Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Christie's Keepers

I was in the mood for a comfort read the other day, and opened the door to the closet in my office to peruse my keeper shelves. Yes, I have a lot of keeper books. And running my fingers along their well-used spines, I realized how many of them are older books. Linda Howard’s Mackenzie’s Mountain, copyright 1989. Elizabeth Lowell’s Fire and Rain, 1990. Nora’s Special Edition (maybe one of her last?), The Perfect Neighbor, came out in 1999. That was eight years ago! Another Special Edition, Miracles by Mary Kirk, was published in 1990 and it was that book that convinced me of two things: 1) category romance is a beautiful thing and 2) yes, I can actually like a book with paranormal elements (this point has to be proven to me over and over again, currently I have J.R. Ward to thank for it).

I have other books I’ve saved besides category romance. Susan Johnson’s sexy historicals from that same time period, as well as Patricia Veryan’s A Dedicated Villain, a Georgian-set story copyright 1989.

Sure, I have more recent books, but the fact is, when I feel compelled to cull the shelves I find them easier to part with than the older ones. I think it’s because these were collected at the time I rediscovered romance and was beginning to dream of writing in the genre myself. Perhaps those books are like a first love. None that come after have quite the same sweet magic.

There’s a new/used romance bookstore I frequent, and a few years ago I came across an old Iris Johansen category romance tucked away on its shelves. I clutched it to my breast with such passion that the bookseller came up with an offer I couldn’t refuse: She had a complete library of the Iris Johansen Loveswepts in a bin at her house that she no longer offered for sale in the store since interest in them had died. Did I want the whole lot?

Well, you know the answer. I only wish I had more room on my keeper shelves for them. Since I don’t, the bin is in storage at my house in a place that’s harder to access. Still, every 18 months or so I drag it out and indulge myself for a few days, wallowing in those old stories with the same kind of pleasure I get looking at my high school yearbooks or walking through memories of that 14-year-old blond tennis-playing boy who owned my heart one summer long ago.

What’s on your keeper shelf? Do you see a trend in subject matter or time period?


Michele said...

I came to romance reading very late (well, voracious reading of any kind) so my keepers are all dated after 1995.
If I glance at my keeper 'section' which is 8 shelves from floor to ceiling, I see a lot of paranormal. But the straight romances tend to be 18th C historicals, most set in France (not an easy find, let me tell you). Susan Carroll, Lynn Kurland, Diana Gabaldon. I have an amazing story by Rosemary Edghill, MET BY MOONLIGHT, that I happened to judge in the RITAs one year (she didn't win; I wasn't surprised) the story was dark, dark, dark, and I don't think it ended all too happily, but it was so original for a romance. It was my first glimpse into what could be done with paranormal romance.

My oldest that are falling apart and tattered are Susan Carroll's first books written as Serena Richards. Incredible stuff. I hope they reprint them soon (and use the same covers; I love the 18th C dress laid across a chair on the one).

Cindy Gerard said...

What a great topic, Christie. It made me think about the books I've kept through the years and why. And I found it interesting that they are some of the very first books that turned me on to the power of romance novels. LaVryle Spencer's books fill a big space. Hummingbird has to be my all time favorite followed closely by Windflower by Tom and Sharon Curtis and everything else they've written. I have a precious few old Sandra Brown books (Another Dawn still makes me melt inside.) I've had to par down and cull my collection over the years but those books will always remain with me. What's really interesting is that most of my long time keepers are historicals yet I write contemporary.
I think it's the evocative and lush quality of the writing that has stayed in my memory all these years.

Debra Dixon said...

Oh, the keepers! I have Georgette Heyer's books that I read when I just want to go back and read something with memories. :) The Devil's Cub is a favorite.

Also Laura Kinsale's Flowers From the Storm.

A ROSE FOR MAGGIE -- Kathleen Korbel/Eileen Dryer

BLACK JEWELS TRILOGY - Anne Bishop (Some of the finest fantasy/romance ever written. Published as fantasy.)

Keri Ford said...

I didn't come to romance (or reading for fun -college will do that do you) for that matter until Spring of 2005. So I still have keeper space left!

Most are re-readers and it varies on my mood from historicals to contemps. to military intrigue. I have noticed, usually my favorite re-readers are the first in a series (or the first book of a series that I picked up).

Christie Ridgway said...

I like how all of us read a variety: historicals, contemps, paranormal, military intrigue (Keri, any titles you can recommend?). I love knowing what's on other people's keeper shelves. I have some books to look for!

Another new/used I occasionally frequent has a section of hard-to-find/highly-coveted romances that can cost an arm and a leg. It's fun to see what's there.

Keri Ford said...

Sure Christie. There are many more on my shelf that I highly recommend, but these are the authors I discovered first that made me fall in love with romance and writing.

Let's see, on the historical front:

Johanna Lindsey and ANY of the Mallory men!- YEAH for reprints!

Gaelen Foley: Her Knight series (came to that series late, so I missed I think the first 3 and can't find them, arg.)

Military Intrig:
Gennita Low. She had a 5 book series with Avon, and I enjoyed all of them.

Christina Skye's Navy SEALs. Read several of them, haven't found one I didn't like

Then if you look in the backseat (or next to you) at Cindy Gerard, I like all of her Bodyguards. (Since the men are ex-military, I put her here)


Stephanie Plum fan

Linda Howard's Blair Mallory series (haven't read her other stuff, heard it's great though)

Suzanne Enoch's series with the billionaire and theif. and her Griffen men- historical? or regency? I don't know the difference, cause I don't write it :O)

And I have a long list of Authors to buy that's been recommened to me. After reading this blog, my list just got a little longer!

Diane in Syracuse said...

I share a fondness for many of the authors mentioned, but will add Mary Jo Putney, many of whose books I have read a dozen or more times, Jenny Crusie, and Elizabeth Peters (both Amelia Peabody - a rare example of a series that got tired and then rejuvenated itself - and the modern day books).

I had NO idea Susan Carroll had been Serena Richards! Another name to look out for.

Christie Ridgway said...

Keri: Cindy knows how much I adore her Bodyguard books. We met at RWA's national conference last summer and I kept telling her over and over!

Thanks for the recs. Some are faves of mine too and some are new! Diane, I am a fan of those on your list, too. And I've just added to my TBR pile. Bought Lisa Kleypas's contemp at Costco.

Debra Dixon said...

Diane-- Oh, yes! Let's add MJ's THE RAKE AND THE REFORMER to the list.

lois greiman said...

I still have a fondness for The Windflower but I can't think of the author. (I'm so ashamed), anything Woodiwiss, and all things Tolkein. Hmmmm eclectic.

Cindy Gerard said...

Lois, Windflower was written by Tom and Sharon Curtis who I listed in my favorites. I can still vividly remember the scene below decks on the ship where the sugar jar tipped over on Merry's head and sifted down her body and Devon had to have a taste. Picture me swooning. They were the most poetic writers. Their style and prose were beautiful.
And thanks you other guys for the nice comments.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Tom and Sharon Curtis, yes! They wrote one of my all-time favorite series romances--LIGHTNING THAT LINGERS. Also loved their SUNSHINE AND SHADOWS, which might have been their only contemporary mainstream. Kinsale's FLOWERS FROM THE STORM and FOR MY LADY'S HEART. LaVyrle's TWICE LOVED and MORNING GLORY. Patricia Gardner Evans did connected stories for IM that featured some sort of undercover guys who were ex-military--titles escape me but they were probably late 1980's--2 or 3 books. Look for any of her IMs next time you're in a UBS. She did one really wonderful Harl Hist called SILVER NOOSE, worked on a sequel to it for years and never finished it. My favorite Linda Howard is still an IM--TEARS OF THE RENEGADE.

Make new friends, but keep the old!

jackietoo said...

I downsized living quarters a few years ago and had to get rid of ALL my keepers! There was just no place to...well, keep them. It was sooo sad :-(

I absolutely love Dinah Dean's Russian series set during the Napoleonic Wars, especially "The Ice King". When the Ice King melts at the end it's just AH! time. They are extremely hard to find. In fact, I haven't read the whole series because of that and the fact that when you DO find them they are very expensive (to me, anyway). She also wrote under the names Jane Hunt and Marjorie May.

Helen Brenna said...

Wow, you guys have come up with some I've never read. I'm taking notes.

Most on my keeper shelf have been mentioned, like LaVyrle Spencer and Laura Kinsale. Like Cindy, I think it's strange that most of my keepers are historicals when I write contemps. Hmm.

Anyway, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is for keeps. And Betina, I have to say, My Warriors Heart was one of my all time favorite historicals. That book was so different from anything I'd ever read. Maybe ahead of it's time?

Laurie said...

WOW! My keeper shelves had to be moved to keeper grocery bags. My basement could become a used bookstore!! I have too many bags of favorites (Started collecting in 1986) starting with Laurie McBain's Moonstuck Madness, Devil's Desire ,Dark Before the Rising Sun and Chance the Winds of Fortune. I moved on to Catherine Coulture's Legacy,Bride Song, and Star trilogies. Others, Diana Palmer, Joan Honl, Kasey Michaels, Nora Roberts, Heather Graham/Shannon Drake, Sandra Brown, Linda Howard,Jayne Ann Krenz/Amanda Quick,Julie Garwood, Jude Devereaux, Barbara Delinsky,Lindsey McKenna,Joanna Lindsey,Cathy Maxwell,Kat Martin,Lisa Jackson,Stella Cameron,Lori Foster, Jo Beverly,Annette Broderick, Ginna Gray,Karen Robards, Sharon Sala,Joanne Ross,Janet Dailey, Susan Anderson,Debra Macomber,Lori Copeland,Jaclyn Reding,Joan Wolfe, Katherine Sutcliff,Anne Stuart, Julia Quinn,Heather MacAllister,Elizabeth Lowell,Elizabeth Thorton,Michele Jerott/Albert,Karen Ranney,Suzanne Brockmann, Elaine Coffman,Helen Biachin,Candace Camp,Merlyn Lovelace,Vicki Lewis Thompson,Jill Shalvis,Jane Feather,Stephanie Laurens,Jill Marie Landis,Beverly Barton, Victoria Alexander,Lisa Kleypas,Penny Jordan,Nicole Jordan,Rexanne Becnel,Carly Phillips,SEP,Mary Lynn Baxter, and Betty Neels. This doesn't include more recent entries like Alison Kent, Jennifer Cruise,Suzanna Carr, Sylvia Day...and all of you at Ridin! I guess I've got very eclectic tastes or I'm not very discriminating!!

Susan Kay Law said...

Oh, I have many of the same books as all of you! Funny how some of those seem to work for nearly everybody.

I'm interested in knowing . . . do you have keepers from your childhood that you just can't give up, and even go back and read now and then?

Mine are MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON, and the MAIDA and MARY JANE books, which are very old and have been in my family for years.

I think those say that I have an unexplored longing for adventure and travel. Or maybe that I just like to explore that safely from my chair.


Kaitlin said...

My keeper shelf is full of all kinds of things! Here are just a few:

Nora Roberts/JD Robb: I basically have every book the woman has ever written. Sad, but true.

Mercedes Lackey: The whole Heralds of Valdemar series. Excellent fantasy, if anyone is interested in something new to read.

LaVyrle Spencer: Years...the one historical that makes me realize that historicals do not suck. :)

Cindy Gerard's Bodyguard Series: I'm a total geek for them. I've emailed Cindy after each one comes out. She's always sweet and responds back. Thank you for that.

Nalini Singh's Slave to Sensation & Visions of Heat. Can I just say...WOW??!!! LOL!

I have a bazillion more, but these are the ones I'm most proud of. I am a book geek and will be one til the day I die!