Thursday, September 24, 2009

Required Reading

I made a comment in my last post about DWT’s required reading list. Obviously I was joking. But then Eileen posted about different books that impacted us at different phases of our lives. Everyone was going with the serious stuff – and I didn’t want to sound like a reading slacker – so I went with a classic.

But I will be honest – 9 times out of 10 the serious stuff bores me or makes me sad.

Now the difference between me, who blows off the serious stuff as sad and boring, and a “serious” reader, who blows off romance as silly and trivial, is this – I try the serious stuff. I try everyone before I make comments about them.

That said I think Nicholas Sparks is a bad romance novelist who is only popular because a) he’s a man who is sensitive and b) because he kills someone at the end of his stories. I have had readers – men and women - vehemently disagree with me. That’s fine. But I would never make a comment about Sparks if I hadn’t read him first. Anita Shreve writes beautifully… she also makes me sad. I am always sad when I finish her books. I don’t like to be sad. I like to be happy - so I don’t read Anita Shreve anymore.

I thought about required reading for romance. I know lots of blogs do these lists all the time, but I’ve never gotten to do mine. And well… now I can.

My required reads before you can talk to me about my genre are….

(Note: I am not including any - I’ll call them modern romances - because I could go on forever. These are just my staples. The things good or bad that established the genre as a major force in the 80s and 90s that have gotten us to where we are now. The books that got me hooked and taught me so much about storytelling. )

Classics: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and this is classic “light” - Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn.

Category: Linda Howard – anything from Silhouette Intimate Moments - in particular: Duncan's Bride. Jayne Ann Krentz – anything from her Harlequin Temptations - in particular: Joy, The Pirate, The Adventurer and The Cowboy. Elizabeth Lowell – any of her Silhouette Desires - in particular: Too Hot to Handle.

Historical: There is great debate here… but I will go with Shanna – Kathleen Woodiwiss. But I will also accept by KW, The Wolf and the Dove, Ashes in the Wind, or A Rose in Winter. The Flame and the Flower ONLY is not acceptable. Johanna Lindsey – Secret Fire, Savage Thunder. Catherine Coulter - The Magic Trilogy. Dorothy Garlock – River of Tomorrow and Midnight Blue.

Contemporary: This is a category I’m somewhat weak on. My easy pick is Nora Roberts – Born in Ice. It’s probably one of my top 10s of all time. But I know you’re going to be expecting SEP here – and I am hit and miss with her. Also with Cruise. So I will accept the Nora Roberts and allow you all to fill in my missing gaps. But you have to kick it old school. If I could I would include Sidney Sheldon’s If Tomorrow Comes –not technically a romance, but was a defining “heroine” driven book for me.


Molly O'Keefe said...

Ohhhh....required romance reading - I love it. When I met Sinead - seh was so smart and savvy and cool and I immediatley wanted to exchange manuscript pages with her - but she made us go through this serious long process of exchanging our favorite books and in the end - it was brilliant because by the time I got to her pages - I knew where her bar was set. What she wanted to accomplish and I could critique her that way and I'm pretty sure she felt the same way. So I love required romance reading lists...

That said, I really like being sad - isn't that strange? I think it's because I'm an easy crier - cry all the time. Cried during Short Circut the robot movie with Ally Sheedy. So, the serious stuff that makes me cry is always high on my list,

But onto my romance list:
Catagory - I share your affection for those old terribly un-PC Lowell series books. My fav: Love SOng For A Raven. (Why can't I get away with a title like that anymore? Love Song For a Raven - honestly.)

Historical: Kinsale. Judith McNaught's Regencies - talk about the slow burn but every time I pick those books up my heart breaks like it did when I first read them. Never read Garlock - must do that.Katherine Sutcliffe has a couple on my shelf and so does Julie Garwood

Contemp - Dream a Little Dream by SEP and while not classic romance and I'm not just blowing smoke up her bumm - but Do Me Do My Roots by our own Eileen. Because it made me sad and happy. That's what I loved about the best of the chick lit craze - sad and happy.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Ooooh Garwood. Yes I forgot her. The Bride or Honor's Splendor definitely.

I think I have go back and take a look at McNaught. I want to say the only one on my keeper shelf is Knight in Shinning Armour.

And I have no SEP. I know... I know... I don't know why. I can remember books that I LOVE from her, but I feel like I always have to be cautious. Like how bad is she going to hurt me before I get my HEA ending.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Knight in SHining Armor isn't McNaught -- who is that? That's the time travel right? No, McNaught is Something Wonderful....

But Dream a Little Dream will hurt you very much before the HEA - but her circus one with the russian hero? That's just fun....

I can't remember anything anymore! THis is terrifying I think I need to do more crossword puzzles or something.

Eileen said...

Ooh, Molly, please blow smoke up my bum whenever you want! It felt so good! :-)

Hmmm. My lists. To kick it old school . . . how about Mary Stewart? The Moonspinners? I think I reread it about ten times the summer I turned fifteen. Aweseome! And Helen MacInnes? Any of those would really do.

For historical, definitely Ashes in the Wind by Woodiwiss. We passed it around in college. It just would circle. Loved it to pieces. I also have a total weak spot for Kathleen Givens. There's something about the way she does those Scottish historicals that completely sucks me in.

I don't like my paranormal too heavy so I'm going to go with Patricia Briggs and Tanya Huff.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Eileen - I've never heard of half those people. Helen who? Looks like another trip to Amazon. Part of my secret plot to get you guys to reveal all your favorites and increase my reading list..

And Molly you're right that was Deveraux. I know I read McNaught - but it was contemporary not regency.

I remember a book where the hero was simply AWFUL to the the heroine and I just loved it. Why is that?

I'll read the circus one then. I read the football ones, and the one with the self help lady in Italy. But I think it was Dream that I started and was like... I can't do this.

Maureen McGowan said...

I feel illiterate when I read everyone's romance lists. Much like I do when Molly and Sinead start talking about their favorite romances. It's like I missed the genre. To be fair to me (because why wouldn't you be, and I love a good excuse) it did have it's big surge after I had come of age (so to speak)... If those books had been around when I was a teen I would've been reading them.

I think the Sidney Sheldon book is the only one on Steph's list that I've read. I read a lot of Sidney Sheldon and Judith Krantz (I think I read Princess Daisy at least 10 times -- some scenes more than that...) and Andrew Greeley and authors like that back in the day.

Ha! I just looked at Judith Krantz's wikipedia page and according to that, she did write romance. But they certainly weren't romance by today's standards.

Eileen said...

Well, somebody said OLD school! Helen MacInnes wrote these fantastic spy stories in the sixties. Mary Stewart wrote these great sort of contemporary gothic suspense stories also probably in the 60s or 70s. My dad was a big reader of suspense, mystery and espionage stories, but preferred women writers (specifically British women writers). He said they gave him a more of a sense of setting than men writers and he liked that dry British humor. It was what was around in the house, so it was what I read.

Sinead M said...

Love, love the required reading list.

Stephanie you namechecked a book that started me on romance. Sydney Sheldon If Tomorrow Comes, could not have loved that book more when I read it as a teen..

And all the rest everyone mentioned, but I have to include anything by Maggie Osborne...

Maureen McGowan said...

Sinead!!! Congratulations. :-)

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