I had great intentions for today’s post. Research was going to be involved and I was going to write something long and tangling. Alas, this did not get accomplished this week, partly because for the past week or so I’ve been a little obsessed with books that I’ve been re-reading.
A few years ago my reading tastes were dramatically different. Today, I rarely move outside three genres: fantasy, historical fiction, and historical romance (it’s even better when they’re combined into one supergenre!). However, before and during university I was really into contemporary romance and romantic suspense. It provided a nice escape from the seriousness of school. Ever since I’ve been working on a readers’ advisory project this summer at work, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I used to read and how reading moods and tastes change over time. Hence, my re-visitation of past books that I loved. So what did I enjoy back in the day? Well, I am more than happy to share…
Linda Howard was pretty much my go-to for romantic suspense. Happily, she had tons of books, and I’m pretty sure that I devoured any thing that she wrote that had a suspense plot. Recently, I re-read, Cry No More, which I remember reading in high school – it still succeeds in keeping me entertained. Personally, I think her books still stand up and I continue to recommend them to romantic suspense fans.
Jennifer Crusie was an author I turned to for something funnier and off-beat. Her contemporary romances are always a sure-bet for a fun and light reads. Her heroines are quirky and the path to true love never runs smoothly. Today, I still recommend her books to fans of Janet Evanovich, and I’m waiting on something new from her. To date, my three favourites are:
Susan Elizabeth Phillips has a huge backlist, but what first got me interested was her sports romances; ironic, considering that I hate sports. There have been so many of her books that I’ve enjoyed, and she is an author that can balance a good romance with a good story; it’s more than standard contemporary romance. Her new book has moved into a bit darker territory, but it keeps enough of her signature characteristics to keep old fans and draw new ones.
Tami Hoag is another author who I loved, especially her earlier books. She continues to be one of my favourite romantic suspense authors. The romance in her books isn’t over the top, and the central mystery always plays a big part of the novel. I recently snagged a copy of Cry Wolf at a used book store, and can’t wait to re-read one of my favourites. These aren’t happy and light reads, but are a great choice for someone looking for more of a thriller that doesn’t skimp on a romance plot.
Elizabeth Lowell was always my favourite author for a more adventurous romance. She combines exotic locales and unusual occupations for her heroes and heroines, and this has always added an extra element to her romantic suspense. It seems that there are tons of suspense books out there that follow a cop, but Lowell brings these suspense elements to new settings, like having her characters being involved in the jewellery or art trade. It always made for a unique reading experience.
Julie Garwood is included on my re-reading list for two reasons. One, I don’t want anyone to imagine that my interest in historical romance is a new. Garwood was my introduction to historical romance; however, her historicals are dramatically different from the types that I read today. But, Ransom, remains one of my favourites of all time (another purchase from my used bookstore buying trip). My second reason is the fact that Garwood also writes fabulous romantic suspense, which I also devoured. Really, you can’t go wrong with this author for either genre, although I do think her older books are better than the more recent books that I’ve attempted to read.
There are a whole lot of author authors that I also used to read in the above genres, but those that I’ve listed remain the ones that really stick out in my mind, and have prompted some re-reading in the recent past. But why bother re-reading? And why do reading moods change? These are questions that interest me from a professional point of view. I love doing readers’ advisory at work, and I think it’s fascinating how a readers’ tastes change over time. This can add an element of challenge when recommending someone a book that they hopefully will enjoy. I suspect that this might be a subject for another post, one with more research.
Enough about me and my past reading tastes. I’d love to hear what others have to think. What was your favourite genre of the past? How has your reading taste changed? Are you ever prompted to read something you loved years ago only to find that it doesn’t stand up to the test of time? Let me know!