Monday, April 27, 2015

Embracing an Open Reading Lifestyle

I don’t remember my exact age when I started reading, but I know I was young. I always loved books and the stories inside them. I loved the way they made me feel. Like the good girl I was, I quickly found myself in a monogamous reading lifestyle—which basically means I read only one author at a time for an extended period.

I still remember my first epic love. So many feels. I remained loyal to the Sweet Valley High Series, ensuring that I had every issue, for many years.

As I got older, my brother introduced me to King. I was a teenager and King’s dark and dangerous side was appealing and impossible to resist!

When I grew out of my bad-boy phase, James Patterson held me close and took me on adventures that were still thrilling, but much safer.

When I needed to slow down due to the craziness of life, Maeve Binchy gave me all the comfortable feels my body craved.

Then ten years ago a friend asked me if I was interesting in joining a small book club she was starting. After I got over my shock and regained my composure, I began thinking about how a book club wouldn’t be right for me. I knew enough about book clubs to know that they were promiscuous in their reading, quickly jumping from one author to another. Some members even read more than one at a time!

However, I was also intrigued by this alternative reading lifestyle. I had several friends in other book clubs, and so I decided to give it a try. As I expected, this group opened up my reading experience by removing me from my monogamous reading lifestyle. What I didn’t expect was my reaction—it was exhilarating! I found so many new authors I loved and types of books that I didn’t know I enjoyed reading. I also discovered some that weren’t for me, landing them a one-night-stand status.

As the years passed, I realized that while I was reading many new authors, I was still only reading books selected by my book club. I had developed an itch to become even more adventurous. So when I became an author, I decide it was the perfect time to move into full swing—I wanted to have an open reading relationship with many books and authors.

After a year of reading just about anything and everything, I’ve experienced nothing but sweet bliss! Of course I’ve paired up with the occasional dud, but that’s part of the excitement. It just heightens the next reading experience. Besides, I can always go back to one of my steady authors if I run into a bad batch of books. That’s usually enough to cleanse my palette and get me back out in the field.

In my open reading lifestyle, I’ve read short stories and novellas—genres I never considered before. Usually I want the full reading experience—you know, build up some tension by starting out with a little flirting before getting to the good stuff. Who knew a quickie could be so satisfying? One of my recent favorites was One Night Is All You Need by fellow Across the Board author Kimberly G. Giarratano.  

I’m currently reading Billy and the Cloneasaurus by Stephen Kozeniewski, another Across the Board author. In my previous monogamous reading lifestyle, I would have taken one look at the cover and ran away. But I knew that if I wanted to truly embrace this open reading lifestyle, then I needed to give every book a shot. As I got started on it, I thought perhaps I’d be reading the entire thing through my fingers (I mean, he is a horror author). I know, I know, I used to read King so what’s the big deal? Well, I’m no longer that carefree, reckless teenager. I’m a mom in her 40s. At this stage in my life I should be rebelling by moving in the hot and steamy direction, not the dead and steamy. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised (and I haven’t had to read through my fingers). 

Over the weekend I finally took my open reading lifestyle to the ultimate level by experiencing an audio book for the first time. Oh my. I might have to take extended trips without the family more often. 

I’m so happy that I took the leap to move into an open reading lifestyle. When I started down this path I was afraid I’d constantly be comparing one author to another. I mean, how can you compare a YA contemporary romantic dystopian to a classic piece of literature? Well, you can’t. Surprisingly, I think that’s what I’ve come to love most about my new open reading lifestyle. I’m able to approach each book with the appreciation that it is unique, and beautiful, in its own way (even the books I dont end up enjoying).

For those of you who are stuck in the rut of a monogamous reading relationship, I highly recommend stepping outside your box. Whether you currently read just one author at a time, or remain only in one genre, push your boundaries—variety really is the spice of life!

Anyone else enjoying an open reading lifestyle?



Jonathan Schramm said...

Great post, Carrie! This whole swinger reading lifestyle you propose seems a little racy to me, but I could be persuaded. May need a cocktail, but hey! Jump right in, right?! I typically read lots of different authors, but I have trouble reading anything outside of Sci-Fi/Fantasy right now. I just have a thing for wanting to be transported to a different world when I sit down with a novel. Thanks for making me think outside the book!

Unknown said...

hahaha love this! I was always really boring when it came to my tastes, and would stick with one type of book as a kid: Sweet Valley Twins or High/Babysitters Club/Nancy Drew. That was it! As I got older I started reading everything from women's fiction to light chick lit and of course my fav, YA. I learned never say never, because I always said I wouldn't read dystopian and The Selection became one of my fav books of all time. It's so important to branch out!

Anonymous said...

I used to binge on one author at a time, too. I still do sometimes, but not as hard. That makes me miss out on a lot. lol

Leandra Wallace said...

Oh, Sweet Valley High... I read The Saddle Club too (basically the same thing as SHV, but w/horses). =) And the Thoroughbred series as a kid. Great post, Carrie! Reading widely really helps with our own writing too. I don't read as widely as I should, though I do try. I'd like to read At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen. It just came out, and she's the author of Water for Elephants, which I loved!

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

Thank you for mentioning my short!! I loved Sweet Valley High.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Awww, I'm glad you're enjoying BATC, Carrie. As for having to read through your hands, it's not "that" kind of horror...more like, I'm hoping you'll wake up in the middle of the night a few months from now filled with existential dread...but I digress. But regarding getting frisky as a reader, since becoming an author I've read romance, WF, and YA (including our own Kim G's GRUNGE GODS AND GRAVEYARDS) which are all genres I never thought I'd get into, and been pleasantly surprised in most cases. I guess what it boils down to is: good is good.

Carrie Beckort said...

Yes, a few cocktails make it a bit easier to jump in! But not too many, because then you might forget everything you read!

Carrie Beckort said...

I enjoyed The Selection too. I've come to love a lot of the YA books I've read :-)

Carrie Beckort said...

With the trend of books in series these days, it can be easy to do! Sometimes I have to force myself to look beyond the author right in front of me, and I'm so happy when I do.

Carrie Beckort said...

My book club has talked about adding At the Water's Edge. We loved Water for Elephants!

Carrie Beckort said...

You're welcome - it was really good! Now I can't wait to read Grunge Gods and Graveyards :-)

Carrie Beckort said...

Yes, I've already been thinking about BATC during the down times of not reading. And you are right - good is good.

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