As I was sitting in bed the other night, reading a terrific paranormal romance e-book, I had one of those WTF moments where I realized “this would not have been me a few years ago.” I don’t know why I felt the need to blog about it, but I did. So there — I mean, here. It is.
I always tell people that Smart Bitches, Trashy Books got me back into reading romance. I was referred to the site during the early days of the Cassie Edwards plagiarism kerfuffle by someone who knew that I’m an anti-plagiarism crusader, and I got hooked on the smart and funny conversations going on over there. Next thing I knew, I was haunting the Friends of the Library used book sale for Sarah and Candy’s favorites and shopping in a completely unfamiliar section of Borders.
Then I found Dear Author, where the contributions of multiple reviewers (some of whose taste really dovetails with mine) and Jane’s timely posts on industry issues, especially digital publishing, became another stop on my daily web tour. More reviews meant more books I wanted to read, and soon I had a list of certain authors I was stalking tracking for their back lists and new releases. I sucked my oldest daughter in, too. Along the way, I got to know certain other voices among readers, as well as a few authors.
I first met other DA and SBTB readers at a book signing for Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance. Several of us went out to eat after the event, and stayed in touch through Twitter, which I joined just for that purpose. Slowly I started meeting other readers, and some authors, who lived or visited locally. My TBR pile grew, and in addition to commenting on other people’s reviews, I started occasionally posting short reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and my own blog.
I’ve always been a big reader, but I really hadn’t read romance since my teen years. That changed, fast. At first it was just historical romance; then Jane and Sarah started their Save the Contemporary campaign, and I discovered that there were smart, funny romances set in our own time (who know?). I resisted paranormal romance for a long time, but with the guidance of other readers whose taste I knew and trusted, I discovered that there were books for me in that genre too. Many of them. I can remember a time when I could go to a bookstore or the library and find nothing to new to read. Now, I have a TBR mountain of books that I might never have tried.
2010, though? I went over the edge. I joined Keishon’s TBR Challenge, committing to a review a month (gasp!). I signed up for NetGalley, and I accepted a few paper ARCs from authors and publishers. I entered a contest from Borders for free registration at RomCon, and when I won, I spent hundreds of dollars on airfare and a hotel room so that I could attend. And attend I did — I met dozens of other readers, bloggers (including Jane and Sarah) and writers, and had an absolutely marvelous time surrounded by people who share my interest in romance. I came home with a pile of books and a long list of recommended reading. (Here’s my post about that experience, on the old blog.)
I also succumbed to the allure of the e-book. My partner bought me an iPad, Jane steered me towards resources I needed to use it effectively as an e-reader (Stanza and Calibre FTW!), and the DA & SBTB app for iPhone, called TBR, introduced me to MORE authors by giving me tasty tidbits to read while sitting around the doctor’s office, jury duty, the airport, wherever.
And Twitter? Holy hell, it has become a huge source of amusement, information, and support, as well as reading recommendations. When my father passed away earlier this year, the outpouring of condolence and genuine sympathy was a real comfort.
So here I am, reading genres I would never have considered, in formats I had never heard of, spending time talking with people I would never have met, and LOOKING FOR MORE. I’m going to the IASPR conference in 2011. I’ve already hit up my kid sister for a place to stay for that and RWA in NYC, and I’ve told the family to plan next summer around my being gone for that week. A year in advance!
In addition to romance, I still read fantasy and science fiction, historical fiction, and some mystery and detective fiction, and I’m still a regular at the local library. But the shape of how my reading fits into the rest of my life has changed — for the better, of course. I follow a lot of blogs now, some more regularly than others, but the first two every day are still DA and SBTB. Because in a way, it’s all their fault.