The fact of the matter is that I *should* have been reading a contemporary. My TBR bench is somewhat organized by categories (historicals, paranormals, contemporaries, mysteries, etc.), and within the historical section are specific series. I try to mix things up, reading books from different sub-genres and by different authors so that I don't get the reading equivalent of brain freeze from gobbling ice cream. I'd read Bedwyn book #4, Slightly Tempted, -- and blogged about it here -- just a few days ago. I really intended not reading the final two Slightly books right away, but when I asked on Twitter if I should be virtuous and read a contemporary (or be indulgent and read a Slightly book), you could hear the crickets. (It was like everyone left Twitter at the exact same time. What -- d'you all have lives?)
Oh, but who am I kidding. I didn't much care about Slightly Sinful; I just wanted to get to Slightly Dangerous, the book in which Wulfric finally makes his match. Others had said it was wonderful, and -- for once -- a book exceeded its hype. In fact, it made me do something I haven't done in a long time. It made me behave as though I was single again.
I didn't marry until I was 42, and I really didn't date or have romances before then. That meant I had lots of time that was mine to spend, or waste, any way I wanted. I spent (or wasted, depending on your perspective) a lot of it reading. And if I wanted to read all day long, and I wasn't obligated to be somewhere else, like working, then I could.
Can I share that joy? I don't see how. If you've read it, and if you loved it as I clearly did, you already know some version of the same joy. But reading is such a solitary activity, I don't know how to scoop up some of my joy and parcel it out. I can write about it, but without recreating in a blog post the bits that maybe gave you joy when you read it -- and that's only nudging you toward reliving your own joy -- all I can expect to do is report that yes, I felt joy.
That's when it hit me. One person shared the joy -- Mary Balogh. That's what writers do, isn't it? They share the love and happiness they create for their characters, and by so doing, they also share the love and happiness their characters give them. At least, I suspect that's what all writers are striving to do.
Funny. We think of writing as this very solitary activity, but I think reading is much more insular. Writing is like making the yummy food that you want people to gobble up and enjoy. You won't be there when they do -- like Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield dreaming up a new ice cream flavor ("Slightly Decadent"?) while imagining customers someday eating it -- but you want to think they'll love your book. So maybe writing is actually sharing the joy without spatial and temporal synchronicity.
Not every book gives every reader joy. I daresay someone didn't actually like Slightly Dangerous. I asked recently,
What book has it all: well-drawn characters, a satisfying plot, skillful writing, a progressive attitude toward women, men & romance, moving (or funny) dialogue, and a happy ending?
and if I nominated Slightly Dangerous as just such a book, someone would have an objection. But the only flaw I can see is its title, which is a bit generic for such a wonderful concluding volume of the Slighlyt series. My choice would have been "Slightly Perfect."
And now comes my new problem: What can I possibly read now that won't suffer by comparison?