I went from reading around 30 books a month in two languages to hardly reading any, because I lapsed into the ‘I’m gonna re-read the hundreds (if not multiple thousands) of fanfics I have on my Kindle again’ phase.

(And I have a weird relationship with fan fiction, where I have a couple of specific fandoms, two which are based on TV shows I’ve never watched a single episode of (and not going to), and another one is Star Trek, and mostly skip the porn and any lengthy angsty staff, and focus on fluff-and-comfort and weird comedy AUs.)

Problem is, there is only one kind of books I want to read, and it often feels like it’s the opposite of what ‘publishers’ and ‘public’ believe constitutes a good book.

In fact, the only books I would say fitted into the ‘what I need from a book’ the closest were self-published books with a relatively small fan base.

And what I need are the books that make my life better, that bring something positive into it. Books that are not based on the nauseatingly popular ‘angst is cool’ and ‘death, gore, suffering, and pain are even cooler’ presumptions.

I went through the phase when I read all kinds of books the world has to offer—the classics, the dead white guy hits, the award winners, the problem works—when I was a teenager. I had two good English Lit teachers in high school who also chose books meant to teach you something (Color Purple, Black Rain, 100 Years of Solitude, etc). I also did my postgrad thesis on women’s literature, including people like Tony Morrison, Joan Didion, Dorothy Alison, Loise Erdrich, and others.

And the thing is, that was more than enough. I don’t need any books that try to teach me about monsters in my life anymore. The things people call ‘profound’ and ‘raw’ and ‘deeply influential’ and ‘unsettling commentary’, with all the ‘exploring the challenges ans struggles’. I don’t need books that focus on the portrayal of horrors, pain, human problems, conflict, hatred, prejudice, drama, and all the other negative things that for some reason are considered to be a must-have for a book to be a bestseller. It’s like people think that a story is only worth telling if there’s pain or sadness in it. Like ‘good’ is not enough to be interesting.

I need books that banish and eradicate horrors, pain, human problems, conflict, hatred, prejudice, drama. Books that focus on good, happiness, love, and comfort.

And honestly, I don’t get why they are so hard to find. Why people are so obsessed with angst and drama that they think a book cannot be considered a book unless it has some hurtful drama in it.

It’s why I binge-read so many weird romances in the last year, because they felt like the closest you could come to literature made for fun and comfort, but then even the silliest comedy-romance books (in any genre) would have some ‘weird unnecessary drama’ phase around 70% into the story, like they all went through the same cookie cutter. Like someone told all writers and publishers that a book won’t sell if you don’t put some unnecessary angst and stupid drama into exact same spot in every book. And I’ve literally read hundreds of them, and found out that about 90% follow the exact same pattern.

Right now, I believe that books that don’t make my life better—and I don’t mean some “educational” and “how-to” crap, I mean the books that make me feel better, that bring me positive emotions, that make me smile, that take me somewhere where I don’t need to deal with angst, pain, and drama—are just not worth my time anymore. Why would I willingly spend my time on something that bring me negative emotions? Why do other people do?

So once again I find myself too tired of angst and drama to open any of the 100smth unread books I have piled in my apartment, and am hiding in a ton of fluffy fanfiction instead.

Shammed

Shammed by Bernadette Franklin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These books make me happy.
They are not for reading in overly sceptical and realistic moods, they are for reading for fun and to feel good.
I snickered on the parts regarding toilets (because washlets with glowy parts, button panels, and automatic lids are more of the norm around here even in some public restrooms), had a sad sigh on the topic of refurbishing an entire big dream house in 3 weeks for just half a million (I know people who can’t find a way/people to do it for almost 2 years already), pretended that I would’t myself run away and refuse to return to a room with a tarantula in it, wondered if 10,000 trashy romance novels would fit in my apartment even I got rid of all furniture and packed the books from floor to ceiling, like into a box … and generally had a lot of fun reading this disregarding of any realities.

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Silver Thaw (Mystic Creek, #1)

Silver Thaw by Catherine Anderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very standard ‘rescue story’ about a woman with a little girl trying to escape abusive marriage and meeting a man with almost unlimited kindness, money, and patience who saves her first from weather disaster and poverty, and then from her past.
While this book tries very hard to go through all the emotional and legal pitfalls that can happen in these situations, it overdoes it a little. When you chew on the same ideas and sentiments over and over again they sort of lose their sincerity, and that’s what happens here. The first half of the book is marginally better; by the last 150 pages or so it turns outright laborious and as difficult to chew through as old stale bread.
Another big problem of this book is the ‘cardboard cinderella’ image of its main character, who is simply beautiful, innocent, is a of course genius cook, and loves cleaning.
This message, that you have to be young, beautiful, perfect housewife to be a heroine of a rescue story such is this is really not a right one to send.

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Gentle Warrior

Gentle Warrior by Julie Garwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes I sigh and feel very silly for still reading these books…especially when I need to pretend not to think about details like ‘a girl catching a big hawk on her arm without a glove and not only being able to hold him up, but also having not a single scratch’, use of word ‘beige’ in 11th century, and various other small plot holes and skips.
But then I reach little parts that make me smile like an idiot, and I decide that I can still close my eyes on the glaring writing problems for silly comfort books about knights and stubborn women who try to conquer each other and make the other see reason.
My favourite part of this book is the very last page, and because of that last page I kind of forgave and forgot everything else.

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undefined The Captive King: A Royal States Novel by Susan Copperfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


At first I thought this book was remarkably similar to the first one (the auction, similar type of a heroine), but then, of course, the focus of this book turned out to be on an entirely different subject and of a very different direction.
Incidentally, since I know very little about the cultures touched in this book, I was able to enjoy it as a fantasy without wondering if the historical/cultural details seemed believable enough.

P.S. Typos…I see you. I can’t unsee you. There is a place in this book where a typo level practically reaches a ‘fatal’ mark (wrong character’s name is used in a scene)…



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Claustrophobic

Claustrophobic by Bernadette Franklin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


You know those days when you just need something fun, fluffy, ridiculous, and with a bonus sprinkle of justice?
This is a perfect book for one of those days.
This is not an explicit romance. The romance is the driving force veiled with humour.
There are games, designer clothes, Christmas presents, and some very bad people getting what they deserve.



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Rusty Nailed (Cocktail, #2)

Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A very slice-of-life kind of book.
So few authors actually bother to continue the story of a pair after the initial ‘get together’ book, that this already deserves kudos based only on this point.
Though, to be honest, I didn’t think I would be able to give this book more than 3 stars for the 99.5% of it.
There is a couple of points.
1) Reading books where female characters are portrayed as hysteric idiots, and make you wish you were unrelated to the gender, is getting a little tiring (that’s polite speak for ‘effing annoying).
Mimi is difficult to stomach, but at least there was very little of her.
But the whole Sophia/Nill episode? Was there really a need for women to act so idiotic?
It’s not even a problem of if cheating occurred or not. It’s a problem of the necessity of all the hysterics, theatrics, property damage (car-keys-in-toilet-flushing), and inability to communicate like human being with a person you were supposed to be in a committed relationship with.
Dislike.
2) Main character’s thought processes were repetitive and loopy. She went on and on about the same things. Then the whole drama of her telling herself how she should be feeling about things instead of actually thinking about things. It was boring and annoying at the same time.
It was the fact that the resolution finally involved sitting down and actually talking to each other calmly and honestly, even though it came at the last possible moment, that I was able to add the 4th star to my review.
3) Speaking of boring and annoying, personally, the balance of things on which attention was spent in this book didn’t really agree with me. It was very disappointing to see the holidays get ‘brief digest’ treatment. I would prefer to actually read about holidays and meeting parents, instead of reading same things about work and sex over and over again.

Good things about this book include fun prose and light, easy to sink into, atmosphere and setting.
It will probably make a lot of people envious. With regards to both the partner and the house.
If not for the annoying female shenanigans, would be a great comfort book.



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