I know, I've been away for a while. You can blame Connie Willis. I just finished All Clear, but for the last week any moment that I haven't been reading, I've had that wistful "I wish I were reading that book right now" feeling that you get when you're really invested in a story. This isn't to say that I've been reading all week-- I'm a slow reader but the book's not that long-- rather, when I found myself debating whether to blog or just curl up and read, reading won out. My apologies.
But, I finished All Clear last night, and that leaves me with the sad, nostalgic feeling you get when you finish one of those great books that haunt you in the hours you're not reading them. It's a feeling like the end of vacation when you say goodbye to all your new friends and know you'll never have quite the same relationship with them again. Of course, I'll reread All Clear-- Connie Willis' books are so intricate that they're well worth rereading-- but it just won't be the same as the first time I take their journey with them, not knowing the outcome.
This feeling leaves me in a bit of a quandary, however. What should I read next? I have a wealth of books "to read" (as you can tell from my Goodreads shelf), but the choice of which to select is not obvious. I want something that's good-- obviously-- but something sufficiently different from the book I just finished. I will not, for example, pick up either of the "new-to-me" Connie Willis books I have waiting on my shelf, because I would hate for them to get mixed up in my mind with All Clear. Each of Connie Willis' stories deserves its own distinct place in my brain, and until I've gotten over the mourning process of having finished All Clear, I won't pick up more Willis.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have a couple of books by Sophie Kinsella that I've been looking forward to. Anyone who has read both Willis and Kinsella will understand that they are very different authors. Each lady writes delightful and enjoyable fiction, but I turn to Kinsella when I want to give my brain a break, and to Willis when I want to give my brain a work out. It's like the difference between potato chips and red wine-- both are delicious, but they're very very different from each other.
My first experience reading Kinsella was when I picked up Shopaholic Ties the Knot while I was planning my wedding. It was the perfect escapist read for that moment in my life-- if you're planning a wedding and you haven't read it, I insist you run out to your nearest bookstore and get a copy. These days, I love reading Kinsella when I go to the beach. I tend to collect her books during the year and keep them reserved for vacation. Every time I see them, it reminds me of sitting by the ocean, listening to the waves, and enjoying the time off. Ahhh, isn't that nice?
But, I doubt that Sleeping Arrangements or Can You Keep a Secret are quite the right tone for the middle of February... especially when I have so much work to do during the day. No, I'll save those for the carefree days of summer.
I could pick up Jasper Fforde's The Last Dragonslayer, or The Fourth Bear which are calling to me from my bookshelf, but I fear that they might be a bit too similar to All Clear. Certainly, the three books must be very different in content, but I feel that both Fforde and Willis tend to plunge the reader into a new and complicated world, and leave them to sink or learn the rules. It's a wonderful experience, and one I don't want in any way diminished by reading two books like that in a row.
I'm certainly not going to read Gwen Bristow's Tomorrow is Forever just yet. I think it might be my last "new" Bristow book, so I'm saving it for a special occasion.
I guess I'm leaning toward Jennifer Chiaverini's The Quilter's Kitchen. It has a few things going for it. First, the world of the Elm Creek Quilters is well established in my mind, so it's not going to have the same feel as picking up another Willis or Fforde. Second, it's a hardcover book, which means I won't read it at the beach. Third, Chiaverini is still writing in this series, so I don't have to worry about squandering one of her books. Fourth, I've already "read" the book that comes before it, and the book that comes after it in the series on audio, so reading this one will mean I'm no longer missing any pieces of the puzzle. Finally, I think it might just be the perfect balm for my melancholy All Clear mourning.
What about you? What are you reading these days? What do you do when you finish a book you loved so much it became a preoccupation?
In case you're interested, here's a link to my Goodreads review of All Clear... it should come as no surprise to you that I give it five stars:
All Clear by Connie Willis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
View all my reviews