Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Good Time To Read

What are you reading?

Note I didn’t ask what you’re writing, which might be the obvious question on a blog like this.

The reason for my question is because October is National Book Month—a time to honor and celebrate the book.

One of the key ingredients of advice to aspiring writers is to read. The neophyte might then ask, what am I to read? Does it mean how-to books? Books written by the advisor? What?

Personally, I’d say a writer should read the types of books he or she wishes to write. Most would-be writers are already readers. Inspired by the books they read for pleasure or edification, they strive to emulate, feeding both an innate need and a desire to share their thoughts and imaginings with others.

What moves a person to become a writer or engage in other creative activities is a matter for the psychologist and not our interest here. What is obvious is not every person who loves to read becomes or wants to become a writer. What is also obvious is the person who wants to write will eventually do so, regardless of advice or lack thereof.

I’ve never met a writer who wasn’t a reader. I think most of us would agree it was love of reading that first stimulated our desire to write. How, then, should a writer read? The answer, of course, is alertly. No writer worth his/her salt should ever read without a notebook at hand.

As Dumas put it a long time ago: Writing can not be taught; it can only be learned. One learns, initially, by reading. Anything you read will influence your writing style, either consciously or subconsciously. That’s why many novelists refrain from reading while working on a book. However, it has been found that reading good writing can provide the impetus for recharging the creative juices when you’re stalled or suffering a block. Even junk can be beneficial, but if you want to do creative writing, then you should read the best writing available. You can improve your style, your language and rhythm by the subconscious influence of good literature.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I'm reading two books: Swan Peak by James Lee Burke and a YA novel, Dark Souls by Paul Morris that I got as an ARC from Amazon to review. Both are good. I read anything. However, I do think if you are fledgling writer you should write the kind of books you like to read. And JR, I can hardly read your name, next time put it at the end of your post so everyone can see who you are. The automatic one just isn't big enough for my old eyes.

Kit Sloane said...

I'm reading an autobiography by Norman Mailer's 6th wife, Norris Church Mailer. I saw her interviewed shortly before her death on TV and was enchanted by her personality. It's also fabulous to read about her life amongst the literati of New York city during the 80s and 90s. Great read!

I also love to read what I love to write, mysteries, but find so many of them are sooo flimsy that it's like eating potato chips. I like dialogue and great atmosphere and fascinating characters. Then, I'm a contented mystery reader!


jrlindermuth said...

Thanks,Marilyn. I'll remember that next time.
I just finished Bill Doonan's Mediterranean Grave--second in the series; a fun read. Now starting on The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson.

Lesley Diehl said...

I just finished Bogey Nights by Marja McGraw, one of our own OTP authors. Eh, Marja, Sweetheart, if you stay with this series long enough, Mikey AKA Ace will become the star of the series. More please.

Patricia Gligor said...

I absolutely LOVE to read and always have! I do most of my "pleasure" reading in bed at the end of my day.
I just started "Where Angels Fear," the second novel in the Christy Bristol mystery series by Sunny Frazier. I enjoyed "Fools Rush In" but I'm finding this book even more intriguing. I look forward to getting back to it tonight.

Stephen L. Brayton said...

Marilyn - Swan Peak. Good one.

I'm currently reading London Calling by James Craig for review in Suspense Magazine.

Sunny Frazier said...

I wonder where my comment went?
I'm reading Colleen McCullough's Roman series. I'm on THE GRASS CROWN about Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a real psychopath. Why wasn't high school history this exciting?

Augie said...

Hey all,

I'm currently reading Beatemanic by Sally Carpenter, so far a good read...also reading the series of Lynne Ewing's Into the Cold Fire, but I'm not reading them in order (on purpose). Sunny, thanks for asking. augie

Augie said...

Sorry I spelled Beatlemanic incorrectly (Sorry Sally, I missed the L) augie

Gloria Getman said...

I just finished Coming Back by Marsha Muller and now I'm about half way into Two Feet Below by C.K. Crigger

williamdoonan said...

Today being Sunday, I'm reading The New York Times, because there's always something strange going on somewhere. Also reading Tess Geritsen's The SIlent Girl. Starts off nice, but I'm in a lull on page 68.

William Doonan

Kat Hinkson said...

I'm reading a couple books. Jury Master by Robert Dugoni and Serendipity by Carly Phillips. I've reading and telling stories since I was four years old.

C.K.Crigger said...

I enjoyed this thoughtful post very much.

Currently, I'm reading a bunch of westerns supplied by Western Writers of America members. Some are for review, so I just finished Desert Wind by Betty Webb, and Mercury Rises by Ann Parker, and am on one by Johnny Boggs at present. I'm also a judge for the WWA spur awards, so the next five on the docket are first novels--no written reviews necessary.

Then I'm going on a science fiction binge, for something to clear my mind. Or not.

marja said...

Wouldn't you know, I'm always reading something and at this particular moment, I'm not reading a thing. It's been a very busy week.

And, Lesley, thanks for the plug. Mikey will be playing a bigger part in the stories as he begins to age. So will the Labs.

Radine said...

Marilyn, you always impress me with the amount of reading you accomplish in the middle of a busy life, and while writing your own novels. I'm W-A-A-Y behind you.

My husband and I do listen to recorded books constantly when we are driving, and, since we live many miles out in the country, we do a lot of that. Just finished Alexander McCall Smith's The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party. This book was my choice. I had read it, but wanted the relaxing smoothness of McCall Smith's writing. I love the dialogue, the names, the descriptions of so many places in Botswana. John and I are still debating about who killed those cows! (BIG mystery, unresolved, but lots of intriguing clues.)

Now listening to The Cat Who Went Up the Creek by Lilian Jackson Braun. (Husband's choice, he loves KoKo and Yum Yum.) One of her more recent books. Not my favorite author, Kit's comment about potato chip books works well for me here. Fluff, but charming fluff.

Beginning The Mao Case by Qiu Xiaolong. Xiaolong (First name, pron. Shee oh lung, sort of) and I were on a panel together at Bouchercon. Fascinating man. Book set in Shanghai, Chief Inspector Chen Cao, protagonist. Eager to get into it.