Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work


Thank you Jhonny, Chu and Nienna for your replies! I have five chapters left to finish, and you are right it just takes some time to connect and also I should not anticipate.:rolleyes: Also, yes, I did not start in order, but I'll continue to finish the series.

I like how this readings work (so far I only read almost 2 books)... I feel like if my emotions had been in a display like in an old store that never changes, untouched and dusty and then the romantic novels came to the store like a new manager to clean and rearrange... something like that😅. Then you start thinking about your life a lot. It is a good work to do on the self. Thank you again for starting this Laura 🧡


Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
I like how this readings work (so far I only read almost 2 books)... I feel like if my emotions had been in a display like in an old store that never changes, untouched and dusty and then the romantic novels came to the store like a new manager to clean and rearrange... something like that😅. Then you start thinking about your life a lot. It is a good work to do on the self.
That's a wonderful comparison, because it really is... :love: A lot of smaller things, or sometimes bigger things, maybe in the past we didn't want to look at or didn't need to. Like cleaning out your basement and finding old memories. There are just a lot of different emotions that can be brought to light.

I got a bit mixed up with the Mac Kenzies in the order too, apparently, because of the German and English titles. But I know the characters so well now that it shouldn't be a problem to jump back. Now I'm reading The Stolen Mackenzie Bride: Highland Pleasures, Book 8. Book 8 is missing from the German books, but that's not a big deal. Now I also bought the audio and for language learning purposes I read at the same time while listening. This works very well and I hope that my English skills will improve a bit. The voice is indeed a bit mechanical, but you get used to it. :grad:

What else I noticed while reading, as a comparison with our network. I don't know how it works in the other books, but with the MacKenzies, the plans mostly only work because of their great network.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
J'ai terminé le tome 4 de la série Les Soeurs Merridew - Baisers Parfaits d'Anne Gracie
C'est celui qui m'a le moins plu...
J'ai reçu ce matin alors qu'il ne me restait que 76 pages à lire du livre ci-dessus
les 4 livres d'Elisabeth Hoyth - La Légende des 4 soldats - Tome 1 Les Vertiges de la Passion

I finished volume 4 of the Merridew Sisters series - Perfect Kisses by Anne Gracie
I liked it the least...
I received this morning with only 76 pages left to read of the above book
the 4 books of Elisabeth Hoyth - The Legend of the 4 soldiers - Volume 1 The Vertigo of Passion


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I have now just finished Dancing with Clara by Mary Balogh a few minutes ago.
It is hard to type this because my eyes are blurry from the tears - I had a good cry.
This was just my 4th romance book so far!
Keep at it everyone! This is looking like what I needed, and didn't know it! :-D


Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
Based on what others have posted here about how the novels have affected them, and my own experiences with this project, I think you're doing just fine. It could be that the depression has been there a long time, buried deep down in the folds of the subconscious. When you opened yourself to the novel, and with the novel, you finally allowed yourself to feel it, and make in conscious. That's one of the beautiful things about these novels - the authors are giving us these finely crafted keys to our chests, and as such we're being given an amazing opportunity to unlock some of the hidden pain we've been carrying for years, decades, lifetimes, in our hearts.

This session below indicates that the suffering of depression may be a good sign that we're learning.
Thank you very much iamthatis, it is very comforting to understand what is going on, thank you for your feedback. After these few novels that I have read (6), it has made me reflect a lot on how important the couple connection is; the mutual connection, not only of the body, mental, emotional, and maybe with this perhaps a spiritual abundance is facilitated, I don't know, maybe is something there.

I feel that this reading exercise makes a confrontation in many ways, personally I have felt it as a contrast, it really gives me a lot of joy to see that in the end the characters find themselves loving each other very much (at least in all the stories I have read so far) but it also makes you face your personal history, you ask yourself, if there is love there?, and it can be very painful what you can find.
That is, it makes you wonder, if the affection is reciprocated? flows and grows, if not, something is dying little by little, if there is no affection and mutual correspondence, the joy of life; shared with someone, is fading little by little.
Also thanks to these readings I have been reading some articles that there are people who absorb a little more in empathy, acting like sponges, and it can also be problematic, maybe that connects some other problems I have been dealing with, I would have never realized before.

For sure there are always good things in everything, as in a scale, perhaps, to find the balance maybe having an equivalent weight (or knowledge) of both the good and the bad things, allows us to find that balance point
a huge thank you, Laura, you, all the people around

NewEngland Seeker

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
The second set of bolded comments: indeed, this is exactly what I noted and why I decided to launch this project. Our objective IS to learn the "simple and karmic understandings" and to stay out of the clouds, though it is certainly necessary to use imagination to the max. After all, relationships are the main issues of our 3D reality and we really need to figure out what we've done wrong, to feel the awakening of conscience, to perhaps suffer a bit for it, and learn the lessons that we came here to learn.
This awakening has recently filtered into my dream world. The person of one of my past relationships that I have been analyzing what I did wrong came to me in my dream and gave me an emotional setdown. To be sure she was spot on in her assessment of my stupid behavior.

The awakening has now intensified to include an emotional commentary by the offended. 😭

Upon further meditation on what I am going through I realize my emotional state is like a comforting-anxiety of a cosmic dentist drilling out my cavities and abscesses while I'm being massaged by a beautiful women telling me how brave I am. Thank goodness for the happy endings otherwise this awakening be only the anxiety of the drilling.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Okay, this is a drop in the ocean, but I've now finished my first romantic novel.

It was 'The Proposal', part 1 in Balogh's 'Survivor's Club' series. It's of course too early to report anything significant, but I did have a few 'Aha!' moments (see below). As I wrote in the other thread, I started reading it ca 6 months ago but when I got to the first 'sex scene' I stopped because I convinced myself that it was proof of it being 'cheap literature' and not worth wasting my time. Nudged by the latest C-session I, however, started again and after reaching around half way through the book I surprised myself of enjoying it more and more! And when the second 'sex scene' came, I wasn't as 'nauseated' as the first time. Clearly there's something buried deep inside of me regarding sexual acts, but I'll have to read a lot more until I can report anything meaningful.

I now see that Balough is a seriously gifted author, and I wouldn't be surprised if the 'channeling' that was alluded to earlier here was part of it.

Perhaps the main thing I got out of this book was that I am, and certainly been, quite similar to 'Hugo' in his book. I've always found smiling and small talk to be difficult, and from the book I got some glimpses of the reasons for this. But that's another topic I'll return to when I have more insight.

I highlighted a few passages of which I'm not sure yet what their significance are, but they felt significant enough to highlight:

Yellow highlight | Page: 171
But there was no point in such thoughts or in imagining what that other life might have been. It might have been worse. Or better. But it did not exist. That other life had never been lived. Life was made up of choices, all of which, even the smallest, made all the difference to the rest of one’s life.
This might have to do with a couple of 'watershed' moments in my life when I've terminated a relationship myself, stopped a relationship from developing (despite clear signs of interest from the girl), or when a partner left/dumped me.

Yellow highlight | Page: 210
suicide is the worst kind of selfishness, as it is often a plea to specific people who are left stranded in the land of the living, unable for all eternity to answer the plea.
This might have to do with thoughts of 'disappearing' as a kid, as I couldn't tolerate the things going on in my family any longer.

Yellow highlight | Page: 211
Secrets need an outlet if they are not to fester and become an unbearable burden.”
This might have to do with the fact that I'm very bad at sharing and discussing my problems with other people.

Yellow highlight | Page: 212
No one is deserving, yet we are all somehow worthy of love anyway.”
This hit home...thoughts of not being worth any affection has dominated the most part of my life.

Yellow highlight | Page: 230
we are both in exactly the spot to which we have brought ourselves through our birth and our life experiences, through the myriad choices we have made along the way.
Yes, good reminder. Choices are key.

Yellow highlight | Page: 269
do not believe there is right or wrong,” he said. “There is only doing what one must do under given circumstances and living with the consequences and weaving every experience, good and bad, into the fabric of one’s life so that ultimately one can see the pattern of it all and accept the lessons life has taught.
Well said.

Yellow highlight | Page: 297
You have love all wrong, Gwendoline. It is not all give, give, give. It is taking as well. It is allowing the other one the pleasure and joy of giving.
Yes, yes! It has always been difficult for me to 'lower my shields' to let someone show affection and give me something.

Yellow highlight | Page: 308
Why? Was he afraid to smile? He was, he realized. He would not be able to keep all that was within him in place if he smiled. He would feel damned vulnerable, to tell the truth.
Smiling has always been difficult for me. I've often wondered: "Why's everyone around so happy and smiling all the time? How do they do it, what's the reason for it? I can't come up with any reason to smile."

Okay, I've now started with Part 2 in the series....:cool2:


FOTCM Member
I’m halfway through listening to “Irresistible” by Mary Balogh (the only one in that series on audiobook from the library) and I notice that I’m getting really impatient with some of the heroines (especially this one) and just want to slap some sense into them! So much angst they go through that could be avoided by being honest and truthful. Same for the guys I guess.

In Sophie’s case, why doesn’t she bother to examine more closely and question or investigate further the letters that she is being blackmailed with? I’m betting without knowing the ending, that her husband never wrote them or they were forged or tampered with somehow. And where was he supposed to have had this affair described in the letters if Sophie was with him on the battlefields all the time? She even admits it wasn't like him to be much of a writer. Yet she just accepts the blackmail and keeps paying because she thinks she’s saving face for her husband and people would think less of him (and her). What a ninny!!!

But I guess there wouldn’t be any story if everyone did the logical thing all the time. I’m starting to feel like Spock. :-/

Well, I guess that after finishing reading it, things are probably much more clear now. :-D Actually I went through a similar thinking process, and it is good that some things are unknown to us until the end (or maybe unknown to the authors while they are writing!), because these gradual discoveries keep us engaged, and also allow us to go through the emotional ups and downs.

It's not only good drama (that sometimes causes us to scream in frustration at the character 😅), but it is probably also an example of how we can make assumptions about someone's character based on limited data, and only long and careful observation, coupled with more quality data, can help us assemble a more accurate picture. :-)

Personally I recommend a mix of both if you're going to use audible even if it does take longer. I did find that the audios didn't invoke as much emotion and I would struggle to give a decent report on the audibles, whereas the book reading really does leave an impression and gives food for thought.

Thank you. KTC for the feedback. :flowers: Yes, clearly reading is superior, and I can definitely see that during listening there is less immersion in the plot. Well, I don't know. I'll try Audible, but will concentrate on reading.


Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
There are countless examples of narrative fiction altering the course of people’s lives by influencing their attitudes, values and, in some extreme cases, even major life decisions such as what career to pursue. When individuals experience stories as if they were one of the characters, a connection with that character is formed and, as our findings suggest, that character becomes intertwined with the self.

This meta-analysis investigates the extent to which people’s leisure reading may produce better social–cognitive abilities. Researchers have hypothesized that experiences of fiction (more so than nonfiction) will improve readers’ empathy and theory of mind.
Research in psychology has suggested that reading fiction can improve individuals’ social-cognitive abilities.

I remember reading an interview, must have been over 20 years ago, where the local "archiater" was interviewed. Archiater used to be e.g. royalty's personal doctor in earlier times, but these days it is the highest honorary title, that can be appointed to a doctor. He is a kind of an "opinion leader" amongst doctors.

The chap was asked how a young doctor could develop his social skills. Some people have the gift of getting along with people and being able to read social situations, but many may struggle, especially when studying and after graduating. (Has to be commented, that some lack social skills altogether, are unlikely to learn them, and probably should not be doing clinical work in the first place. Most of us have had experiences with these types.)

His answer was simply "read fiction books". It appears the guy was ahead of his time!


FOTCM Member
I started wondering is empathy imagining you're in someone else's shoes, or is empathy the world view that everyone suffers from the human condition.
You might, if not read, be interested in 'The Empathy Trap' by partners McGregor. Yet to your question, highly nuanced as it is, something like this may help or not:

To put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we must strike a balance between emotion and thought and between self and other. Otherwise, empathy becomes a trap, and we can feel as if we’re being held hostage by the feelings of others. The art of empathy requires paying attention to another’s needs without sacrificing one’s own. It demands the mental dexterity to switch attunement from other to self. What turns empathy into a true high-wire act is that its beneficiaries find the attention deeply rewarding. That puts the onus on us to know when to extract ourselves from someone else’s shoes—and how.

Recognizing and sharing someone else’s emotional state is a complex inner experience. It calls on self-awareness, the ability to distinguish between your own feelings and those of others, the skill to take another’s perspective, the ability to recognize emotions in others as well as oneself, and the know-how to regulate those feelings.

Overly empathic people may even lose the ability to know what they want or need. They may have a diminished ability to make decisions in their own best interest, experience physical and psychological exhaustion from deflecting their own feelings, and may lack internal resources to give their best to key people in their life. What’s more, unending empathy creates vulnerability to gaslighting, in which another person negates your own reality to assert his or hers. For example, when you express your dismay to your friend about being excluded from her last few get-togethers, and she replies, “Oh, you’re just being too sensitive.”

The romance novels themselves offer many variegated examples of when balance is skewed, and when it remerges, if it does, after suffering pains of inner growth after years of trauma (childhood et cetera) or outright years of poor learning. Many characters have not connected with the other - or know not one whit of self (the young puppy, the entrenched tyrant or rake, the naive), being not possible due to their natures, and some become trapped or they finally see what was previously unavailable in their heart and mind, and finally connect with the other in a whole new way - the happy ending in many of these cases. This includes the influences on others around them to Do better.

Mrs. Peel

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you. KTC for the feedback. :flowers: Yes, clearly reading is superior, and I can definitely see that during listening there is less immersion in the plot. Well, I don't know. I'll try Audible, but will concentrate on reading.

I'm afraid I will have to strongly disagree here. :-) I've been an avid reader since childhood, and after I began to have my eye issues in 2013 and became unable to read more than a dozen pages of print without my eyes starting to hurt, I gratefully turned to audiobooks which I've "read" exclusively ever since and don't know what I'd do without.

I find that if you have a really good narrator who does different voices for the characters and puts the same emotion into them as if it was happening in real life right in front of you, draws me in totally, more than words in black in white on paper which sometimes I'd race over and miss things. Hearing the emotions of each character vocalized and simultaneously picturing the ongoing scene in my head totally draws me into the plot.

I will say though, you cannot be trying to clean house, or drive a car, or work on-line, or do whatever, while you are listening. Your focus has to be totally on what you are listening to and not partially elsewhere. I find listening with my eyes closed works for me.

Although I cannot imagine listening to a robotic voice, or a narrator who reads in a monotone and does every character in the same voice. That would make it more difficult to get into. I took a break from the romance novels right now and am listening to the latest book in a series I've been following for several years. The same person narrated the first 19 books, and now there is a different person reading the 20th! It's kind of jarring. After so many books in any series voiced by the same person, that person's voice becomes the character! I mean, it's like if they tried to replace J. R. Ewing on the old TV show Dallas (I'm showing my age here) with a different person after Larry Hagman died. Larry was J.R.! I've lost interest in several series after a narrator change.

So yeah, I think you can get totally immersed in the right audiobook if you give it the proper attention. It's really good when they do the accents also, like with the MacKenzie series. :-D

Maybe you have to see words on paper for some kind of conscious imprinting, but if you can't, audio isn't bad at all. :-)


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I have really noticed something about my reaction to certain genres since starting this project. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm a big fan of the mystery writer Michael Connelly. On Wednesday I received his latest Lincoln Lawyer novel, The Law of Innocence, from the public library. With much anticipation of a good page turner I started to read. But after 116 pages into it I discovered that I was rapidly losing interest, and by literary standards, imo, it is a well-crafted work.
I think what is happening to me is that the fictional crime genre doesn't draw out of me the emotional depth of feeling of the characters that the romance novels do. The romance characters, imho, are more fully developed, ie more genuinely human beings, with the all-to-human traits that I can identify with, or have experienced personally, traits which I can use as a mirror to change or activate in my being.
So on to book four of the Westcott series.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I see some folks using it (Being OPEN document, we will not know who they are) and found some data got modified. I locked this sheet to avoid further changes of the sheet. I will restore the original data. You will still be able to see the data.
Some of forum members desired to keep track of the books we read. In order to accommodate this we made some changes to this "Romance Books List" document.

  • If you want to Mark a book or set of books as read, submit the this Google Form. Select your forum name from the list , check mark the books you read and submit. That's it. If your forum name is not in the list, Select "Other" and put your actual forum name in the next question/item.
  • you can see the summary results ( few seconds) in orange tab ( 4. Member Reading Chart) of the "Romance Books List" document listed above like this.
  • If you want more details of books members read you can see the purple tab (3. Reading update)
  • If you want to submit the Name of the Translated book, you can submit this form. Now, we added column for Spanish Titles too. It is automatically updated to green tab ( 2. Recommended Books tab)
Translated Book Name Submission Form
ALL the links to the forms and other tabs are available in the first page of the document.

Happy reading :lkj:


FOTCM Member
Although I cannot imagine listening to a robotic voice, or a narrator who reads in a monotone and does every character in the same voice.

Well, that was a point of my question and the reply. I have been experimenting with listening using text-to-speech software, and in this case reading is undoubtedly more superior, even if listening this way may still have merits, primarily when it comes to saving time and covering more material.

But I can understand your strong disagreement when it comes to a quality/full sound effects experience of a good audiobook.

I find that if you have a really good narrator who does different voices for the characters and puts the same emotion into them as if it was happening in real life right in front of you, draws me in totally, more than words in black in white on paper which sometimes I'd race over and miss things. Hearing the emotions of each character vocalized and simultaneously picturing the ongoing scene in my head totally draws me into the plot.

Agreed! I remember when I was a child, I had a favorite audio-story on vinyl. It was a "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" story by Kipling. Here it is (in Russian) if anyone is curious. It had a full audio experience, including different voices and dramatic soundtrack.

The story was very engaging and immersing this way. Since then I haven't listened to any other similar audio books, and the Audible books I did listen to were non-fiction.
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