This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands,-- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. ~~William Shakespeare, Richard III

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why Do I Read...What I Read?

I get asked that question quite frequently. People see all my books and wonder why I read them (or how I manage to read so many). Personal preference is my answer and I think most avid readers of a specific genre(s) will give you the same response. We read what interests us, what stimulates our mind, what makes us want to know more (in some cases anyway). That is certainly why I pretty much stick to my preferred genres. It also helps that I truely love to read; I always have. There is nothing better than curling up under a soft blanket with a yummy drink near by and loosing yourself in a totally different time.

I read historical fiction. I can be more specific than that even: I read mainly medieval British historical fiction (with some stories from earlier times and of course Tudor material as well). I also dearly love Jane Austen (and even some of the numerous sequels that have become all the rage). That is not to say that I don't occasionally read something from another time period (or even another genre) from time to time - though you will never see me with any of that vampire nonsense in my hands. I just prefer historical fiction and the information it brings me. I love to learn and some authors have a wonderful way of teaching me new facts and details; I can't gobble it up quick enough sometimes. There is just something magical in feeling like you're being transported to a time very distant and strange from your own and reading about people who lived, loved, laughed, hundreds of years ago. As I dearly love British history, these novels help in my constant quest for more knowledge. Yes, yes, I know they are technically fiction but my favorite authors (Sharon Kay Penman, Elizabeth Chadwick, Susan Higginbotham, to name three) are very meticulous and detailed in their research; I know they are not going to lead me astray by filling their pages with junk merely to appeal to the masses and to sell their book. I think it takes a very talented writer to be able to take a person who has been dead for hundreds of years and create a life for them out of the small bits of historical fact that has survived ... and to make that story not only believable but very enjoyable to read. Historical fiction can also give you many different sides to known history. History is, after all, written by the victors and we are not likely to get a very truthful look at the losers. That is such a fascinating aspect to historical fiction - it can really show you the "could have beens." Some authors do an absolutely brilliant job of bringing these distant times to life for their readers and make it incredibly easy to envision the landscape, the food, the clothes, the daily lives, the weather, etc. What is equally wonderful about these books is after finishing them I usually want to know more about the people, events, and time period, leading me to do research on my own and discover more interesting facts. In many instances I have come across another historical figure or event while researching on my own which in turn makes me want to find some historical fiction about that person. It is a never ending cycle...thankfully! Historical fiction has also opened up a whole new world to me - the blogging world! I have really enjoyed getting to know other HF bloggers, authors, and blogging on my favorite topics!

As I stated at the beginning I also love Jane Austen. There is something so peaceful about reading her novels. I find the Regency period fascinating with their strict codes of etiquette, elegance, and beautiful clothing. Her wit and sarcasm is wonderful and I love the fact that in many cases she is poking fun at the very class she writes about. She obviously went about the world with her eyes open and saw things for what they really were. I think what really attracts me to Austen's novels - besides the fact that they are brilliantly written with some fantastic story lines and very memorable characters - is the respect and honor and dignity that guided every aspect of their lives. We are sadly lacking in anything near respect and honor in today's society and it is refreshing to loose myself in a time when people had manners, respected and honored each other, and had morals. How can you not adore a period of such elegance? When men respected ladies? I am glad that a new era of readers is being introduced to Austen's writings and her world via the new fad of publishing Austen sequels and prequels and spins offs.

I do read other things from time to time - a non-fiction book on a topic that has captured my interest, random chick lit (I do enjoy Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts for instance), the occasional bodice ripper type romance (when I feel like indulging myself in something that doesn't require a ton of thinking!), and I still will pick up my copies of the Anne of Green Gables series or the Little House on the Prairie books if the mood hits me. Like I said, I LOVE to read and in a pinch I will read almost (almost) anything. My books of choice, though, will remain historical fiction and Jane Austen.

Why do you read what you do?


  1. I could have written that post! I tend to stick to what I love -- which is fiction set in medieval England. I also love Jane Austen! I've been making myself branch out lately and have been reading quite a few novels set during World War II -- which I never wanted to read about before -- don't know why -- maybe scared of it? Anyway, I've read several that have touched me deeply.

  2. Great post! Fortunately, we've all found each other to share in the love of historical fiction!