Elizabeth: Up All Night

Since I’m a card-carrying night-owl and a chronic alarm-clock-snooze-button pusher, there are very few occasions when I’m up in time to see the dawn.  With my college days behind me and no new puppy in the house, there are even fewer occasions when seeing the dawn means I’m still up from the day before.

There has been an recent upswing in those up-all-night days though, thanks to the latest series of books I’ve been reading.  Last weekend, I was in the midst of a book around bedtime, with no chance of finishing it any time soon since I’d started it late that evening.  I put in a bookmark, closed it, got ready for bed . . . and then decided I’d read just one more chapter.

I’m sure you know what happened next.

I read one more chapter, and then one more and then . . . I glanced to the right and saw that the window seemed a little brighter than I expected for the middle of the night.  I thought it was just an extra-bright moon shining away.  Ha!  Turns out it was a regular old sun shining away because I’d read the night away (and still hadn’t finished the book).

Luckily I didn’t have to go to work the next day (well, that day, actually) and was able to get some actual sleep before getting up and finishing the book doing all those traditional weekend tasks like laundry and grocery shopping and finishing the book.

That wasn’t the first book I’d read by that particular author that I hadn’t been able to put down once I’d started it, so as I was working away I tried to figure out what it was that made it so compelling.

I’ve read other books that I’ve loved and put on the keeper-shelf, but I can’t remember the last one that kept me up all night.

I’ve also read other books – comfort reads – that I’ve re-read many times, but there are very, very few that I’ve read multiple times in quick succession.  Although, now that I think of it, multiple-reads have been more common for me in the past year or so than in the past, so maybe it’s me, not them.

When I read Loretta Chase’s Duke in Shining Armor last year I read it, posted my online review, saw some interesting comments by other reviewers, and then went right back and read the book again to see if I could see the things they were referring to, but that was kind of an anomaly.

The current books that I seem to be in a perpetual re-read loop with are a suspenseful mystery series.  My first read-through was pretty fast as I was kind of worried about what was going to happen to my favorite characters (I really should have trusted the author a little more).  As a result, once I hit the end, I went back and made a slower read-through, where I picked up a lot of details I missed on the first time through and saw all of those clever hints that were layered right in the beginning of the story.

I’d like to say my third read-through was craft-related.  An attempt to look at the mechanics of how the author did what she did, without being distracted by the story itself, but that wasn’t really the case.

Basically, I just wasn’t ready to let the characters go yet.  And that’s what has me so fascinated.

How did the author do that?

Is there something fundamentally different about these characters and these stories, or is it just a case of the right story at the right time that has captured my attention and imagination.

I may never know, but it has given me some food for thought when it comes to character development.  I now have some great examples of complex, flawed, interesting, believable characters to consider when I’m working on developing my own characters.

It’s nice to have a high-bar to aim for.

So how about you – have you read any can’t-put-down-books?  Are there any authors or books that are guaranteed re-reads for you?

Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s gotten attached to a group of fictional characters. 🙂

9 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Up All Night

  1. (-: So, what book was it? Sounds like a great one!

    I know better than to dip into a Bujold or a Crusie after 8 p.m., looking for a quote or something. I’ll get trapped in the book, and generally won’t emerge until it’s done, six hours later. I just can’t do that to myself anymore! Nope, I need to start those books at noon by the latest (preferably with a pot of soup pre-made and waiting to be warmed up for dinner).

  2. I just read the latest Kleypas. While I liked it because of all the recurring characters (yes, I’m attached to the Wallflowers and now their offspring), in my opinion, it isn’t her best. In the beginning the hero gives his neice-by-marriage advice that he spends the entire story ignoring. I kept waiting for him to follow his own advice, in fact, I thought that was part of the set up.There were a few other things, but that one stood out. Okay, I’ll add another. The sex doesn’t advance the plot. In once scene, she says, ‘I wish we could have sex’ (I paraphrased), he says, ‘we can,’ and they do. Reason for scene?

    • Ugh. Don’t you hate it when a scene is just there and there appears to be no reason for it? I’ve read a few books lately where there were scenes that basically just acted as a sex-delivery system. Which means I skim them. Which means the lack of plot is really visible. Those books are definitely *not* re-read candidates.

    • Yes, Jeanne. I’m still reading through those. I like to think I’m just getting my money’s worth out of the paperback copies of the books that I purchased 🙂

  3. I usually stay up all night only for mysteries, although I remember a very furtive, flashlight-under-the-covers episode in high school when I read “Gone with the Wind” until six in the morning. My parents, btw, were not fooled. But they both thought that if I was going to ruin my health, I might as well do it by reading.

    • That was my parents’ attitude. Although I was reading the romances my grandmother was smuggling me. Julie Garwood and Johanna Lindsey. 🙂 I rarely stay up that late anymore…mostly because I know not to bother reading at bedtime. What I’ve started doing now is listening to audio books at bedtime. Mostly repeats of stuff I read a long time ago, and I know to only set the sleep timer for 15 minutes so I don’t have to backup that far to catch what I missed.

  4. Pingback: Michille: What Did You Read Thursday? – Eight Ladies Writing

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