Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Love Libraries

Ever since I’ve been a kid, I’ve loved books. I remember going to the local library and taking out stacks of books. The building, the quiet, and all those books. I would have taken out all the books, if I could. I still would.

Nothing has changed since that long-ago time. In whatever town I’ve moved to, the first thing I did was get a library card. I’ve read lots of things. I’ve always liked fiction (real life is such a drag), but I read some non-fiction, too, mainly science books. As for the fiction, I read science fiction and fantasy for a while before I turned to romance

The first romances I read were by Barbara Cartland. I loved her books. She introduced me to historicals, and I found my home in the past. Ms. Cartland wrote in several eras and I loved all her stories, but most of her novels were set in the Regency. When I had finally overdosed on Barbara Cartland (she wrote hundreds of books), I investigated other Regency authors. One of the first I found, and one who remains one of the best, is Mary Balogh. She’s still a superstar. Then there are the other stars--Mary Jo Putney and Loretta Chase

My tastes have branched out in the past few years. I always read these three authors, but about five years ago, I went on a romance reading binge. I went to the library twice a week. I tried out author after author. Some I liked then and still like, some I’ve tired of.

Libraries are great places to vet romances. Like everyone else, I have limited time and money, and don’t want to waste either on books I don’t like. I just recently bought a loser based on the blurb and interview. Great blurbs and interviews can hide a clunker.

Here’s my system, starting at the bottom:

Level 5--After reading a few pages at the library, I decide the book isn't to my taste and return it to the shelves.

Level 4--These books' back cover blurb and excerpt interest me, so I took them home. But I didn’t like them and didn’t finish them. Back to the library.

Level 3--Books I finished but shouldn't have. I just read one like this. The novel was all right, but I’ll never read another one by that author. New author. Hey, you gotta give 'em a try.

Level 2--I'll read this author again, but only the library copy.

Level 1--How wonderful to find a Level One. With these books, I read a few pages and run to the bookstore to buy my own copy and the author’s backlist. Some Regency finds in this category are Patricia Rice, Anne Gracie and Nicola Cornick. Authors like these are the ones who make me glad I suffered through those clunkers.

Now, when I was living at the library, I didn’t know e-books existed. So how to vet them? My system won’t work with e-books because my library has only a few e-book novels. I’m sorry they don’t. There are tons of great books out there available in e-format only, mine included (Shameless Promotion here)

So, for e-books, I read blurbs and excerpts. But e-books are the future, and when my library catches up, I'll be there online, again finding new authors and books.

Thank you all,


Linda Banche

Regency romance--most with humor, some with fantasy, and occasionally a paranormal

Lady of the Stars--A legend spanning time, and the man and woman caught in it--Regency time travel, available from The Wild Rose Press

Pumpkinnapper--Pumpkin thieves, a youthful love rekindled, and a jealous goose. Oh my--coming September 30, 2009 from The Wild Rose Press


BookJunkee00 said...

I love love love Libraries when I was younger I'd spend all day after school in the library just being around books I would look at every single one that caught my eye and it closed at 9 pm. I would check out all 25 of the limit allowed!!!

Savanna Kougar said...

I've always loved libraries, too. Though, I can't say with the same devotion. My life didn't travel in that direction all the time.
Fascinating about you vet your romances. My only system currently, is reading the blurb, then randomly opening the book and reading. More often than not, the book gets put back, in most cases, because the author's writing style is too simplistic and doesn't capture my imagination. Yep, I did actually graduate kindergarten.
Actually, from what I've learned I don't think this is necessarily the author's fault in all cases. I've read articles encouraging romance authors to write to a sixth grade level. Well, if you're actually doing that, oops... you won't have me as a reader... and, sadly, what used to be the sixth grade level is declining with each passing year.
Yes, I've read responses from authors complaing about this absudity... where it all stands now, I have no clue. I don't keep up with that. I simply write. Which isn't simple... as all writers know.

Linda, thanks for reminding me how much I love libraries.

Linda Banche said...

Ah, BookJunkee00, someone after my own heart. I think the limit at my library when I was a kid was 8, and I always took out the 8.

Savanna, I've read that the reading level for most novels is fifth grade, not even sixth, mainly for the sentence length. Short length = lower grade. If you use Word, you can find out the level after you do a spell check. Then Word gives statistics, and one of them is the "Fleish Reading Level".

Elaine Cantrell said...

I adore libraries! When I was in the first grade my mother made a big deal out of taking me to the library to check out some books. From that time on I was hooked.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Super article, Linda! I'm a real library user, as you are, and I found myself nodding as I read your article. I still go to my library every week and love browsing the shelves.

Re e-books. I found that once they appear in POD my library are happy to obtain them for me if they are available easily.

Thanks for celebrating such a wonderful resource!

Kathleen O said...

Like you I love the library. I have been going as far back as I can remember..And this past couple of years it has been a life saver for me. Money has been a big issue and I have not been able to spend it on books. Other things have had to come first, like the rent and food..but I have found many of my favorites and a load of new author too.
This was a great post!!!

Linda Banche said...

Hi Elaine, your mother was right. Going to the library is a big deal!

Lindsay, part of the reason we're writers is because we're readers, too. I'll have to try asking my library to get some e-books.

Thanks, Kathleen. It's great that libraries are there for those of us who can't buy all those wonderful books.

Debra St. John said...

There definitely is something magical about a library. I love that there are just so many books there waiting to be discovered/read. It kind of sends chills over me whenever I walk through the door!!

Linda Banche said...

Debra, I understand the feeling. I feel the same way.

Savanna Kougar said...

Linda, thanks for tip. I didn't realize that was figured by sentence length. Some of mine are short, especially in action scenes.
Who knows? Maybe, I'm at fifth grade level... lol...