It’s not always easy for me to find book buddies in my “offline” life. Maybe that’s why the ones I do find turn out to be such good friends. There’s something about finding a fellow urban fantasy or paranormal romance fan that makes me want to turn cartwheels. (If I could turn cartwheels, which I can’t.)
Part of my problem is that my day job is in science, and scientists aren’t known for our paranormal romance reading habits. I’m convinced the reason for this is that we are all rigorously hiding our paranormal romance reading habits. And I have evidence.
Back in grad school I did a lot of data collection at synchrotron particle accelerators. If this sounds exciting, it is. It’s hands-down the sexiest part of my job—almost everything else sounds mind-numbingly dull when I describe it. (Science Secret #1: Most of what I do involves moving clear liquids from one place to another. Thrilling!) Anyway, there are only a handful of synchrotrons in the world, and they almost all run twenty-four hours a day, because ”beamtime” is too precious to waste. Back then, as a lowly graduate student, I often ended up with the dreaded midnight-to-eight-am shift.
On this particular shift, I brought along a new collaborator whom I didn’t know very well, and before the trip, I gave her my secret to surviving the dreaded twelve-to-eight: a combination of caffeine, junk food and entertainment. For me, that meant instant noodles, sports drinks, coffee…and books.
We showed up for our shift at midnight with our samples and our stay-awake supplies. As often happens, the samples weren’t behaving. (Science Secret #2: Ninety percent of the time, the experiment doesn’t work.) We spent hours screening samples, looking for the one that would finally give us quality data. At three am, we hit pay dirt.
I set up a long, automated collection procedure to get as much data as I could out of this precious sample. This meant we got a little break—but that was dangerous. I was already loopy from the unholy instant noodle-sports drink-coffee trifecta, and I knew if I didn’t keep my brain occupied, I’d pass out with my head on the computer. It was time to break out the book.
At the time, I was reading the first book in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series—Halfway to the Grave. Actually, I was rereading it, because it was so amazing the first time around, I just had to read it again. Usually, I’m pretty circumspect about discussing books with my colleagues. You never know when someone’s going to see your paranormal romance novel and make ridiculous stereotypical assumptions about your intelligence. But it was three am, I was tired, and I didn’t care. I made a fresh pot of coffee, whipped out my book, and started reading, collaborator or no collaborator.
I waited for it. The lip-curl, the politely uninflected “hmm, that’s interesting.” Instead, she peered at the cover and said, “Ooo, is that good?”
Then she took a Kay Hooper paranormal-flavored romantic suspense out of her bag.
Suddenly, we had a lot more to talk about.
The rest of the shift passed much more quickly, and at the end of it, I gave her Halfway to the Grave. She stopped by my lab with Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten the next week.
Variations of this sort of thing have happened a few times since, and every time, my new book buddy and I have shared a moment of glee and the words: “It’s so great to finally find someone to talk about books with!” (Science Secret #3: Lots of us are closet romance readers!) I don’t think it’s any surprise that these folks have all turned out to be some of my best friends.
What about you? Is your offline life full of fabulous book buddies, or do you have to hunt for them like the treasures they are?
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