A Year of Gifts
Have you ever thought about how your reading habits and preferences have evolved over time? I was reminded of this yesterday while dusting a couple of shelves at the cabin that house some old paperbacks.
Maybe you enjoyed reading lots of romance or sci-fi books years ago, but now you prefer a good mystery. Or instead of the small, thick paperbacks like these that you used to pick up in stores years ago, you’ve come to prefer the convenience of e-books. Or the slightly larger paperbacks available now with easier to read fonts.
E-books are handy. I purchase plenty of them because I like to read on my phone or tablet, especially while traveling or before I go to sleep at night. But my favorite versions will always be physical copies. I don’t think you can beat the enjoyment of holding an actual book in your hands. My problem is space. While there are still piles of books throughout the house, I have to cull my collection occasionally. But I haven’t touched this small selection in years. Some of these books even transitioned from our camper to our cabin twelve years ago.
Besides our preferences of genres and books forms, most readers also have a list of their favorite authors. This lineup grows and expands. Unless an author keeps putting out new books, they risk fading from a reader’s radar, replaced by the writers publishing current bestsellers. Even though we might not actively search for new releases or backlist books written by our once favorite authors anymore, their works have undoubtedly shaped both our reading preferences and our personal lives.
Yesterday, as my gaze skipped along the faded and creased covers on the shelves, certain author names jumped out at me and made me wonder. I know some are still writing and publishing, but I wasn’t sure about others, so I did a brief search of each of them. Curious?
Here is what I found:
Barbara Delinsky–She has over twenty New York Times bestsellers to her credit. Her latest book, A Week at the Shore, came out in 2020. A paragraph within her website’s bio captures why I have always loved her books: she writes relatable characters about everyday people facing emotional crises and challenges.
Julie Garwood–Her stories encompass both historical and contemporary timeframes. According to her website, her themes focused on family, loyalty, and honor. She published her first novel, Gentle Warrior, back in 1985. The book on my shelf, The Secret, came out in 1992 (over 30 years ago). She was an incredibly prolific author with many bestsellers. Sadly, Julie Garwood passed away on June 8, 2023. She leaves behind a legacy of beautiful stories that readers will enjoy for years to come.
Kristin Hannah–If you are a reader, you are already familiar with this amazing author. Her list of amazing books goes on and on. I found her latest novel, The Four Winds, to be a gut-wrenching account of the dusty days of the Great Depression. I splurged on a beautiful hard copy version of that book when it first came out. They adapted another of her books, Firefly Lane, into a #1 Netflix series. A few weeks ago, I sat alone in front of the television, wiping away tears as I watched the show’s conclusion. This heartwarming story ended with Katherine Heigl swaying and reminiscing on the gift of her beautiful friend to the iconic song “Dancing Queen” by ABBA.
Books are so much more than simply a compilation of words.
Mary Alice Monroe–This award-winning author continues to put out incredible books, including her latest instant bestseller, The Summer of Lost and Found. I follow her on social media and admire her dedication to the environment. When I think of Mary Alice Monroe, I think of sea turtles and monarch butterflies.
Fern Michaels–No wonder I can’t remember a world without books by Fern Michaels. According to her website (which is a delight and includes personal, current updates), she is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over 161 published works! Fern Michaels is the pen name of Mary Ruth Kuszkir. If you enjoy Fern’s books, you’ll likely enjoy her website, too, for more insight into the person behind the pen name.
Nora Roberts–Johanna Lindsey may have kept me reading past my bedtime, but I’ve read (and loved) more books by Nora Roberts than any other author. She is a queen as far as I’m concerned. One report I found stated she has published more than 225 romance novels and has held the number-one spot on the New York Times Best Seller list for a crazy number of weeks throughout the years. She also writes as J.D. Robb. Unfortunately, her popularity isn’t without its shadows, including the plagiarism of her work and book bans. I appreciate that she isn’t afraid to push back against these atrocities. I’ve heard that she also maintains a rigorous writing schedule to this day, despite the incredible success she’s already enjoyed.
LaVyrle Spencer–While I don’t have any of her books on my shelves at the cabin, this trip down memory lane brought her to mind, too. I was an avid reader of her books when I was younger. Her romances extended beyond the primary couple to include families and intriguing plots. This Minnesota author had massive success, but retired from writing years ago. Her books helped shape me as a reader, and probably as a person, as all good stories can.
It’s doubtful I’ll go back and reread any of these books. Maybe I’ll box them up someday and donate them. But having them near is a bit like having old friends around. All we need to do is crack them open again, and we can travel back in time.
While researching these authors, I saw lots of instances where their older books now have updated covers. This makes sense. If a book looks like it’s thirty years old, because cover styles do change, few people will pick them up today. But a modern cover is a smart way to reach more readers when the stories inside are practically timeless.
Books stuck in electronic form in our phones and tablets can be like all those photographs we take but never look at again. Sure, they don’t take up space or add potential clutter to our homes, but a physical copy on your shelves is harder to forget and easier to appreciate over time. A dusty old novel may even spur us down a trip on memory lane, reminding us of how certain stories quietly weave themselves into our memories, and perhaps even our souls.
Are you a fan of any of these authors or does your list of favorites look completely different? Who would top your list?
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!