The cool rainy day offers mint conditions for an afternoon nap.
My comfy bed awaits. A soft bedside lamp glows yellow. The warm covers are turned down. A stack of reading material lies nearby on my nightstand.
With my homework finished for tonight’s class, I may just indulge — after I empty my mind of thoughts that have deprived me from sleep for the last three nights.
I wasn’t surprised by my hard night’s sleep on Friday or Saturday. I sort of expected it, as I’m always keyed up before and after a big project. Before hand, I’m full of nervous hope that all will go well and that no one will get hurt. Once the work is finished, I’m too keyed up to relax — the day’s activities cling to me and no amount of tossing and turning shakes them off.
But last night, after a relaxing day of gardening and time spent in a good book, I expected a good night’s sleep. And maybe I would have but for the late telephone call with my sister, where we made plans to begin a new project this weekend, that involves painting my parent’s house. Too much stimulation before bedtime — whether it’s caffeine or talking about a big project — keeps me unsettled.
My mother use to love to go to bed on a day like today, especially if she had her new month’s allotment of Harlequin Romances. It didn’t matter what project she was working on and what projects were coming up. She easily escaped her everyday world to enter a new one, one full of love, conflict and a happy ending.
I can remember my mother buying Harlequin Romances since the late fifties or early sixties. As far as I know, Mom never threw any away, though some she lent to others may have become unintended gifts. Except for her favorites that she kept by her bed, every Harlequin Romance that my mother ever purchased was put in a box and shoved up in the attic. It’s the one place we still have left to clear.
Of late, I’ve been wondering whether there is a secondary market for vintage Harlequin Romance novels. I learned from looking online that Harlequin is reprinting some of their ‘vintage’ novels. Wouldn’t it be crazy if these books were the most valuable asset of Mom’s scary estate? Sounds like the stuff romance novels are made of, though to keep it real, none of Mom’s collection would ever rise to the ranks of ‘mint’ condition.
Do you know I’ve never read a Harlequin Romance? But oh, my dear – do I have a video for you. The paintings all are by Pino Daeni, whose art covers are found throughout the romance genre. It’s just wonderful.
I enjoyed the clip. If I were looking for a good romance, these covers would certainly lead me to pick up the book.
I learned to read with my mother’s books. They satisfied me for a while, but it wasn’t long before I began reading other books like Gone With the Wind. Harlequin was a stepping stone for other worlds of words.
I asked my mother once, when I was in my middle teens, why she like her books so much, since they seemed too predictable for pleasure. She told me she liked their predictability — that when she read, she didn’t want to have to think. She was looking for pure escape without the mental exercise… and the pleasure of happy ending.
Exactly. And my own mom is reading more of the genre now. As she puts it, they cater to her increasing inability to keep characters and plot sorted out. Because the books tend to be similar, they’re easier to follow.
If your Mom would like a few antique Romance books, you let me know. It might be interesting to go back through the years to see how the genre has evolved over time. I may have to do this myself.
Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said:
I’m not a big romance fan. I like tight mysteries and puzzles really, but I will say that when I was unwell years ago, Betty Neels satisfied me with their simple plots and good people. I turned my almost teen daughter onto them, and she still reads them during times of stress.
BTW, I get totally keyed up too.~~Dee
I use to be a big romance fan — I still occasionally pick one up — especially historical fiction — if that counts as romance.
Now I remember Betty Neels from my teenage years — I didn’t know she was still writing — unless she’s changed her formula, that would be a Dutch doctor and nurse — or was it a patient?
Maria Clara Paulino said:
My mother read predictable narratives too, like Agatha Christie’s detective stories, for example, when she felt unwell. I imagine she enjoyed feeling that she was in control of something – she knew how the story ended.
Your words — she knew how the story ended — made my mind go in two directions. Perhaps they intersect?
The first — while we know our own stories will end in death, not knowing the particulars allows us to live without dread and fear. We live more alive, take chances we may not even recognize as risk. Until later. The second — when I read stories whose ending I know before I already open the book, I am rarely changed by the reading experience. It becomes nothing more than escape, an entertaining way to pass the time. One intersection point is that risk in our reading and our living sows change.
Picking up another thread, I’ve just returned from the summer writing festival in Iowa — one of these risky life endeavors that invite and sow change. I mentioned your blog — including to BK Loren and one US expat living in Switzerland — so you may receive a few digital visits from my physical one. I hope so.
Last week, I kept up with you mostly by emails of your posts. The emails are never as rich or satisfying as visiting your blog ‘in person.’ Saturday, after the days of intense writing, I rewarded myself with visits to you and all my favorite blogs.
I hope all is well with you and yours. By the looks of recent quotes you’ve shared in your blog, I know you are keeping fine company.