What Stays in Vegas, by Beth Labonte

What Stays in Vegas is something that I’ve had on my Kindle for a while, and I’ve read it several times. I dip in and out of it when I want to pass the time, but don’t really want to challenge my brain. It’s what might be termed “chick lit” in that, there’s a splash of romance and a dollop of happy ending. And the closest we get to violence is a single punch.

It’s a story about a girl (Tessa) who has to move to Vegas from Massachusetts for three months. She’s an admin assistant in an engineering firm, but really, she’s an artist. In her spare time (while she’s on hold to whomever) she makes sculptures out of office supplies. Paper clips, bulldog clips, staples. Yeah, I can’t think of any other office supplies.

Anyway. She likes someone (Nick) in the Massachusetts office, but he’s married. So her trip to Vegas should be good for getting him out of her mind. Except that Nick drops hints of all not being well in his marriage. And then Tessa meets a cute engineer in Vegas. Oh, and her boss, the founder’s daughter, isn’t happy being an engineer. And also is really an artist at heart. But she’s the founder’s daughter, so an engineer it is.

Cue complications.

I’ll give you that it’s not Great Literature. But Tessa is believable. It’s a nice story about someone stuck doing a job she hates because she hasn’t figured out how to make a living doing what she loves, figuring it out. Because obviously it all ends happily.

I think that’s why I like it. Hope. Hope that all will be well.

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library,”

said Jorge Luis Borges – and I really wish I had!

What sort of books do you like to read? Is there a genre you prefer? Or are you like me, and will read pretty much anything, if it interests you? Do you care if the author is male or female? Does the author’s name really register when you first pick it up?

In my habitual perusal of the ‘net, I stumbled across a campaign encouraging the reading of female authors’ works, despite the allegedly off-putting pastel covers. I’ve been a bit lazy in my reading of late, I will admit, but normally, I am a prolific reader. I also hate getting rid of my books. So I have children’s books next to adult books. Well, not really, that’s not how I organise my books, but you get my drift.

My shelves are, coincidentally, mostly full of female authors. Mostly because I’ve managed to collect the majority of Georgette Heyer’s novels, a decent handful or three of Agatha Christie’s and most of Dorothy L. Sayers. And I’ve still got a load of Enid Blytons (I don’t want to have to buy my children the updated, modern editions. I see nothing wrong with the originals). I don’t have these books because the authors are female and so am I. The only author whose books I discovered because of the author’s name (and therefore gender) is Celia Rees, and she I chose because we share a name. I continued reading her books because I liked them. Most books are recommended or were idly picked up while browsing in a shop.

Good books I read, and look for more by the same. Books which bore me, not so much. I don’t normally think about the author’s gender. I just want to know if the writing’s any good. Sometimes, easy reads are what I want, and I’ll read “chick-lit” for the simplicity, or television/film tie-ins – like those by “Richard Castle”! But usually, I just want a good story, told in such a way that the words paint pictures in my mind. Conan Doyle, Dumas, the above women, Tolkien. There is a host of great authors out there, too many to list them all here. Discover your own favourites, not just the ones that the Powers That Be decide everyone should read.

I think a book is a book and you should read what you like. Regardless of the author’s gender.