Yes, I write romance, and I’d never (until this past December) read a Jane Austen book. Any. At all.
Yes, I was ashamed of this deficit. When I was growing up, I didn’t get new books. I had trips to the library, occasionally, which I reserved for horror and mystery. I don’t know why. Well, I do, and this is the reason I never read Jane Austen.
*Ahem*, when I was a kid, I didn’t get new books. I read everyone else’s leftovers. I read them thankfully and voraciously and often multiple times. I read fast.
My mom loved horror, mostly Stephen King. Which I still read. It’s an unspoken agreement between my husband and me that started early on and has continued these last fifteen years… a new SK hardcover comes out, he buys it for me. Never mind that I’d rather have that Jennifer Crusie or Susan Elizabeth Phillips hardcover, would in fact, die of excitement. This is what we do, because that is what we did.
But, back to the kiddie days. My maternal grandmother, she was the intellectual, going back to college in her fifties, after picking up her GED. I read mythology books, psychology books, Christian fiction. The woman has a bookcase, several bookcases, full of amazing books. I’d spend the summer with her, my IQ would rise 15 points.
My paternal grandmother, who is gone now, went through romance novels–Harlequin and I can’t remember the name of the other publisher, but I’m pretty sure Harlequin bought them at some point so it probably doesn’t matter (I just remembered! It was Silhouette!). She read them fast and she always had one handy.
When I turned sixteen, and could drive, I took her to the library every two weeks. She would take a box of fifty books and the nice librarian (I love librarians) would let her switch her fifty with another fifty from the donation pile. At that time, I’d pick up a Star Trek novel, or Dean Koontz, or that sequel to Gone With the Wind (I still can’t believe I read that. At 17, I was excited to see what would happen next; at 36, I’m aghast that someone would dare tamper with something so sacred as Rhett and Scarlett).
My dad read cowboy and spy novels–I stayed away from those. I think we were both too embarrassed to become mutually aware the other was reading about S-E-X. And an aunt, long exiled from the family by divorce, once gave me a big box of classics: The Outsiders, Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Most of that probably isn’t all that interesting to you, but it’s written and it’s my blog and I’m leaving it. The point is, I was never picky. I loved books, I loved them in all genres, and times, and sizes, and viewpoints, and plot points. Stories were my world, maybe my drug, and like any good junkie, I took whatever hit I could get.
As I got older, I found the things I enjoyed, I found new authors, and read through their booklists. At one time, when I was staying home with the kiddies and fighting through a bout of depression, I had a very active account with booksfree.com. I had the six books at a time plan, so I was never, ever without reading material. Then I had another baby, I started working outside the home, I started writing. My reading time became more precious and I became less willing to try new things. I have a drawer full of to-be-read books (that I may never get to, I love reading on my Kindle SO freaking much).
But, speaking of my Kindle, it’s all changed now. Reading is so convenient. Getting new books is so easy and quick and sample chapters are my best friend. I can try something new, buy it if I like, and find all new backlists to explore. I’m a loyal reader.
Another great thing about the Kindle? Free books. I feel like my grandmother, carrying in my box of fifty and picking through thousands of incredible stories.
And so, I found Ms. Austen. This blog post has become far too long already for me to go on and on about my newfound love for Pride and Prejudice (and naturally, all the other books she wrote). I’m not even sure what it’s about anymore, except:Reading is a beautiful, empowering experience that I'm not sure I could've survived without. Click To Tweet
Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.