Saturday, November 26, 2011

Books like old friends

Waterhouse, The Lady of Shallott
    Do you ever go back and re-read books you loved? I do. I just did.

    A few days ago, on her blog, Anna Markland asked some questions about medieval romances. It set me to thinking about some of the books I read years ago. Among my favorites were three by Elizabeth Lowell, Untamed, Enchanted, and Forbidden (in order). These stories have a touch of the mystical, something that really appeals to me. Ms. Lowell is a beautiful writer and these were good books. Forbidden was my favorite, so I bought it for my Kindle and read it again. I loved most of it, and the story still held me to the end, but while Ms. Lowell tried hard to make it believable, some of the conflict between the main characters seemed forced. But it's not necessarily a choice on the author's part; it's required in anything considered romance, including romantic suspense.
    Conflict is a problem I have too. It's hard to come up with a credible, internal conflict to keep the heroine and hero apart. External problems are much easier to make believable. In Cold Comfort (contemporary romantic suspense), I had to go back and add more conflict. The complaint was that they fell in love too easily. Well, why not? I did. I fell for Riley the day he popped into my head. However, bowing to experience (the suggestion of some very good agents), I strengthened some of their characteristics, which brought them more into conflict.

    I also bought Anna Markland's medieval romance, Conquering Passion, Book One of The Montbryce Legacy.  The story line from her description is "Count Rambaud de Montbryce and Lady Mabelle de Valtesse struggle to establish a family dynasty amid the turbulent dangers of the Norman Conquest."  That's a period of history that interests me, and Anna's blog reminded me that I like those stories. Most of my reading is suspense or crime fiction, but sometimes a change is refreshing.

    What are some favorites you'd like to read again? Do you take a break and read something out of your usual genre?


Polly said...

Like you, I read mainly crime fiction, but I've been straying lately, and that's because of the Kindle. I've read a vampire book, a shifter book, I'm reading a romance anthology, and a crime fiction book set in South Africa. The anthology is nice to switch to when I want something short. I'm not big on historicals but I'm open. Thanks for the suggestions.

Ellis Vidler said...

The Kindle makes buying different types of books so easy, and if the price is low, I'm willing to try something new. I'm about to read a Southern Christmas story too. It should be interesting.

Una Tiers said...

The early Sue Grafton, M.C.Beaton and Lillian Jackson Braun books seem to call me from the bookcases. Sometimes when I am purging they demand to be unbagged and returned to their places. The authors seem to work harder in the earlier books of the series. When I want to visit an old friend, I take out some Harry Mark Petrakis books. He writes about his family with license.
Una Tiers

Ellis Vidler said...

Una, I've also gone back to Anne of Green Gables, Tarzan of the Apes, and The Lord of the Rings many times. Now, for a drastic change of pace, I think I'll re-read LA Requiem by Robert Crais. Books really are old friends, and some days they really are comforting.

Marian Allen said...

I have quite a few books I reread from time to time, most often Jerome K. Jerome's THREE MEN IN A BOAT.

My favorite out-of-genre reading is magazines in waiting rooms. I'm a homebody and a pacifist, so I try to read magazines about hunting, camping, outdoor sports, guns, finance, and anything else I'm clueless about. The Letters to the Editor are particularly good for getting inside a character totally unlike me.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Ellis Vidler said...

Marian, what a good idea! Letters to the Editor should be a rich source for characterization. Some of the letters in our newspaper could make your hair stand on end.

Mumof3 said...

All I do is re-read books. I suppose people can do that with movies... but I prefer to do it with books. Especially those I have not picked up in over ten years. Have you ever thought of going on the book report by elaine charles? I think your writing would be something Elaine would be great at discussing. As a book lover this show is not to be missed. It airs at different times in certain cities but I know you can archive it at

Ellis Vidler said...

I follow Elaine Charles on Twitter, but so far she hasn't invited me for an interview. ;-)
Maybe soon, when my new book is released. Cross your fingers.

I love to read old favorites again. If I remember much, I still find new details to enjoy. I read all kinds, depending on my mood.

Doreen said...

I made a point the last two years to read out of [way out of] my comfort zone. I am a fan of historical fiction but have been reading true crime and crime fiction, vampire stories and romance novels. The Bird Sisters [Rebecca Rasmussen] just came out in paperback so I am re-reading it now. I often re-visit favorites. There always seems to be something I missed the first time around.