H…anything new – new author, new book by a favorite author – I need to be in a fairly good mood to start.

  16. 16
    Laura (in PA) says:

    I am so totally a mood reader. Sometimes I want fast-paced. Sometimes I want cozy. Sometimes I want light-hearted. Sometimes I want historical. Sometimes I want just good writing, whatever genre it may be. It’s not so much according to mood, as it is to my mindset (is there a difference?).  Every time I finish a book, I go through a process of perusing my (massive) TBR pile, and see what’s calling me. For example, yesterday I finished a Julia Spencer-Fleming (LOVE HER BOOKS), and needed something to read when I went to bed. I almost picked up Julia Quinn, and ended up with an Eve & Roarke novella. It wasn’t that I didn’t want Julia, just the novella was calling louder.

    Unless I get notified that a book I am on the list for at the library is available, I never know what I’m reading next.

  17. 17
    EmilyV says:

    Love the question! I was just thinking about this the other day as I thought I lost my ipod (turned out it was just on my desk at work) and I was absolutely miserable, not to mention that it started to rain on my walk home. When I got back to my flat ALL I wanted to do was stew in my misery and read a historical romance while consuming an entire tub of nutella (the only thing left in my cupboard…). And I knew that that was the only thing that would have comforted me at that moment (or a good shot of whiskey…). As for my fav comfort historical writers, definitely Lisa Kleypas and Sabrina Jeffries. Occasionally, when it is cold outside, or I am just feeling like chilling on the couch I will pick up a category (sadly, Harlequin Presents is my go-to….). Contemporarys are not usually my thing, but Lisa Kleypas’s definitely are. Basically Lisa just gets me through life….

  18. 18
    AngW says:

    If I’m under the weather or need comfort—historicals, the more the better

    Needing to get stuff done—detective and other types of murder mysteries

    Pushing off the ToDo list—cozies (a.k.a the lighter side of murder mysteries) and fantasy or science fiction

    quirked (no other way to describe it)—nonfiction of all stripes

  19. 19
    LG says:

    My comfort reading is “students in magical schools” type stuff – like Harry Potter (first book especially), Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey, etc.  I seem to particularly prefer the ones in which the main character is just starting out at the magical school and still has times of being confused and overwhelmed.  I doesn’t matter how many times I read some of them (my copy of Arrows of the Queen will probably need to be replaced sometime soon), they always make me feel better.

  20. 20
    Kait Nolan says:

    I absolutely have mood reading. 

    During the stress of managing finals and juggling students, I tend to reach for chick lit or cozy mysteries.

    To assuage a general sense of boredom, usually I reach for paranormal romance or urban fantasy.

    When I’m feeling homicidal about work, gotta pull a good romantic suspense or murder mystery.  The darker the better.

  21. 21
    Kwana says:

    I do have my mood reading and for comfort it’s all about the historical. Yesterday, I tweeted that I started my first fire of the season and had and Elizabeth Hoyt. I was in heaven.

  22. 22
    MelB says:

    My go to comforts are mostly historical. Amanda Quick and Lisa Kleypas with a Julia Quinn thrown in. Perfect fuzzy blanket, cold night, rainy day reads. I also take them with me when I’m going out to do something stressful like wait at the DMV or the doctor’s office.

  23. 23
    Katie Ann says:

    When I want to cleanse my palate after a string of bad/boring books, I go for something by a guaranteed win author, like Loretta Chase or LaVyrle Spencer (and I still have several unread books by them on my shelf, I like to savor them).

    But I certainly get in a particular mood for paranormal/historical/contemporary, especially if I’ve just glommed a particular series.  After reading all of the P.C. Cast/Kristin Cast “House of Night” series in a few days, I was in the mood for a very mature (read: contains sex and no teenager speak) historical to sink my teeth into.

  24. 24
    liana says:

    historical romances are cozy reads for me. I like reading them in thick afghans and with a mug of tea in hand. and if I want to read “Lord of Scoundrels,” I have to be in a very determined mood. I have to commit to reading the entire thing. in Kleypas-s and Quinns I can basically pick up wherever.

  25. 25
    AgTigress says:

    Interesting that for most (all) of you, it is the genre, the type of story, that is decisive.  For me, it’s the writer.
    For relaxation and taking my mind of daily strains and stresses, I re-read Ngaio Marsh, Heyer, Patricia Wentworth, even Agatha Christie if feeling particularly feeble, Dorothy L. Sayers, and occasionally Edmund Crispin.  The only living writer who is an automatic relaxation read for me is Jayne Ann Krentz, and it makes no difference to me whether I re-read her contemporaries (category and later), her historicals or her paranormals.  It is the author’s voice that is the comforting element rather than the type of plot.

  26. 26
    bookishheather says:

    I noticed that during the summer is when I do the most reading of non-fiction – and usually odd ones like Cod: A Biography, or Word Fugitives…anything interesting and off the beaten path. If I’m feeling blah or moody, I tend to go for dark paranormal like Laurell Hamilton or JR Ward. If in need of a boost, I tend to read modern romance like Susan Elizabeth Phillips. But if I’m looking for a nice, comfortable read, I curl up in my quilt and read a good historical romance, like Victoria Alexander or Lisa Kleypas. My keeper collection is mainly historical romance or non-fiction.

  27. 27

    Does seasonal reading count as mood reading?

    I want UF and thriller/scary stuff in the fall.  Always.

    When I’m down, I want to reread old favorites.

    Summers I tend to do more contemps or try new authors.

  28. 28
    gypsydani says:

    I try to mix it up because I find that if I read too much of a certain kind of novel, then when I get tired of the period, I get tired of reading.  So I alternate with ancients, medievals, regencies, historical american, contemporaries and paranormals.  Lucky for me I like to read everything.  If I’m feeling particularly itchy, like I want to jump out of my skin, I want a romantic suspense novel to get caught up in.  If I want a good laugh, contemporary always seems to work, especially Crusie.  If I’ve had a bad day in the real world, I like historicals based in ancient times or paranormals.  I seem to read more paranormals and contemporaries in the summer and more historicals in the fall/winter.  Maybe it’s those old school habits.  The fast, fun reads for vacation and the educational (historical) works for colder weather.

  29. 29
    wylykat says:

    The In Death series is it for me.  While going through a nasty divorce, with no more “extra” money for books, I went to the library where a wonderful librarian noticed my reading tastes and suggested the In Death series.  I remember being intrigued by the shiny covers with blue bodies.  The police procedural looking covers are great but not the ones that helped me in tough times, so years later I scrounged used book stores to find those early blue bodied books for my own.

  30. 30

    I woke up yesterday, really depressed.*

    Since, unfortunately, none of my usual comfort reads (Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer, Petals on the River by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, pretty much anything by David Eddings, various Nora Roberts/JD Robb and most “pre-change” Elizabeth Lowell (as in after Midnight in Ruby Bayou she stopped making me cry -and I stopped caring about her books) to name the ones I most often reach for) were available, I had to analyze the situation. I wanted either something that would give me a cathartic cry (most EL is so good for this, especially the categories), or make me laugh and bring on the endorphins.

    I did not want to trudge to the library in search of Eddings, and had nothing I could count on to help me cry, so I went the endorphin route and reread the Halle Pumas series (The Wallflower, Sweet Dreams, Cat of a Different Color and Steel Beauty) by Dana Marie Bell.**

    Gotta tell you, I was in a really good mood going to bed last night.

    *I’m not just using the word here, I’m talking on-the-verge-of-crying, I-miss-my-mommy-and-daddy, winter-is-coming-and-I’ll-never-see-the-sun-again type of mood. My more rational self says it’s time to start taking vitamins and Omega 3, and maybe consider investing in a SAD lamp, but most of all, time to get my sleep cycle back on track. Anyhow.

    **Dana Marie Bell’s books are truly amazingly unbelievably funny, sweet, hot and emotionally satisfying, considering their length is on the really short side. SB Sarah, I think you should try these, even though they are paranormals. Try the excerpt for Steel Beauty, at least. (Samhain/My Bookstore and More)

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