Confessions of the Book Whisperer
by Nicki Salcedo
I have some unusual gifts. I can guess any man’s weight. I can pick up objects with my toes. I can read palms. I can detect police radar. I can also divine the types of books people want to read…I am a Book Whisperer.
I am also an aspiring writer, which means two things: I’m an accomplished reader, and I have too many books. I attend book signings, I win raffle baskets, I attend local and national writing conferences, and I purchase books. I have far more books than I’ll ever be able to read.
Some people like to keep books, spines unbroken, as shrines or paper menageries to decorate their homes and offices. They have no intention of sharing their books or reading them. To me this is sacrilege. Books are meant to be read…if not by me, then by someone else.
Giving away books isn’t a new trait. As a child, I loaned out my copies of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and Down the Long Hills by Louis L’Amour. In college, it was Paradise by Judith McNaught, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Later, it was The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.
Now, I have a new collection of books in my library, and many I haven’t read yet. Some are sexy, some are strange, some are sweet, and I like to release them into the world like birds into the wind. Richard Bach said, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were.” The same is true for books.
I started by giving each of my nine co-workers a book during the holidays. These are women who so heartily protested reading romance novels, I took great pleasure in plotting and carrying out their demise.
Marie* got Twilight by Stephanie Meyers. Jennifer got A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole. I gave out Single in Suburbia by Wendy Wax and Body Movers by Stephanie Bond. Ellen, my oh-so-reluctant boss, got Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Marie and Jennifer read and exchanged books. They both immediately purchased the sequels books. My boss went out and purchased every Dark Hunter book by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Oh, how the mighty had fallen.
One day, my cousin (my male cousin) took my copy of Going All the Way by Tanya Michaels. He has since reported by that he and his wife both enjoyed reading it. Good for them.
I gave my mother Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, and she has since shared that book with my father. One of my sisters read Harlequins with me growing up, but the other, Ann, a self-proclaimed Charles Dickens snob, has always refused to read romance. But after hearing about my success as a Book Whisperer she told me to pick out a book for her. I selected Finder’s Keepers by Linnea Sinclair. Science fiction romance… and yes, she loved it. My sister called me on her lunch break a few weeks ago as she stood in line buying two more books by Ms. Sinclair. Ah, my dear sister, to quote your friend Dickens… “There is a wisdom of the head, and... a wisdom of the heart.” I would add that sometimes there is both.
In the past year, I have given away over 100 of my books. Do I wish that I could read them all? Of course. But would I rather that someone, somewhere was reading them. The best way to support other romance writers is not by defending the genre, but sharing books one-by-one to new readers and potential book buyers.
I don’t forget that I have writing to do, because I have two books to complete this year, but I do try to write a lot and read a little, based on good recommendations.
Last week, I found copies of Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas and The Rest Fall Away by Colleen Gleason on my desk at work. I’ve gotten emails telling me to buy books by Elizabeth Hoyt and Laura Lee Guhrke, authors that are new to me. Do you see what has happened? Oh, my minions are so smart. They are trying to become Book Whisperers, too.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent, but if you note the vampire trend these women are not really so innocent
© Nicki Salcedo. All rights reserved. Article first appeared in The Galley, a publication of Georgia Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America.