I feel like I should begin by saying, “My name is Pauline Baird Jones and I reread books.” Why do I feel like I should be addressing a support group? Because my to-be-read pile of books is gargantuan, both in print and digital. And yet there are days, when I am overwhelmed by the need to revisit old friends.
For some years, I could only do this when I went home and had a chance to pop into my hometown library. I spent many happy hours browsing my way through the fiction shelves and I learned a lot about how to be a better writer, though I didn’t know I was learning to write at the time. Later, through the Internet (yay!) I started collecting many of my old favorites, so it wasn’t so hard to visit with them and now they hold positions of honor on my keeper shelves.
In sort of alphabetical order, I’ll take you through them, starting with Elizabeth Cadell. She wrote women’s fiction, wandering from light romance to light mystery, mixing in some semi-autobiographical along the way. She taught me about the art of gentle humor and the importance of characters, particularly secondary characters when building a fictional world. Three of my favorite secondary characters are from her quirky Brimstone in the Garden. Cousin Clarry is a classic of quirky and the two minions of the Devil? Oh my.  
I know a lot of people who liked Dorothy Eden (Waiting for Willa sigh here) but I haven’t run into many people who have heard of Mary Elgin. She only wrote three books, but she did such a great job of setting a scene. When (re)reading The Man from the Mist, I have to wrap up in a blanket, no matter the season.
Another favorite I discovered watching That Darn Cat. The Gordons were a husband/wife writing team, who liked to write about the FBI. They did creepy and suspenseful really well. I also learned a lot about ramping up the suspense from Helen McInnes and Alastair Maclean. Always well worth the revisit and Ice Station Zebra is our family saying for COLD now.
You’ll hear a lot of historical authors pay homage to Georgette Heyer. Oh my, that woman could create characters! And her sense of humor and history? Reading her is like taking a writing master class. But even more than that, reading her is just plain fun. I head for her when I need to refill my word well or take a break from my real life into somewhere completely different. As you can see, she occupies two of my keeper shelves and I grabbed a bunch of her books in Kindle format when the price was dropped to reasonable for Heyer’s birthday ($7.99 for backlist? Seriously?).
Let’s see, there’s Jane Aiken Hodge and Victoria Holt on my keeper shelves, and sigh, Mary Stewart. I found Stewart watching another Disney movie, The Moonspinners (Haley Mills shout out!).  Stewart taught me about the fine art of pacing—in romance and suspense. I wanted to be her until I figured out I needed to be me.
A newer entry to my keeper shelf is Linnea Sinclair. I checked her out when a reviewer did an “if you like Linnea Sinclair you’ll probably like Pauline Baird Jones” in a review. Romance and adventure wrapped in a fun, readable style? Oh yeah, keeper shelf, make room.
I read about Jasper Fforde somewhere and dithered for a bit before trying his first then sat there blinking and wondering who to tell. Someone called them “silly books for smart people.” I don’t know about that. I just know you either like his books or you don’t. I like.
Yeah, there’s JRR Tolkein and Harry Potter. I’m losing my alphabeticalness now, but I must mention Mary Roberts Reinhart, Manning Coles and Anne of Green Gables.
And in the last, but not least category, there is DE Stevenson. I enjoyed all her books (though I have not collected them all, she had a HUGE backlist), but favorite—hands down—are the Miss Buncle books. There are only two, but they are delightful and about an author. How fun is that?
When I pay my books a re-visit, it satisfies something inside me, like sitting down with my mom or my sister. But it also reminds me why I became a writer. I love going into their worlds and spending time with their characters. I don’t remember the moment I thought, “I want to do that.” I just know I did and I do. J
So, do you reread? Is there a book that tipped you into wanting to be a writer? When did you know you wanted to be a reader? What’s on your keeper shelf?
To find more about the books that came from all that reading, visit www.paulinebjones.com

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I am a Rereader

12 thoughts on “I am a Rereader

  • February 29, 2012 at 4:41 am

    Oh my…rereads…well tons. We have a whole room downstairs of family books – but add into the mix Alexander Kent (Richard Bolitho series), Christina Skye, Chloe Neill, Stephanie Laurens, Cat Adams and Karen Robards…I could of course keep going. Sigh. Never to forget those McCaffrey’s, Cynthia Eden’s, Linnea Sinclair & JD Robb – yes I also have Victoria Holt and some Georgette Heyer (love them!)

    Some books just need to be savored 5, 6 or more times 🙂

    • February 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      I obviously agree, Imogene! LOL! Having to resist the urge to reread right now! Thanks for stopping by! Happy rereading! 🙂

  • February 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Hi Pauline! Wow- I love your reread idea. I do the same. Like you sometimes just parts of an old read will do. But I am a great lover of historical romance. In many a historical the depth of characterization and plot not to mention the past are done well, and the learning experience is great.

    • February 29, 2012 at 1:29 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Kaye! I am glad you enjoyed the post! I do love to browse through old favorites and have passed through historicals in my adventures in reading growing up. Seem to have passed through a bunch of genres. LOL! So many authors did it so well, I couldn’t help but learn from them. 🙂

  • February 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Aww love this blog! Especially the part about sitting with your sister! (Soon!!) In my re-read pile is early books by Rosamunde Pilcher! They are slice of life stories and reading them puts you in an English country town! And of course I love Agatha Christie! Know what other books are in my re-read pile? All of my sister’s books! You know she blew up my stuffed pig in one! Love you Pauline!!

    • February 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      Ooooh, thanks! I forgot about Pilcher! I don’t have her books saved, though I enjoyed them very much when we read through them together lo, these many years ago!

      Hey, I only fictionally blew up that pig! LOLOL! Love you, too! 😀

  • February 27, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    So many! Anne McCaffrey, Mary Stewart, Melanie Rawn, Sherri Tepper, Vonda McIntyre, those old Star Trek anthologies edited by James Blish, Trixie Belden series, Patsy Gray, Sam Savitt (I was huge on horse books as a kid…come to think of it, I still am!) To me the hallmark of a good book, or movie, is that I want to visit it again and again and don’t get tired of doing so. Most of the books I own are “re-readers”. And I’m not ashamed to admit I still seek out and reread the books from my youth, too. (I’ve just found and reread The Borrowers on my Kindle, for example.) The best compliments I get on my own writing is that someone enjoyed it every bit as much the second and third time around. And there’s nothing like the comfort of an old familiar book when you’re too tired or troubled to concentrate on a new one. Great post! Love it.

    • February 27, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Ooh, the Borrowers is on kindle?? wonderful! I like rereading books from my youth, too. and yes, love it when readers tell me they reread me! Awesome! Thanks so much for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the blog. 🙂

  • February 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    @ Catherine – I don’t usually have the time reread the whole book, though there are times when I can’t resist. I just sort of browse through, stopping at favorite spots. I used to reread Toklien about once a year. Thanks for stopping by!

    @ Justine – I still love Christie, so I won’t laugh. I do know what you mean about darker works, though. I like my violence more optimistic. LOL!

    @ Jaleta – LOL! I used to have the same problem with remembering too much, but yeah, the memory! LOL!

    Thanks to all of you for stopping by! 😀

  • February 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I adore Andre Norton’s earlier sci-fi. That’s what hooked me into writing it. I wanted more books like hers and I couldn’t find them. I also find the older I get, the less I remember of the stories. I used to not be able to reread because I remembered the whole plot. Now that my brain has been turned to middle-age mush, I can’t remember anything most days which makes rereading so much fun.

  • February 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    I have taken more and more to rereading old friends, especially since the trend to darkness, cruel twists and meatgrinder endings in current fiction makes me afraid to pick up an unknown author these days. So I go back to authors I know are safe. Among them are Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, and (don’t laugh!) H.P. Lovecraft. These are the mentors that taught me how to write (or in the latter case, how not, but I adore him anyway).

    And I like Jasper Fforde, too, but he is a more recent discovery.

  • February 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Boy, I wish I had the time!!! I’ too busy reading students’ work and manuscript evals during the school semesters to read much else. There are definitely some books I would re-read! That said, I do delve back into certain book passages for inspiration.

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