Giving The Romance Genre a Shot…

Over the past few months we’ve been inundated with terrible news on TV, radio, the internet, etc. Yet, I can’t seem to stop watching or scrolling through my social media feeds. I realize I am in desperate need of a break!

So with the world in utter turmoil, I’ve decided to turn my sights towards something lighter and more hopeful… romance! Anyone who knows me knows that I generally don’t do the romance genre. I prefer historical fiction, thrillers, or literary fiction. But lately, I’ve found those genres to be too heavy. And it’s too much for me right now. I need something different. Starting with…

Emma. This is the new movie based on the Jane Austen novel.

I know that many other versions of Emma have come out and I’ve never been interested in them. But for some reason, this one looked really good. I also remembered that I have a copy of the book on my bookshelf, just sitting there and collecting dust, never having been read. So I dove in, starting with Chapter 1.

The first thing that I realized is that Emma is a pompous snob who needs to stay out of other people’s business! Thank goodness there’s Mr. Knightley there to call her out on her shit. I’m only about 100 pages into this book but I already know how this is going to turn out. And maybe that’s why I’m so into this story. I know it’s going to have a happy ending and hopefully will remain comedic throughout.

 It’s not just books that are helping me to escape the madness of the world. I’ve also found a Korean rom-com on Netflix that I’ve completely fallen in love with! It’s called Crash Landing on You. It’s about a very rich South Korean woman (Yoon Se-ri) who accidentally lands in North Korea after a paragliding accident (hey, no one said this story had to be realistic).

There, she meets a handsome Captain in the North Korean Special Police Force (Ri Jeong-hyeok) who tries to help her escape. Crash Landing on You is now the third-highest-rated Korean drama in cable television history. I’m about half-way through the series and I completely understand the popularity. I like how it shows North Korea (though I’m not sure how accurately) and roughly what it’s like for people to live there. For example, there is a house inspector that will come into people’s homes without warning to check to make sure there is nothing illegal in the house (like a rice cooker). There’s another scene where all of the people in the community must go outside at a designated time to do government mandated group exercises that are led by a voice on the loudspeaker. Conversations are monitored and the people are micromanaged on how they live their lives. I read an article that said North Korean defectors helped to provide guidance to the writers of the show to get the scenes right.

Despite the harsh setting, the show is still upbeat and surprisingly funny. The focus is mostly on two star crossed lovers who meet against all odds. It’s sappy at times, but hey… sappy is what I’m looking for (don’t judge)! 

For now, those two romance stories are what I’m distracting myself with to get my mind off of pesky things like Covid19. So far it’s working!

What romance books/shows/movies would you recommend?

I Suggest You Buy The Book

It’s been approximately two and a half months since I’ve been at home in quarantine due to the Covid 19 pandemic. I live in Maryland, where our Governor has ordered all nonessential businesses to close. Unfortunately, this includes libraries. This has left some people scrambling to get books in other ways. 

I read many discussion forums where people were distraught that their local libraries were closed. The argument people had was that libraries ARE essential! I can see their point to an extent. Libraries are the pillar of many communities and it’s how so many people can read books for (almost) free. (I say “almost” because technically our tax dollars are paying for the libraries.)

Despite the fact that the libraries are closed, there are still several other ways to get books for free. There are still Little Free Libraries, free ebooks to read online, and there are even youtube videos with celebrities reading books to kids. 

And yet, even though there are ways to get books for free, I recommend a different idea. Don’t opt for a free book. Just buy the book. Of course, this is aimed more towards people who are in a comfortable position to buy books. I understand that books are a luxury item that not everyone can just purchase them whenever they want to. But for those of you who can, hear me out…

Our economy is in the dumpster. Unemployment is at an all time high and millions of people are out of work and having a hard time paying bills and feeding their families. We haven’t seen times like this since the great depression. 

On social media I keep seeing posts from people who suggest we buy local goods and help out small businesses. I completely agree. It’s a great way to help out those who are struggling. And another way to help out our community is by buying books. When you purchase a book your money goes to the author, the publisher and the bookstore (many of which are doing online orders). Writers are artists who are vital to our society and they are not pandemic proof. 

So my request is simple; just buy the book. You’ll be helping out the economy, your money will go towards something you care about, and honestly, you need a good excuse to buy more books anyway, right? 

Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis, by Ada Calhoun

Goodreads synopsis: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50387513-why-we-can-t-sleep

My thoughts: As an (almost) middle aged woman who has been battling insomnia, I felt like I had to read this book. Calhoun dives into the issues surrounding middle aged women who are part of Generation X, often the most overlooked generation. Although I was born in the early 1980s and therefore not technically considered part of Generation X (defined as those born in the 1960s and 1970s), I felt like I could still relate.

The main premise around this book is that women of this generation are told from a very early age that we can have it all; we can get married, go to college, and be whoever it is that we want to be. But when we actually go out into the real world, we realize that that is often an unrealistic standard. And when we try our best and work as hard as we can and still don’t get to live out our dream lives, it’s an incredible disappointment. We feel like losers and that there must be something wrong with us.

Calhoun does a wonderful job of dissecting the many different aspects of women’s lives. It really puts into perspective all of the different struggles that women of Generation X have to deal with. Reading this book didn’t make me necessarily feel better, but it made me feel less alone in knowing that I’m not the only one who feels like maybe this was all a little too much to live up to.

My 2020 Reading Challenge – A Little Less Challenging

For the past few years, I have done the Goodreads Challenge by pledging how many books I plan to read within the year. Usually, it’s around 50ish. I shoot for a book a week so 50 seems like a realistic number (with a couple of weeks cushion).

This year, however, I am setting my goal to be much lower… like, to 30. Why? Because a book a week is great when I’m having a typical, normal week. But far too often, my weeks have not been typical or normal. And on those weeks when I can’t finish the book I’ve been reading, I don’t want to feel guilty about it.

My Goodreads goal for 2019 was 55 books (originally). I’ve since had to change it to 53 because I knew by December that I wasn’t going to reach my goal. Life happened and suddenly reading didn’t become a priority anymore. In November, I ran into some health issues and suddenly my focus and desire for reading diminished significantly. As a result, I was spending my usual reading time binge watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix. (To be fair though, Jane the Virgin is an amazing show!)

There’s another reason why I set my goal a good bit lower. I want to be able to pick books without worrying so much about the page count. If there’s a book that is unusually long, I don’t want that to prevent me from reading it because I know I won’t be able to finish it within the week.

I also would like to feel less restricted with my books. I want to try out books that I wouldn’t normally read and have the freedom to put them down if they don’t work for me and I’m not interested. I don’t want to feel like I have to finish a book I don’t like simply because I’ve already started it.

So this year the pressure’s off. This doesn’t mean I love reading any less. If anything, it means I love reading more.

Kindle Unlimited – Is it worth it?

I recently saw an ad for Kindle Unlimited which offered a deal: get three months of Kindle Unlimited for only 99 cents. It’s about $9.99 per month after that. I figured this might be a good time to try out the service for the first time.

For anyone unfamiliar with Kindle Unlimited, it’s a book subscription service through Amazon which lets you access books through the Kindle store. According to Amazon, the subscriber has access to a large selection of titles including books, audiobooks, and magazines. The user has access to up to 10 titles at a time, but these are borrowed titles, you don’t own them.

For years I’ve known about this service, but I’ve been reluctant to subscribe. It didn’t seem worth it to me because of my own reading habits. I read about a book a week. I also have a subscription to Book of the Month. Plus, I’m a heavy library user. So if you account for 1 month of reading, that would be 1 book from my Book of the Month club, probably 1 book from the library, and let’s say 2 books from the Kindle Unlimited service. Most of the books from Kindle Unlimited are between $3 and $5 and they are independent books, many of which I’ve never heard of. If I had just bought the books I would probably only pay a total of $10 a month at most. That happens to also be the full price of the subscription. This is why I assumed the service would not be worth it to me.

But then… I found that the Kindle Unlimited service included many books that were a little more well known. For example, I discovered that all of the Harry Potter books are now available through Kindle Unlimited. I also saw a Jodi Picoult book, “The Storyteller,” that is also available. It would cost me $12.99 to purchase the book through Amazon, so borrowing it through the subscription would be cheaper.

For readers who burn through multiple books a week and are open to new and independent authors then this service is likely for you. But for casual readers (like me) who read 4 or less books a month, the decision on whether to subscribe or not to subscribe becomes a little more complicated.

I still haven’t decided whether I’m keeping the subscription or not. If I keep seeing books that are of interest to me and if these books cost more to purchase than to borrow with the monthly fee, then maybe I’ll keep on subscribing.

For now, I will enjoy my 3 months of Kindle Unlimited and try to get the most bang for my buck. If I find I’m not using it as much as I hope, I will reluctantly cancel. In the meantime, I will keep reading. FYI… that Jodi Picoult book is amazing so far! If you decide to get the subscription for yourself, be sure to check that one out!