Friday, December 30, 2005

Retroactive Reading Resolution

In 2005 I resolve to read more books.
--me, December 31, 2004
Okay, I didn't really make that resolution, but I wish I had, because I read 52 books in 2005.

For most of the years I've been a writer--going on eleven now--I haven't allowed myself to read fiction. I considered it a waste of time because it was something I enjoyed, and the Puritan in me (who has nearly been exterminated, praise God) ordered myself to get back to work.

Then this February, after I received a publishing contract, I realized how clueless I was about the contemporary fiction market, not to mention the half-century of classic fantasy novels that had preceded me. I decided that reading was part of my job. Once it turned into a chore, I did it happily. (Okay, maybe the Puritan's not quite dead. )

So I set aside one hour per day--no more, no less. I have an oven timer that I add an hour to every night before I go to bed. Right now it says 8:55, which means I'm nearly nine hours behind on reading, which is fine. Eventually I'll catch up, maybe if I come down with a cold or find a particularly addictive novel.

Rather than listing all 52 books I've read this year, I'll just give you the Book of the Month, as determined by my book journal.

January: Goddess of Spring by P.C. Cast
February: A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle
March: Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
April: Old Man's War by John Scalzi
May: Saturday by Ian McKewan
June: Loving Soren by Caroline Coleman O'Neill
July: Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
August: Wicked by Gregory Maguire
September: The Destined Queen by Deborah Hale
October: Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
November: The Stand by Stephen King
December: Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

The last one deserves a bit of discussion. I started reading this vampire novel with much reluctance and skepticism, because it seemed to contain everything I hate about dark, pretentious vampire novels:
  • Tortured alpha males (who deserve a rant of their own one day on this blog)
  • A complex underground vampire society with archaic structure and laws (haven't vampires caught on to the whole democracy thing yet?)
  • Extreme sex and violence (uh, wait, I actually don't have a problem with those).
The characters even had names spelled in a way (Rhage, Tohrment, Phury) that made milk come out of my nose I was laughing so hard (and I wasn't even drinking milk at the time!) . I was prepared to loathe it. After 89 pages, I still loathed it, although slightly less than planned.

Then I loved it. It was funny, sexy, intriguing, and each character carved a little spot in my psyche and made a nest. When it was over, I wanted to read it again from the top, and even though I adore winter, I wanted it to end, wanted May to come so that I could read the next in the series.

In short, I felt the same way about this book as 99% of other readers. As they say, 100 million Bon Jovi fans can't be wrong.

Come back this time next year to find out what I resolve(d) to accomplish in 2006.


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Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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