I Am Ashamed. I Have Cheated.

I have a confession to make. I know. It seems like I’m all the time spouting off one confession or another, but this time, it’s something big. I have cheated. For realsies. I am so ashamed.

At the very beginning of the year, I joined The 2012 End of the World Reading Challenge. The goal is simple. Read as many books as possible during the calendar year that I have never read before. And this, friends, is where I’ve strayed.

I normally manage to plow through at least a couple of books a week, so while I didn’t expect to win, I did at least hope to be competitive. Not so much, actually. I have tried to be true, to power through a book to keep up my page count. I have failed. Total number of new-to-me books read in 2012? Three. Abysmal, I know.

Maybe it’s because the books I have started this year have been bad. And that’s true. I pooped out half-way through Game of Thrones. I am quickly fizzling on A Discovery of Witches. Life really is too short to read bad books.  I’m trying to stay strong and make it through Witches because, as a  friend oft reminds me, if I don’t finish it, I’m not allowed to make fun of it. That book is a veritable craft-box of fun just waiting, so finish I will, even if it kills me. And it just might.

But as I tend to avoid things that irritate me (when was the last time I messed around on Farmville?), where does that leave me? Cheater Town. That’s right. I hear the siren song of my old familiar favorites and slide right back into their arms. Can I count them in the book challenge? Nope. Do I care? Only when I check my page count.

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Meet the Mistresses (because I don’t know what you call a male cheat-partner. The opposite of “mistress” is usually “master,” but that term may lead readers to expect a tennis tournament, and I’m not much into sports) –

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Lord of the Rings – these are a must-read. At least once a year. Do I need to explain why?

Harry Potter: See above. I don’t know how I manage to get anything done with these two phenomenal series in my house.

Gone With the Wind – A reminder of where we have come from, and how far we have to go. I can’t explain why I enjoy reading a character that I constantly wish I could smack. Hard.

The Mists of Avalon – I never read managed to make it through a single Darkover novel, but this Arthurian interpretation speaks to my heart. I don’t care how many times I read it, each time I open it, I still hope that things will turn out differently for Morgaine and Lancelet. It’s a fine example of how great ideas can transcend sloppy writing. I can’t stand any of the others in the series, even though I wanted to love them as much.

The Shell Seekers – I am a sucker for anything written by Rosamund Pilcher, but this one is the best. It’s my go-to comfort read when life gets a hairy. And I do mean comfort. It is broken-in house shoes, sweatpants, and take-out kung pao chicken rolled into a paper binding.. I saw the made-for-tv rendition. It made me want to drink.

The Phantom Tollbooth – Wordplay beats sword play any day. I missed the window for getting my teenager to appreciate this book. I feel like I have failed as a parent. But the same kid adores Roald Dahl, so maybe I’m not a complete wretch.

All Creatures Great and Small – A beautiful series that captures life in rural Yorkshire in the 1930’s. Speaks to the anglophile and the animal lover in me.

Huntress – A heroine I can so totally relate to, Grace inspires me. The biggest regret I have about sending my Kindle Fire back is that this series is only available in e-format. One day we will be together again. One day.

And as always, I’m open to recommendations. What books call your name in the quiet of an evening? What books are like old friends, the ones that take you as you are and don’t expect you to be on your best game?