Poetry

April is National Poetry Month. April 30 is National Poem in Your Pocket Day. At my previous place of employment, I used to do celebrations of poetry, readings in the library and kept a basket of poems out for people to put in their pockets on that day. Lots of promotion of poetry as a literary art form. I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t say I am a huge poetry fan, but I am a fan of expression and encourage art and literary expression in all forms.

This year, I am not celebrating these events, but I am interested in sharing a little something with you. I stumbled across a poem from a listserv I follow and I enjoyed it. I will reprint it here and you can be sure I’ll have it in my pocket on April 30.

In the Library

by Charles Sivic

There’s a book called

“A Dictionary of Angels.”

No one has opened it in fifty years,

I know, because when I did,

The covers creaked, the pages

Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful

As species of flies.

The sky at dusk

Used to be thick with them.

You had to wave both arms

Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining

Through the tall windows.

The library is a quiet place.

Angels and gods huddled

In dark unopened books.

The great secret lies

On some shelf Miss Jones

Passes every day on her rounds.

She’s very tall, so she keeps

Her head tipped as if listening.

The books are whispering.

I hear nothing, but she does.

And that is your poem for April. Hope you enjoyed it, I think it beautiful. Feel free to share a poem on your own blog in honor of this month and link back to it in the comments.

200

As of today, I now have 200 unique followers to this little blog of mine. Thank you, to all who choose to follow and read about my life and, well, my reading habits. I’m grateful to you for your support and your interest.

If you keep reading, I’ll keep blogging. Guaranteed.

Conversation with Arionna

I am very behind on blogging, but I want to commit this before I forget.

Saturday, she and I were playing with an interactive map, she is learning her states. We would select them and then talk about the state, I’d tell her if I’d been there and what I know about it. We got to the state of Oklahoma…

Arionna: Have you been there?

Me: No, but I’d like to go there.

Arionna: Why, what is it like there?

Me: I don’t know, but that is where Christian Kane is from.

Arionna: Oh! That’s your friend, you should go visit him!

Me: I’d really, really like that. (smiling hugely) Do you know who else is from Oklahoma?

Arionna: No, who?

Me: Blake Shelton

Arionna: I know him, he’s on The Voice!

And pop culture wins again. Also, even young children know Christian Kane is my friend. So, there’s a memory I’d love to cherish.

Keeps on Giving

If you know me personally, you know I’ve been sick. Since Thanksgiving. That’s a long, long, time of being sick. It was dragging my ass through my December teaching, feeling poor for the holidays, not being productive because I haven’t felt right. It’s been tough. I powered through and still did things, including all my holiday celebrations, but I wasn’t my usual sparkling self. People kept saying to me, go to the doctor. But I don’t. I’m not a doctor person. And a cold is viral, there isn’t anything a doctor can do. But it wouldn’t quit, it wouldn’t go away.

2014 ended rough for me, my mom being so sick and having surgery, then me getting sick, then my aunt was diagnosed with cancer, and Kelly found out she needed surgery, and Mindy learned her collapsed lung will always be partially collapsed, and suddenly I blinked and went from August to December.

When the new year hit, I was actually relieved. I felt like things would have to start trending upward. And they have, sort of. Kelly had her surgery and while it didn’t go perfect, she is recovering and will be fine. My aunt had surgery to help with her cancer and it went very well. Now we have to hope this is the start of a healing process for her. My mom is scheduled to have her reattachment surgery in February, earlier than expected, so this is great news.

But I’m still sick. My ribs have been sore for a while now from all this coughing. Then Saturday hit and things went sideways. I got a flat tire on my car. I’m blessed that my dad took care of it for me, even though it still cost me $120. Then I coughed so hard my back spasmed and I couldn’t move. But luckily my sister had pain medication to help me get through. We finally saw my nephew Simon for Christmas and got to spend some much needed time with him. Sunday I wasn’t really feeling better. And my house was a disaster. Literally a mess in every room and I still hadn’t taken down my Christmas decor. The tree, yes, but not the decorations. But I was in such pain I couldn’t move. I called in sick to work for Monday and then I was sitting in my chair in my living room and I started crying. I was in pain, feeling poorly, and feeling overwhelmed. Everything just got to me, all at once.

Finally, I took a deep breath (which hurt) and starting talking to myself. Out loud, yes, but sometimes it helps to hear the words. I told myself it was okay, there really weren’t that many problems, and the mess was something I could easily fix once I felt better. I reminded myself that while this was a thing, I’m generally healthy, I have a good job, a good family, wonderful friends, and while we have had our share of problems, we are all still here. (Side note to mention this has been on my mind often because when my mom was sick, I worried she might die and it scared me, and with all the health scares for my loved ones…then Kelly just learned that a close friend of hers, her husband unexpectedly died at the age of 43. I know it can happen so it has been on my mind.) But the people I love are still here.

Monday, after another night of barely sleeping, I called to get a doctor’s appointment. Of course, I couldn’t get in for a week. So I looked up urgent care and they opened at 1:00pm. I got ready and headed over and was there at the stroke of 1. I got right in and had an exam, where I learned I am actually much sicker than I realized. I have a sinus infection and bronchitis. Far more than just a cold. It started as a cold, but developed into these other things at some point. I also have sprained my ribs from coughing. Fortunately, I have not fractured my ribs, so that is a bright spot. I got medication (though it took me 90 minutes at the pharmacy, grrr) and headed home to my messy, messy house to recover. I took my pills on Monday and they knocked me out. Asleep before 9pm. I woke up once during the night, took another dose and slept until 10 am Tuesday morning. Luckily I had already told my boss I wasn’t coming in on Tuesday.

I relaxed and recovered for most of Tuesday. I read a new book. It felt good, I haven’t felt like reading at all since I’ve been sick. I actually forced myself to read a few books in December, but otherwise, no interest. Then, about 7pm last night, I felt like myself. Not completely recovered, but better. So I got up and tackled my house. I put all my Christmas stuff away. I broke down the boxes in the corner that had been taunting me since Christmas. I gave homes to all my new Christmas gifts. I organized a cupboard in my kitchen that needed it. I did my dishes. I handwashed several items that wouldn’t fit. I cleaned my counters off completely. I ran three loads of laundry. I got everything back in order.

When I went to bed last night, I slept, deeply, soundly, and dreamlessly, for the first time in weeks. I finally felt as though I had turned the corner. I was up this morning to my clean house, ready to tackle the day and head back in to work. I hopped out of the shower, dried off, and used the toilet, then headed into the bedroom to dress. Suddenly I heard a sound I shouldn’t have been hearing. Running water. Did I not turn the shower off all the way? I went in to check and….stepped into a mess. My toilet was overflowing. Dirty water running everywhere. My bathroom is bordered by carpet, so I grabbed clean towels from the closet and built dams. I called my dad to find out what to do. He talked me through it and okay. I then called work to tell them I would be late and set about taking care of yet another mess. And it was a mess.

But now it isn’t. I got it fixed and cleaned up and threw in a whole load of dirty towels in the wash before I left for work. I also jumped back in the shower to rinse off and wash my feet. Gross.

When all is said and done, this has been a pretty awful week for me and many people I love. Yet, here I sit, blogging, not to tell you how rotten it was, but to tell you how lucky I feel. Life will always throw messes and challenges at us and we have to learn to deal and try not to get overwhelmed by it. At the end of the day, what matters is the people we love. If you still have everyone you love and they are, healthy (mostly) and happy, then it’s all going to be just fine. And if you don’t, if you lost someone, then it’s heartbreaking and horrible, but you still have all the moments that you shared with them. You still have the memories, good and bad, because for whatever time you had, you got to love them. So I’m happy and blessed with the people I love.

I don’t do resolutions in my life, but I notice a lot of bloggers choose words to help define their year. I don’t do that either, but this year, if I had to, I’d choose love. I’d choose to be happy and blessed with all of the life in my life and let that be my focus for 2015 and every year beyond.

The Door – Part III

(If you haven’t read Part I and Part II, you should do so first, so this makes sense.)

As Malcolm held open the door, Olivia once again stepped inside the house. It delivered the same sense as when she walked through a few moments earlier. Wrong. It was her house, the bones of it were familiar, but everything else was wrong. The colors, the sounds, the scents, it was as though someone had overlaid a different house over her brain’s knowledge. Everything felt familiar and strange, all at once.

The step forward brought her foot down on the paper bag. The mess. She glanced down and then flushed with something, shame, embarrassment, guilt, anger, it was hard to tell. Her emotions were all jumbled from the bizarre circumstances, but her inherent manners wouldn’t allow her to let it pass.

“I’m sorry-” she began, still looking at the mess, rather than at his face.

Before she could formulate the words to complete the apology, and offer to clean up, he cut in.

“Don’t be. Something is happening, I can’t explain. If you feel as odd about this as I do, well, let’s just agree to call it strange. The mess is the least of our concerns at the moment.” His forehead wrinkled as though he was trying hard to determine something. For just a moment, Olivia felt a tug of familiarity, again, as though she’d seen that expression on him before. The urge was there, slight though it was, to comfort or assist him in some way. It bothered her, more than the overt strangeness of her surroundings, these people, the supposed time jump. It bothered her that inside, in the place where she trusted herself most, she felt as though she knew him. There was no doubt in her mind she’d never met him before, but somehow, she knew him.

Silently, they stepped over the mess on the floor and turned toward the stairs. Olivia took a deep breath. She wanted to see what else was different about her home, the home she worked so hard to create and build, by herself, but she was also apprehensive. These next moments seemed staggeringly frightening, for what amounted to a walk up a flight of stairs. Squaring her shoulders, she took the next step.

She could feel him at her back, his presence, his size. It no longer intimidated her; realizing that, she wondered at what point she stopped being afraid of him. The situation was deeply unsettling, and strange did not begin to encompass what was happening here, but at that moment, she wasn’t afraid. It was hard to be afraid when you were, by any reasonable standards, in your own home.

Accompanied by the chatter of small children, Olivia made her way up the stairs. Ascending to the top, she paused, trying hard to take it all in. The walls were the color of sand, decorated with large framed photos of people. She caught sight of the little boy, Oliver, in several and presumed that they were family portraits gracing the walls. The arrangement came across as haphazard, but a keen eye showed they were gracefully and systematically placed to look that jumbled. The sofa was a sectional in navy blue, large and overstuffed. A flat screen tv was hung over the mantel, tuned to the evening news. There were toys on the floor and a large toy bin in the corner. A stack of books was slightly off-kilter on the corner of the coffee table, next to an oversized red mug that demanded Cheers!.

It was clearly a well-used, and much-loved home. A family home. Seeing it, taking it all in, gave Olivia a pang of nostalgia. This was how it was meant to look. Overrun with the detritus of daily life, and ready to be used, to be lived in, to embrace the users in the sights and scents of home. Breathing slowly through her nose, fighting to maintain her outward display of calm, Olivia tipped back her head. She caught sight of the crack on the vaulted ceiling. It was larger than ever before, but in the exact same spot she knew. To the left, she searched for the missing chunk of sheetrock, an accident born of moving furniture by ones self, but it was gone, probably patched before someone painted over her beloved purple stripes.

Malcolm gently cleared his throat and Olivia became aware of how long she’d been standing still at the top of the stairs, just taking it all in. Stuttering back into motion, she moved forward into the living area, refusing to glance into the kitchen where the sounds and smells indicated the woman was making dinner, as she’d said. In that moment, the changes were just too much. Seeing more might have tipped the scales from unafraid to—well, Olivia was very much afraid that ‘heap on the floor’ might be her next destination.

Unsure of what should be happening, she reached the center of the room and did a one eighty, ending up face-to-face with Malcolm.

Neither spoke.

For a long moment, they just stood there, staring at one another. She took in his height, his dark hair, oddly similar in color and texture to her own, and his overly familiar green eyes. He was handsome, this stranger, with a kindness to his face that she would bet induced strangers to strike up a conversation with him. He looked…friendly. He did not, in fact, look like a lunatic. *mental snort* As if they had a specific look. In her experience, lunatics tended to look like everyone else, that was what made them so dangerous, but they did not look like this man.

Malcolm was staring at this woman in his home. He couldn’t understand what was happening, but there wasn’t a single doubt in his mind he was talking to his long dead mother. Her always slightly-disheveled hair, was worn down, long and curly, as he remembered it. Her eyes had the same slight crinkles at the corners that gave her the appearance that she was always on the verge of laughter. In his memory, she always was on the verge of laughter, so it was fitting. As he watched her, silently, he noted her fingers worrying the hem of her sweater and his heart skipped at the familiar motion. His mom was always playing with something, as though her fingers were incapable of stillness. He remembered in a flash of montages in his mind, her tapping, picking, petting, plucking in any given situation.

This was his mom. His mom.

He cleared his throat again and decided that no matter how strange, this was his home and his family and it was up to him to speak.

“Olivia, would you like to sit down?” he managed, proud of himself for broadcasting normalcy.

She shook her head, still saying nothing, just looking at him.

A deep breath, and he spoke again, “look, I know this situation is…difficult, but I think we need to have a conversation, to maybe try and figure out what is happening here.” Mac paused. “So, um, won’t you please have a seat?”

Olivia stared at him. It was exceedingly uncomfortable to be offered a seat in your own home, compounded further by the fact that this was not her furniture and she didn’t really know where to sit. Rooms have a hierarchy, a geography, to them. Certain people will sit in certain places, the couch is more casual, do you take the armchair or the recliner? There are unwritten rules to someone else’s home, and since she was standing in her own living room, the rules were about as clear as mud. She didn’t know what to do, but he was right. She couldn’t just continue standing there, in the center of the room. She canted her head to the left, seeking the nearest chair when her eyes caught the next door.

It was the french doors leading to the four-season porch.

The left door was slightly ajar and from her angle, Olivia could just barely see inside. Something, something caught her eye. Without a word, without a glance, she moved toward that just-opened door and reached for the handle.

“Where are you going?” She was dimly aware of Malcolm calling after her as she moved toward that door, but she could not stop. Her eyes had alit upon something of hers. A piece of her life. Something that proved that this was, in fact, her home, no matter the situation. Her fingers closed around the handle and she started to open that door.

The doorbell rang.

Olivia jumped and whirled around, forgetting for a moment, what lay beyond that door.

Downstairs, outside, someone was standing at her door. Her eyes collided with Malcolm’s and frustration was stamped on his features. Once again, she felt that pang that she should comfort him in some way, and once again, it unsettled her.

A heartbeat of time as they stared at each other, then Malcolm broke first.

“I’ll get the door” he said as he started to turn.

She wanted to protest, to run to the door and answer it, to see one of her neighbors or a friend or even a salesperson who was looking for her. Anything to prove it was her house…

and then she remembered. Just on the other side of the door behind her lay that very proof.

And in that moment, Olivia and Malcolm walked in opposite directions, both headed for a new door.

***To Be Continued…***

 

(And that, my fine friends, is the end of the third installment. I never intended this to be an ongoing story, but it has turned out to be more fun than I anticipated. But mostly, I keep writing it, every November, because Kelly really likes it and it is a wonderful way to give her an annual gift. I have to take a moment and wonder how old she’ll be when I finally finish this story….)

Happy Birthday, Kelly! Hope you liked this year’s chapter.

October Books

Well here we are, with only two months left on the year. I have to admit, friends, I’m tapering off. I think it might be exhaustion. Truthfully, it takes much more effort to read than it does to watch television. And perhaps because I read so much early on, I’ve hit another book slump. It’s okay, I’m just not into reading right now. I power binged on episodes of The Good Wife, so that was fun, but it’s a pretty different experience than reading. I started out strong in October, but then it just tapered off. I haven’t read a book since October 19. True story. Easily the longest I’ve gone this year (today being November 6….)

And still I managed 10 books in October.

October: (10 books)

1. The Earl is Mine – Kieran Kramer

2. Say Yes to the Duke – Kieran Kramer

3. The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell – Samantha James*

4. The House of Hades – Rick Riordan*

5. The Blood of Olympus – Rick Riordan

6. Tabula Rasa – Kristen Lippert-Martin

7. In Your Dreams – Kristan Higgins

8. The Perfect Neighbor – Nora Roberts*

9. What a Wallflower Wants – Maya Rodale

10. The Winning Hand – Nora Roberts*

Interestingly, I did not read a digital book this month. Not one. That is likely the only month in which that happened (I didn’t go back to look because I’ll be doing the recap in only two months and I’ll look at them all then.) I also reread 40% of the books this month.

Of the new books, the Maya Rodale was the conclusion to the series she wrote that was told concurrently as a contemporary and an historical. I loved it. Loved it. Definitely a contender for best series of the year. And Blood of Olympus was the conclusion to the Heroes of Olympus series, which itself was a follow up to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I liked how it ended, even though it felt a bit rushed to me. Which could be because I didn’t feel like the fourth (House of Hades, reread this month) did much to advance the story, so all the plotlines felt smushed in this story. But still, it was a good conclusion and an enjoyable book.

Honestly, that’s all there is worth talking about this month. Which means this will probably be the shortest recap of the year. Total on the year? 181 books. Many of my guessers are already out of the contest. If I had to guess, I’d give the win this year to Mark. We shall see. I’m on pace for 217 books this year.

See you in a few weeks!

Just Because

Is there a better reason than just because? I don’t think so.

Only a minute or so ago, I recieved a text from my mom. It was this:

IMG_0712Followed by the words “Happy Thursday! Love you♥”

And it made my day. Just because. There was no rhyme, no reason, she was thinking of me and sent me a little dose of her love .

Thanks, Mom. I love you, too.

The Book Slump

I probably would never have though of calling it this, even though it is a phenomenon I know well. If you’re any kind of regular reader, you’ve lived through this.

You all know me, I love to read. LOVE to read. I read more than pretty much anyone you know (I’m assuming a bit there) but there are simply times when I do not read. There are many reasons for it, life, busy, movie, television, no good books, tired, you name it. However, sometimes there is no reason at all. For no fathomable reason, I will just stop reading and have no desire to do so. It’s that last part that scares me some. I LOVE reading.

With everything happening with my mom, August/September, typically prime reading months for me, have been remarkably low. The thing is, I’ve carved out time, but I haven’t wanted to read. It was just one more thing and I was not remotely in the mood.

Then, about a week ago, I was looking for something online and read an article called, “The Reasons I Don’t Read: Causes of the Dreaded Book Slump” and I was blown away. Before I got to the end of the article I started to wonder if I’d been sleep posting again, because I thought I actually wrote this. It was like this author reached inside my head and wrote down what I’d been thinking without ever realizing I’d been thinking about it. (Seriously, read the article, it’s not long, and it sounds like I wrote it. But I didn’t. Turns out, a GUY wrote it. Go figure that one.)

My favorite line, very apropos for life lately, is this, “Life, on the whole, is infinitely preferable to the alternative…but despite that, I swear life spends fully half its time wearing big boots, trying to kick you squarely in the side of the head.” Amen.

I have lived, felt and dealt with every single one of these at various times. Sometimes all in the same month. Reading isn’t a science. It’s an art. And with most art, it is creative and beautiful and vexing and tempermental and refreshing and unique; and sometimes I don’t understand it at all. That’s how reading is to me. To readers. I love it wholly, but I don’t always like it and I don’t always understand it, and sometimes I want no part of it. But most of the time, I just want to immerse myself in it and never surface again.

That’s how I am as a reader. And I am a reader. There’s no doubt about that.

I’ve even got the photographic evidence to prove it.

Untitled

Yes, I am a reader, but I don’t always want to read, and that surprises people, including me. But there can be just as many reasons to start again as there are to stop. For instance, in the 90s and early 2000s, I was an historical romance reader. I basically read every historical romance written during this period. After a while, I grew bored with the genre. For the past…..10 years?….I haven’t read hardly any books in that genre. On occasion, an author I adore (I’m looking at you Julia Quinn) will publish a book and I will read it even if it is historical romance. But I haven’t actively sought out books in this genre in a decade or more. Then, last weekend, I watched the movie Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, from 1996. I saw this movie in the theater with Elena, when we were in high school. We loved it because it was like the books we loved come to life. And last weekend, after I watched it, I was suddenly in the mood to read historical romance again.

Out of the blue. After more than a decade.

So I did. I’ve actually read several of them over the past week, remembered why I liked them, and why I stopped reading them all at once. But it broke my slump. Watching a movie broke my reading slump…there may be some irony creeping in there.

And why am I telling you this? Because sometimes I have these thoughts and I don’t know what to do with them. So I blog. You may not care, but I promise you, a year or more from now, I’ll want to remember I felt this way, I’ll want to reread that article, I’ll find this fascinating. I will find myself agreeing, all over again, with what I’ve written here.

Book slumps happen, even to the best of us. It may be it’s just part of the process, part of what I go through, as a reader. A lover of books and stories and words and language.

Inconceivable!

Not the quote from the Princess Bride, but just the mind blowingly large numbers I stumbled across today. I’m not sure how this happened, I was reading one thing, clicked a link, followed a trail, meandered down a path and before you know it, I’m reading some strange stuff from who knows where? 

Anyway, it led me to the study of large numbers. A quadrillion. Something I read made me think, “will there be a quadrillionaire in my lifetime?” And so the Google search began. 

The thing is, it’s hard to understand these numbers. We all know millionaire. A thousand thousands. So, 1,000 piles of 1,000 dollars. That’s 1 million. A billion is a thousand millions. So take the pile you conjured in the first example and create a thousand of those piles….that’s one billion dollars. It’s a staggering amount of money. 

The thing is, a TRILLION dollars? That is then 1,000 billions. 

1,000,000,000,000

That is one trillion. 1 with 12 zeros. But an article I read from The Independent explains it by saying that if you spent a million dollars every single day, it would take you 2,739 years to spend your trillion dollars. Obviously you won’t live that long. So, if you are born with exactly 1 trillion dollars, and you live exactly 80 years, by my calculations, you would need to spend 34,246,575 million dollars each day to spend it all. I really don’t think that’s even possible. I mean, are there enough things? Enough land? Enough houses? How could a person spend over 34 million dollars every single day for eighty years. I don’t think they could. So it is probably impossible, certainly inconceivable, for a person to have that much money. 

Here’s another one. If you had exactly 1 trillion dollars, you could give $140 to every person on the planet, this, again, according to the article above. When I saw that I was fairly underwhelmed. I mean, sure, there are more than 7 billion people on the planet, but still, to give out a measly $140 bucks? Yeah, okay, it’s a nice gesture to give money to everyone, and for third worlders, this could literally be life changing. But, my mind went elsewhere. I assumed, correctly, that it did not divide evenly. Assuming a population of 7,254,897,321 (which is what it was on the World Population Clock at 3:21 pm when I looked it up and if you’ve never seen the WPC, click that link. It’s cool.) that means to give out money to everyone, you can equally give $137.80 to each person. (Population has gone up since the article, which was based on 2012 figures).  Even that doesn’t divide evenly, coming out to 137.83792599, which I rounded to $137.80. Because when you’re giving out a trillion, you don’t want to be the one counting pennies. Here’s the amazing thing. 

Those trailing numbers? They are less than a few cents per person. Negligible. Almost non-existent. Yet, when doing the math, If you gave 137.80 to each person on earth, out of your 1 trillion dollars, you would be left with….

$275,149,166

That’s right. If you gave out 137.80 to every person on earth, you’d still be LEFT WITH over 275 million dollars. 

Mind blown. 

For additional fun facts, remember how I was originally searching a quadrillion? Well, a quadrillion is 1,000 trillions. We’ve amply covered how much money a trillion is…this is one thousand times that amount. So, if you spent your million dollars a day? It would take you 3 million years to spend a quadrillion. 

I found an article from Wired magazine that predicted that Bill Gates would be the world’s first trillionaire and the world’s first quadrillionaire, and says both would happen in my lifetime. The article was written in 1999 and said that Gates would hit trillionaire in March of 2005. And would then become a quadrillionaire by 2020 (assuming the same rate of return). Well, the first date has passed and BG is not yet a trillionaire. So the second, six years from now, is looking like a long shot. There were other scenarios, if Microsoft went in other financial directions, that led to different dates, many of which have not yet come to pass. Honestly, I don’t think it’s likely to happen in my lifetime. BG is estimated to be worth about $80 Billion. Unfortunately, that’s still 920 Billion short of the trillionaire mark. Yes, I know money grows exponentially, but still – seems to me that we’re a long way off from seeing someone calling themselves a trillionaire. 

I’m just still agog over the numbers themselves. It is nearly inconceivable that one person should have that much money. And I may have scoffed, but I wouldn’t turn down my $137.80. Just sayin’

 

 

On Romance Novels

I read a lot of books, that surprises no one. If you browse my lists each month, you probably have a good idea of what I read. I used to read anything. Everything. If you put it in front of me, I’d read it. I don’t do that anymore. Now I know what I like and I only read those books. Why waste my time if I don’t like it? I figure there are millions of books I will never have time to read, so I should never bother with a book I don’t want to read or do not like.

I read a lot of teen books these days. Teen fiction, dystopian, sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, romance, thriller. Pretty much anything teen, I’ll try it out. I also read adult sci-fi, but not a ton. And I’ll read adult fiction. I do read some adult fantasy. My bread and butter, however, is romance. I was around 11 years old when I read my first romance (no, I don’t remember what it was) and I loved it. Love the genre.

Romance really comes in so many styles. There are historical romances. Then sub-genres of Scottish, Medieval, Regency, Victorian, Gothic, literary, and old West. Then there are category romances. These are the Harlequin and Silhouette romances, the slimmer books, the ones with the “join for a penny and we’ll send you a book a month” adverts in them. The ones classified as “trashy” by most non-romance readers. And contemporary romance, which has sub-genres of thriller, mystery, humor, sweet, erotic, Western, Amish (I’m sure these have a name, but they are stories that are pure. No sex, no kissing. The characters are frequently Amish, so I call them Amish romance, but I bet they have a real name) and probably more I’m not thinking of right now. Then there are sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal romance novels. And time travel romance is a genre all to itself.

First, I bet you had no idea romance was such a hugely vast genre. I have read books in every singe one of these categories. I’ve tried every type of romance that exists. I’ve got my favorites, and those I don’t like much (Amish, Gothic, Regency, Victorian, contemporary mystery, I really don’t read these any more.) My favorites tend to be subject to trends and change. I was heavy into historical romance for years. Like, most of my 20s. Then I did paranormal for a while. I still read paranormals, but they are now restricted to my favorite authors (Kresley Cole). I will, of course, still read an historical, but I don’t search them out. But if an author I like puts out a new book (Julia Quinn), I’ll snatch it right up. However, these days I mostly read contemporary romance. It’s a tougher genre for me, because it is so wide and encompassing, which means there is a lot of garbage. I read as many bad romance books as I do good ones it sometimes seems.

I have no idea how many books I’ve read in my life, the number would be very, very high. But I can conservatively estimate that I have read thousandS of romance novels in my life. Literally more than one thousand romance novels, honestly, probably more than double that.

The reason a lot of people don’t like romance is because they think it is trite or formulaic, and it is. No doubt. Romance novels follow a pattern, use tropes, have similar threads. And, let’s face it, they all end with a happily ever after, so there’s not really a surprise. But, that is exactly what I like about them. You know what to expect, so it falls to the author to find a way to engage me with the story, a story, that I’ve read a thousand times before. It’s a challenge. Sometimes it’s the writing, or a strong character, or a unique bent to the story, but if it’s a good one, it will capture me and suck me in, until I don’t mind the fact that I’ve read variations before.

Now, as I said, I know what I don’t like. I am generally not a huge fan of erotic romances. I have no problem with sex in a book, but I like it to be part of the story. Enhancing the love story of the characters, or causing them trouble or something. Not big on gratuitous sex, and every erotic romance I’ve ever read has felt that way, like the author is just showing off how clever he or she can be and how graphic they can make it. So, when I read a recommendation of an erotic romance, by an author I was unfamiliar with, I nearly dismissed it. But the recommendation was written so strongly in favor of this book, I found myself reluctantly intrigued.

The book is called Broken and it is by Megan Hart. I downloaded it from the library when I got home from work yesterday and started it. I was in the middle of another book that I wasn’t particularly enjoying, so I picked this up. It’s very sexual, and very graphic, but it was the story that truly caught my attention.

Quite simply, I had never read another book like this one. Try to imagine that. With all the romance books I’ve read, that I can still find a book that is unlike any other? I was astonished by this. The story was completely original, it didn’t follow the typical pattern for romances. In fact, it was so far off book, I actually did not know how it would end. Yes, there was a lot of sex, but it was used to tell the story, to the point that it became entertaining and moved the story forward.

In short (ha! that’s probably the wrong choice of words in a 1,000 word post), I absolutely loved this book. I was blown away by its originality. And I loved how it ended. If you recall, endings are somewhat of a sticking point for me, but not this one. I loved the way this book ended. It was perfect for the story.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I’m not, really. I’m telling me. This book made me feel so great after reading it that I wanted to remember, and to remind myself that while I have a great understanding of genre fiction, it never hurts to take a risk and try something new. It can pay off with a new favorite book. And, I suppose, for anyone out there who was wondering what an erotic romance my be like, try this one. Because it’s also a terrific story. But mostly, because I wanted to write a love letter to the romance novel. That’s why.