Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Temptation (and Travelling) Tuesday

PHS Columnist Kate Walker looks at both Temptation and Travelling Tuesday with a quandary that afflicts her almost every year in July - the choice of the books she needs to take with her while Travelling - and the two Temptations of New versus those of Rereading

As I write this I’m preparing for my usual crazy July – the one that means I’m rushing about travelling here there and everywhere and just pausing every now and then to draw breath, wash my knickers and make sure I know where I should be next. I was running a workshop in Yorkshire on Sunday, I’m heading for Heathrow and from there to Washington for the RWA Conference on Monday – and when I get back, I have just five days to turn around, recover from jet lag (I hope) and head for Wales where I’m teaching a course on writing romance at one of my favourite events of the year – Caerleon Writers’ Holidays.

Sadly, I’m not going to be able to fit in the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference as well – I am only human and can’t quite manage the timings.

But all this travelling – trains and planes to Washington and a l-o-n-g car journey down to Wales for Writer’s Holiday gives me an opportunity to indulge in something that I haven’t had time to do enough of this year – and that is read. A 2 ½ hour journey to London, 8+ hours on the plane – the same back . . . I can make a real dent in my TBR pile in that time, can’t I? And at Caerleon, when I’m not teaching, my time’s entirely my own – So now it’s time to select the reading I really want to do. Time to look at that TBR mountain and . . . decide that really, what I most want to indulge in isn’t really the delight of reading all those brand new, untouched and as yet unopened lovely paperbacks.

Instead I’m struggling with the yearning temptation – to reread.

Yes, that’s right. With piles – shelves – full of a wonderful selection of never before read novels, biographies, historical titles, and best chance I’ll have all year of getting in some concentrated reading time . . . all I want to do is revisit books I’ve already read before.
It all started last month when I was asked to go to Haworth, the home of the Bronte sisters and to be on a panel to discuss the influence that the books written by Charlotte Emily and Anne had on contemporary romantic fiction. To make sure I had the novels fresh in my mind I reread Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and loved the experience. It was like revisiting old friends –friends I knew very well, but had forgotten some of the smaller, intricate details of their lives.

Then my husband - The Babe Magnet – wanted some books to read on the flight too. He’s decide to try Georgette Heyer as he has been getting really interested in the Regency period as a result of some historical research he’s been doing. Could he borrow some of my copies? And which are my favourites? Which do I recommend ?

Of course, checking my bookshelves for Heyers I think he’d like means that I had to open one or two myself – The Masqueraders. Oh, I loved that one – The Black Moth, False Colours – Devil’s Cub . . . I just wanted to settle down then and there and read through my collection from start to finish.

But the Heyers are just below the collected works of Dorothy Dunnett and every time I look at those, I want to reach for Game of Kings, go back to the beginning of the Lymond Chronicles and read them straight through. That’s a mammoth task – 6 huge books,, each one at least 550 pages long. And that’s only if I stick with the Lymond series . . .Don’t get me started on the House Of Niccolo.

My bookshelf holds more temptation. My collection of Mary Stewart books (including my collection of prized first editions). As MS is the woman I credit with starting me out on the road of loving ambiguous, are they good or are the bad heroes, every now and then I have to reread her books to rediscover that guaranteed thrill and enjoyment – My Brother Michael, Nine Coaches Waiting or – the one that started it all for me – The Moonspinners.

No – it’s no good. I can’t indulge in rereading – not on the trip to Washington anyway. My policy on long-haul trips has always been to take with me books I want to read but that finally, if luggage weight restrictions demand it, I can discard along the way, leaving a book trail behind me wherever I’ve been. And maybe pick up a few more must-reads while at the conference - and that’s before the Babe Magnet adds in the volumes he just has to have – for research, you know! And none of the books listed above could ever be discarded.

So that solves the American trip reading problem - once I’ve sorted out which volumes fall into the ‘read and discard’ category.

But the journey to Wales is another matter. We’re in the car so weight restrictions don’t come into it. I can bring home everything I took with me. And more . Because if we’re at Caerleon then Hay-on-Wye – the Village of Books is just down the road. A whole village filled with secondhand bookshops. Where I might just find the couple of MS first editions missing from my collection.

And maybe some other author that I just have to reread.

I know what’s going to happen. I’ll come back with more books then I took away. And I’ll still want to reread all my absolute favourites . . . I’ll never win.

But I’ll have a wonderful time trying.

Kate is thrilled to have the first USA edition of her 12 Point Guide available in America this month. Coming up is Kept For Her Baby which is to be published in September in Mills & Boon Modern and October – in Presents Extra in America. She also has a fantastic Tote Bag of Books Contest -a Presents Special to mark Harlequin's 60th anniversary running on her blog right now - with 15 brand new boks as prizes.

You can find out more about Kate and her books on her website or for the most up to date news - and that contest - visit her blog.


  1. I love Georgette Heyer. I've always meant to try Dorothy Dunnett, but the length and depth of her books intimidate me! Have a fabulous time on your travels. It was lovely to see you in DC!

  2. Kate, I heard My Brother Michael serialised on the radio and it got me hooked onto Mary Stewart. Still love them. And I can still remember my first GH, sigh. There is a special joy in re-reading. Coming back to the familiar, but discovering bits you'd missed in that first mad sucking up of story.

    Have fun on your travels.

  3. Kate, you appear to have the same re-reading list as me! I am at the very moment in the process of re-reading my favourite Heyers (Devils Cub is great!). Have just finished making my way through the Mary Stewarts too - My Brother Michael and Nine Coaches Waiting are my favourites.
    And as for Dorothy Dunnett... I first started reading the Lymond Chronicles when I was 15 (and very impressionable) and tend to re-read the whole series (sometimes with the House of Niccolo sometimes not) every 5 - 10 years or so. One of my prized posessions is the last House of Niccolo book, autographed by her. Aaaand, now that you've reminded me, maybe I should start back into them. It's been a while since I had a Lymond fix... ;-)

  4. Now I know why second hand Georgette Heyers are so scarce, you all want them too. Having just re-read most of them Venetia is my favourite but A Civil Contract is great, so is the Toll Gate...
    Re-reading them, I have noticed how often we get the hero's point of view.
    As for Mary Stawart, 'Airs Above the Ground' for me- pass on the hero, it's got horses in it!