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Valerie Biel asks What Influences Your Reading Choices

Valerie Biel writes stories inspired by Celtic mythology in the Circle of Nine series. You can read her latest post here, find out more about her here, and buy her books here.

I once read Under the Tuscan sun in Tuscany while basking poolside in the late-summer Italian sun. Corny? Perhaps. But I wasn’t the only one as I spied the same book cover in Swedish on another lounger not far away. (This was some years ago and later in my stay I moved on to the recently-released Fifty Shades of Grey, which I thought I was stealthily reading on my tablet, until—ironically over Earl Grey—a British traveler confessed she too was reading that title. But I digress.)

I often read books set in the country I’m traveling in; books by Jane Austen in Bath and Lyme Regis, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in London, and by Frank McCourt in Ireland. I devour entire lists of the ‘best beach reads’ at the beach. My favorites are by Dorthea Benton Frank and Mary Kay Andrews.

I love that (at least for me) reading a story while I’m in that particular, unique setting enhances the enjoyment of both the book and the location—especially when the settings are well-researched, serving as sort of a literary travel guide. Although, in the past 12 months, I’ve mostly read about places I wish I was traveling to, which is another pretty-darn awesome thing about books and their ability to take us places we can’t visit in person.

Blackbird Books to take you…

In a quick survey of the books by Blackbird writers, I found that you can travel to modern-day and historical California with stories by Anne Louise Bannon, Laurie Stevens, Sheila Lowe, and Sherrill Joseph, to the Pacific Northwest with Laurie Buchanan and August Norman, to the Colorado Rockies with Margaret Mizushima, to the American Southwest with Sharon Lynn, to the Midwest with Tracey Phillips, Christine DeSmet, Joy Ann Ribar, Jeff Nania, and Maggie Smith, or to New Orleans with Tim Chapman. You can hang out in haunted libraries with Allison Brook or murderous high schools and artist communities with Saralyn Richard. You can travel abroad to Spain, Morocco, Egypt (and more) with Avanti Centrae, to Mexico and Cambodia with Greg Levin, and to Ireland with Donna Rewolinski and me.

Book Cover. Circle of Nine: Beltany by Valerie Biel. Blonde girl in a red dress standing on rocks.
Circle of Nine: Beltany by Valerie Biel

You may never have to leave your house again—just kidding—we really don’t want that!!

Have you sought out books that match your location?

Do you seek out books that let you be an armchair traveler?

Obviously, I have done both!!

I also am a fan of seasonal reading . . . somehow this feels like a guilty pleasure or just a bit like something too silly to admit. But I do love reading spooky, haunting stories in October. I sink into the plethora of holiday/winter anthologies and reading lists. Goodreads even has a list of Books to Read When the Snow is Falling along with both Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice reading lists. The solstice lists caught my eye because those holidays are important for my books’ characters as their lives center around the solstices, equinoxes, and the cross-quarter days in between. In fact, this week on February 2 we celebrate Imbolc—one of those cross-quarter days. (Not that there’s going to be a reading list for that particular esoteric holiday—maybe I’ll have to start one.) If you’re curious, you can learn more about Imbolc HERE.

Are you a fan of seasonal/holiday-esque reading? (It’s okay to admit it!)

Valerie Biel

Valerie Biel is the author of the award-winning Circle of Nine series (stories inspired by Celtic mythology and the stone circles of Ireland). Learn more about her on her website, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Laurie Buchanan
    Laurie Buchanan

    Valerie — Up until a year ago, I traveled a lot. Lately, my adventures are via books. Thank goodness for armchair travel! In the past year, I’ve been around the globe—vicariously—through well-told stories. Many of them authored by Blackbird Writers.

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      I cannot wait to travel again! But I agree that books provide a lovely option to travel through story!!

  2. Joy Ann Ribar
    Joy Ann Ribar

    Valerie, you have piqued my curiosity about Imbolc – a term I’ve never heard. I’ll definitely check it out. My favorite part of reading is that not only can a travel to a “where” but also to a “when”, something I often long to do (time travel).

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      I love time travel stories! I’m a huge Outlander/Diana Gabaldon fan. 🙂 Watch for my post tomorrow all about Imbolc.

  3. Margaret Mizushima
    Margaret Mizushima

    Wonderful post, Valerie! Since my husband and I are rancher/farmers and he has his vet practice here on our place, we have enough animal care that it’s hard for us to travel. When we do, it’s for a book event or to go see our adult daughters. So I use books to visit all the places I wish I could go. I love the variety of settings offered by Blackbird Writers!

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      I totally understand that problem. I grew up on a dairy farm and vacations had to be carefully constructed with all the help that had to be scheduled to care for the herd.

  4. Avatar
    Laurie Stevens

    Great post, Valerie. I think your idea of reading a book set in the location to which you’ve traveled is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in your vacation. I love the idea — thanks for sharing it!

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      Thanks, Laurie — I will never again take traveling for granted after the past 12 months! But books have always taken me wonderful places even when I am stuck at home. – Valerie

  5. Avatar
    Maggie Smith

    Such a fun way to organize your book reading – sadly I have hardly left my house for almost a straight year but definitely love reading books that can whisk me away to places I may never get to and certainly time periods I’ll never live in. So many great suggestions here – just what I needed – more books to read!

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      Thanks, Maggie! Me either . . . . in fact, one year ago today was the last time we left on an international trip. We went to Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda to survey projects we’re involved with via our charity The World Orphan Fund — we returned on Feb 15, just as everyone was starting to get more nervous about travel. Can’t believe that was a year ago — Wow! – Valerie

  6. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn

    I always let the season and my travels influence my choice of books (and my writing! Anyone else creating a quarantine mystery?) But since the great ‘stay at home’ I have been influenced by my fellow Blackbird authors. After reading Joy, Jeff, and Christine’s books, I’m ready to move to Wisconsin 🙂

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      I need to catch up and read my way through all the great books from the Blackbird writers! We would welcome you with open arms here in Wisconsin! – Valerie

  7. Anne Louise Bannon
    Anne Louise Bannon

    That’s what I love about reading (and writing). The whole opportunity to go someplace and somewhen else. As for inspiring my reading choices, I’m more likely to be reading Christmas stories in July and summer stories in January.

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      Ha! That makes sense to cool off in the summer and warm up when it’s snowy. Right now, I’m a little sick of snow and should be grabbing a beach read to take me far away from all this white stuff.

  8. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe

    As one of those apparently rare people who does not like to travel, I get my fill from reading about places I dream about. Thanks for the mention, too. And thank you for “Imbolc” – new to me.

    1. Valerie Biel
      Valerie Biel

      Hi Sheila — I’ll be writing more in a Facebook post about Imbolc tomorrow! – Valerie

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