The Books I've Read

A Life of Reading

My (mostly) signed books with most recent arrivals on the top shelf
"For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort & quiet or excite you." 
~ 'Bird by Bird' by Anne Lamott

As a child, nearly every book I read was about horses: The Black Stallion series, My Friend Flicka, Black Beauty, and the books by Marguerite Henry come to mind. I lived very dreamily in those books until I got my own horses. I rarely read anything but Arabian horse and animal husbandry books from my teens through my thirties. All that changed when a friend recommended this novel to me in 1992. I enjoyed reading it so much my predilection for fiction was born. I bought, read, and then donated hundreds of print novels before discovering the perfect format for me—eBooks, which I read on my Kindle Paperwhite.
My 2nd Kindle Paperwhite, VAREAD PLEASURES II

While no one read to me as a child (although my dad was an avid fiction reader himself), I began reading to my daughter before she was born. I continued reading to her until she was old enough to read to me! And while I was 38 years old when I got my first library card she was a child when she acquired her first. She and I visited our local libraries frequently to borrow books and to attend special events. She even volunteered at our small town library as a high school student. Our frequent mama and daughter trips to our neighborhood Borders Books are still precious memories for me these 20+ years later! We would spend time finding just the right book(s) in the children's section and then take our "haul" to the cafe where we would order fruit smoothies and chat. She was an animated preschooler just finding her voice and I remember many amused customers smiling over her excitement. Oh, and all of those hours poring over the Scholastic Books flyers and the thrill of the Scholastic Book Fairs?! Such excitement! More for me than her, at times. 😊 I purchased books as her main reward for academic excellence; and although I can't be sure, I hope they helped incentivize her to maintain her honor roll status all the way from primary through secondary school.

My daughter's books when she was an adolescent and young teen

For many years now I've been all about books: researching, price watching, wish-listing, collecting, cataloging, and reading them—to the tune of over 200 books per year! People ask me how I read so many books. Well, I'm a senior, single, and retired. I live tiny and simply. My adult daughter is on the other coast and all my beloved companion animals are gone. Books offer me more joy than I can ever adequately express and give me endless opportunities to fulfill my love of organizing, as well. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to read to my heart's content and hope I can, in some way, inspire others to read more! Much like I was inspired by a group of ladies (The Loop Ladies) I first met online in 1996. We corresponded for many years about our love of reading (and are still in touch today). Can you imagine thousands of group emails discussing books over the course of several years? Knowing these ladies has been a highlight of my life. 

I am happily (and almost exclusively) ensconced in the romance genre, although I do enjoy others. While I can't seem to help getting all dreamy over happily-ever-after endings I'm too much of a pragmatist to believe they exist anywhere other than in books. And even though I read novels featuring alpha males, erotica, and BDSM, I will always favor the respectful guys. As evidenced in my best book boyfriend list below. 

My favorite categories in fiction are romantic suspense, contemporary romance, erotic romance, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and historical. I also delve a little out of my fiction comfort zone to read select fantasy/paranormal books. When it comes to non-fiction I am most interested in history, maritime history, and memoirs. Those must-read classics and some literature, that I somehow avoided earlier in life, are finally getting my attention. Better late than never, right?
I've done two buddy reads in my entire adult life (both with my daughter) and have never participated in a book club. My two best reading friends both passed away late in 2022; I miss them and our animated and emotional discussions very much. It seems impossible for me to find a like-minded book buddy at this stage, but sharing here helps fill some of the void left by their absence.
My Book Preferences
  • Life's too short to read books I don't like. Those one-star reads always end up as DNF (did-not-finish).
  • A five-star rating doesn't mean I think the book is perfect. It means I think it's amazing despite any "imperfections."
  • The books that end up as my favorites are the ones I get lost in; the ones that while reading, I lose all track of time; the ones that evoke the strongest emotions; the ones that make me laugh, cry, blush, gasp, and sigh.
  • I enjoy dual timeline stories but have a strong aversion to extensive flashbacks.
  • I will stop reading a book if there are too many characters introduced right away. 
  • I prefer snappy dialogue and little rambling inner monologues.
  • As in real life, I absolutely deplore excessive SMS shorthand!
  • While I can accept a certain amount of the "eye dialect" style of writing, I get irritated when it goes to the extreme.
  • I always favor the "good guys" and don't want to spend much time in the point of view of the "bad guys." If the book ends in favor of the evildoers...I will be extremely displeased!
  • Although I’m noticing more and more books with content warnings, I have yet to notice a warning for graphic descriptions of animal abuse & neglect, fishing, hunting, butchering, etc. I don’t know if I would consider myself “triggered” by these accounts, but I most certainly consider them to be unforgivably upsetting. 
  • While I find great writing inspiring, I genuinely enjoy a good read purely for entertaining escapism.
  • I've found that when I'm in a reading slump (don't those freak you out?) picking up one of my very favorite re-readable paperbacks is all it takes to make things right in my reader world. 
  • Real life is tough. Give me those happy endings!  
And they lived…

 My Reading Process
  1. I always read the Kindle versions first because Amazon keeps all of your notes and highlights archived online for you. (Sources: Overdrive, Kindle Unlimited, and Amazon purchases.)
  2. For the Kindle books that are 4 or 5-star reads, I'll acquire the audiobook version when the narration is favorable to me. (Source: Audible)
  3. For those re-readable favorites, it's my goal to have signed copies to do all future rereads with. (Sources: the indie bookstores listed below and authors' websites.)
  4. When I love a book enough to own the Kindle, Audible, and signed paperback versions those are treasures and I call them my "trinity books."
My paperback reading experience πŸ“–
 (Book sleeve & bookmark via Etsy. Signed book by Nora! Book light from Amazon)
Mysteries, Suspense, and Thrillers, Oh My!
Romance may be my preferred genre but that doesn't mean I don't read others. Mysteries, suspense, & thrillers are my next favorite genres. I've read these series in their entirety, and if they are continuing series, I read them as they are released.

For these series, I've read many/most of the books but haven't continued for whatever reasons. My curiosity just might lead me to the next in the series, though.
Cataloging My Library
My first "database" was index cards, which evolved into a custom File Maker Pro database, and finally into using BookCollector on my PC, which I have since 2005. I can also access my database using the accompanying CLZBooks app on my iPhone and iPad. 
I think I may have been a librarian in another life because next to reading keeping my book database updated is my favorite "hobby." 

And those notes and highlighting I do with Kindle books, well, those help me assign tags to all of the books I read. I need those tags to help me remember the details about the books because my memory is so poor. Even with the books I absolutely love.

My current database contains more than 4,500 books. The following is an example of a book's BookCollector entry with all of the data I rely on. I can't express how much I love having all of that information available at my fingertips! 

(NOTE: I recently needed to get a new laptop computer and after restoring my BookCollector database from the CLZ Cloud I found my entire list of thousands of book characters did not sync! I was told that that field is not synced to the cloud after I noticed mine missing. I still love this company's products but am extremely disappointed not to have known this. Please consider yourself warned. If you use BookCollector and have it sync to the CLZ Cloud, several fields won't sync. These are the fields that do sync. I will be backing up my database on my external SSD after every major update from now on!)
Screenshots of a book's entry in BookCollector

My Best Book Boyfriend List

When it comes to book boyfriends I don't go for the bad boys. My top twelve favorite fictional boyfriends are all respectful, honorable, loyal, intelligent, empathetic, and loving men! And other than Jamie Fraser and Nick Cappuano they are all fairly low drama dudes. Ah, but if we're talking the brave, heroic, and protective types, I can't think of another romance author who writes those heroes like Pamela Clare does. Her exceptional editing skills are now available to other authors. (My Pamela Clare Collection)
  1. Jamie Fraser (Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon)
  2. Christopher Lallek (Family Blessings by LaVyrle Spencer)
  3. Landon Lucas Maxfield (Easy & Breakable by Tammara Webber)
  4. Matt McKinney (Worth the Fall by Claudia Conner)
  5. Nick Cappuano (The Fatal Series & The First Family Series by Marie Force)
  6. Brooks Gleason (The Witness by Nora Roberts)
  7. Ronan Thatcher (The Brawl by Willa Nash {Devney Perry}) 
  8. Cole Goodman (The Birthday List by Devney Perry) 
  9. Dax Moody (Moody by Penelope Ward)
  10. Brooks McClain (Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis Graves)
  11. Silas Wright (Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score) 
  12. Baxter Pang (Runaway Fate by Elizabeth Hunter)
Featured Book Reviews
Featured Entries
My Years in Review
Related Items
 Indie Book Stores I've Ordered From
Resources for Readers
 This is my reading journey, what's yours?
 (rev. 11/24/2023)


Amy L said…
Love this! I need to catalog mine.

I can’t remember ever not loving to read! I had my nose in a book at all possible times when I was a kid!
Virginia Hill said…
Amy, you’re someone I figured has loved to read since childhood. Thank you so much for sharing!
Megan Pomeroy said…
I have been reading since I was a little girl. I learned to read with the "Little Bear " series of books. I can remember sitting in a chair with my mother and brother as she read to us. I also went to both libraries on Capitol Hill (since I grew up in D.C.) and getting stacks and stacks of books, which I read voraciously. I still have a rolling backpack I take to the library, plus a stack of additional library books, plus three more books I bought at Barnes and Noble. The best part of my day is when I climb in bed with my book and read until I am sleepy (or sometimes until I fall asleep!). My favorite genre is mysteries; right now I am into British police procedurals. I mostly read modern-day books but I do like British Golden Age mysteries too. My ex-husband told me I "go through books like potato chips"!

I love hearing about your reading story, Virginia! Thanks for sharing!

P.S. Please forgive any typos or misspellings - I am typing this on my phone!
Virginia Hill said…
Megan, thank you SO much for sharing your wonderful reading life! I can almost picture you and your brother being read to by your mom. I’m not familiar with the “Little Bear” series, but if it fueled your childhood reading it’s a winner. I’m curious how you are introduced to the books you read.

I enjoy a good mystery but think I end up reading more suspense. My favorite continuing mystery series is historical: Molly Murphy Mysteries by Rhys Bowen.

Thanks again for sharing!