Sunday, February 7, 2010

TSS: What's your fallback read?

The Sunday Salon.com  Last week, I was eagerly anticipating the arrival in my mailbox of the new Guy Gavriel Kay book, Under Heaven.  In it, Kay tackles Chinese history in what is sure to be a fantastical way.

As I eagerly waited for this book to arrive, I was faced with the quandary of deciding what to read in the meantime.  I didn't want to pick up a really big book that I would feel compelled to drop as soon as Under Heaven came to the door.  So there went all the doorstoppers patiently waiting for me to actually get the guts to pick them up.  I finally settled on a Lindsey Davis mystery and when I finished that, I went for a slim volume of essays on Jane Austen.

I realized that quite often, when I am in this "waiting" state in my reading, or when I just don't know what I want to read, I fall back to Lindsey Davis or Georgette Heyer.  I usually only read these authors at these moments because I know I'll be satisfied and happily settled into a world that makes me comfortable.  I also won't feel stressed out because the stories aren't overly long and aren't super-complicated.  They're light and fun and can almost always get me out of a reading slump.  And if I'm not in a slump, they're perfect for that "in-between" read while I anticipate another book coming to me.

What about you?  Do you have a fallback genre or author?  Ones that you can settle in with pretty quickly and know you'll enjoy when you're in between books or in a reading slump?  If so, what do you read?  If not, how do you pick an "in-between" book?

33 comments:

  1. I usually read a mystery for an in-between book. But I try never to be in that situation so I read 2-3 books at a time. I do have re-read books for when I'm in a reading funk, usually something humorous

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  2. My fallback author is undoubtedly Jane Austen with Georgette Heyer close behind.

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  3. For me it's Agatha Christie because there are just SO many books and most take a couple of hours to two days to get through so they are great for filler.

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  4. I tend to read J.D. Robb or Anne McCaffrey if I can't settle down to read something else or I'm waiting for something. J.D. Robb is also usually my "handbag book". I like to keep a book in my handbag that I can pick up if I'm waiting for someone or something. I have read these books so many times that it doesn't matter if I'm not at a good stopping point when the thing I am waiting for happens.

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  5. PG wodehouse ,short story collections or a not-too chunky mystery novel

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  6. I just pick the short or "fluffy" books out of my TBR pile. I have so many books in it now, I can usually find one for any occasion! :--)

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  7. I tend to read one of the following books if I can't decide (which is rather ridiculous because I have SO many books to read!):
    *The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver

    *The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenberger

    *The Handmaid's Tail by Margaret Atwood

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  8. My fallback is almost exclusively Harry Potter related...

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  9. I don't think I have any particular author that I fall back on. I tend to head for the children's books as I know I can read them faster.

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  10. There are books I reread at certain times of year...for some reason, I get a kick out of books that take place parallel to the time in which exist (the multiverse thing?). So recently I reread The end of Mr. Y (early January) and in the past I have reread the E.T.A. Hoffman story The Golden Flowerpot.

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  11. I don't really have fallback authors, but if I am burnt out or waiting for another book, I generally go for a shorter, more engaging read that doesn't take as much concentration.

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  12. And I who still have not read any Heyer, well since the library does not have any copies :(

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  13. My fall-back reads are usually books I've read a lot of times - you know, books that don't have any surprises for me, and aren't emotionally taxing. So like - L.M. Montgomery, James Herriot, the Chronicles of Narnia...

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  14. I love reading Elizabeth Berg. Her books are cozy and not lengthy...

    She has a new one coming out, so I'll be waiting for that one!

    My Sunday Salon:

    http://laurel-rainsnowsaccidentallife.blogspot.com/2010/02/sunday-salon.html

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  15. How interesting that it seems a LOT of people read mystery novels as the fallback. I am the same way (as Davis and Heyer both write mysteries). I wonder if it's because they almost never have a gray ending, but are almost always black & white?

    Zee- I often have a "handbag" book, too! But usually not one I've already read. Just one that, if the current read is too chunky, and I know I'll have some downtime, that I drop into my bag.

    Bedazzled- I have never read PG Wodehouse! I tried one of his short story collections on DailyLit (The Man with Two Left Feet), but was not engaged. I want to try the Jeeves ones...

    Rhapsody- I often do the same! Don't have as many short books in the pile as huge ones any more, though!

    (Female) Opinionated Reader- Wow, one of three books, huh? That's pretty good odds of enjoying it!

    Amanda- I should have known that :-)

    Vivienne & Jenny- That's interesting. I should go back to the children's books for in-between reads, too. Actually, maybe I should make more of my Flashback challenge reads ones that I do in-between like that.

    ArtSparker- That is fun! I like doing that, too, but don't usually set out to do it. That would be a good challenge for a year...

    Blodeuedd- I have a couple of extra Heyer copies laying around. It might take me a while to gather them, but let me know if you'd like me to send you a few of my extras!

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  16. I definitely do this... I usually go for something light and chicklit-y - something I know I can read in a day or two and that I'm fairly sure will be a comforting read.

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  17. My fallback authors are Lois McMaster Bujold or Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. My fallback books are That Man Cartright by Anne Fairbairn, Sunshine and Shadow by Sharon and Tom Curtis, and Tell Me No Lies by Elizabeth Lowell. They are more for times when I seem to be in a reading funk as most are fairly doorstopper in size. I usually don't drop everything when a highly anticipated book arrives. I am patient enough to wait until I finish my current book most of the time.

    I have a few extra Georgetter Heyers lying around too because I am replacing old editions with new ones. Everyone should get a chance to read her!

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  18. I don't really have one, unless I count in the Harry Potter books. Truth is I usually have a huge pile waiting for me, so I've never come across a situation where I look at my shelf and do an eeny meeny miny moe, though I sure wish I did! It's good sometimes not to have a list to read!

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  19. What a good question. Iris Murdoch. Libraries usually have at least a few, and an Iris Murdoch novel is always an Iris Murdoch novel. But it doesn't always work . . . because an Iris Murdoch is always an Iris Murdoch. A person really needs to be in the right mood to watch the characters go through their paces.

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  20. Dana- Light is always good for me, too, though I don't have a big chick lit collection. Would be perfect, though!

    Kathy- How funny. I am actually trying to replace my *newer* Heyers with *older* editions. I'm going for hardcovers when possible!

    Aths- I have a lot of books on my shelf that I haven't read, either, but I'm so moody that sometimes I just NEED to read something I know will just be comfortable for me.

    Trapunto- I have never read Murdoch, but now I am very intrigued!

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  21. Great post! For me, my fallback, when I am in a funk, is chick lit. I know it will make me smile and wrap up neatly at the end. I like the orderliness of it. As simple as it sounds it works for me!

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  22. I'd say I usually fall back on a Young Adult book. They are usually quick, easy reads that fill in the blanks nicely!

    I do love me some Georgette Heyer...maybe I'll try that next time!

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  23. This might sound silly, but my fallback read is almost always Harry Potter. There's always another nugget of gold in there that I hadn't spotted before. But it's still comforting too. :)

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  24. My fallback genre is usually young adult. Since I'm in school to be a school librarian, I try to expose myself to a lot of YA, and they are (usually) quick reads. I haven't been re-reading much lately, but when I do, it's usually Pride & Prejudice. Great topic!

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  25. I don't have a fallback read. I just start a book, put it down, start another, put it down, until I end up with a huge pile of books I need to finish.

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  26. I know exactly what you mean! But I tend to use magazines for that purpose. If I have to wait too long for what I really want to read or plan on reading, I'll just read something else I plan on reading anyway.

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  27. My fallback read is always a romance book. That way if the book I want to read arrives early, I wont feel like abandoning my current read.

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  28. My fallback genre is usually chick lit just because I know the books will be light, short, and easy to read!

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  29. If I am ever at a point where I just want something I know will probably keep me entertained, I usually reach for a thriller. I know I don't read a lot of them lately, but that's because my shelf if filled with so much that excites me right now!

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  30. thriller, mystery -- used to read them as my staple. work got me out of the habit!

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  31. This hasn't happened to me for a long while, but when it does, I find myself gravitating toward anthologies or short story collections. To me, the seem perfect for these in-between times as they usually are perfect to dip in and out of. I used to read trashy books as my in-between reads, but I seem to have lost my taste for that. Great topic, I hadn't given it much thought in quite awhile!

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  32. I love short stories as an in between read, and always keep two or three volumes at hand. There are also so many great short stories available online from sources like The New Yorker and others. All for free and perfect for a commute or lunch break at work.

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  33. Aarti,

    Good grief, real life can be a pain, can’t it? Have had to unavoidably miss some of your amazingly prolific yet consistently marvellous posts, and have thus rather missed the boat on, for example, your brilliant and moving post on racism in fantasy, and, also, forsaken the chance to be jealous that you’ve already read Guy Kay’s latest [your comments on the poetry intrigue me, though I can’t really argue with your “if you must go for one, try The Lions of Al-Rassan
    comment. (Notwithstanding my love of “The Fionavar Tapestry” and Jaelle! :-)) Or (at the risk of going into brackets meltdown, how I might (perhaps) take a very gentle issue with some of the comments on GGK’s style)]

    Do those brackets tie up? I have no idea...

    :-)

    Anyway, when it comes to fallback or comfort reading, I agree with many here. I tend to go for non-fiction (because it doesn’t require the mental effort of carrying around an imagined world in your head) and, because I love books, also tend to gravitate to reviews and essays about books, the best of examples of which are usually (I think) by David Langford or John Clute. [At least in the sf and fantasy world...]

    Fiction-wise, I tend to agree with those who have suggested short is best, and tend to go for Dave Langford (again), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or (perhaps my guiltiest favourite) Edgar Rice Burroughs...

    Best,

    Mark_W

    PS. Arghh. Just before posting, I’ve remembered the best short story writer ever. [Perhaps, but almost certainly, let’s be honest]. J. G. Ballard. His Complete Short Stories is endlessly brilliant....

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