WHAT DO WRITERS READ?

 

I should have given this piece the title “What This Writer Reads,” because I can’t speak for anyone else, of course, and if there is one thing I have learned in the years since I have been a published writer, it is that all writers are different in almost every imaginable way. But I do believe that all of us must surely have discovered that after writing a number of books, we come to our reading from a different place. Something has been changed. In a sense, something has been spoiled. And I think the reason for this is that we learn to look at our own writing with a constantly critical sense and find it difficult to turn that off when reading other people’s books. I do read more critically than I used to, not because I think myself superior to other writers, but because while I read I sometimes forget I am not them, and I want to change things in their writing that I would change if it were my own!

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I read constantly and voraciously as a child and as a teenager. I still do, in fact. Then I read everything I could get my hands on–Enid Blyton, books and about schoolgirls, and–in my teens–almost all the classics, whether British, American, Russian, or French. It was a great time in my life to read them, when my brain was like a sponge and retained what it absorbed. I can remember most of them in great detail. I loved many of them, disliked a few but felt the fault must be in me, not in the book. I needed to be much older to make the decision (after slogging my way through Moby Dick) that some books, even classics, are not well written and need not be read to the bitter end. I read Graham Greene and Victoria Holt and Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemingway and P. G Wodehouse and numerous other marvellous contemporary writers.  Thank heaven for libraries–and I say that with all reverence!

I discovered Romance as a genre relatively late in life, though the great love stories of literature (Pride and PrejudiceJane Eyre, etc.) had always been my favorites, especailly if they had happy endings. First it was Georgette Heyer (I can’t understand how she escaped me until I was in my 30s), then Harlequins, and then the little Signet Regency romances and the same sort of Regencies from other publishers. Then I started writing my own romances and almost immediately stopped reading them! Why, you may ask? There were a few reasons.

First, reading romance is too like what I do for hours a day as my job. If you earn your living  by doing something, it is a job even if you enjoy it immensely. When I finish writing romance for the day, I want to spend my leisure time at something different. Another reason is that I did not want to unconsciously plagiarize–and it is so easy to do. You read a book and forget it and then, later, use an incident from it in your own book, thinking the idea is yours. The best thing to do is not to read the kind of both with which this may happen. And a third, and perhaps the main reason is that I find myself most critical as a reader when I read romances, especially historicals like my own. I read them with a mental red pen. It is annoying but unavoidable–most of the time. There are exceptions. I read Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm a short while ago, for example, and was completely swept away by it. And there are others. I can read most contemporaries, like those of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Pamela Morsi with great enjoyment. But on the whole I read very little romance–which can be a disadvantage when I am asked in interviews, as I often am, which other romance authors I can recommend!

What do I read now, then? I read a great deal of mystery, both the cozy variety of writers like Patricia Wentworth and Agatha Christie and M. C. Beaton, and the more gritty ones of writers like Michael Connelly and Lee Childe. And I love the more literary ones, like those of Ruth Rendell and Louise Penny and Donna Leon. I love funny ones, like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.  And I read anything and everything else that takes my fancy and can hold my attention through the first fifty pages or so. I am a rereader. I have just gradually read my way through all the Georgetter Heyer books again, and Daphne Du Maurier’s  Rebecca is on my Kindle to be read again soon. With most of these books I can relax be simply a voracious reader again–and there is no better thing to be!

proposalbritish4arrangebrit To one person who leaves a comment before the end of next Tuesday, September 3, I will again send signed copies of both THE PROPOSAL and THE ARRANGEMENT. The covers shown above, which I love, are from the British editions. Last week’s winner was Aislinn Kearns from Australia. Thank you for all your comments. Keep them coming. I love reading them.

 

 

120 thoughts on “WHAT DO WRITERS READ?

  1. I am a big fan of your books, I love how when I read them I can escape the troubles of the day and go into another happy love story and get swept away. Thank you for such enjoyable reads.

  2. That’s how I got started P&P, then Heyer. Now romance in every genre. Alas, I’m not a writer!!!!! BTW my SIL and I trade/share your facebook pics on books. She is a great reader, poet, and English teacher.

  3. I love your books and can’t wait to read the Arrangement. When it comes to historical romance you are my author of choice, well you and Georgette Heyer. 🙂

  4. What would we do without books? I love reading absolutely everything. I’ve been turning to the classics lately, but it’s nice to hear you say that there are some “classics” that aren’t always all that well written. Sometimes I read a classic novel and think there’s something wrong with me, because I didn’t quite get the appeal. So I’m glad to hear that someone else thinks that sometimes too. Thank you.

  5. I can see why you would avoid historical romances. I must say I thoroughly enjoy your books and really hate putting them down to go to work. Thank you for your engaging stories. I feel very fortunate to get to read them.

  6. This is such an interesting blog post. I had always wondered how you guys kept from copying each other lol. I love your writing and I adore this new series. It’s so fresh and new. It always interests me that you write such beautiful romance and love, yet your characters are often flawed. You are the one that got me hooked on Regency. Thank you for the many countless hours of enjoyment :o)

  7. I love all your books ,actually have most of them either on paperback,some hardbacks and on the nook. cant wait to read the new ones

  8. I agree. It is always enjoyable to reread the Georgette Heyer novels! Recently, I began to listen to some of the audio versions which has allowed me to experience them in a new way, depending on the quality of the narrator. I had forgotten so much of the funny dialog in The Talisman Ring, which was even more humorous when spoken by the actor/narrator.

  9. I read my first Mary Balogh book by finding it in a break room while working at one of the major airline’s VIP Lounge at TIA. I picked it up, wary because I am extremely picky in my romance novelist…but during that 15 minute break, I found a world I had never entered before. That is what books do, and for Mrs. Balogh not to want to read too much romance is understandable…her world is so magical, who would want to live anywhere else? Now for a thriller or mystery, yes-enter a different world…ala Christie!…Or Adventure as in the Sharpe series Mrs. Balogh mention a few weeks ago! (needless to say to my shame: I swiped the book from the lounge!)

  10. My Aunt introduced me to your books a few years ago and I have been reading yours ever since.. You have given me many wonderful hours of reading pleasure.

  11. Hi Mary!

    I must admit that historical romance is my favorite genre to read but if you were to ask my husband he would tell you that I just love to read and if nothing else is around I’d read the label on a can of vegetables!

    I’ve found the older I get the more critical I become. My sons on the other hand tell me I’ve always been critical of a book that isn’t consistent and especially when it’s historical isn’t accurate to the time period.

    I’ll never forget spending time when I was still in Grade School in the library one summer in the late summer in the 1950’s reading every book they had about famous women and realizing that life is what you make it with hard work and dedication that there were no limits except those you put on yourself. Yes, when I started working after college it became clear that all things were not equal or fair but that it was my problem to solve and others wouldn’t do it for me. Would I have had the opinion if I hadn’t read the history of women like Marie Currie? All these years later I can still remember reading her works “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”

    Whether fiction, history, biographies or books read for the sheer job of reading they all bring us understanding and knowledge that we wouldn’t otherwise have.

  12. I can understand how reading historical romances would interfere with your writing. How unfortunate, because there are some good ones out there! I have always loved to read. In my teens I had to have read every Barbara Cartland book ever published, at least twice.

  13. I also started by reading Pride & Prejudice. You were the first romance author I found after Jane Austen. I was lucky enough to find your books because the first book in your Simply series was on the bestseller list. I worked at the library at my college and we kept the bestsellers on our reserve list behind the circulation desk. I checked it out one night out of curiosity, and after that of course, I had to read not only the rest of the series, but every other book you had ever written! Although I do enjoy reading other romance authors, you remain my favorite! 🙂 As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  14. Naturally, I’ll enjoy the new books, but I wish the American covers were as lovely as the British ones. Never judge a book by its cover, of course, but an elegant cover is so much more pleasant than a bodice-ripper or a beefy, half-naked man. Fortunately, I know the quality of your work is sterling, no matter what the cover is.

  15. Everything I write seems to end up a romance or, as I’m fond of calling it, a love story. My reading doesn’t match that completely. I’m sitting here commenting on the blog of one of my favorite romance writer am I not? Ah, Mary, but I’m writing in a different era and a specific geographic area. No, apart from yourself and one other, what you will find on my bookshelves is science fiction, fantasy, and the rare thriller.
    Movies diverge even more strongly. I don’t watch ‘chick fl

    • Whoops! “Chick flicks” or love stories of any kind. My male friends think I’m ‘cool’ because my favorites are “Hunt for Red October” and “The Avengers”. Strange, that. I’ve never figured it out.

  16. Thank you for sharing your thought process. It does make sense that you would read something that is different than what you write. I happen to read almost exclusively historical & contemporary romance, including Susan Elizabeth Phillips & you! I’ve read a couple of Janet Evanovich, too, although not the Stephanie Plum books.

  17. I really enjoyed your blog entry. You have given me a couple of titles to search out and read. 🙂

    Trying to make myself useful, I found myself this summer past in the delightful position of volunteering as a ‘reading buddy’! My young friend chose to read ‘Anne of Green Gables’. We had lovely time reading and discussing her selections, afterwards watching the television series. I was delighted when she told me the books were better! Another budding bibliophile in the making!!!

  18. I’ve read most of the same books, Mary, and I too discovered Heyer as an adult. I had come from reading classic science fiction, which as a genre is long on extrapolative thinking and exciting ideas, but was then pretty short on characterization and not at all interested in relationships. Heyer’s regency world had so much added dimension to it. Heyer and those old traditional regencies from Signetespecially were a refreshing change. Imagine, a world in which what happened to the women was just as interesting and important as what happened to the men! (I share your disdain for Moby Dick – what an overwritten mess!)

  19. I can understand your reasoning for not wanting to read romance. Maybe it’s a very good reason why my day job isn’t as a writer because I would be lost without my historical romances. I love the allure of England and its rich history. I would have loved to merry a duke or meet a prince but since I am nothing but a lowly American in the 21st century, I will settle for reading about them from wonderful authors such as yourself and others.

  20. I too have always read everything I could get my hands on. I read at a young age (3) and have not stopped. My mom always had a do not read at the table rule, but I would read catsup bottles and cereal boxes. Growing up in Detroit, we did not have money for books, so I echo your “thank God for libraries. My mom used to take us kids all to the Detroit Public Library every Saturday. I would read all of my books for the week and then read my mom’s ( She liked Agatha Christie and Earl Stanley Gardner. I had a goal to read every book in the children’s section which I accomplished in 6th grade. I still love a well written children’s book, and look forward to a new school year tomorrow when I can read aloud E B White, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Gertrude Chandler Warner, Kate DiCamillo, and the like.
    I remember learning that there was a Laura Ingall’s Wilder manuscript in a DPL branch and taking the bus downtown one summer day just to see her handwritten words scrawled on the page of the orange notebook (These Happy Golden Years). It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. I began writing myself–although I have never been published other than college newspapers or the little books I share with my students. I continue. I have never liked the science and social studies books written for the youngest readers–too simplistic. My goal, in retirement, is to write some interesting ones.
    In the meantime, I keep reading whenever I can and sharing my love of reading and writing with eager first graders every year.

  21. Well, it’s a good thing I have no plans to write romance novels because I’d hate to give up reading them for the reasons you mentioned.

    Even as a reader, I can sometimes read with too critical an eye. Lots of times I can just let it go unless the author makes egregious errors that someone should have picked up on in the editing process (like a missing foot that was the right one, the left one, no- the right one, nope it’s the left one, etc.).

  22. Admittedly, I have never read your novels. However, I am a blogger that does book reviews so I tend to read every genre that is out there. My favorites would have to be romance and mystery though! I look forward to and welcome the opportunity to read your novel.

    Thank you for the giveaway chance 🙂

  23. I grew up with mom reading to us from the Wizard of Oz books, with each of us kids taking turns re-capping the night before. A great way to work on comprehension early! I grew up seeing mom read on her “mental health” days and started joining her at age 10. Now I have paper and Kindle books GALORE. I have all of yours, many in both formats.

    I would like to suggest a couple of writers…..Diane Mott Davidson- great mysteries and since she is a caterer, wonderful recipes in the books! Then there is the “Sisterhood” series by Fern Michaels- (read in order-starting with “Weekend Warriors”) a group of empowered woman and justice. Historical romance is still my go to, but there are so many other books out there to read…so many books, so little time! Thanks for the mini vacations you give me, they are greatly appreciated!

  24. Good Afternoon! I don’t remember when I started reading your books, they have been part of my book shelves now for so long. Thankyou for putting together such a magical world, for us to dive into (and not surface – hopefully for quite a while!). And, since the Arrangement has just downloaded to the ipad – I am off to regency England for a bit! Cheers

    Liz

  25. I like those covers. They are nice.
    I like the historical romance.
    I have enjoyed a lot of your books and these two are on my need to get list when I can afford it again.
    Thanks for sharing.

  26. I read voraciously in many genres… except romance. I’m picky as hell there! For some reason, though, that’s what my mind spits out when I sit down to write. It might be contemporary or historical, humorous or poignant, but it’s always the story of a man and a woman and how they come together.

    Today I did get an advance copy for review of Joanna Trollope’s newest, her modern-day update of Sense and Sensibility, and THAT one I’m looking forward to!

  27. I have loved reading since I was tiny, it was one of the things I did to escape from my brothers. It meant I got peace and quiet in my room instead of listening to them argue and fight. Enid Blyton was one of my first authors to fall in love with and it has grown and grown from there. My partner refuses to buy me books though as he moans I read them too quickly!
    I have to say my eldest son isn’t a reader, but then I think teenage boys are a bit like that although my youngest loves reading, especially Rick Riordan and Michael Muchamore I’m hoping he continues as it’s improved his writing and imagination markedly!!

  28. I have been a “reader” since I was 3 yrs old. I have loved it all my life and am the only person that I have ever heard of who was punished as a child by having my reading privileges taken away for a time. 🙂 I read a little bit of everything. I tend to get stuck in a genre for a while and read it non stop till I get sick of it and move on to another. Historical romance though does seem to be my “go to” genre, and I don’t as easily tire of it as I do any other. I discovered Georgette a couple of years ago and have read multiple times almost everything she has written as regency romance. My one complaint of most romance is the sexually explicit scenes. I can be loving the story and boom there is a way too descriptive sex scene. I know what goes on in the bedroom I don’t want to read it.

    I would love to be able to write but I have found that it just isn’t in me, so I read. I love what you said about classics. I have tried to read certain books and can’t. They are just to dry and boring. Then other writers just sweep me away on a journey.

  29. This blog article brought back some good memories of reading books from authors years ago that I’d forgotten until now. I too loved Georgette Heyer books and have reread many, but this reminded me I was also a fan of Barbara Cartland. Another author I used to read, which you mention, was Victoria Holt – and until now I never knew that was a pen name (I looked her up on Wikipedia). Apparently she (Eleanor Hibbert) wrote under several other pen names as well – including Phillipa Carr. I’m wondering, now, whether you have ever written under any pen names? And why do authors do that?

    • I have not written under any pen names, Catherine. Sometimes authors use a pseudonym for books that are of a different type from the ones they are generally known for–Nora Roberts/J. D. Robb, for example. Sometimes if an author’s sales have slumped, he/she will try a pseudonym to start again. There are probably other reasons too.

      • Mary: I have to admit I’m not a romanticist, but my sister in law is, thus you have come to my attention. I would love to correspond with you in the future, your marketing techniques, excellent. I would love to own one of your works, and will one way or another. I have been amused by your recent FB post’ and frequently ‘comment’ on them. I do use a pen-name even though I am a first time author. For one of those ‘other’ reasons. Much luv & admiration Just another author. David K.

  30. Thank you very much for sharing with us about your reading history and habits. It has been very interesting (and completely understandable) to discover you avoid historical romances! I have a similar background, I have been a voracious reader since a child and I read a lot of the 19th century classics as a teenager. I only discovered romances at my lates twenties (I think I had been too young and snob for the genre). And you were one of the first romance novelists I really admired! So thank you, again, for the great moments I have enjoyed with your books in the last years.

  31. I love a story that just grabs you and won’t let you put the book down. That’s why I love Mary’s books. At least 10 years ago, I found a blog which asked to list your 10 most favorite historical fiction writers. Mary’s name was on many of the lists of 10. I then started to search for Mary’s books. I bought all the current ones and then started looking for the backlist. Georgette Heyer, Diana Gabaldon’s, Lisa Kleypas. We’re also listed and became favorites.

  32. Hello.
    I’m definitely not a writer, but on occasion I’ve read books and wanted to change them. I hate it when I get to the end of the book and think, “If only the author had done this…” That’s not common, though. There are so many wonderful romance writers out there, it makes me sad that you’re missing out on them.

  33. Hi Mary, I read a lot for work and pleasure. Reading and writing history is my profession, but I still love to lose myself in a good historical romance and yours are the best I’ve read. I keep re-reading them – the true sign of a great book.
    Another favourite author I can recommend is Mary Ann Schaffer whose one and only book, The Guernsey Potato Peel Pie & Literary Society, is extraordinary.
    I hope you keep writing historical romance even if you don’t read much of it! I look forward to each book with great anticipation. Best wishes.

  34. HI Mary, as you I love to read and has been doing it since I was 12 years old. As a matter of fact that is how I learn my english. My mom (who was an american living in Venezuela) realized this and gave me books in english so I could read it outloud to her. That is how it all started. I like Romances, thrillers, commedy, action and some more. The funny thing is that for a while – while my kids where small – I loved to watch TV and spend my free time doing it; but for the past two years I barely watch tv – I record my favorite shows and see them in between books – I spend my free time reading or listening to stories – that is something that I started doing since I discover Diana Gabaldon’s stories. So now I listen to stories while I exercise and then read before going to bed or in between tasks. I love your books and through you learn what they call regency books. Thanks for your excellent stories

  35. I got my start with Georgette Heyer, to whom my older sister introduced me when I was in junior high. Her books were addicting, but also set a high standard which I used to measure other historical romances. I guess I was spoiled for much of the romance out there, but Ms Balogh, your books have
    always been a pleasure.

  36. I grew up on Victoria Holt and maintain an extensive library of her work. And Rebecca continues to be one of my favorites. Made my husband watch the movie with me a couple of months ago and he turned to me and said, “and you like this why?” And Yet I do. . . .
    I have read The Arrangement (loved it) and would LOVE to read The Proposal as well.

  37. I work in a doctor’s office and I love seeing what books people bring in. We have lots of older patients so it is especially interesting to me when they are reading on Kindle or Nook. I love visiting with them about reading and books. I read almost all regency books, yours and Julia Quinn specifically, but my college-age daughter got me started on John Green. Check him out! He is an amazing writer — even though his topics are about as far from regency England as you can get.

  38. I lived only a block from our library. Such wonderful places to grow up with lots of books at hand. Thanks for sharing your writing history!

  39. I agree with you, the English covers are much more appealing and much more likely to draw in a reader who appreciates good writing. I thank you for sharing what you read. I understand that reading romantic books would be like a ditch digger going home and digging a swimming pool. I wonder if you have ever read any Elizabeth Peters books? I think you would like her Amelia Peabody books. They are mysteries, but are very funny. And Amelia is quite an interesting woman. When I grow up, I would love to be just like her.

  40. I actually sing as a pretty intense hobby, and I can fully understand your feelings about reading. I mentally critique singers when I hear them. I can’t help it. So I can easily see you doing the same thing with writing, Mary.

    Having said that–how come we can’t get the lovely British covers of The Proposal and The Arrangement in the US, instead of the beefcake (and IMHO, poorly done beefcake) covers that were deemed the way to achieve sales in the US? Sigh.

  41. I am also a voracious re-reader. I feel like I’m returning to the company of dear friends, especially when I reread a series book, and I get to experience (again!) each couple’s discovery of each other, with the bonus of the cameo appearances of all of the other people whom I’ve grown to love.

    What a joy it was to run into Lily again, and to see how happy she and Kit are together, with her added maturity. But you’ve still kept her true to herself; she has that impish humor and charm that is recognizably hers.

    Thanks again for your gift to us Mary. You’ve given your readers uncountable happy hours, not just while we’re reading, but later on while we’re thinking and dreaming about your characters.

  42. I love that others feel the same way about some of the classics. I’d often wonder what was wrong with me that I didn’t enjoy it like everyone else. Then I’d start to wonder if it’s like The Emporer’s New Clothes, am I the only one saying there’s no there there or are others too insecure to admit they didn’t like it either. Glad I’m not alone.

    Thank you for all the treasures you’ve given us. I’m also a rereader. My terrible memory for details helps me enjoy a book again as if its the first time.

  43. Hello, I just finished “the Arrangement” and loved it. Your back stories on each character always drives their motivations. I find this to be the best part of your books that I enjoy. It makes it very realistic.

    This is my first time buying one of your books as an ebook. So cool to be able to get it on the first day of publication. Different, because I like to keep all of yours that I have bought. Thus, I will probably buy the paperback too!

    Thankyou again for all your hard work. Your books give me great enjoyment. Looking forward to the next survivor.

    Jackie

  44. Your blog is always so interesting. Although I would never have guessed it, your reason for not wanting to read other romance writers is perfectly understandable.

    Liked your comment about reading “Moby Dick”. It reminded me of when I was younger and challenged myself to read “War and Peace”. I actually did like the book, but more than once I found myself wondering if the damned thing was ever going to end.

    Just got “The Arrangement” from the library this morning and plan to start it as soon as I finish the book that I’m reading right now (Joan Smith’s “Gather Ye Rosebuds”).

    Thanks for all the enjoyment your talent brings.

  45. Victoria Holt was one of the first romance writers i read. There was something i loved about the covers of women fleeing peril that made me want to read the books. These days I love reading a mix of genres too. Lately I’ve been getting into biographies. But I always come back to romance novels- cause I do like a happy ending!

  46. I think everyone starts with Georgette Heyer. (We spent our off time in college trying to read Barbara Cartland books outloud with all the breathing catches…Impossible!!) Besides you and my other favs I also read mystery (usually where women are the detectives) and some fantasy ( I can’t give up Mercedes Lackey.

  47. I have to say I’ve read The Arrangement (the first I’ve read you) and loved it! If I was so lucky to win I would be happy to give someone else a chance at that one 🙂

  48. I love your books! Thank you for your perspective on reading books! I enjoyed reading it! I did not discover Georgette Heyer until my late twenties. I have spent the past several years collecting as many as I can get my hands on, as I have done with your books as well. I have been rereading the Georgette Heyer novels. I just reread ‘The Corinthian’. My favorite is Venetia. What is your favorite of hers? I love your books and always look forward to finding the older ones I have not yet read.

    • There are some that are better than others. However, on the whole my favorite is whatever one I happen to be reading. THE UNKNOWN AJAX leaps to mind–I reread it quite recently.

  49. As always love to read your comments and picked up a copy of The Arrangement today – I was wondering if this book and the ones to follow in the series will be available in hardcover?

    Thanks again and look forward to being swept away with this book as I was with The Proposal.

  50. Hi Mary,
    Just finished reading “The Proposal” & had to come see how soon “The Arrangement” would be coming out. I have read all of your books to date & I thank you, thank you, thank you! You are a very talented author, so please keep writing. 🙂

  51. Hi Mary, as a young girl I used to read a lot, I loved Enid Blyton especially her famous five. When I was in secondary school I discovered mills and boon and I read like a maniac, I could read at least two mills and boon books per day. A few years after I left school I out grow them. I couldn’t find anything to replace them. Many years later I left my home country of Zambia and moved to South Africa. At my local grocer there is a section where they sell second hand books, I picked one up entitled, “at last comes love,” by Mary Balogh. By the next day I was done reading, put the book down and said to myself, ‘Mary Balogh where have you been all my life,’ and I was back at the grocer looking for the other books in the series. I couldn’t find any, but luckily I got the phone number of supplier and asked her if had anymore Balogh books, I was hooked. It so happened that I knew the supplier and from then on when she got books by you, she would call me and I would buy them straight from before she put them on the shelf. This was two years ago, since then your books have kept company. So Mary I thank you for rekindling my love for reading. Through you I have discovered a love of historical romances and I now have five favourite authors, but you being on top of that list.

  52. My high school was next to the public library. I spent many hours there reading during free periods or waiting for a ride home. The Scarlet Pimpernel was probably the first historical romance I read. It is still a personal favorite. I accidentally discovered Georgette Heyer at the library and loved the language, the time period and the stories. A friend loaned me Pride and Prejudice when I was recovering from having my wisdom teeth out at age 17. I was hooked on Regency period romance then. My great aunt and I used to discuss the works of Jane Austen. Other than historical romance, I like G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Michael O’Brien, Peter Kreeft and spiritual classics-probably because I belong to a book group that reads those books. I admit I struggled with understanding Thomas Aquinas and Dante. I like books that lift the spirits rather than those that are depressing, scary or just weird. Yours have been a joy.

  53. I have been a big fan of your for years. I’ve been collecting the first printings of your books because I like those covers but, I have to say, I DO like the covers for The Arrangement and The Proposal.

  54. I enjoy your honesty about not reading historical romance. I think your reasons make perfect since. I love my job, but when I clock out for the day the last thing I want to do is more of that type of “work”. Thank you for sharing some of the books and authors you do read and of course for writing such wonderful romances for me to read.

    PS: I love the British covers of The Proposal and The Arrangement. They are beautiful.

  55. Dear Mary,
    As almost every girl on this planet even as a non-native English speaker myself, I grew up on Jane Austin, and as an adult I was so happy when I discovered you years ago as I love the genre. I bought your books as audiobooks first (perfect for long car journeys!) then also as paperbacks to reread them and for the case if I ever have a daughter. I do now, and even though she is small I am so happy that she will be able to go on reading your right after Jane Austin. (Depending on how quickly she will learn English!) I have just noticed that you have started a new series, I can hardly wait! Thank you for keeping the young girl inside so many of us alive! Warm regards from the sunny Switzerland, Aniko

    • Btw: you do not miss out much on not reading any contemporary historical romances. I have tried a few other authors’ audiobooks but in the end I only bought your books as paperbacks.

  56. Mary, thank you for sharing your reading philosophy and favorite authors. I recall you saying that you were in a book club in your community. I find those great resources for reading books which I would never have chosen but turn out to expand my horizons. Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm is a favorite which I have reread many times but recently I listened to a new audio version, which I thought was fabulous.

  57. Hi Mary:

    I am reading historical romances, and your books are among my favorites. I will try Laura Kinsale’s book on your recommendation.

  58. Hi Mary
    Just got The Arrangement in the mail today. Looking forward to reading it as soon as i finish re-reading Vows by Lavyrle Spencer.
    I really love historical romance but also contemporary romance. Julia London’s latest The Homecoming and Tracy Brogan’s first contemporary novel Crazy Little Thing have me really loving contemporary romance at the moment. But you remain my favorite author and my loyalty will never waver. Thank you for continuing to write…I have many of your books tucked away upstairs in a bookcase. I never panic that I have nothing to read because I can always go to one of your books and enjoy reading it all over again. Thank you Mary for bringing me back to my adolescent passion…reading. I lost it for many years raising my daughter and running a 24-7 business with my husband. Simply Unforgettable brought me back to reading again.And I continue to read every day…because of you.

  59. Hi, I got my copy of The Arrangement on the 27th. They hadn’t actually put it out on the shelves yet. This was about 6pm. Made the guy go to the back of the store and look for it 🙂

  60. I really love reading your books. Just finished the arrangement and I loved the characters. I had to leave for a few hours and I was disappointed because the book not finished. I have introduced my friends to your books and they are loving them as well. Can’t wait for the next one

  61. Being a grammar tyrant, and since moving to my current profession, with writing being a big component, I tend to read, much like yourself, with a more analytical regard. I still gain much joy from reading; I just tend to be drawn to stories that end happily. My daily writing is based in fact and truth, so I want something other than reality to take me away for a while. Thank you for sharing your preferences.

  62. How wonderful that you are able to both be a writer and still find love in reading. Sometimes when something we love becomes a requirement, it looses a little of the enjoyment. I like to read a lot of non-fiction intermixed with the lighthearted fiction for a nice balance.

  63. Ever since i was young I hated reading books because as a child and a young teenager (13 yrs old) I would really prefer pictures. Then as I grew up it’s hard to avoid them because , I need them for school. During my 3rd year of highschool(15 yrsold) I was introduced to mills and boon (harlequin) and immediately it was like boom . I really liked romance then and started collecting and buying books(mills and boon, harlequin etc). Through that way I realised I wanted to try writing stories and that’s how i started on a fanfiction sites. It was an experience having to write them but as for me I did not stop reading romance, because I want to learn how do other authors do their thing so well. And then at last discovered your works (Ms. Balogh) in a book sale and immediately I searched for more of your books. It’s hard to find them because every book store will tell me that don’t have it but then I was able to find some. I can’t really say I had ventured enough genre mainly because I only read romances (except for Shakespeare, george orwell etc that were all required) but in the future I want to try some 🙂 (I am only 16 so I’ve got along way to go ) Thank you for sharing your preferences I’ll try some of them!!!

  64. My first romance author was Barbara Cartland. I fell in love with romance, historical or contemporary. I found one of your Bedwyn books (Freya) at a discount book store. I couldn’t put it down. I was able to get the other books in the series and waited impatiently for Wulfric’s story. I was not disappointed, his is my favorite. I have read all your books. Each one is wonderful. You bring your characters to life without going over the top. I finished The Arrangement yesterday morning. It was a beautiful story. Looking forward to The Affair. Thank you Mary.

    • The title THE AFFAIR has been changed to THE ESCAPE, Mary. Unfortunately the old title was mistakenly used for the teaser chapter at the end of THE ARRANGEMENT. THE ESCAPE will be published at the end of May, 2014.

  65. Loved reading this post and the replies. I read Pride and Prejudice years ago, and was enchanted by Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and novels by Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Daphne DuMaurier – recently reread Frenchman’s Creek and am meaning to reread My Cousin Rachel. In recent years I have ventured to read other Jane Austen that I never had time for while raising a family and beginning a teaching career. I discovered you with At Last Comes Love, and then went back to read all of the Huxtable books, Simply and Slightly series as well as many stand alones. I had not heard of Georgette Heyer until a few years ago when the 96 year old lady we take to church mentioned her, but have read several of hers – I prefer yours. Every now and then I try to improve myself by reading classics I never got around to – read Tess of the D’urbervilles within this year and was sorry I did – so sad.
    Have been keeping up with all of your latest releases and was anxious for the Arrangement to come out – love the premise of the survivor series. I read The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd last Dec. and thought of your “survivors” and their struggles although this was a different time period – WWI.
    Have to say I love the English covers too. Thanks for all of your wonderful stories!

  66. I stumbled upon your books from a collection my aunt prized. I enjoy the realistic characters and the struggles they encounter. I love your books and they provide an enriched escape. Your books get me through the school year. Please do not stop writing them.

  67. Enjoy visiting your website every week. Would love to win 2 autographed books by Mary Balogh. What a great Birthday present winning your weekly drawing this week would be!

  68. What a great blog! I feel like I know you .
    Two questions for you;
    1) Does Saskatchewan factor into your writing at all?
    2) having just read Phillpa Gregory’s White Queen, I was stunned at the anachronistic mention of the young Elizabeth reading the story of Noah to keep her younger siblings entertained while in sanctuary. Okay, so obviously she wasnt reading the story from the KJV bible. While your regency period is much later than Tutor England,do you find it challenging sometimes to stay historically correct, or does it matter to you? sorry, I haven’t read enough of your work to know the answer but look forward to reading those two novels.

    • My novels are set in 18th and 19th century England, Suzanne, so Saskatchewan does not figure.

      Historical accuracy matters a great deal to me. Why would anyone set a book in a certain time and place and then ignore the accuracies of that time and place? I make errors, but they are unintentional, and once they have been pointed out to me, I don’t make them again.

      • Thanks for the reply. What I meant about Saskatchewan, was to ask if anything about your everyday surroundings sneak into the English countryside of your writing? While wandering the Pennines twenty years ago, I was reminded of the prairies. Do you feel that way here?

  69. I write fantasy and sci-fi, but I love to read romances, especially historicals. In hindsight this is probably because they are the complete opposite of what I do. Character driven is not my strong point…

  70. I have just finished The Arrangement and I am loving the fact that our heroes are less than perfect and are very human and struggling with feeling like they are not worthy when they are. In addition I am enjoying watching how they take back control from all the Helpful Relatives who mean well but are interfering with recovery. Not many authors would dare to have a handicapped hero, who is not going to miraculously be made whole again. I really appreciated that Vincent did not regain his sight by getting conked on the head. You books provide a welcome escape from a hectic life, and I am grateful. Could you please publish the anticipated release date of “The Affair?” I am wanting to preorder but it does not come up yet.

    • The book that was mistakenly called THE AFFAIR in the teaser chapter at the end of THE ARRANGEMENT, Maria, is actually THE ESCAPE–Book 3 of the series and Sir Benedict Harper’s story. The publication date is May 27, 2014.

  71. I just wanted to say that I am a Histoical romance JUNKIE !!! You are one of my FAVORITE authors !! I LOVE all your romance books !! When I start to read one of your books I NEVER want to put it done, I have to keep reading I get so immersed in the story line and charaters…

  72. OMG, I just read your response to Maria Meachum’s comment, and am quite depressed to see that book 3 doesn’t come out until next May. That is such an incredibly long time. I was also really hoping to see what happens to the Earl of Berwick, and it seems I might have to wait YEARS for that. Ugh.

    I enjoyed your comments about why you don’t read romance novels. I found they were quite honest and insightful. Your early books, especially the Bedwyn novels are what really got me into reading, and especially into reading Regency romances.

  73. I read Georgette Heyer’s Regency and historical works while in high school, courtesy of my local library. It was so sad when My Lord John just stopped in mid story, knowing the author had passed away with a work in progress.

  74. My daughter got me started on your books about 2 months ago. She owns about 2/3 of your books. After reading what she has, I have decided I really need to collect the rest of them. You have a way of making the reader escape the daily grind of reality to go off on an adventure that has happy endings. Thank you for that.

  75. I have always been a voracious reader. My mother was (and still is) a big fan of Georgette Heyer and through her I read all of them as I was growing up. I’ve collected most of them through the years.

    Years ago, my grandmother introduced both of us to your books and we enjoy buying the new ones as soon as they are released and share our favorite parts. On rainy days, it’s nice to pull out one of your older books to cozy up with a couple of hot chocolate chip cookies.

    Love your books! Amy

  76. I so love your books! Your characters cme alive and I find myself thinking of them even after the book ends! Lol…. I actually prefer waiting for all related titles so I’ll be patient till the 7 books are out before I start reading…
    Thanks for being so witty and making us love your characters

  77. I have read your books for many years and enjoyed them thoroughly. I like historical romance that has a feel of authenticity of the period about it, not a 21st century heroine in 18th century clothing. I came late to Georgette Heyer, but have read most of hers and love them a lot. I can reread them with pleasure. Devil’s Cub was the first of hers I read and still my favorite. I’ve also loved the Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody series. They are not strictly romances, but have romantic elements plus mystery plus humor. So sad that there won’t be any more.

    Stay healthy and keep writing! I look forward to all your books.

  78. Dear Mary, I too, began reading romance as a genre just a few years ago and I am in my early 30s. I never found them too interesting in my teens, although I only read a few M&B books I get my hands on as they were hard to come by where I grew up in India. Also, I was more inclined towards thrillers and mysteries and most of the authors I liked were male, such as Sidney Sheldon, Robert Ludlum, Robin Cook and recently Dan Brown. But I must say, once I discovered that I quite like the historical romance genre, I’ve been devouring the regency romance books, especially yours. There’s hardly a book of yours that I’ve read without feeling deeply the emotions of the characters and shedding a tear or two for them. I very much look forward to reading the books from the new series, and thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  79. Hi,

    I’ll apologize in advance if you have already answered this question. Is there a reason The Arrangement hasn’t shown up in iBook on iTunes? I’m just trying to figure out if it’s me or them with the problem. I discovered your books a few years ago. For me it was like hitting the jackpot. I’ve enjoyed each one. Your books go great with my coffee.

  80. I agree about all the authors you mentioned (and with those who don’t want to wait until May to read Ben’s story). I am just so glad your early work is being reissued. I spent a couple of years shifting through online book stores, but do finally have all your books, and have read them all at least twice. Some day I’ll need to find and forward to you the email response I got from your publisher when I suggested reissue because copies of some of your books were selling for over $50 (of course, none of which you were getting). I thought the disinterest was a disservice to you. Love your work!

  81. Coming in late, but wanted my chance to win the autographed books. I used to be a voracious reader, but than I found golf and now spend a great deal of my time out of doors. I still read at night though and have found that I am a romantic, always have been, and now read historical romance almost (not quite) to the exclusion of all others. I am fussy about those books I do read, though, and cannot make it through some authors at all. Thankfully a Mary Balogh book is a sure thing! I read and reread your books as well as Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. My all time favourite book, since I was about ten, is Jane Eyre. A few Mary Balogh books could give it a run for its money though!

  82. I too love Georgette Heyer romances. It takes me a little longer to get into her stories but I always enjoy them. I also have to read them a little slower because of the old fashion language.
    I enjoyed reading about what you read and why.

  83. I have been reading your books for a long time. Sometimes, I find myself laughing with the characters. Sometimes, I cry. With The Survivors Club, I’m glad to see some overlap of people from previous series–I already know how they think and feel and it brings a more complete sense of the moment to the scene. Taking a look at the various aspects of PTSD is difficult. Perhaps we can see ourselves in one of the characters and they will help us along our healing journey. Thanks so much for what you do.

  84. I love reading these blogs and learning bits of information. I read my first Georgette Heyer novel a few weeks ago after seeing her name mentioned frequently by you and others on your facebook page. I loved it. I laughed at the historic insults the characters used, such as “pudding head.”

  85. Reading has always been a wonderful escape for me. Marguerite Henry and her horse stories got my started as a young girl with many other genres a long the way. Romance has captivated my attention now decades later. I appreciate in your stories that you include those who have special needs. My heart has cried when the characters are shown compassion and care. Like Lizzie who was blind and though an illegitimate child, her father loves her and goes against society to eventually bring her to live with him and Miss Martin when they marry. That kind of compassion goes beyond romance, into the heart of what makes your characters even more real. Your stories remind your readers to be strong and to fight for what is right (as the Bedwyns always do) and that is one philosophy that needs to be firmly ingrained in everybody. Thank you. : )

  86. I can relate to your comment on not spending your leisure time doing what you do for your day job. I’m in the Thoroughbred horse industry, and people can’t understand why I really don’t want to go to the races or even watch racing on television anymore.

    Even though I’ve never published a work of fiction, I seem to read critically anyway. I just finished an otherwise interesting Regency where twice the heroine “laid” down on the bed! And I’m increasingly finding the use of the subjective case in books when it is the objective case that is needed (just as people are doing in speech these days). Where are the editors?!? I agree also with your assessment of the classics; there are more than a few I’ve read and thought that they’d never be published today.

  87. I can see why it would be hard for a romance writer to read romance. My husband and I loved collecting antiques and browsing every antique store we came across. After a few years of owning our own store, it became more like a job. Still love antiques, though. I finished THE WOOD NYMPH last night and will begin THE ARRANGEMENT tonight. Looking forward to it!

  88. I enjoyed your comments on Georgette Heyer et al (I think I once read that Queen Elizabeth, the current Queen’s mum, said that Heyer was a solace anywhere, that she’d taken one to read in the hospital). (I know I did!)

    Of the Regencies I keep to reread, your ‘Slightly’ series is at the top of the list. love your characters, and the humour that imbues the stories – if I need a touch of cheer I can always head for Christine and Wulf and the quizzing glass moments, and I’ll be laughing like a loon!

  89. I always enjoy seeing what other books my favorite authors recommend. I must say, though, that you seem to be one of the few who doesn’t read in her own genre! I’ll have to go back and give Heyer another try. I once tried one of hers that came highly recommended and found the plot absurd, something about a lord being given guardianship of and then falling in love with (and marrying) his ward. Is there one in particular you would recommend?

  90. I just got through reading The Arrangement. I love a book that has everything in it. I am never disappointed when reading your books. I can hardly wait for the rest of the books in this series.

  91. I love the British covers! I have both of these books and am eagerly awaiting the next, but I would rather have the British covers than the bare-chested hunks on the copies I have. Guess I’ll go read the Slighty Series again to get my Balogh fix for now.

  92. I just read my first Georgette Heyer novel, I think I read about her novels from you, Mary. The first romance I read was in college in the 70’s , Barbara Cartland, I loved her books. I was hooked on romance. I enjoy many different authors, Jane Austen, sets the bar high. Your stories are a treat and I look forward to each one!

  93. I’m quite fussy when it comes to novels and unless the story and characters keep me interested I don’t read. I have been a fan since I first picked up your books in my 20’s. I have too many favourites but with the way you write, you make us care about the characters and its easy to fully immerse ourselves in the story. I can’t put your books down. thankyou 🙂

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