An exploration of the needs & desires that lead to a reading habit. Shows that reading & real life are interrelated experiences, each composed of need & fantasy, yearning & satisfaction. Novels are not escapes from reality but spaces of the possible, where women can experiment with other ways of feeling & being. Convincingly demonstrates that the romance plot of finding, losing, & regaining true love is as much about identity as it is about love. Womens fantasy of true love is a version of mother love, in which the hero of a novel offers the unconditional maternal acceptance that enables the heroine to develop an authentic self.