Monday, September 19, 2011

Help! My Bookshelf Has PMS!


Austen, King, Evanovich, Clavell, Coben, Crusie, Gabaldon...honestly, its mood swings are more jarring than a teenage girl's in prom season. Just looking at it makes me crave chocolate. Then chips. And maybe cry a little. Sometimes a zit appears on my chin...

Okay, that may be carrying the metaphor too far, but books do have moods. A certain feel to them. Their "atmosphere." Some are happy-go-lucky, some are dark and brooding, some are mysterious (and not just the mysteries, either). There are books where the mood is akin to a kegger at a frat house, and others that would make a funeral seem like a lighthearted occasion.

But you guys know that already.

What I'm curious about is how you choose which kind of book you want to read at any given time. Do you try to match whatever mood you're in? Or do you try to counterbalance it with something different?

I mean, if you're feeling down in the dumps, do you choose a happy book in the hopes it will cheer you up? Or do you choose something that reflects your somber mood, and just wallow a bit?

Personally, I tend to be a mood matcher. Not always -- if I'm feeling anxious about something, I don't like to read an anxiety-producing book, for instance. No Stephen King for me when I'm worried. But if I'm brooding about something, I might choose something with a Gothic setting. Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Rebecca...they just seems to fit.

If I'm angry, a good kickass dark urban fantasy is just the ticket. (What? It's cathartic.) Vicki Petterrson's Signs of the Zodiac series always works well.

And nothing beats a good rom-com when I'm feeling happy and in the mood to giggle (Tawna Fenske's Making Waves, anyone? Which, btw, is also good if you're in another kind of mood. *waggles eyebrows*)

So, what are you reading now? (Well, not NOW now -- I know you're reading my blog right now. Maybe I should ask what's on your nightstand. Books, I mean, not any of that personal stuff, like...oh, never mind. You know what I mean.)

Does what you're reading reflect how you're feeling?

26 comments:

Michele Shaw said...

I read Slam, by Nick Hornby yesterday, and Wow! If anyone is still trying to figure out what voice is...Slam=voice. I don't usually match my mood, I just grab something from the tbr pile before it tips over and buries me!

Sarah Pearson said...

I'm just about to start Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey. Beyond 'light and easy' for the bath and bus journeys I don't really select to match moods.

Delia said...

I'm a matcher. Right now, I'm in the middles of The Book Theif, County Line, and Game of Thrones. Which makes it seem like I only read downers -- not true. It's just that the comedies read faster.

Teri Anne Stanley said...

Interesting question! I'll have to start paying attention to that and get back to you. I certainly choose my TV viewing based on my mood.

I certainly have "comfort reads", when I am in a mental pickle, I have some go-to writers that I re-read, because I like where they take me. And I usually have three or four books going at a time, so I must have some reason for whichever one I pick up.

Huh.

Anne Gallagher said...

I never really thought of it that way, and I have to say, no, I don't read to match my mood. I generally just read what's next. However, I will say, if I read a scary book, I will be scared. Depressing book, I will be drowning myself in chocolate. Happy funny book, I will be giddy and out of control.

Karla Nellenbach said...

I'm not all that sure I think about my mood when choosing my next book. Sometimes, I just grab whatever's at the top of the old TBR pile. Others, I let the old 'due date' that the library sets be my guide for reading inspiration, and then there is always the standby method of picking one up, glancing it over and going, "eh, next" until i find one I want. I guess this approach is the closest I've ever come to considering my feelings. but then again, I'm not known for taking anyone's feelings into consideration, so why should i extend myself a courtesy I don't afford anyone else? right? RIGHT?!?!?

Patty Blount said...

For me, it's the other way around. Whatever I'm reading dictates my moods. I tend to read books as they arrive. An unread book just sitting on my coffee table is damn near sinful.

As for re-reading, which I LOVE to do, it's like hanging out with friends - yes, I do find myself reaching for the stories that will bring me out of the mod I'm in.

Jeffe Kennedy said...

For me it more has to do with what I'm writing. Right now I'm heavy into a first draft and I'm reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods. It helps me to be reading something that really reaches into the subconscious and it really well crafted. Otherwise I leave it totally up to whim - whatever I feel like reading next when I finish a book. But, sometimes I'll start 4 or 5 before I find the one that "feels" right.

I used to re-read all the time, but I never do now, because I always feel so far behind on the TBR pile.

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm not a mood matcher. I'm way behind on reading and doing what I can to catch up. I've started with some of my favorite authors, reading them two for one over new authors and authors new to me. Usually what I'm reading affects my mood.

Tara said...

I'm a mood matcher. On my nightstand, well nothing. My computer - Little White Lies by Aimee Laine.

Kimberly Sabatini said...

I read multiple books at a time, giving me a choice of what type of reading I'm in the mood for. I never used to read more than one, but at the moment, between audio books and reading to the kids I'm reading a total of 8 different books...and then of course I'm got a basket full of magazines!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I completely escape into books, so it doesn't matter what mood I'm in; it's a cinch that I'm gonna get caught up in the book and lose sight of the real world, anyway. (Terrible annoying to the people around me.) Currently, I'm in the middle of James Patterson's book "The Tenth Anniversary."

abby mumford said...

only when i'm in a depresso mood do i choose a book to match my mood because, well, sometimes you need permission to cry and if i'm reading something sad....permission granted!

otherwise, i just keep reading whatever it is that i'm reading at the moment.

★ Sara McClung ★ said...

You know, I'm a mood matcher as well!

Right now, I'm reading through every single one of Melina Marchetta's books. I started with JELLICOE ROAD (which is phenomenal) and fell absolutely in love with her writing!

Trisha Leigh said...

So funny that our blog topics are similar AGAIN today. As you know, I do read widely, but contemporary YA is where my heart is, and usually where I go back to when I'm feeling worn out.

Steph Schmidt said...

I'm trying my best to work through a Lee Child book (Bad Luck and Trouble). Secretly though I've been hankering for a comfort reread of Howl's Moving Castle.

I usually have two moods when I'm reading: I want something new or COMFORT ME! Either mood, I wish I had more time to read something other than homework.

Indigo said...

I wouldn't say moods reflect what I'm reading - more like seasons. Take October for example it's a givend to read frightening books. Around Christmas I tend to want something more lighthearted, family oriented or seasonal with snow. (Hugs)Indigo

Jennifer Shirk said...

Mood matcher here. :-)

Then every once in while I choose something completely different like a genre sorbet to cleanse my reading palate.

Kelly Breakey said...

This is a great question. When I'm in a "mood" I always reach for the Sure Thing and I'm not talking about John Cusak's classic hysterically funny movie by the same name, although sometimes I do want to "rip people's hearts out just for PLLLLEEASSSSUUUURRRRE!" How that movie is not everyone's favorite I will never know. But I digress.

Reaching for a sure thing for me in books means I go back for a re-read. Mainly because when I'm feeling blue I know I can revisit the sense of how I felt the first time I read a particular book, and I suddenly start to feel better.

When I am in the mood for crime and mystery I reach for that. Books really are like chocolate for me. Sometimes I want the milk chocolate, but other times only the dark will do.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Well, I hope I'm not matching my mood, because I'm currently reading Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry, which is the sequel to Rot & Ruin. I picked up the first one because Jonathan and I share an agent, and I wanted to see what other books she represented.

I do think I sometimes try to counteract my mood, but often times I'm a little bird-brained in my reading choices. (See a shiny new thing. Go after it.)

Jen Stayrook said...

For me, it's more the other way around. My mood is influenced by what I'm reading. Not completely, but say, if I read something like Looking for Alaska, I'm a mess for days. Something perky and upbeat, like Making Waves, improves my mood. I don't seek books out based on moon, I just grab whatever is next in the pile. Yesterday I started reading Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey. Good so far!

Linda G. said...

Wow! Thanks for all your moody insight, you guys! Glad to see my fellow Team Sparkle (a little writers group I'm a part of) member Scott Tracey getting some reading love. :)

Tracy Jo said...

I definitely read books based on my mood or what's happening in my life & in turn...they change my mood. Just found your blog from KarenG's site! ~Tracy

Ciara said...

I'm not a mood matcher but I do tend to read some seasonal books. I stumbled upon your blog via Isis' site. Nice to meet you.

KarenG said...

Yes, mood matcher! I read all sorts of genres, my bookshelf has PMS ALL the TIME. Love the look of your new design here!

Deniz Bevan said...

I must be a counterbalancer because every time I feel sluggish and silly and curl-up-in-a-corner-ish, I head for my favourite YA books. You can never reread Charlotte's Web often enough!
And I reread The Lord of the Rings every year.