We all have our own ways of soothing ourselves

by KJ in #AmReading

And mine may be… eccentric..

Hello, my name is KJ and sometimes when I’m anxious I like to re-read books about cleaning things.

Not necessarily clean the things, although after four solid weeks of being sick (I’m bettter now!) I finally got off my sickbed and managed to do a little of that too. No, I just read some books about it, like Gretchen Rubin’s Outer Order, Inner Calm. And bought a book but didn’t read it, Minimalista. And considered re-reading Marie Kondo, because I do kinda secretly love it, except the last time I read it was during the pandemic and it inspired me to clean my closet and get rid of anything that didn’t bring me joy and since life was scarcely joyful at that moment, that didn’t end well.

I think I might now purchase the Swedish Death Cleaning book, too. I’m pretty sure I will also find that weirdly soothing and vaguely inspirational and perhaps I will do something about my basement.

Note that I’m not exactly recommending any of those, bc I haven’t read two of them and one of them ultimately did more harm than good. (Can’t go wrong with Gretchen Rubin though.) And DEFINITELY don’t give them as gifts. There’s basically no universe in which that would work. Just confessing that it’s not all classy frontlist fresh new books around here these days.

Here are a couple of things I am recommending: Crone Sandwich and I Would Do It Differently. Both are brand new emails, sent via Substack, from writers I really enjoy and both are, for the moment at least, free—so you can enjoy them for a while before deciding if you want to invest. I do love Substack (which is an email service that allows writers to ask people to pay to subscribe to their email newsletters) and we have used it in the past to support the #AmWriting podcast, but I’ve been burned more than once lately by supporting a writer who either didn’t end up delivering because they burnt out on the concept, or whose work didn’t end up being for me. We miiiiiiight be hitting peak Substack. (That said, I happily pay for BookRiot and Lyz Lenz’s Men Yell at Me). This will sort itself, I’ve no doubt. But for some of us (me, for sure) the free model of newsletters might still be the way to go.

BUT I DIGRESS (possible email title). I also found comfort on my sickbed in Martha Waters’ To Marry and to Meddle and To Love and to Loathe. Both are delicious treats of regency romance in which the characters uncover their modern sensibilities from the strictures of their time period and they’re just plain fun—smart and engrossing, but not overly demanding. (I also adore Evie Dunmore’s books, which do something similar, but Dunmore’s characters tend to face more consequences for developing modern views, which is probably more realistic but is a different reading experience, and I wrote about those here.)

I do long to know what will happen and how these people will find their way to one another. But my heart is unlikely to pound with suspense, which is a good thing if you’re already feverish. These would be a great way into regency if you adore a modern rom-com in the vein of Sarah Hogle or Kate Clayborn. I can’t wait for her next book.

Now that I’m steeping myself in the regency tea, I’m open to recs! Have you read any good books about dukes and duchesses lately?

P.S. If you haven’t read Playing the Witch Card yet, I very much think you should. It does get a bit heart-pounding there at the end, but it’s worth it! Or try The Chicken Sisters (which is still my most beloved-by-readers book and which has different but equally passionate relationships at its heart) or In Her Boots (which, ditto—it’s all about bffs who have your back even when maybe they shouldn’t).

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