Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What are you re-reading--and why? - Liz Flaherty


        I have a lot of favorite re-reads, don’t you? And they’re all over the place as far as time, place, and author.
          I’ve read a healthy percentage of Nora Roberts’ work, but my favorites are her early Silhouettes. In one of them, From this Day, the heroine is the manager of a small hotel.
          I’ve read that same healthy percentage of our own Muriel Jensen’s books, too, but my favorite two are A Carol Christmas and Valentine Hearts and Flowers.  
          I read everything Mary Balogh writes, but I’ve re-read her Christmas stories so often I think the books start jumping off the shelf every October.
          I’m a terrible Kristan Higgins groupie. We said hello at a conference in Chicago and I’m surprised she didn’t run when she read my nametag, and I swear I used my own name. I have read all of her books, most of them more than once, but Catch of the Day has a special place in my reader’s heart.
          I also come precariously close to stalking Kathleen Gilles Seidel. If I could only have one romance novel ever again, it would be Till the Stars Fall.
         Nan Reinhardt and Kristina Knight, besides being my friends, are also favorites. I especially love Nan’s Once More from the Top best and am going to read Kristi’s The Daughter He Wanted again soon.
          So why do I re-read these particular books? What is the common thread?
          I’m almost afraid to say it, but it is the usually the secondary characters. The reason I’m almost afraid is that I was warned from my very earliest
writing-in-longhand days to not give the supporting cast too much attention, time, or strength. It is one of those rules I occasionally blow off myself. Well, often.
          So do the writers I’ve listed above.
          And for this, speaking strictly as a reader, I thank them. Again and again and again. At least once for each time I read their books.
        A whole flock of orphaned kids stole center stage in A Carol Christmas. In Catch of the Day there is a wonderful, wonderful dog. In the Nora Roberts story there is a quirky, fun staff. Mary Balogh’s Christmas stories have children who clutch at your heart and lovely, snowy Regency holidays that are characters unto themselves. In Nan and Kristi’s books, I love the protagonists’ friends (yay, Julie!) as much as the heroes and heroines themselves. In Till the Stars Fall I am in love with Danny French and would still like for Kathleen to write his story. I’d be glad to give her pointers about the woman Danny would love.
          What about you? We’re not nosy or anything, but we’d really like to know—what are your re-reads and why? And, while you’re at it, tell us how you feel about secondary characters.

44 comments:

  1. Hey there, Liz. Wonderful post! I'll admit, I'm not much of a re-reader. There are so many new stories I haven't gotten to yet. :-) The books I have read more than once are the ones I grew up with, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings among them. For me, it's a chance to check in with "friends" I haven't seen for a while. It's not so much the story, but the characters. Speaking of which, you can't beat Merry and Pippin when it comes to wonderfully interesting secondary characters.

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    1. Thanks, Jim, and thanks for coming by. Until you said it, I didn't realize that it's never the story that brings me back--no matter how good that story may be!

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  2. Absolutely the characters for me! And that's what drew me into writing. And secondary vacated are vital.

    As a writer they are the ones I can have fun with. The quirky guy who is the national stone skipping champion, the history professor who wears kilts.The quirkier the better.

    Terry

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    1. Me, too! In one of my own stories (one that's still on the shelf. Sigh.) I have a professor who wears a shirt and tie with denim shorts--every day. He's never actually IN the story, but I still know him.

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  3. Absolutely the characters for me! And that's what drew me into writing. And secondary vacated are vital.

    As a writer they are the ones I can have fun with. The quirky guy who is the national stone skipping champion, the history professor who wears kilts.The quirkier the better.

    Terry

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  4. So many re-reads, and I usually can skim to my favorite parts- usually fun dialogue.

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    1. I can find them easily, too. In the old days, that was where the book fell open. My Kindles doesn't do that. :-)

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  5. I usually re-read anything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She is funny but also has a way of grabbing the emotional heartstrings.

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  6. I have shelves full of books I set aside to re-read, but then my TBR stack gets too tall, so I'm always reading new books in my limited reading time.

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    1. I tell myself that's what I should do, too, but--like movies--I find myself more emotionally involved with many older stories. Takes nothing away from the new ones at all, but I think it is yet one more case of me showing my age.

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  7. Whether I’m reading or writing, secondary characters always capture my interest.

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  8. Liz, I'm a closet re-reader, too. And yes, I have those Mary Balogh Christmas stories, too, and I do think they jump off the shelf in December. :) I loved Kathleen Giles Seidel's books. I met her in an elevator at my first RWA conference (1983, I think, in DC--or was that 1984?) and made a fool of myself gushing all over her. Turned out there were Harlequin VIP's in the elevator, too, so she appreciated my timing.

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    1. Oh, wow, that was cool for both of you!

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  9. Terrific post, Liz! I re-read favorite books, too. I've read some of the books you listed, but thank you for the "must-read" list. I particularly loved seeing Muriel's book mentioned.

    Happy reading, everyone!

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    1. Thanks, Kate. Muriel is one of the writers I've "stalked" forever. However, she's very gracious about it. :-)

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  10. Great post! Please don't tell Mr. Curtis how many books are in my TBR pile. Even I've lost track since they download to kindle. I'm currently reading a Tessa Dare historical

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    1. Oh, yes, the Kindle was a great relief. My stacks of actual books haven't exactly gone down, but they haven't gone up, either. Your choice puts me in the mood for a good historical!

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  11. Love this post! I re-read a few books, but mostly I'm on to the next one. Right now I'm writing, so not reading so much. Will have to check out the books you like.

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    1. I'm not reading a lot, either, and I'm missing it, but I can't really do both. Which is one of the things no one warned me about.

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  12. Oh, I'm a big re-reader if I love a book. And of course now that you ask, I've drawn a blank on what I've re-read! Most of the classics I've read more than once and I've read numerous Nora Roberts books more than once (I loved her MacGregor and Donovan series) and I've read some of Susan Wiggs' more than once too. Gosh, many others that I can't think of now!

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    1. I love the MacGregors, too, and the McDade Brothers, and the Born In Trilogy, and...yeah, she definitely grabs me.

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  13. Liz, fabulous post! I could talk about this subject forever. I LOVE secondary characters, too, and as a reader have no problem when they steal the show. As a writer I have to be careful about this, too. I am also a re-reader. But I have a confession--I never re-read the very end (because I don't want the story to end.) I do this with favorite movies, too--stopping them just before the last scene. I've re-read so many romance authors...Jude Deveraux, LaVyrle Spencer, Julie Garwood, Julie Anne Long, Julia Quinn, Kristine Rolofson, Kristan Higgins, Jane Austen, and of course my beloved Charlotte Bronte. And I'll admit to going a little fan-girl on Kristan Higgins at the RWA last year...

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    1. Oh, Carol. I could never stop a movie before the last scene--but I understood why you do so. My hubby rarely watches the end of a film.

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    2. I know Leigh....it seems kind of weird even to me! I only do this with movies I've seen before though.

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    3. I'm with Leigh--I couldn't do it--but I understand your reasoning. I read the ending to GONE WITH THE WIND when I read it the first time, and it was years before I read it again, though I read my favorite parts over and over.

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  14. Great post! When I was a kid I loved adventure/history novels. There was a book I adored, Wind From The Carolinas. I re-read it about 10 years ago. It was so boring and so tedious I haven't re-read anything since. Is that bad? I'm so happy reading all the new Heartwarming novels, I don't have time.

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    1. Time is definitely a problem! I ran into that when I tried to re-read JANE EYRE. I loved it when I was a kid, still love the movies made from it, but can't read it anymore. Sorry, Carol!

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  15. Liz! I am thrilled and flattered to be on your list. I'm a Kathleen Gilles Seidel groupie, too. Also I can read Susan Elizabeth Phillips over and over, Nora anytime, and just read a wonderful Victoria Alexander that I'll be reading again. Hugs, Liz.

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    1. Believe me, you earned your way onto the list. Someone else mentioned LaVyrle Spencer and she's a big one for me, too.

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  16. This is a great post. Thank you for giving me some authors to look into, especially your very own Muriel Jensen. I have to agree with Roz Denny Fox. I have so many new books to read that I guess I haven't re-read any old favorites as of late. I'd like to re-read some of my Heartwarming books, but I have too many new ones to read right now. ( : There's one book that I really enjoyed reading that I will hopefully re-read one day, The Vicar's Wife by Katharine Swartz (Kate Hewitt is her other pen name, and she writes for Harlequin Presents I believe). I adored that book. Now if I could ever get it back from my mother!!
    I will however re-LISTEN to audiobooks of old classics like Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables or any other book I've enjoyed when I'm in my car, cooking or doing housework. Does that count?

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    1. It counts with me! I love listening. I haven't read THE VICAR'S WIFE, but I love that title! Thanks, Laurie.

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  17. I LOVE re-reading books! I have some I go back to just because I love them, others because I need that added inspiration for my own writing (That can backfire tho, if I'm feeling particularly low about my own stuff, LOL).

    I think I've read Jude Deveraux's SWEET LIAR and A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR dozens of times. Nora Roberts' THREE FATES and the 3 Sister Island Trilogy (I have multiple copies of all of those books) and then I'm due to start the JD Robb series over again (the character development of Eve and Roarke is simply stellar). Nothing like visiting old friends. Wonderful post, Liz! Now I wanna read!

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    1. Oh, me, too, Anna, and I really don't have time today. I loved Deveraux's Velvet series, too!

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  18. What a wonderful post today, Liz! Now I have a new TBR list. Thank you. I used to re-read a book by Anya Seton called Katherine every few years because it always showed me something about life at a different stage. Almost afraid to do that again now. :) Loved to re-read Linda Howard's Silhouette Intimate Moments too, especially Diamond Bay and Midnight Rainbow. Sigh. I'm a sucker for secondary characters but have to watch out for them taking over in my own books. Love the term "vacated characters." I'd never heard of that but it seems I have one in the book I'm writing now. Who knew?

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  19. Thanks, Leigh! I used to read Linda Howard's SIMs, too, and Kathleen Korbel, and...uh oh, I'm off again, but I have to mention the Cheryls: Reavis and St. John. They have given me endless hours of entertainment, and I re-read them, too.

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  20. Great post and yes, I reread often! Honestly, your One More Summer is a go-to if I'm feeling blue and nothing else sounds interesting. I've read all of Lani Diane Rich's books at least twice and Gene Stratton-Porter's books are a must-reread for me. I have no idea how many times I've read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier--a bunch and...and...I could make a long list. Secondary characters are certainly my favorite to write. I always get attached to them when I read them in other people's books and then hope against hope they'll get their own story. ;-)

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    1. I need to re-read some GS-P. It's been years since I've picked one up. There is a woman in my gym whose name is Elnora, so GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST needs to go back on my TBR pile.

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  21. I read a ton and not many books go into my re-read pile. Sometimes it will be for a quirky reason. I have read "The Nosy Neighbor" by Fern Michaels a few times. Mostly, it's the classics. Little Women. Stuart Little. Last night we watched The Firm movie and it made me want to read the book for the third time. Although not a classic, Grisham knows how to spin a story. The Summons, by Grisham, is another one I have read a few times. In college, I read The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing three summers running. I wrote down some favorite lines. Thanks for the reminder about the pleasures of re-reading . It puts me in a different mindset since I know what is going to happen. It's pure joy.

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    1. Oh, LITTLE WOMEN--probably the real reason I'm a writer. If Jo could go into her garret, I could, too. :-) It is pure joy, isn't it?

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  22. I am a sucker for re-reading YA. I read Anne of Green Gables every six or seven years. I do the same with with Laura Ingalls and Janette Oake's Love Comes... series. I've read Outlander five or six times. OH, I re-read James Herriot a lot. I've read Gone with the Wind a dozen times. Anyone remember the old Kismit series. There was one called Minor Adjustment. I dig it out and read it. So many books, so little time.

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    1. Oh, James Herriot! I re-read them, too! I need to get his books on the KIndle, because I have a tendency to loan them out and then have to buy them again. I read them episodically, though--never straight through.

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