Let’s Talk About Books, Baby!

Today I head off to New Jersey, land of tomatoes, peaches, and Springsteen for the New Jersey Romance Writers’ Conference.

Conferences are great motivators; not only do you get to meet and talk with other women who do what you do and like what you like, but man, you’ve spent the registration fee, so darn it, you better do something besides sit on your butt and whine about not writing.

Which means, of course, that it is–let’s see–6:39am in the morning and I have to think of something to post here before I go.

[sudden switch of topic, I will bring it back around, just wait]

Another great thing about writing is that, contrary to what we whine about a lot, it is not a solitary endeavor; your comrades-in-arms (or keyboards) understand what you are going through and can commiserate. For example, I am heading to New Jersey with my friends KJ and EKM, who posts as the Lady Novelist.

A few days ago, EKM tagged me for a book meme. Which I now present here. Please comment and share your answers, too, so we can be a big community of obsessed book people!

Total number of books?

Oh, lord, I’m a reader, not a math person; I estimate about 2,000. My husband and I were both English majors, plus there’s the obsessive reader thing–maybe more, I dunno.

Last book read?

Traveling With The Dead by Barbara Hambly, a vampire story set in the 1920s. I am currently reading J.R. Ward‘s Lover Unbound. And next up in the queue is Deborah Simmon’s Tempting Kate, a Regency historical.

Last book bought?

Lover Unbound and The Devil’s Right Hand by Lilith Saintcrow (but honestly, I’m not ALL about vampires and demons, it just happened to be that way right now).

Five meaningful books?

Andrew Lang‘s The Colored Fairy Books: amazingly diverse tales that all usually have a happy ending.

C.S. Lewis‘s Narnia Chronicles: Kids surviving on their own, using their own innate good sense and morality, something I found myself doing when I was growing up.

Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice: Romance, a seemingly irresolvable conflict, strong characters, plus that Mr. Darcy is soooo alpha-sexy. Le sigh.

Barbara Cartland‘s The Wicked Marquis: Ellipses and all, I read and re-read this book when I was nine or ten. And spent all my allowance money on more Cartlands. Eventually, I discovered the Heyers lurking in my parents’ library, but Dame Barbara was responsible for my introduction to romance.

Charlotte Bronte‘s Jane Eyre: First person, not a traditional heroine, a dark, tortured hero, melodrama, she turns down that prig St. John, thank goodness, and yet it’s got an HEA.

What about you? Share your obsession!


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sandy l
15 years ago

Total number of books? In the interest of my marriage, it’s best not to comment. What my husband doesn’t know, won’t hurt him.

Last book read? Territory by Emma Bull. A wonderful book that takes place in Tombstone, Arizona just before OK Corral. I hope there’s a sequel.

Five meaningful books:

Lord of the Rings by Tolkien

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Ladies of Madrigyn by Hambly

Jane Eyre (because one of these days I am going to read it!)

A Journey for a Princess by Margaret Leighton.

Keep in mind that this list changes on a weekly basis.

15 years ago

What a great blog. Let me see . . .

Total number of books – Pushing 5000.This last move my brothers swore they were moving a library and they are taking bets on when the floors are going to cave in from the weight.

Last book read – A Notorious Woman by Amanda McCabe, actually. Fabulous book, ladies!!

Last book bought – Mine Til Midnight by Lisa Kleypas and From the Ballroom to Hell by Elizabeth Aldrich

Five meaningful books :

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
(what do you expect from an Alabama girl? I gave a 40th anniversary copy to my nephews and my niece two Christmases ago)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
(goes without saying – a gem)

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
(takes place in one of my favorite
cities and is peopled with great

The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer
(another gem of a novel)

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
(another great Southern novel)

and let me sneak in a sixth

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
(great writing, great
characters, great angst,
great gothic)

Susan Wilbanks
15 years ago

Oh, I love these memes…

Total number of books: Somewhere over 1000 on our bookshelves at home. It’s only such a small number because I’m a heavy library user and a ruthless culler of anything I don’t expect to read again. I regularly take bags of paperbacks either to my local library or to the volunteer services people at the hospital where I work.

Last book read: Once Upon a Quinceanera, by Julia Alvarez

Last book bought: Empire of Ivory, by Naomi Novik

Five meaningful books:

1. Persuasion, Jane Austen
2. The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis
3. In This House of Brede, Rumer Godden
4. Take This Bread, Sara Miles
5. His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik

Cara King
15 years ago

Oh, Susan, is that a new Temeraire book??? (I’m so out of touch!)

And is the first number (# of books) the number we own, or the number we’ve read??

Total number of books: if read, probably 2 to 3 thousand…though maybe less. If owned…I fear to find out. But I’m sure it’s in the thousands.

Last book read: LONG LIVE THE QUEEN by the fabulous Ellen Emerson White.

Last book bought: THE MASQUE OF THE BLACK TULIP by Lauren Willig.

Five meaningful books:



Susan Wilbanks
15 years ago

Oh, Susan, is that a new Temeraire book??? (I’m so out of touch!)

Yep, it came out last week. My copy from Amazon arrived Thursday. I started reading as soon as I got home from work and finished it on the bus ride in the next day. I thought it wasn’t quite as good as the first one, but better than #2 and #3.

Tracy Grant
15 years ago

SHave a great time at the conference, Megan! And remember, networking is work too (as well as a lot of fun :-).

Great topic–let’s see…

Total number of books?

Like Cara, I’m not sure if this is owned or read. Either way it’s in the thousands :-).

Last book read?

“The Scarlet Pimpernel”–actually a re-read, though I hadn’t read it in years. I loved seeing the difference from the various adaptations, adn the way the novel unfolds primarily from Marguerite’s pov. I’m currently reading Somerset Maugham’s “The Painted Veil”.

Last book bought?

“The Painted Veil”/

Five meaningful books?

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
“Gaudy Night” by Dorothy Sayers
“Freedom & Necessity” by Steven Brust and Emma Bull
“Possession” by A.S. Byatt
“The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” by Laurie King

On any given day, the list might change…


Georgie Lee
15 years ago

Number of book I have – a whole wall full in our office, sometimes two rows deep.

Last book read – Late for the Wedding by Amanda Quick

Last book purchased – Probably something my Amanda Quick

Five meaningful books –
1. Of Human Bondage
2. The Handmaid’s Tale
3. Lady Chatterly’s Lover
4. Watership Down
5. The Stand

Haven Rich
15 years ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

Haven Rich
15 years ago

I now have just over 300. This past spring I had over 500, but they were smoke damaged *electrical fire*.

Last book read –
Dead Girls Are Easy by Terry Garey

Last book purchased –
Jenna Petersen’s latest book

Five meaningful books –
1. Tale Of Two Cities
2. Book of Poems by Edna St Vincent Millay
3. Romeo and Juliet
4. Interview with a Vampire
5. Jane Eyre/Wuthering Heights

BTW, I put the last one as one, so I could be within the limits πŸ˜€

15 years ago

I love topics like this! And it’s amazing to see how many of the meaningful books that people list are books I’ve read and loved–LotR, P&P, the Narnia books, Watership Down…

Actually, every book on Tracy’s list is one I’ve read and loved. πŸ™‚ (And on Cara’s, too, but that’s not entirely a coincidence.) Tracy, could you be my long-lost twin, or something?

OK, here goes: total number of books? I don’t want to know. Several thousand.

Last book read: Reflex by Steven Gould, who writes cool YA science fiction.

Last book bought: Quantum Computer Science: An Introduction by N. David Mermin. (Sorry about that.)

Five meaningful books: this is way too hard. I’ll give two lists, one of fiction, the other of nonfiction, with the caveat that both are almost random:

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
The Decameron, Bocaccio
The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien
Watership Down, Richard Adams
Silver Pigs, Lindsey Davis

GΓΆdel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter
The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman
The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker
Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs


15 years ago

The New Jersey Conference always sounds fabulous. Have a great time!

Number of books? They come and go.

Last book bought? Eggs by Jerry Spinelli, for my daughter.

Last book read? Am reading Dead Heat by Dick Francis and just finished Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.

Five meaningful books?

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (so beautifully written I cried)

Sweet and Vicious by David Schickler

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Tracy Grant
15 years ago

Todd, looking at your list perhaps we could be long lost twins :-). I didn’t even think about nonfiction, oddly enough. Or plays. Here are five plays off the top of my head:

Henry IV, Part I by Shakespeare
Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare
An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde
Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw
The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard

That was harder than the books somehow–on another day I’d have included Arcadia, Hamlet, The Philadelphia Story, Hapgood…

Cara King
15 years ago

Commenting on other people’s book lists…

Sandy L listed: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

You know, Sandy, I have another friend who cites that as one of her all-time favorites… But I fear that when my SFF book reading club reading GGK’s Sarantine Mosaic, I was so traumatized that it put me rather off him… πŸ™‚

Doglady listed: The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer
(another gem of a novel)

You know, that’s never been one of my favorite Heyers. I reread it recently, and though I definitely like the weird humor thing going on, the mystery/suspense plot didn’t entirely work for me.

Susan Wilbanks listed: 2. The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis

Interesting choice! Most people I know wouldn’t cite that Narnia book (more often choosing Lion W&W or maybe Magician’s Nephew [my two favorites], or perhaps The Last Battle)…. though now that I think of it, at one point The Silver Chair was my brother’s favorite… I guess I need to read it again!

Tracy Grant listed: “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
“Gaudy Night” by Dorothy Sayers
“Freedom & Necessity” by Steven Brust and Emma Bull
“Possession” by A.S. Byatt
“The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” by Laurie King

You know, Tracy, except for the Austen, that’s sort of the list of books that Todd really loves and that for some reason I still haven’t read!


Cara King
15 years ago

Okay, five plays:

Arcadia — Tom Stoppard
Importance of Being Earnest — Wilde
Way of the World — Congreve
Hamlet — Shakespeare
Much Ado About Nothing — Shakespeare


Susan Wilbanks
15 years ago

Interesting choice! Most people I know wouldn’t cite that Narnia book (more often choosing Lion W&W or maybe Magician’s Nephew [my two favorites], or perhaps The Last Battle)…. though now that I think of it, at one point The Silver Chair was my brother’s favorite… I guess I need to read it again!

It wasn’t my favorite as a child, but it’s the one that has the most resonance for me as an adult, especially Puddleglum’s speech about living as like a Narnian as he can even if there is no Narnia and being on Aslan’s side even if there’s no Aslan to lead it.

15 years ago


I love all the plays on your list as well! I think you and Cara and I need to move off into a cottage together. A cottage with lots of bookshelves. πŸ™‚

And Susan Wilbanks can have the extra room whenever she wants to visit. πŸ™‚


Keira Soleore
15 years ago

A book meme. What fun!!

Total: A few thousand

Last book read: Mine Till Midnight
Last book bought: ditto

Five Meaningful Books:

1. The Three Musketeers
2. Tale of Two Cities
3. Pride & Prejudice
4. Mallory Towers #1 by Enid Blyton
5. A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

1. The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker (Todd have you read his most recent one?)
2. Time to be Earnest by PD James
3. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
4. The Templar Revelation by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince
5. Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys Across Iran by Afshin Molavi

15 years ago

Keira wrote:

1. The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker (Todd have you read his most recent one?)

No, I haven’t! I have a hold on it at my local library, but I am far back in the queue, so I may eventually have to break down and buy it.

Of course, there was a section in his last book that I disagreed with strongly–I wrote him a very long letter about it, to which he actually replied (with a one-paragraph letter)–so we’ll see about this one. πŸ™‚


Keira Soleore
15 years ago

Todd, someday you should publish your “letters.” Should be interesting, eh, Cara?

sandy l
15 years ago


Tigana is not for the fainthearted, but it is an amazing book.

Sandy L

Megan Frampton
15 years ago

Wow, thanks for everyone’s answers! I just got Lindsey Davis’s book based on sandy l’s recommendation, so I guess it’s good (Todd had it on his list). I love that kind of synchronicity!

I am going to keep notes of some of your meaningful books and see if I can knock them off the TBR pile into the “R” pile.

13 years ago

OMG, I LOVE “The Wicked Marquis” by Barbara Cartland too!

I read it for the first time when I was 10 and, (I blush to admit it) I still love it now at 38.

My five meaningful books:

1. Gone with the Wind
2. Jane Eyre
3. Lolita
4. Charlotte’s Web
5. Angela’s Ashes

Megan Frampton
13 years ago

Anonymous, thanks for your comment! So glad someone else loved Wicked Marquis. And I agree with all of your choices as meaningful books, thanks for stopping by.

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