In my search for the perfect handbag—which I'm told doesn't exist though that doesn't stop me from shopping for it—I have very simple requirements. You'd think finding the perfect bag with a short list of must-haves would be easy, but no. The perfect bag remains elusive. But wherever it is, I need it to hold my wallet, my phone, my digital reader, spare snack items for young people, and possibly a water bottle.
The digital reader is sometimes the most difficult item to accommodate, particularly because I want to have some separation between the water bottle, which, by virtue of having water in it may also be wet, and the digital reader, which does not like being wet. I have put my reader in a zip-top bag, but they tend to rip because I also have keys.
The reader is the most important part (after my driver's license, which I'm sure the local authorities feel is more important), because there are some books that I want to have with me. Beyond the book or books I'm currently reading, I recently reorganized my digital reader (it took forever, too. When will software advance to make that an easier process?) and created folders of books that I like to have with me. They're my literary permanent residents, and must always ride along in case I am stuck in hours of traffic (that could happen!) and can't do anything but read and wait (that has happened).
Currently, the books that follow me around permanently in my bag are historicals, in part because I haven't added the contemporaries yet. These are the books that give me the exact experience and feeling I'm looking for, despite having read them before, sometimes more than five times.
The Summer of You by Kate Noble
I love this book. Partly because it's a fish-out-of-water story, and partly because the heroine has so much time to think about things that by the end, I felt like I knew her very, very well. This romance gives me the nicest welcome each time I open it and read a few chapters.
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Kearsley's books are perfect for reading in a place that's either cold, or grey, or rainy, or all three. The atmosphere and the emotion are both exceptional, and the heroines, whose stories are told through parallel and intertwined storylines, are exceptional, too. I cried big wobbly tears when I finished this book the first time, and unlike other books who can only get me to snuffle once, this one makes me ugly cry every time.
To Tempt a Bride by Edith Layton
If you've never read Edith Layton, go do that right now. She wrote lovely Regencies and historicals, and her characters are the best demonstration of her skill. The heroes and the heroines are often very witty, extremely clever and always interesting to read about. The conflict in this story is between Eric, a former military man, and his good friend's younger sister, for whom he feels responsible. Eric tries not to be attracted to Camille while helping her find a suitor. Meanwhile, Camille would love for him to be the suitor in question, but he's stubborn about seeing what should be very obvious.
My favorite Layton novel, The Duke's Wager, isn't available digitally, but someday, fingers crossed, it will join this one. The Duke's Wager plays with the idea of the romance hero, and it kept me guessing as to what the heroine was going to do and who she was going to choose in the end. Plus, Layton has mad skills when it comes to writing heroes who might not entirely be good for the heroine, but show signs that they will be soon.
What books would you carry with you everywhere? Are they with you now? I hope so!
Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. She loves talking with romance readers, and hopes you'll share your new favorite romance reading recommendations. You can find her on Twitter or on her couch, most likely with her eyeglasses turned toward a book.