My Oldest Friends

Do you re-read books?  I do.  They’re like old friends that I visit with from time to time.  The words run across the page, filling my mind with welcome, familiar images, but it’s the emotions they evoke that really capture me, and bring me back again and again.

Lately I’ve been reading and re-reading some of my favorite books for research.  Jane Austen, Robert Heinlein and Edgar Rice Burroughs have all been in the rotation.  Recently, I needed some insights into character dialogue, so I went to one who excelled at witty banter between clever and believable characters, Georgette Heyer.

Are you familiar with Georgette Heyer?  If you write romance or read romance you need to check out her Regency novels.   Blazoned across the top of each tattered copy I own, ‘Hers set the style for all the rest.’  It’s true!  Georgette led me to Jane Austen, and every other Regency romance is measured against their standards.

Since she was writing in the 1920’s, her language may seem stilted or difficult to follow to more modern readers.  Some of her sentences become very involved, and as familiar as they are, I find myself having to go over them once or twice to get the gist of what she’s saying.  But that is their charm, and what draws you in.  She takes you into the world of fashionable London during the reign of the Prince Regent.  From 1811 – 1820, or 1795 – 1837, depending on how you’re slicing it, the Regency period in England is the transition between the Georgian and Victorian eras.  When you read Georgette Heyer, you sink into this lost era, the one that brought us Lord Byron and Mary Shelley.

If you want character development, clever twists, and just plain fun, you cannot do better than to read Bath Tangle, the one I just finished tonight.  Lover’s triangles, high society, and the lovingly detailed backdrop of Bath, England are blended together charmingly in this frothy romp.

I was looking for arguments, conflicts and fiery exchanges between characters that are desperately in love with each other and trying just as desperately not to show it.  Through Lady Serena Carlow and the Marquis of Rotherham, Ms. Heyer dishes up some delightfully spicy fights.  Plenty of flame and passion, yet these characters…wait I don’t want to spoil it!  Read it and let me know what you think.

My old friends inspire me to be a better writer.  I try and write the kind of stories I want to read, and to recapture that sense of wonder I spend time with those stories that have moved me, elated me, made me cry, and made me laugh.  I find there are no better teachers.

Do you re-read old favorites?  Or go through books once, and then never look back?  What writers have inspired you?

20 thoughts on “My Oldest Friends

  1. I re-read old favorites all the time, and they really are like old friends. I find they teach me different things depending on what I need to hear at the time. Two of my favorites are Watership Down and The Merlin Trilogy. Shogun gets another read now and then, as well.

    Thanks for your post. You have me thinking I might need to re-read something this weekend. 🙂

  2. Old books are like good friends, very comforting.
    I have so many I fall back into: Dark Angel by Virginia Andrews, The Stand by Stephen King, The Forbidden Game by L.J. Smith and more recently Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

  3. Oh yes. The only books who get space on my shelf are the ones I plan to reread 🙂 I read LOTR once a year. I love the classics – though I don’t reread those as often. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – LOVE that one. It’s such a tiny book, but every sentence carries so much meaning it takes me a week to get through it each time. Frankenstein is another. I love reading the Romantics. I have a self-pubbed series I reread every year too (it was published before self-publishing was cool).

  4. Oh yes, I do re-read books, some several times. When I’m lonely, bored, or just feeling down, there’s nothing like an old friend, a story so familiar it almost seems like I am there.

  5. You hit the nail on the head with Georgette Heyer. I found her in my school library when I was twelve and that was it – read every single one of them again and again. I still pick them up from my local library too and I have my favourites on my Kindle. The Grand Sophy is a killer for me, hilarious. Frederica with the stutter has me crying laughing.Regency Buck has great argument scenes.

    Great post, Serena

    1. Thank you CC! Grand Sophy is one of my top faves for GH, and I finished Regency Buck, again last month, and yeah, I was reading it for the arguements. Funny, there were some I read the first time and though, ‘Meh’ but then re-read and was captivated. Cotillion was on of those for me.

  6. Yep!! I reread the all the Harry Potter books, not always in order, often. I’ve lost track how many times I’ve read each one. They are my treasured friends. I’ve recently reread Gone with the Wind. I’ve read Diana Gabaldon’s first in her series, Outlander, numerous times. I’m rereading the Hunger Games series now and my next read will be Divergent to prepare for the release of book #2, Insurgent, already pre-ordered, comes out May 1.

    1. Good choices, Ginger! I’ve only read Hunger Games, but will pick up Mockingjay in the next week or so. Really liked it, and I’m not usually much into the YA reading. Great story, interesting characters, and I love it when books have an underlying message but don’t beat you over the head with it.

  7. Serena, what a wonderful topic! Great Post girl! Yes, I love to re-read my books. For me I love Douglas Kennedy, Elin Hilderbrand, Annita Shreve, oh a bunch of others too. I almost feel like I’m visiting an old friend. You know, like when you haven’t seen someone for a while and then when you meet up you fall into a comfortable step with one another. Yeah, it’s great! 🙂

  8. Great post! I do when I feel the need for motivation. I turn to the ones I love the most for thier flow and delivery. Although I’ll admit that the time constraints make it hard and if I crack one open they are hard to put down.

  9. Oh, my. Yes. I reread many books. Little Women, Gone with the Wind, A Wrinkle in Time, Dune, among many others. Sometimes I read them again for the pleasure. A lot of times I go to a favorite looking for some specific writing technique: lately I’ve been looking at beginnings.

    Fascinating to see what others reread. I may have to check some of those out again, or for the first time. Thanks, Serena. Great post!

  10. I re-read more when I was a kid–Little Women and all the Little House on the Prairie books were some of them.
    Now I usually only hang onto a book if I think it’s one I want to read again. 🙂

  11. I think I’ve read the first three Wheel of Time novels three or four times. They amazed me when I was a kid. I should probably re-read them to concentrate on his style, and what drew me in so much. The later novels lost me. They stopped being interesting later on. It was a shame.

    1. The sad downfall of many series, author carries on too long. I think in TV the call it ‘jumping the shark.’ I never did get through Wheel of Time, but I may need to give it another try, I know so many who really love it.

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