As we reach the six-month mark of the worldwide pandemic, a lot has been written on the necessity of practicing self-care, being kind to one’s self and each other, and finding new ways to make this situation somewhat tolerable. In my house, we’ve been tackling remote work, remote learning (dear readers, a teacher I am NOT), deciding when and with whom to expand our bubble, and trying to figure out what the heck to have for dinner every night. . .
So when I think of how I practice self-care, I do think about my skincare routine and dream of the day when it will be truly safe for me to go get a pedicure, but I also think about BOOKS and READING. Books have always been my ever constant companion–I won’t go anywhere without something to read. Taking some time out of the day to read and enjoy what I’m reading has been integral to making it through this stressful time.
I’ve definitely gravitated toward old favorites–I’m looking at you, Reluctant Royals series by Alyssa Cole, Born In series by Nora Roberts, and volumes 1-9 of Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples–but I also have a newfound appreciation of Category romance, particularly the Harlequin Desire line. These are quick reads, generally deal with the uber-wealthy, and are full of romance reader catnip. Any reader can find a specific trope–friends-to-lovers, marriage of convenience, enemies-to-lovers, etc.–and particularly for Harlequin Desire, they have a brand new cover direction that is stunning. Here are a few of my recent favorites:
But beyond the actual reading material, I also try to make the most out of the physical act of reading which has changed since the start of the pandemic. I’ve mentioned before how the month of March was a difficult reading month for me (not ideal when part of your job as the editorial manager of Fresh Fiction is in fact, reviewing books), and I knew I had to make some major changes before I could move forward. With the help of my husband and daughter, with some gentle (ahem, insistent/near-constant) prodding for time alone, I created a book nook on a new daybed with far too many throw pillows, of which I’d like many more, in my office across from bright windows. I have had to share this new cozy space with two grumpy cats, but I’ll deal with them… for now.
Making myself as comfortable as possible changed reading for me–it truly became a wonderful experience again. I make sure I have a cup of tea and a snack, and sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly fancy, I light a literary candle from one of the local candle shops I love, Novelly Yours and Hearth & Hammer.
VIRTUAL ROMANCELANDIA EVENTS
I miss the days when browsing through a bookstore was something I could do on a whim. I’m lucky that I live near so many independent bookstores in the suburbs of Chicago, the city is just a car ride away, and the second romance-focused independent bookstore in the country, Love’s Sweet Arrow, is not so far from where I live. In the “Before Times,” I hosted events, interviewed authors, led a book club at LSA… now not so much. But if there’s one positive thing out of all of this, it’s the absolute plethora of online events so readers can still see and connect with authors. Romance authors have been so generous with their time, and I’ve had a great time both listening in and hosting online events.
Fresh Fiction has taken is very popular local Dallas book club online, with events featuring bookish chats with fellow readers, an interview with an author, and then a chance to talk with the author guest. This book club meets weekly and you never know what you may find out from a bestselling author!
Finally, during the pandemic, you make wild and fun decisions that result in a new wonderful video chat series. Last month I had a chat with authors Melonie Johnson and Angelina M. Lopez. We had such a fabulous time chatting, we decided we wanted to do it on a regular basis… and the Boozy Book Broads was born! Starting tonight, Friday, September 18th, Melonie, Angelina, and I will get together to celebrate our favorite things: books and booze. To make things more fun, every month we will invite a fabulous special guest–authors, publishing professionals, book reviewers, podcasts hosts, etc.– to join in the fun. Tonight, we’ll be joined by debut romance author Rosie Danan, whose book THE ROOMMATE is the raunchy romcom we’ve all been waiting for… The Boozy Book Broads will be streamed live on the Love’s Sweet Arrow YouTube page. hope we’ll see you there!
Fresh Fiction Editorial Manager Danielle Dresser is an aspiring author, an avid reader, lackluster-yet-mighty crafter, and accomplished TV binge-watcher. Once upon a time, she was a publisher publicist and continues to cultivate her love of books and reading by chatting with the best authors in the business. She lives in Chicagoland with her very own romance hero husband, darling daughter, and two tempestuous cats. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @dj_dresser.