It was early May 2004 when I walked into the public library and discovered Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries. I checked out Dead Until Dark and within days, I checked out the rest of the series including Living Dead in Dallas and Club Dead. I loved them. Then I had to wait, fortunately not very long that first year, for the next book to come out in the series. I purchased Dead to the World and kept anticipating these books each May, published right around the time my coursework was concluding before summer break. I even pre-ordered the books at Borders, which I never do for any books… still! The clerks at Borders would tease me because many of them knew that I was writing my doctoral dissertation at the table in the café while sipping chocolate coffee. I miss Borders but that’s another story.
The Southern Vampire Mysteries were fun; Sookie didn’t just fall down, she fought back; and, she owned a house, something that I desperately wanted to do back then. Some of the storylines were silly; others were quite serious. I loved them all. When True Blood was even hinted at as a possibility, I went out and bought a television and later figured out how to order cable, specifically HBO. The television series was very different but I enjoyed it so much in the beginning and then like a loyal fan, watched it to the very end and cried. I kept reading those Sookie books, including the novellas and short stories that were offered usually around winter break.
I’m not a book series person. In fact, now if I walk into a bookstore to find a description noting a trilogy I abandon the book. Yet, every now and then I’ve fallen into a series. The Southern Vampire Mysteries was one of them. They were there published at the exact time I needed a break from academia and needed to lose myself into a story. I don’t come from a family of academics. In fact, my parents did not attend college. But, they were readers. My mom read, and still reads, novel after novel. My dad was more of a non-fiction devourer of texts. He also has a photographic memory, which I did not inherit sadly. Books were supposed to be fun but in grad school everything changed. I no longer seemed to have time to read for pleasure and when I did sneak in some reading I always felt guilty about it since I should have been reading some Proust or whatnot. The only time that I was able to comfortably put down the academic texts was at the start of summer break.
I wish I could go back to recreate the feeling but just as one can never step into the same river twice, one can never recreate the magic of reading a book for the first time. Nevertheless, with so many books stacked up in my to-be-read pile, I finally have my very own copy of Dead Until Dark and I’m planning to give it another go.
Some of my favorite books of all time were library books. Oh, I wish that I had stolen that copy of Dracula the first time I read the book. I remember the cover and if I think hard enough I can almost smell the book. Old books have the best smell. Fortunately, my new copy of Dead Until Dark is pretty much the original cover art, which I adore. Now, I even have a signed copy!
Yesterday, I attended the 5th Annual Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival about two hours from my home. For the price of a $20 ticket, which also offered a tote bag full of free books, I attended the VIP Reader event right before the festival was open to the public. There, I met Christine Trent (and may have been a little stalkerish), as well as Julie Moffett, Alice Loweecey, and Aimée Hix.
For me, the most exciting part was meeting and thanking Charlaine Harris for keeping reading fun during a time that I really needed it to be light and fun.