Two years ago, when I was still only dipping my toe into the world of romance, I stumbled across a BookRiot article that recommended Halloween-related romances.
The brief blurb about Penny Reid's Truth or Beard was intriguing enough for me to check if the book was available through my local library. Luckily, Ohio libraries (both academic and public) are pretty fucking amazing. They have their consortium shit down to a science. Within a week, I had Truth or Beard in my hands.
Side note: If I hadn't been able to get Truth or Beard through the library, I probably would've moved on to some other book. I'm hesitant to spend my money on an author I've never read before. Now, I've shelled out close to $200 on Penny Reid's books because I wanted them on my shelves. In other words: LIBRARIES = BOOK SALES. I don't know why this is such a hard concept for publishers to grasp. Get your heads out of your asses and stop charging libraries exorbitant fees. You're screwing your authors by diminishing their availability to a wider audience.
And now I shall step down from my soap box and return to the matter at hand: a Winston family love fest.
These beard-filled books are a master class of character development and crafting of overarching plot. Each one follows the romance of one of the Winstons, a family living in Green Valley, Tennessee. Reid makes each character so wholly their own person that it's easy to imagine them existing in the real world, continuing to live their lives even after the pages of their stories run out.
Luckily, Reid is not shy of high page counts, so we get to see plenty. She writes with wit and goofiness, as well as heat and passion. Each time I pick up a new release, I fall headfirst into the story. I smile while I read them, often laughing out loud. Sometimes I cry. I know for a fact that this time around I'll need a tissue box nearby.
I've heard from Reid's own posts on social media that her writing isn't for everyone. And I'm sorry for those people that don't experience the Winston stories with the same giddy excitement I do. These books bring me so much joy, I only wish the whole world could find happiness with the ease of turning a page.
But, this is about more than a positive mental state. For me, good books don't just manipulate my emotions; they affect my physical body. There is this clenching just under my rib cage, as if my organs are asking if they can leave me and be dumped into the pages to live there forever.
I figure re-reading this entire series is the next best thing.
Plus, now is the perfect time! I've only ever read each Winston book once (except for Beard With Me, and the soon-to-be-released Beard Necessities, both of which I have never read), and it's October again, the month that inspired the article that first brought me to Reid's work. With the final book in the Winston series releasing in early November, everything about this seems right.
So, is this just me reading an entire series of books? Not exactly. I want it to be more than that! I'm not going to refer to this as a challenge because falling back into the world of the Winstons isn't hard. Nor is this an adventure, when these books are so comfortable that it's like I'm coming home.
This is simply a love fest. I loved these books when I first read them, and I don't expect anything to change on the second time around.
What I do expect ...
-tears during Beard With Me
-thoughts of my southern Grandmother who I lost this year during Beauty and the Mustache
-an itch to make travel plans during Truth or Beard
-laughter during Grin and Beard It
-freshly baked banana bread during Beard Science
-trying my hand at fixing pottery during Beard in Mind
-trips for donuts during Dr. Strange Beard
-hauntingly beautiful playlists to accompany Beard Necessities
So, yeah. This is reading+. I am going to treat myself and turn this into an entire experience. Not Winstons 24/7 or anything, but when my reading time comes around, I'm going to find ways to make it a little more special.
Since I'm putting in this effort, I figure I'll post about it ever so often. In tribute to my flowing red locks (which I like to think are Claire-esque) and the swoon-worthy ginger beards of Duane and Beau, I've decided to go all in on the alteration when creating a hashtag for this love fest: #RedReReid. I'm Red, she's Reid, and I'm revisiting, remarking, relaxing, restarting ...
I am re-Reiding.
Taking the advice of one who has already experienced the glory and heartbreak of Beard With Me, I've chosen to read in chronological order. This time when I travel through the years with the Winstons, I will know their origin stories. Today is October 1st, and I have no set schedule other than starting today.
No need to wish me luck, but if you feel like joining, jump in at any time.
Signing off now so I can start my #RedReReid.