Tuesday, May 11, 2021

April 2021 Reading Reflections

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I didn't really get my reading for fun momentum back last month, after March got so busy with work and after I needed to spend a lot of my time in April preparing for and worrying about a job interview and many job applications. I'm finally starting to get back into the reading habit this month, so my next reading reflections post should be more interesting. 

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As you'll see below, I only managed to read one book this April. It was a fun one, definitely something on the lighter side and that is good for some distraction or comfort when one is preoccupied with stressful things. 

  • The Duke Who Didn't by Courtney Milan - This was a sweet, fairly light historical romance novel, and I quite enjoyed it. I definitely wasn't in the mood to read anything too serious or sad in April, so this book hit the spot. Because the main characters are of Chinese descent in a historical romance story set in the UK, this book does address the heavier themes of racism and prejudice, but I think Milan hits a good balance when bringing in that side of the characters' experiences. The book is ultimately not too sad, it has a nice "happily ever after" that feels true to the characters. 

I feel like the recent popularity of Bridgerton on Netflix has brought a lot of new readers to the romance genre? Or at least, that's what it seems like from social media and from how popular the Bridgerton ebooks suddenly are at the New York Public Library! I wasn't really able to get into watching Bridgerton, even though the male lead, RegĂ©-Jean Page, does a good job and is and incredibly handsome. (He's also good in the short-lived ABC series For the People, a series about SDNY Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Federal Defenders that I don't think anyone really watched except for me. That series was not very realistic, let's just say. A lot of the actors and actresses were quite charming though, but the show as a whole wasn't that interesting.) 

I've read a fair number of historical romance novels, but I can be extremely and unreasonably picky about this genre - a lot more than I am about other types of books - so it's hard to find new titles I enjoy. The question of whether I'll enjoy a specific romance novel doesn't really seem to come down to writing quality or skill, not exactly. Instead, it's really just about whether I personally feel like the story has "good chemistry" for me. 

My most reliable favorite author in the historical romance genre is probably Tessa Dare, I've loved basically every novel of hers that I've read. Her books tend to be fairly light and sweet, with a good sense of humor, which I really enjoy. My next favorite author is Lisa Kleypas, particularly some of her slightly older series such as The Wallfowers and The Hathaways.* I didn't find myself enjoying Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series quite as much, unfortunately, though I did really love the second novel, The Viscount who Loved Me

* Please be warned, however, that some of the tropes and norms from past eras in the romance genre - even from books published as recently as, say, the early 2000s or late 1990s - are not things that would fly in more recently published work. These two Kleypas series have some scenes where consent is not discussed as explicitly as it would be in a more recent novel. There are also a few important characters in these series who are of Romani descent, but issues surrounding prejudice and racism aren't really addressed well. Out of the books I've mentioned in this post, I think it's just these Kleypas series that have a few scenes readers might find problematic. 

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