So last week I finished reading book seven of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Clare Fergusson-Russ VanAlstyne mystery series, and it was so good I read it twice. I’m not kidding around. And then I went back and read most of book six again. And some of books four and five. And yes, three. I still have them all here. They’re not going back to the library yet. Not that JSF shouldn’t take it as a compliment that I can’t let go of her characters, but I think it is probably a sign of depression as well. If I had a real life, I would have just enjoyed these books and moved on. Instead I’m…wallowing.

I had a similar reaction when Veronica Mars went off the air. I don’t think it’s healthy.

Anyway. I’m trying to get back into my usual reading routine. I’ve got a crapload of unread books on my Kindle. I’ve got three I’ve been reading since April 8 or something, and I just can’t seem to finish them. They’re not bad. They’re just not what I want. One of them is a 99-cent special I wouldn’t have bothered with (probably) because I’ve learned from sad experience that there’s a world of difference, quality-wise, between the 99-cent Kindle books and the $1.99 Kindle books. You wouldn’t think a dollar would represent such a huge difference, but it does. I guess a dollar is a huge difference at that level, economically speaking, but the quality increase from 99-cent book to $1.99 book is exponential in nature. Anyway. I wouldn’t have considered it under ordinary circumstances but I decided to take the risk because Oprah recommended it. I mean, her magazine recommended it, which is sort of the same thing, isn’t it? Her face is on the cover every damn issue; I assume her essence resides within every written word inside (but maybe not so much inside the pictures that aren’t of her). So yeah, I bought this book and it’s okay. I’m (finally) about halfway through and I’d like to know how it all turns out, but I’m not dying to know. In point of fact, I could live quite contentedly never knowing. Except that I paid 99 cents for this book on Oprah’s good word, and I’d kind of like to hold her accountable at the end–which I can’t do if there’s no end. So I’m going to finish it. It’s just such. hard. work.

The other book I’m reading is about a young woman’s mental illness and how it affects her family–it’s all literary and character-driven rather than plot-driven, but the problem is that I don’t really care about any of these characters. Well, I guess I care a little bit about the dad. No, not really. Never mind. I’m about…golly, am I halfway yet? It seems to be taking forever. Oh, would you look at that. I’m actually 61% through. I really turned a corner there. Too bad I still don’t care. I don’t remember how much I paid for this one. It may have been as much as $2.99. Possibly even $3.99. Incidentally, I have not found the quality difference between $1.99 books and $2.99 books to be nearly as substantial as the difference between 99-cent books and $1.99 books. I mean, it’s there, but it’s not astonishingly huge. And the difference between $2.99 books and $3.99 books is so insubstantial that paying the extra dollar almost seems like a rip-off until you realize, dude, I’m getting a whole book for less than four bucks–that’s pretty righteous.

Just in case you’re wondering, I have paid as much as $12.99 for Kindle books. I think once I may have even paid $13.99. I’m not only interested in the cheap books. I’m just especially interested in cheap books, the same way I used to hang around used book stores looking for gems. Only looking for cheap digital gems is even more challenging and therefore particularly rewarding when I find one. Some people play the lottery, I buy cheap Kindle books. It’s my way.

The way I’m still holding on to these JSF library books makes me think I should have just shelled out the $7.99 a pop to get them on Kindle. I feel like I owe JSF that money, morally speaking. Here’s a funny insight–not funny ha-ha but funny I-don’t-know-what-other-word-to-use-so-I’ll-say-funny: I’ve always thought of myself as a lover of literature. I would never put it that way because it sounds corny, but I think of myself that way. Only I freely admit that I’m also a lover of serial-killer books and (I’m discovering, much to my chagrin) romances and other stuff that is dismissed as Not Real Literature. I myself dismiss it as Not Real Literature because no one will teach it in school and not even Oprah would have it in her book club if she still had a book club. (Does she still have a book club? I don’t really follow Oprah, my occasional perusal of her magazine in my daughter’s psychologist’s office notwithstanding.) But which do I love more? Clearly I love Not Real Literature more because as much as I love real literature books, do I sit around reading them over and over again and thinking about the characters and worrying about them like they’re real people? No.

And yet, will I pay $12.99 for Not Real Literature? Well, I haven’t yet. Am I sort of a hypocrite, or am I just cheap? Am I cheap hypocrite? Do I owe Julia Spencer-Fleming about $52 for all the pleasure her books have given me over the last few weeks? Or does she owe me $52 for addicting me to her mystery-romance crack and ruining my life?

Maybe we’ll just call it even.

I was just thinking–I haven’t gotten to the point yet–about how I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I always wanted to write Serious Books That Are Real Literature, but I’m really not that kind of writer. I’ve accepted that. Unfortunately, I’m also not a writer of serial-killer romance novels. I just don’t have those skills. I haven’t found my calling in life yet. Unless it’s this blog, which I refuse to consider because if you haven’t noticed lately, the blog is just barely alive anymore. (Because I’m too busy reading other people’s crack books? No, it was mostly dead before that, too.) Anyway, I’ve decided I have a new impossible dream. I no longer want to write Pulitzer Prize-caliber books. Which is good because that was never going to happen anyway. I think I would rather write books that make depressed housewives send me invoices for $52 because I ruined their lives. I’m almost 41. It’s time to start diversifying my delusions of grandeur.

Also, I should probably take a shower. That is another thing grown-ups do.