Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday Whine & Wine with Heidi Cullinan

The Ballad of the Reluctant Reader

I can’t remember not being able to read, nor have I ever not loved reading. During my graduate course for teaching I wrote an essay called “Put Down That Book!” because I read so much I got in trouble for it. At the table, while I tried to do dishes, as I walked down stairs. I married a man who was much the same. Every time we’ve moved we’ve hauled crates and crates of books, and they litter every room of our house—even now that we almost exclusively buy electronic books. E-readers have been a godsend for us, not only for space but because now we can take thousands of books everywhere, and so long as we have cellular signal or WiFi, we can get more anytime we want them.

Yet somehow these two bookworms produced a child…who hates to read.

Anna scores higher than college sophomores for reading comprehension, is in advanced placement for literacy, and is able to read whatever you put in front of her. Enjoying it, however, is something else entirely. Oh, there are the odd books which she finds pleasurable, but they are rare, and she’d rather be riding her horse or poking around YouTube or gaming. We try to tell ourselves there were a few bad apple teachers who pushed her too hard, but the honest truth is, though we would shower her with books and let her live at the library, this isn’t the choice our child would make.

In Sleigh Ride Arthur Anderson is a reluctant reader. Like my daughter, he’s capable, but unwilling. As a former teacher myself, I firmly believed everyone could find something to love in books, and I did my best to give my students wide range of choice and pace when reading. It’s startling to me every day, though, to watch my child legitimately dislike reading. Not hate it—that’s too strong a word. She simply doesn’t care for it.

In a word, my daughter’s reaction to reading is meh.

So a bit of Arthur Anderson is a nod to my own child, and to anyone else who gets pursed lips whenever book lovers go on and on about getting lost in books. While I know there are many readers reluctant because they’re missing the skills, I wanted to write about a man who legitimately simply didn’t enjoy it. And pair him with a librarian, of course.

Honestly, having written a whole book of Arthur Anderson now, I get why sitting in a chair and escaping into an alternate world isn’t his bag. Even putting an audiobook on while he worked in the shop wouldn’t be his favorite thing in the world. Arthur is a do-er, someone who is very present and active and intense, whereas reading is very introspective and quiet. I suspect he will learn to love it just a little, though, flipping through a graphic novel or comic while he and Gabriel sit by the fire. Because sometimes there are pastimes you pick up because you enjoy doing them with people you love. And if Gabriel reads to Arthur, that’s another herd of moose entirely. Because while Arthur might not like staring at dry old pages or a glaring tablet screen, he could lie quietly and listen to his lover read aloud all day long.

Sleigh Ride

(Book 2 of the Minnesota Christmas series)

The way to a man's heart is on a sleigh.

Arthur Anderson doesn’t want anything to do with love and romance, and he certainly doesn’t want to play Santa in his mother’s library fundraising scheme. He knows full well what she really wants is to hook him up with the town’s lanky, prissy librarian.

It’s clear Gabriel Higgins doesn’t want him, either—as a Santa, as a boyfriend, as anyone at all. But when Arthur’s efforts to wiggle out of the fundraiser lead to getting to know the man behind the storytime idol, he can’t help but be charmed. The least he can do is be neighborly and help Gabriel find a few local friends.

As their fiery arguments strike hotter sparks, two men who insist they don’t date wind up doing an awful lot of dating. And it looks like the sleigh they both tried not to board could send them jingling all the way to happily ever after.

Warning: Contains a feisty librarian, a boorish bear, small town politics, deer sausage, and a boy who wants a doll.

Read an excerpt of Sleigh Ride.

Sleigh Ride is available from:

Samhain          Amazon           Amazon UK           Barnes & Noble          
 Kobo          Google Play          iTunes           

Follow along with the Sleigh Ride blog tour!

Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and teenaged daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at


  1. I share your pain. My daughter does not like to read at all either. I have been a lifelong reader and my husband reads quite a bit at all. My daughter just doesn't care for it. She rarely reads outside of school and when she does, it is because it is something everyone else is reading. She loved books as a toddler but forget about it now.

  2. I have the opposite problem with my daughter. She will shut out everything else and her e-reader becomes her whole world. Thank goodness for the online e-library because I my budget would take a serious hit trying to keep her in books. My reading habit is hard enough on it already :-)

    Thanks for the post! I am looking forward to reading Sleigh Ride very soon - have it queued up for next week.

  3. I love to read. Before e-readers I used to walk with a book any and everywhere. Now my e-reader is always with me. Everyone looks at me like I'm insane when I pull out a book n start reading anywhere. And don't talk about when I get sucked into that book and start loling or tearing up. Reading is my lifeline. A way I cope to keep myself sane. An escape. I love it. This book sounds like a good read. I look forward to it.

  4. I'm always surprised that my nieces aren't really into reading, either, even though they're very bright. I don't know if it's a cultural thing (lots of gadgets I didn't have), or just a coincidence...

    Trix, vitajex(at)aol(Dot)com

  5. I have always been a huge reader. When I was young, my father had to ban reading at the dinner table because I would try to read a book under the table during dinner. Moving is crazy because of the sheer number of books I own. I read on an e-reader too now, and carry it everywhere with me, but I can't give up my paper books. The funny thing growing up was that my sister was just the opposite - she had no interest in reading. Mom and I read constantly, but we never could get my sister interested. I'm really looking forward to reading Sleigh Ride! amaquilante(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. My friends aren't really big readers either and they're all very bright. At a young age I was introduced to books and frankly it was something that I turned to for entertainment since there wasn't much to be had when I was growing up. At the moment my niece and nephew like to be read to since they can't yet read. I hoping they'll keep with it but seeing as how far technology has come I fear it's only a matter of time before they lose interest.

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  7. I love to read; ereaders made it so much easier for me. I used to have to pare down my books in order not to fill the whole house up. As it is, my book shelves are overflowing. I hope that my son wants to read when he gets to that age. He likes books read to him and he currently "reads" them to himself.

  8. It must be the name, my daughter Anna doesn't like to read either. My other daughter is not only a reader but has started writing short stories for her friends to read.
    jasdarts at hotmail dot com

  9. I am never quite sure how to react when people say they don't read or don't like to read because it has always been such an enormous part of my life. I agree about how much ereaders help as we've moved our thousands of books all over the country plus there are so many books I read that are only available as ebooks I would hate to think of the books I wouldn't have read without it.

  10. My daughter loves reading (and is now a published writer!--yeah, I'm proud), but my son would rather goof around with his devices. He still reads, and does enjoy reading, but while my daughter and I devour books and my husband always has a book going, my son can take a year to finish a book. It is incomprehensible to mr.


  11. I to am an avid reader! Even before e-readers I would have several books going at the same time. If I ran out of a preferred genre I would read anything, a cookbook or TV guide . My husband did not read and hated that I did, He was a TV watcher. And that's my daughter made over. If a book does catch her fancy it may take her a year to finish it.

  12. When I was younger I hated to read then I found romance books and I've been hooked ever since. I don't go anywhere without my Kindle. All of my nieces and nephews love to read.

  13. Based on the posts here, readers with kids who couldn't care less about reading aren't as rare as I thought. I have 3 kids. Two read anything and everything. My baby, my only daughter, thinks I'm crazy for reading all the time. I do have a super reading granddaughter. :D It's odd how these things work.