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In some of my previous posts I’ve talked about my effort to deliberately seek out new genres and authors to stretch myself as a reader. For every 100 books that I read, there’s hundreds more that I haven’t read, and the ever-so-helpful reading lists generated by magazines and websites remind me of that fact.

 

Let’s be honest. Humans are creatures of habit, and time is limited. When it comes to books, it’s tempting to stick to what we know we like and never take a risk on anything new. In seeking out new authors and somewhat less publicized titles, I’ve discovered a lot of really great books that I never would have guessed I’d like. Like so many readers, I always fantized about having the time to read them all. Then... the world was on lockdown. Theoritically I could concentrate on checking out of all the interesting new e-books I’d put on hold months ago. Instead, I started seeking out some of the familiar bestselling authors I know I’ve enjoyed in the past.

 

Before books became my career, I read everything by authors such as Nora Roberts, and Stephen King. If I found a new title by these authors in the bookstore I’d grab it, and probably read it right away. My not reading them in recent years wasn’t due to a loss of interest or a dislike of their books, but time. Time was a factor in losing track of many popular authors who I enjoyed, and as much as I’ve tried to keep up with their books, I realized long ago that I can’t read everything.

 

Any avid reader will admit that their To Be Read pile contains more books than they’ll read in a lifetime (I know mine does) and sometimes, my desire to read whatever catches my attention at the moment overtakes my desire to read something by someone I already like- especially when I know the author is a bestseller and will be a must-have for libraries regardless of whether I read it.

 

Coming back to these authors felt like a comfortable old piece of clothing for my brain when the daily news was too bleak to follow and my stress-levels were at their max. They’ve been around for years, they’re familiar, and other than briefly wondering if they were still a good fit after so many years, there wasn’t a lot of risk involved in reading them. I knew I’d enjoyed them in the past, and I knew exactly what I could expect from their books.

 

Under Currents by Nora Roberts / a dock on a lake, shrouded in purple lightAs it turned out, I enjoyed the books very much, and I felt a teeny pang of remorse that it took me so long to get to them. Under Currents by Nora Roberts 3889630 was a good blend of romance and suspense, and I was so invested in the characters that I was physically worried for them whenever they were in peril. The romance was predictable, but Roberts writes well, and predictable fit the bill of what I was looking for. A little bit of substance, a little bit of sweet, and happily ever after.

 

The Institute by Stephen King /  a boy sitting on a bed in a bedroom that is inside a train car on a trackThe Institute by Stephen King 3629240 was every bit as creepy and disturbing as I’d remembered his books being, and it was a good thrill. The premise was original, the bad guys were really bad, and naturally, everything boiled down to good-versus-evil. While it’s not the same kind of happy ending that you get from a romance novel or a fairy tale, it was a satisfying ending, and it felt good to see good triumph.

 

In the end, going back to these old favourites turned out to be a great thing because I realized something important. As important as it is to read broadly and diversely, it’s also important to read what and who you like, and in my efforts to stretch, I lost sight of the importance of comfort reading. Not everything I read has to a well-reviewed title or by someone I’ve never read before. Discovering new authors is great, but sometimes you just need those comfy old sweats to feel comfortable.

 

The Return by Nicholas Sparks / a flower framed porch and doorNow that a year has passed and the world might start to go back to normal, I took some time to review my holds list at the library. I added some new books to the list by more of my favourites, and am really excited to rediscover some of the books I’ve missed by Barbara Taylor Bradford, Nicholas Sparks, and more. Hopefully reading them will make me happy, and the best part is that I won’t feel guilty at all if and when they do.

 

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Happy Reading!

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