Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Reading Companions

When I started work here at my real job, I was fortunate enough to be hired along with Jess.  We were trained together, and assigned neighboring cubicles—on the other side of the office from the rest of our co-workers.  We also didn’t get log-in information for three days, so we spent nearly a week just sitting around my cubicle and chatting.

It turned out that Jess loved to read as much as I did, and after we had discussed all the classics we had read, and all the current literary sensations and blockbusters, one of us mentioned vampires.  Which led to a discussion of Tanya Huff’s splendid Blood Ties series and our shared delight in paranormal romances.  Which led to a year of literary companionship.  We took our lunch breaks together nearly every day, and headed over to Borders, which at that time was across the street.  We would walk up and down the Romance shelves, scoping out new covers, searching for new authors, and occasionally daring the other to read selections of books out loud, just to see what they sounded like.

The other days we went to the library to pick up books on hold—books that we usually shared.  It was because of Jess that I started Jeanine Frost’s Vampire Huntress series, and it was because of me that she read Adrian Phoenix’s Maker’s Song series.  We picked up Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires together, and read the first three books in the course of a week.  A very long, stressful week, that involved a lots of muffed exclamations and threats of taking a road-trip to Chicago in order to visit Merit or her creator and divest our angst.  It’s probably a good thing we were all by ourselves, because by this point, we were discussing characters like they were our friends or family, and occasionally tossing books over the cubicle wall to each other.  And, obviously, cooking up ideas for road-trips to visit our favorite characters or authors.  
We were eventually moved closer to our co-workers, but it meant we were no longer neighbors.  Still, on a big Release Day, we’d spend most of the day comparing notes via email and IM.  We got some odd looks for giggling out loud at Molly Harper’s Jane Jameson series, and collected a few more strange looks when Chloe Neill’s newest plot twists sent us running to the other’s cubicle to cry or howl in frustration or do a little jig of delight. Soon after that, Jess left the company to go back to school, and so we traded book lists so we’d still be able to keep our reading companionship intact, and swore that when the newest Chicagoland Vampires book came out, we would protect the other from spoilers and support each other through whatever drama and heartache was to come.
About a month ago, I learned that Jess had passed away from cancer.  While the news broke my heart, I am so incredibly grateful for the time and the laughs and the books we were able to share.  I have my reading assignments from her, and I’m still yelling at the pages, and talking to her.  With the newest Chicagoland Vampires book coming out today, I’ve been thinking a lot about her and missing her wisdom and her laugh, and her willingness to punch villains out of righteous anger.  While I don’t think I’m ready to read this new book alone, I just wanted to say: Cherish your reading companions, and all those who read with you.  Consider all these books recommendations from Jess, and from me, and I hope you can share them with your reading companions, too.


momofthree said...

I love sheryln Kenyon books

Carin said...

Finding a friend that has so much in common with you is a wonderful thing, I am so glad you have such great memories of her. My condolences on your loss. Carin

Ashia said...

My condolence on your loss, Bridget. But it's so good that you were able to have great fun together with the books you share with each other. And now, you have these great memories of her that no one can ever take away. In memory of Jess, I will definitely take a look at the books you've recommended. Thanks for sharing such a lovely and poignant story.

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