I’m a notorious procrastinator and collector of books. I’m less of a punctual reader. The quantity of novels accrues while my time to read remains constant; one certainly overwhelms the other. But these unopened treasures are waiting for me, like wrapped gifts, promising something irresistible once they’re opened and allowed to tell their story. They whisper, "Put down that romance! Come! Read me!" And sometimes I need a break, and I think these books, these novels, will provide a dalliance from my long-term relationship with dashing heroes and spunky heroines.
Recently, all my diversionary reads have had a common theme: magic. There is something about magic that beguiles; characters with a special relationship to nature, a world that’s slightly more sensory than the one I live in, and capabilities that are at once enviable and terrible. I like magic stories. I don’t need an elaborately-constructed alternate universe to keep me entertained. Drop a touch of the strange into an everyday setting, and I’m good. Also, I’m from New England; sorcery stories appeal to me because so much of our relationship with the supernatural springs from the patch of land northwest of Boston, where women were put to death for witchcraft.
My diversions aren’t really diversions at all: the books I read are all romances, in a way. No love story? I’m out. I rarely make it through the first hundred pages if there isn’t a romantic relationship on the line. And so this brings me to Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1). I knew, obviously from the title, that there was going to be a search for magic. I’m not immune to book buzz so I knew there was a vampire involved. The first pages brought into focus that there’d be an ancient manuscript and a scholar on the hunt (these are common traits with Deliverance Dane, but executed in wildly different ways so that the similarities were no more than a curiosity.) And then, boom! I’m in the middle of a paranormal romance, with a powerful witch who’s refused her powers falling head over heels for a lethal, gallant, charming, irresistible bloodsucking college professor. Matthew Clairmont will kill to protect his beloved Diana Bishop. Why in the world would I want a diversion from this stuff? It’s the best kind of reading there is.
I don't know what my examination of my attempt to pepper my reading with non-romances tells us. Are all novels love stories anyway, and I should just content myself with that? Or am I guided by an unseen force to only buy books where boy meets girl, boy loves girl, and the happy ending is the goal?
Tell me: what do you read when you take a romance break? And can you finish a book without a love story in it?
Melanie Murray is a writer and editor, and the moderator of Romantic Reads, BN.com's all-romance, all-the-time community forum. You can follow her on Twitter at @Melanie_Murray and get all the latest Barnes & Noble book news from @BNBuzz
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