Good times at the Big Book Sale

My favorite annual bookish event rolled into town this week: It’s the Big Book Sale put on by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library — and it’s awesome!

Held in a big warehouse on the waterfront, the sale is massive — according to social media posts, something like 500,000 items on sale, and everything is $4 or less! The beauty, of course, is that we can go and stock up on books and feel completely virtuous about coming home with more books than we have shelves for, because all the money goes to benefit the library.

So, yay me! I did my part.

Last night was the member preview night…

… and of course I went!

This time around, I was quite determined not to overindulge. Some years, I fill up a whole shopping cart and come home with 60+ books. Because, hey, they were all only $1 or $2, and anyway, IT’S ALL FOR A GOOD CAUSE!

But, since I’ve been doing some shelf purging recently, trying to regain some semblance of shelf control, I couldn’t really justify buying oodles of new books. Or could I?

Yes. I could. And I did.

My haul was not too shabby this time around:

All those, plus a cute little old copy of Jane Eyre:

That’s 20 books for $61 — AND IT’S ALL FOR A GOOD CAUSE! (I’m going to keep telling myself that every time someone in my house makes fun of me for getting MORE books, when I don’t have space for the ones I already have.)

In case the photo is hard to make out, here’s what I got:

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • The Riddle-Master trilogy by Patricia A. McKillip
  • Rosewater by Tade Thompson
  • Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
  • The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan
  • Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton
  • Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate
  • The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu
  • The White by Debora Larsen
  • The Feed by Nick Clark Windo
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (which is actually a gift for someone else — I already have a copy!)
  • China Dolls by Lisa See
  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
  • The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
  • The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard

The sale runs through this Sunday… and I might, just might, have to make a return visit before it’s all over. Who knows what treasures I’ll find?

If you live in the Bay Area, be sure to check it out! Remember…

IT’S ALL FOR A GOOD CAUSE!

 

I’m back! Where I went, what I did, and what I read

Hi all! Happy 4th of July!

After three weeks away, I arrived home safe and sound early yesterday morning, and promptly fell into bed to sleep myself back to some degree of being human again. (Only partially successful, but hey, it’s only been one day.)

So what have I been up to while being absent from my blogging life? Quite the whirlwind, in fact.

First, I started off with five days in New York. We stayed at a hotel right at Times Square — and no, that’s not a mistake I’m likely to repeat. The hotel was fine, but the crowds were awful. No need to be quite that touristy! The absolute highlight was seeing the oh-so-glorious Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

Side note: Going to see the HP production is an adventure two years in the making! Two years ago, when tickets were first released for the London production, I jumped through about a million hoops to get tickets for my daughter and me. We had plans for a trip to London last June… and then complications with my elderly father arose, forcing me to cancel my part of the trip. (Darling daughter and her boyfriend enjoyed the show tremendously, lucky them.) When the Broadway ticketing process opened, I was absolutely determined to make it happen… and it did!

For those not familiar with the HP production, it’s a two-part show, which we saw on two consecutive nights. Really, it’s the equivalent of seeing two full-length Broadway shows. Each part ran about 2 hours, 40 minutes, with intermissions. Drink lots of coffee before you go!

What can I say about the show itself? It’s magnificent. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, chances are you’ve read the book already. I had — but even knowing the plot basics, I wasn’t prepared for the spectacle and wonder of the live show. The staging, the lighting, the effects, and above all, the acting, make this a story that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. We were lucky enough to see the original London cast in the Broadway production… and, no surprise, they were simply amazing. One thing I didn’t get from reading the book is just how awesome the character of Scorpius Malfoy is — he really stole the show (and my heart.)

Around the theater, staff gives out buttons saying #keepthesecrets, so I suppose I’m duty-bound not to reveal too much! All I can say is that the show is magical and delightful, and well worth every moment.

Okay, that’s the Harry Potter stuff! Also in New York, my family and I went to see The Band’s Visit, which is a beautiful musical, full of humor and emotion, tightly woven together into a 90-minute production that’s human and moving and has truly lovely music. If you have the chance, definitely check it out! And what’s a trip to New York without a visit to the top of the Empire State Building and an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Add in some great deli, a walk through Central Park, and oodles of people-watching, and who could ask for more?

From there, I headed to Connecticut for a few days of family time, visiting my dad, spending time with other relatives, and basically just chilling out before stage 3 of the vacation, which was…

A two-week trip to Israel!

My husband was born and raised in Israel, and we try to get back to see his family every few years. Somehow, we let more time than usual go by, so this was our first trip in four years! A big chunk of the time there was spent in Tel Aviv, where the family is. Days of hitting the beach, nights of eating at different relatives’ homes. Food. So much food. So much hummus. So much yum.

Because we were traveling with our teen son, I wanted to make sure to include some travel and culture while we were there (although the boy probably would have been happy with nothing but beach, all day, every day.) So we spent two days in Jerusalem, including solemn places (Har Hertzl, Israel’s military cemetary, and Yad Vashem, the incredibly powerful Holocaust museum), the Old City of Jerusalem, the Western Wall, dinner in the newer parts of the city, and a spectacular light show at night within the walls of the Old City. If we’d had more time, we could have spent days and days exploring, but at least we have something to look forward to on the next trip!

Onward we went, heading into the desert for a night at the Dead Sea, where we did our requisite floating! From there, we ventured to Masada — by cable car, no climbing for me in the incredible heat. Masada is always fascinating, and the views are amazing.

One final road trip before heading home — Rosh HaNikra, at the northern tip of Israel along the Mediterranean, where we took cable cars down to the sea grottoes — one of my all-time favorite places! I try to get there on every trip to Israel.

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And now… ta da! We’re back home in SF, where the skies are cool and cloudy, and I have mountains of laundry, mail, and bills to tackle. The joys of post-vacation tasks!

Okay, as for the “what I read” part — here’s a peek at the reading that kept me busy during my quiet moments (amazingly, there were actually a few) during the last few weeks:

I’ll be doing some mini-review posts to talk more about what I read, once I finally catch my breath and finish unpacking and figure out what time zone I’m in!

It’s great to be home! I may be a bit slow to get back into my blogging groove, but I’m excited to be here and look forward to catching up with everyone!

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s a FLYING READER!

 

Actually, it’s just me, flying round trip cross-country and reading lots of books along the way!

I did a quick there-and-back-again trip across the country to attend my wonderful stepson’s medical school graduation. *bursting with pride*

Man, do I read a lot when I fly. I loaded up with some Netflix downloads, but ignored all media in favor of plowing through some books. I caught up on all my group reads, and also read a few novels, and basically had a ridiculously fun time ignoring the world around me and devoting myself to my Kindle. I ended up in a race against the pilot — my Kindle showed me I had 20 minutes left in my book, and the pilot kept announcing how many minutes to landing. Would I make it? Would I finish the story before the wheels met the ground?

Yup, I did. With five minutes to spare!

Who says flying has to be boring?

Bookish bits & bobs

 

Just a random collection of some bookish thoughts bouncing around my brain this week.

 

 

 

  • Audiobooks. Love ’em. But here’s my issue: Why don’t audiobooks include the acknowledgements or author’s notes at the end? If I’m listening to a book, I want the full experience and full content. I only discovered the lack recently after listening to a couple of historical fiction audiobooks. I ended up browsing through the hardcovers at the library, and saw that the print books includes notes about the historical setting and context. Well, why wasn’t that on the audiobook? It adds to the reading experience, and clearly the author felt it was part of what she wanted readers to know. I don’t understand… and it makes me mad. Not that I’ll stop listening to audiobooks, but it leaves me wondering what I’m missing.

 

  • Book review ratings: I don’t do them. At least, not here on my blog. I play along on Goodreads, but I made the decision way back when to do narrative reviews without any sort of quantitative scale. Lately, though, I’ve started rethinking this. I know when I read reviews on other people’s blogs, I’ll often check the star (or unicorn or banana or teacup) rating first, and then decide if I want to read the whole review. So shouldn’t I expect others to expect the same from me? This is a bigger question than just a few lines and a bullet point, so I’ll be expanding on the topic sometime in the coming week, and would love some input.

 

  • Amazon customer service rocks! I have never had a bad experience once I connect with a service rep, and this week was no different. I bought a Kindle edition of a new release in early April, and started reading it this week. And hated it. By 15%, I just knew I couldn’t continue. And I was mad, because it was past the one-week deadline for returning Kindle content. I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. It’s not the amount spent was going to break me or anything, but if I’m spending money on a book, I don’t want it to end up being something I actively dislike. Anyway… I reached out and ended up in a chat with a lovely and helpful Amazon rep, who arranged to return the book for a refund within the blink of an eye. No quoting policy, no trying to convince me of anything, no telling me I was wrong. Just a very nice “I’m sorry the book didn’t work out for you” and a resolution that made me happy.

 

  • When is a novella a novella? When is it really, instead, a short novel? Is 200 pages the dividing line? 125? I haven’t found a hard and fast rule to go by — I’ve found a lot of notes on word count in novels and novellas, but I’m a reader, not a writer. Do you have any firm ideas on what distinguishes a novella from a novel?

 

  • Oh, the things a book lover will do for the sake of bookish satisfaction. I’m a big fan of Susanna Kearsley’s writing, and beside the glory of the stories themselves, I adore the covers of her books.

Well, now she has a new book coming out, Bellewether, and I knew I needed a copy. I preordered it ages ago (the book releases in August), then discovered that the US cover is… well… unappealing. But hey, the Canadian cover is gorgeous and goes with the rest of my books! So I cancelled my US preorder, and got a copy from Amazon Canada instead, which gave me the added bonus of getting the book early, since it released in Canada this month already. And really, which of these would YOU want?

Anyhoo… that’s what’s on my mind today. How about you? What deep bookish thought are bouncing about in your brain?

 

And seriously. What is up with audiobooks and the lack of afterwords and notes? Can someone please make them fix this? Annoyed now.

Why I re-read

I started thinking about the topic of re-reading this week in response to today’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt: Books I Loved but Will Never Re-Read. I re-read books A LOT, and the prompt made me wonder: Are there any books that I’d absolutely rule out when it comes to re-reading? Sure, there are the books that I disliked or felt were only meh reads, but books I loved?

Never say never.

I can’t come up with a list that fits the category, because if I loved a book once, why wouldn’t I love it again?

So I started thinking about what I choose to re-read, and when, and pretty soon, had my own nifty little list going. Without further ado, here are my scattered reasons for why I re-read books:

Visiting old friends: Sometimes, we readers get a wee bit attached to our beloved characters. Or obsessed. Whatever. I love going back and re-reading certain books, because after enough times, it’s like spending time with family or friends who’ve been a part of my life for years and years.

Nostalgia: Thinking back to childhood or a particular era in my life, I may choose to re-read a book that brought me joy at a certain point, or that I associate strongly with events happening at the time I was reading. Or sometimes, it’s just to re-experience the wonder of a lovely story that once upon a time made me smile.

Comfort food: At times of stress, sadness, or even boredom, there’s nothing like curling up with a book that’s guaranteed to make me feel snug and content. (Lookin’ at you, Harry Potter!)

To honor someone special: There are certain books I associate with certain people — and particularly for people I haven’t seen in a long time, or even more so, those no longer with us, sometimes I’ll re-read a book because I know it was special to someone I care about, and reading their special book makes me feel closer to them.

The feels: A book that made me swoon, a book that made me cry, even a book that made me angry — if it brought out particularly strong feelings in me, I may choose to re-read it when I’m in the mood to feel that way again.

A refresher: This has been a biggie for me lately. When a sequel or a new installment in an ongoing series comes out, chances are (if I’m particularly invested) that I’ll go back and re-read the previous book, so all the details and characters and plot points will be sharp in my fuzzy brain.

A second chance: Do you ever reconsider books that you’d already tried and disliked? This one doesn’t happen all that often for me, but occasionally I’ll realize that maybe I gave up on a book too soon, or allowed a bad mood or real-life distractions to keep me from enjoying a book I might otherwise have liked. So every once in a while, I’ll decide to give a book a new chance to impress me… and I’ve actually had some good results!

Jogging the memory: Okay, yes, I’m the first to admit that my brain just doesn’t keep data forever… and so some of the books that I know I read and loved years ago are nothing but fond feelings and a general sense of storyline for me at this point. If I remember loving a book but don’t remember more than that, maybe it’s time for a re-read!

Plot twists: This one is super rare, but there have been several books in my reading life that smacked me with such mind-boggling plot twists that I had to read them all over again, just to see if the pieces really do add up or to sort out the complicated threads of the story.

New meaning: There are some books that I swear I could read over and over and over again, but each time, there’s some new enjoyment or nuance or hidden connection to discover.

 

 

Do you re-read? If so, why?

Clearly, I’m a fan of re-reading… after all, re-reading a favorite book is like giving it a big hug that lasts for hours!

Delicious.

2017: My year in books

As 2017 comes to an end, it’s time to take a look back at the year’s greatest hits in books! It’s been another great reading year, with so many new favorites and new authors to swoon over. Here’s a summary of what I read, and what really stood out for me during a year of some truly excellent reading.

[Note: Click on the links to see my reviews if you’re interested!]

Goodreads stats as of 12/31/2017:

Give In To The Feeling is a novella by a wonderful writer and blogger — check it out, people!

I think I’ve gotten more generous with my ratings over the years — or else I’m getting better and better at choosing books that I’ll end up loving.

Star rating used most often: 5 stars (78 total)
Star rating used least often: 2 stars (7 total — and I didn’t give any books only 1-star. I think if I thought that little of a book, I just DNFd.)
DNFs: 2 – I only put aside two books this year: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones. Two very different books, but I just couldn’t get through either one.

First and Last on Goodreads:

Bests & Other Stuff of Note

Note: Not necessarily published in 2017 — these are the books I especially enjoyed reading in 2017!

Best young adult: Geekerella by Ashley Poston and Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
Best contemporary: Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
Best fantasy: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Best historical fiction: Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford
Best book club book: The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza – A come-from-behind surprise. This light and breezy book wins for being a great way to wrap up the year and for generating a really fun conversation.

Best new volume in an ongoing series: I’m always thrilled when Patricia Briggs releases a new book. In 2017, it was Silence Fallen, the 10th volume in the Mercy Thompson series, which I just love to pieces. Another glorious new book in a favorite series was Less Than a Treason, the 21st Kate Shugak book by Dana Stabenow, starring my favorite private investigator in one of my favorite settings (Alaska). 

Best start of a new series: Binti  and Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor. The third and final book, The Night Masquerade, is due out in January.

Best end to a great series: End of Watch by Stephen King — the final book in the Billy Hodges trilogy.

Best in ongoing series: I love the Themis Files books by Sylvain Neuvel, and can’t wait to get my hands on #3 in 2018.

Best return of old friends: Unequal Affection by Lara S. Ormiston, an under-the-radar reimagining of Pride and Prejudice that surprised me in all the right ways.

Best use of illustration to tell a story: Thornhill by Pam Smy is an eerie, haunting story told in words and pictures. I borrowed it from the library, but really need a copy for my own shelves.

Author of the year: Georgette Heyer! I’ve been hearing about her for years… but finally decided to give her a try. Two audiobooks, two paperbacks, and I’m hooked! I’m looking forward to reading lots more in the years to come.

High volume award: I read 28 volumes of The Walking Dead comics this year, pretty much all in a row, right after starting my binge of the TV show. That’s a LOT of zombies.

(Non-zombie) most read: I went through 7 works by Philip Pullman and 8 works by Gail Carriger, and loved every moment.

Best classic read: My two favorite classics both came to me via Serial Reader this year: Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. My nervous expectations were far exceeded… I loved them both!

Around the world in a book: My reading took me to some amazing places this year…

globe-32812_1280Nigeria: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
Russia: The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
England – Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs, #2) by Jacqueline Winspear
Ireland – The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
India – Prudence by Gail Carriger
Egypt – Imprudence by Gail Carriger
Kenya – West With the Night by Beryl Markham
Scotland – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
Israel – Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
Norway – The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Antarctica – South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby

 

Best speculative/science fiction: The sci-fi works I enjoyed most were:

The Power by Naomi Alderman
Six Wakes
by Mur Lafferty

Grab the hankies: I cried my eyes out over Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies by Michael Ausiello and 180 Seconds by Jessica Park.

Oh, the horror! I adored the terrifying killer mermaids of Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant.

Best use of animals in unexpected roles: River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow feature feral hippos in the American South. Simply amazing.

 

Best bookish TV events of 2017:

Most eye-catching covers:

 

Quirkiest titles:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Makenzi Lee
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Best non-fiction: True stories that I enjoyed immensely:

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
Spaceman by Mike Massimino
The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede

Bookish delight, all year long:

All the many, many books which, for whatever reason, I can’t quite categorize but still really enjoyed (plus a few that are probably better off forgotten). It’s been a great year of reading. I can’t wait to see what treasures I’ll discover in 2018!

What were your favorite books of 2017? What surprised or excited you the most? Please share your top reads and recommendations in the comments!

Sunday sillies: Meet Nessie, my new little book friend

Here’s what I treated myself to this week:

This is Nessie, an adorable little bookmark who makes me smile when I see her holding my place for me. Here’s what she looks like out of her box:

And here’s Nessie keeping my place for me:

Isn’t she cute? She comes in other colors too (turquoise or purple, although the purple looks more magenta to me).

Granted, Nessie isn’t entirely perfect. Sure, she does a great job marking my pages while we’re at home, especially when I have my current book sitting all nice and prim and proper on a shelf or on my nightstand. But Nessie falls down on the job when I take her out of the house. I can’t leave home without a book tossed in my bag or backpack, and Nessie doesn’t stay put when jostled around. She’d be perfect if she had either a magnetic clip of some sort or a long bottom piece to help her stay wedged in between the pages where she’s supposed to be.

But alas, no one is perfect! I accept Nessie for who she is and appreciate her for all she does for me.

If you want your own Nessie, you can find her on the Ototo website. Here’s a screenshot of Nessie, all ready for adoption:

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Resources for e-book price breaks

E-books can be awfully expensive, amiright?

So what’s a book-buying-obsessed reader to do? Well, for one thing, sign up for email alerts! There are loads of sites that feature e-book markdowns. Here are a bunch I rely on for stocking my Kindle on the cheap.

Kindle Daily Deal: Amazon’s daily featured price breaks. Sign up on your Amazon account’s subscription page.

 

Bookperk: From HarperCollins, a daily dose of reduced price e-books and special deals. Sign up for daily emails at http://www.bookperk.com/

 

Riffle: Also sends daily deals via email. Sign up at https://www.rifflebooks.com/users/sign_up

 

Early Bird Books: From Open Road Media, daily emails on price breaks, usually on books that have been out a few years. Info here: https://earlybirdbooks.com/

 

The Portalist: A sci-fi focused site also from Open Road Media, which has email alerts of sci-fi/fantasy price breaks as well. Info here: https://theportalist.com/

 

Kindle Price Break forum via Amazon: In Amazon Customer Discussions, a forum dedicated to price breaks. You can subscribe to the discussion to get an alert every time someone posts, and you can share your finds as well. Be warned — this group only allows posts with price breaks, and if you go off-topic in your posts, you will be shamed for it! There are some regular contributors who come up with an amazing assortment of books being marked down. Check it out and subscribe here.

 

eReaderIQ: This is a one-stop shop for price breaks, where you can search for deals and subscribe to email alerts. The site is here. The coolest thing about EreaderIQ is that you can set up your price break wishlist, where you can add the books you want to follow and specify when you want to be notified about a price break (for example, if the price drops by a certain increment or if it falls below a certain amount.)

 

Goodreads deals: You can sign up (here) to receive daily emails about deals tailored to you — so if a book on your to-read list has a price drop, you’ll see it here — as well as other deals related to your book recommendations. You can also explore deals on the Goodreads site by clicking Browse, then Deals. More info here.

 

Also worth noting is Amazon’s Kindle Matchbook program, which lets you buy Kindle versions of physical books you’ve already purchased from Amazon, for $2.99 or less. Not every single book is available, but for people like me who like to be able to access ALL their books, all the time, it’s a pretty cool option to check out. Start here, and then click Find Your Kindle Matchbook Titles to see your eligible books.

 

 

My local library branch. I love it so.

Of course, the cheapest way to read e-books is by borrowing them from your friendly local library! I adore my library, and I’m always checking out their newest e-book offerings. The only downside is the 3-week limit on borrowing with no renewal option, so if I get distracted mid-read and run out of time, I’m also out of luck. My library has Overdrive and Hoopla available, as well as some other e-reader options, and I love being able to put in my requests and download to my devices whenever my hold requests come in.

What other resources do you use for tracking e-book price breaks? Please share in the comments, and I’ll update this list with any new finds! (Plus, you’ll have my eternal gratitude… priceless!)

Dramatic plot vs. happily-ever-after: The perils of emotional investment

Fear. Anxiety. Dread.

And it’s all the fault of fictional characters.

I have a tendency to binge when I get into something new, TV or books, and then — oh my stars — it’s so hard to separate. Because what happens when you fall in love with characters, but then have to witness them going through hell? All I want to do is scoop them up and keep them safe, but that’s not the way good stories work.

Clearly, I have a problem.

Take my newest obsession, The Walking Dead. Yes, I am super late to the party, but thanks to finally getting Netflix (again, super late to the party), I’ve been indulging. I started The Walking Dead, season 1 episode 1, in mid-May, and apart from a couple of weeks while I was out of town, have been watching the series straight through. So here I am, a month and a half later, slightly past the middle of season 6, and while I can’t wait to see what happens next, part of me wants to just walk away.

[SPOILERS AHEAD! FOR EPISODES THAT AIRED OVER A YEAR AGO, BUT STILL — SPOILERS!]

I’m at a place in the story where, as usual, the characters’ lives were hanging by a thread. Their supposedly safe haven, where they can finally build a life for themselves and plan for the future, has been overrun by hordes of the undead. All seems doomed, but finally, there’s this totally awesome battle scene (truly, a thing of beauty), and the good guys win! What follows is one of the most chill episodes ever, taking place a few weeks later, where everyone is safe again, rebuilding, relaxing, and starting to make things better.

Guys, they’re smiling! Rick and Daryl are out on a supply run and it’s actually funny! There’s even a sexy, romantic scene! (No, not Rick and Daryl.)

Man, I’m loving this show. I adore Rick Grimes. I want to cuddle Daryl Dixon (after a good bath, maybe). Carl is the cutest. Michonne is a total bad-ass with a heart of gold. And this is where my over-investment comes into play.

Because part of me wants to turn off the TV, pretend that’s the last episode, and walk away. Because then THEY’D ALL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. And I wouldn’t have to watch all these people I love get tortured again and again. No going hungry. No machete-ing walkers through the brain. No fighting off evil human attackers.

Imagine the possibilities, though, if everyone got to stay happy. The Walking Dead could become a sitcom, with charming little conflicts — uh oh! Craziness ensues when Carol’s favorite knife goes missing! Little Judith’s first word is “walker”, and it’s adorable! Abraham runs a fitness class, and Eugene is his best student! And don’t get me started on Rick Grimes and all the possibilities for him as the cool dad whose teenage son has an attitude.

Anyway…

This can’t be, obviously. Dramatic tension is necessary for good storytelling. If everyone on The Walking Dead remained safe in Alexandria behind secure walls, with enough food and medical equipment to lead healthy, safe lives, the story would be over. It’s wonderful for the characters, of course, but there would be nothing further to keep the show going.

Likewise in books. Let’s take my favorite series, Outlander (duh). These characters never get a break. Yes, there are plenty of happy moments, and plenty of swoonworthy scenes of Claire and Jamie basking in each others’ arms after a blissful night of lovemaking… but things just never go well for long. These folks are in the middle of a war, always. There’s always some bad guy or another lurking around the corner, ready to kidnap, shoot at, plot against, or otherwise cause harm to our beloved characters.

[SPOILER AHEAD — MILD — FOR OUTLANDER SERIES]

Book #7 in the series, An Echo in the Bone, ends with not just one, but 4 or 5 major cliffhangers. The agony of waiting years for the next book while pretty much everyone is in jeopardy! Flash forward a few years to Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (book #8), and after 145 chapters, everyone we care about ends up in a pretty good place. Yes, there are some small questions left unanswered but (spoiler) Jamie and Claire and Brianna and Roger and Ian and Rachel and, well, everyone, are safe and happy and together!

Part of me wanted to just say to Diana Gabaldon — okay, great! Stop now! Let these people live out the rest of their days in the peace and comfort and love they all deserve!

But no. I need and want and crave more of the story, and book #9 is in the works… and what would an Outlander book be if everyone was safe and happy all the time? So while I can’t wait for a publication date to finally be announced, I’m also dreading diving back in and finding out what hideous new dangers await my beloved Claire and Jamie and the rest of their family up on Fraser’s Ridge.

So, am I crazy for wanting my favorite characters — TV or books — to just get a chance to be happy?

We all love happily-ever-afters, right? But they just don’t make for great storytelling. There’s a reason most fairy tales don’t continue past the HEA. We can be happy for people who find happiness, but stories are driven by tension, suspense, conflict, and crisis. If there’s no obstacle to overcome and everybody just enjoys mundane daily lives, what more do we need to know?

Sigh.

I know that great drama demands all of the above. As for The Walking Dead — well, hell yes, I’m going to keep going. And I’ve stumbled across enough spoilers before I started watching the show to know that VERY BAD things are coming soon for characters I care about, and I’m going to end up heartbroken once again.

In the choice between walking away at a happy moment or continuing with a story I love despite the unhappiness to come, there’s no question — I’ll always choose to continue.

But isn’t it nice to daydream about a life in which Carl Grimes’s greatest worry is about impressing a girl, and not fighting for survival while covered in zombie guts?