Well, where to start. As anyone who reads this blog (or knows me, really) is aware, I LOVE to read, and I truly read just about anything. But I do tend to run in genre streaks that fluctuate with my mood, my life, the seasons, and all kinds of other reasons. When things are just too much and I’m overwhelmed, I hit my old stand-bys. My comfort books. Sometimes it’s Agatha Christie or Rex Stout. Sometimes it’s Nora Roberts or Debbie Macomber, or Georgette Heyer and Carla Kelly, Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews. You get the picture.
Not surprisingly, the holidays (usually late in October or early November, depending on the weather in Michigan that year), frequently ignite one of these reading “moods.” This year, I got hit with an overwhelming desire for holiday romances — the warm, fuzzy, funny ones (more) and the more emotional, cathartic ones (less). Not too shocking or unusual, really. Here’s the unusual part — for me anyway — I wanted contemporary romances. Gasp. That isn’t unheard of for me, of course, but it is infrequent. I’m not a huge fan of the “sweat and pant” (as my mom calls it)subset of Romance. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy erotica. But I prefer my erotica to be well-written and seductive (or well-written and blatantly hot). I want a story and characters along with my dose of fantastic sensuality and sexuality. I don’t want upsetting, dramatic, emotional, angst-y erotica (aka “sweat-and-pant” Romance.)
So I started with Debbie Macomber, of course. I think it was the Hallmark holiday movies playing all the time that got me going, so it made the most sense to start with the original author of several of them. Then I picked up a few anthologies — anything with a “small town Christmas” vibe was right up my alley this year. I moved on to Robyn Carr (novellas and novels) and Fern Michaels (novellas mostly), then to Susan Wiggs, Susan Mallery, Jill Shalvis and random others I enjoyed in Small Town Christmas and other anthologies. I am devouring books in huge chunks. These books are like candy, and I go through at least one (often more than one) a day (yes — even on work days). Talk about a guilty pleasure.
But I ask myself: should I really indulge myself so freely? On the cusp of the new year, should I really just gorge myself on warm, fuzzy fun? I must admit, I really love the funny romances the best. Both the actual “romantic comedies” and the ones that are just well written and full of real people who are far better at bantering and teasing and wordplay than most of the world. Witty and silly — my favorite! But should I let myself devour book after book in an orgy of happily-ever-afters and “dessert-for-dinner” reading?
YES! Yes, I should. Because it’s the holidays and, like most everyone, I’m stressed and exhausted and worried about the new year (taxes, bills, higher premium payments) and I need a little pick me up. Let’s just call it a Christmas gift to myself — one I didn’t have to wrap!
Merry Christmas to me! Happy Holidays to all of you! You have my blessing if you want to indulge in an orgy of romance reading — or horror/fantasy/scifi/narrative non-fiction — whatever your guilty pleasure might be. Just swim in it! And Happy New Year!