Monday, October 04, 2010

Comfort Reads

Oh. Monday. I finished the rough draft of my manuscript last Wednesday and sent it off to the critique group knowing something was wrong, but the squirrel in my brain was tired of running on the wheel so I couldn't solve my own problems. Friday my big plan was to clean the top of my fridge. It's terrifying. But instead I surfed the web and got frustrated and confused and worried about how in the world I could write a book that would please everyone all of the time - which is sort of my raison d'etre.

So, I finally tore myself away from the Internet, a ball of crazy and the top of the fridge for all of it's charm - no longer had enough appeal. So, I crawled into bed (don't tell my husband) and searched through my keeper shelf for a comfort read.

A comfort read for me is about satisfaction - it's about every scene being not only exactly the best it could be - all pistons firing. But all scenes manage to move me and surprise me. It's romance at it's most compelling, characters at their most nuanced and no matter how many times I pick the book up - I get sucked in.

For this particular bout of anxiety I needed something edgy. Something sexy and dark that wouldn't make me feel bad about what I was writing and would be totally escape. I choose Lover Awakened - the Zadist story in the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Good stuff.

My other two top comfort reads: Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips - sympathetic heroine, unlikeable hero, everyone's backs are against the wall and there's a heart-breaking kid - it's perfect. And Finally The Star and The Shadow - Laura Kinsale. Because it's subtle and it's magic - it's the other side of the coin in terms of the Ward book.

So, what are your comfort reads?


Stephanie Doyle said...

Awesome post! I can't tell you how many times I've needed to do the same. I'll go...

1. Zadist - absolutely. When I feel tortured.

2. Kresely Cole - when I'm in the mood for a little fun, a little angst.

3. Julia Quinn - The Bridgerton series. (As much as I'm not into her new books - that was a perfect series.)

4. Sometimes you have to kick it old school. Then I go 1980 Krentz, Howard and Delinski.

5. When all goes wrong. And I need absolute escape. I turn to Nora. Born in Ice - it really is my only consistent re-read. But I fall in love with Grayson Thane everytime I read it.

Stephanie Doyle said...

You know I wondered as I was thinking about the 100 other comfort reads I have.... Hoyt's Raven Prince. 1980 Coulter - Calypso Magic (still holds up)...

Are comfort reads unique to romance readers? Women? Do men have comfort reads that they go back to? Are there certain mysteries, thrillers, Nelson Demille books that people will go back to time and time again.

Or is a function of the romance genre because at the end of the day these books are written with a HEA.

Maureen McGowan said...

You know, I rarely go back to a book a second time. Back in the day (before I started writing) I sometimes picked up a book and got a third of the way in before I realized I'd read it before... but I usually put it right down. I guess the fact that I didn't remember it, was the first clue it wasn't a comfort read.

But you've got me excited about reading that Zsadist book again... Hmmm.. maybe I'll curl up today instead of working. No can't. Stop it...

Maureen McGowan said...

Steph, I didn't read your second comment before I posted. I think that's a really interesting theory (about romance readers having more comfort reads).

One of the reasons I've never been a rabid fan of romance (although I am a great admirer) is that part of the experience I love as a reader is not knowing how a story will end. I love a good sad ending, or a shocking surprise, or even an ambiguous ending if it makes me think... And I know I'm not going to get that with a romance.

And that's maybe why I don't go back to my favorite books that often. I already know the end.

Movies are my comfort entertainment. I think I relate to this idea of comfort reads way more when I think of movies I can watch over and over... And yes, 99% of those are romances, or have big romance subplots I loved, even if they didn't work out happily (like say, Broadcast News or Brokeback Mountain).

Off the top of my head... Movies I've watched many times and would watch again this minute:

Broadcast News
Moulin Rouge
Strictly Ballroom
Brokeback Mountain
Say Anything

I'll think of more all day now...

Sinead M said...

I love my comfort reads. Kinsale, Maggie Osborne, SEP, and yep, the Zadist book are all mine.

On a miserable day, soaking in a hot bath... perfect.

Molly O'Keefe said...

oh my lord Calypso Magic - I remember that magic series. It holds up? really? because I remember a scene in a barn with a whip?

I think those comfort reads manage to give us the ending we want better than we expected. the Zadist ending - best ending in a romance - bar none. Totally over the top and dramatic and I was there every word.

Maureen - I agree with you a hundred percent - a lot of my favorite books outside of the genre I don't reread - the ending is the key. And that shock and suprise doesn't come again.

My husband who does read doesn't have comfort reads - but good lord - get one of the Godfather movies on the screen or Rudy and watch the weeping begin. Not godfather - rudy - it's a man cry fest.

Sinead - when honestly when is the last time you had a hot bath? without a kid being in there with you?

Molly O'Keefe said...

Steph my kick it old school is Lowell. So old school. But my Nora Roberts comfort series is the Chesapeake Bay series - I got to the born series too late - I knew her tricks.

I just read that SEP's next book is going to be Ted Beaudine's. OH. OH my.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Molly Calypso Magic absolutely does hold up...

If you deal with the whip and the spanking and the fact that midway through the hero sort of rapes the heroine for not a really good reason....

You know... but he apologizes.

Eileen said...

Well, if he apologized, I guess it's okay. Really?

I might go with a Jennifer Crusie book (Tell Me Lies or Welcome to Temptation) or possibly Tami Hoag's Lucky's Lady which is when I fell in love with romance. I'm not a big re-reader though. Not unless I'm doing it to dissect a book to see how it works.

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