When the world gets hard, I turn back to my bookshelf. Re-reading is solace, my superpower and my safe space.
This isn’t anything new. I’ve written before about the comfort found in the familiar and re-reading what you know: “With rereading, I know what I am getting: I’ve been on these journeys before and I don’t need to worry about missing any plot twists or nuances in my sleep-deprived state. Any cliff-hangers or intrigues can be safely laid aside when sleep comes at last, because I’m clued-in to exactly how it’ll all work out in the end.”
So now the world is hard again, it’s back to the bookshelves (and library ebook app) I go. This time round, I’m skipping the dystopias and anything too real. In fact, I had to return a couple of library books early that were simply too close to life.
I am turning instead to the sweet and fantastical in search of distraction from the drama outside. And to multi-book series, for the relief of staying within the same world for longer than one book alone can provide.
Recently, this saw me revisit CS Pacat’s Captive Prince series (Captive Prince, Prince’s Gambit and King’s Rising) for some sexy/stabby MM romantic adventure.
Right now, it involves a lot of YA space operas, such as Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae Files (Illuminae, Gemina and Obsidio) – a YA series made up of entirely ‘found’ documents that adult readers will also enjoy. And I am currently re-reading Aurora Rising in preparation for their new Aurora Cycle novel in May. I can also recommend Kaufman’s collaborations with Meagan Spooner, including the Starbound Trilogy (These Broken Stars, This Shattered World and Their Fractured Light).
Closer to earth (albeit not this one), it’s inevitable that I will eventually return to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, particularly to the sweetly clever Tiffany Aching books (The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight and The Shepherd’s Crown), which are again suitable for adults and younger readers alike. And I am also thinking about revisiting Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels, which inspired HBO’s True Blood.
While more firmly grounded in the ‘reality’ I’m trying to avoid, I may also return to Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher or Earthly Delights series, or Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum numbers books. Phryne and Stepanie in particular have sufficient adventures to keep me going for a while (with 20 and 26 books respectively), and the bonus intertextual benefits of film and/or TV adaptations to compare. As does Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, PS I Still Love You and Always And Forever, Lara Jean).
Romance fiction’s happy-ever-afters can also provide respite during such uncertain times. To that end, I have just re-ordered the ebook edition of Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston from my local library, a sweet, sexy MM romcom about the First Son of the United States falling in love with the youngest Prince of England. What’s not to love about that?
For those who like their romances a little bit raunchier, I can recommend Aussie writer Kylie Scott’s interconnected Stage Dive (Lick, Play, Lead and Deep) and Dive Bar series (Dirty, Twist and Chaser) as adequately distracting MF erotic adventures. Or Rebecca Raine’s Finding Forever (All the Broken Pieces, Everything We Need, This Time Forever, Lost in Amber and Our Little Secret) or Return to You series (Becoming Us and Finding Grey) for more Australian MF, MM and MMF romance.
I’d love to hear your re-reading recommendations too.