Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Reading List.

Lately I have been really, really focusing on writing. Which is a wonderful thing. Books don't publish themselves and smaller pieces of writing don't write themselves. It takes a lot of focus, determination and hard work. I've been doing a lot of that.

But, I've come to a horrible realization. I am not reading as much as I should be.

Reading is CRUCIAL to a writer. You can't write if you don't voraciously read other people's writings. It gives you inspiration, it helps you learn how stories unfold, it sharpens your judgment of what is good/bad about other people's writing and as well as what is good/bad about yours. Reading as a writer isn't all about pleasure and an escape for reality. It is a learning exercise, during which you consciously pick apart other people's prose.

And I haven't really been doing that.

As I kid I would read over 150 books in a school year. I could knock out chapter books in a day. As I got older and the free time I once had shrank, I made an effort to read everyday for an hour or so before bed. But lately I have been busy with work, school, my personal life, and trying to get publish during the day and find myself wanting to go to bed by 10:00 or thereabout. My nighttime readings are few and far between. Any reading I get done tends to be on a vacation, or a weekend out of state and those are also very few. And when I do end up reading the category of the works is usually nonfiction and has something to do with grammar (I've been reading Bill Walsh's Lapsing into a Comma lately. Great book, but is all about grammar and technical usage of the English Language. Highly recommended, if you like that stuff. Also his The Elephants of Style book, a parody of sorts off of the classic The Elements of Style, is wonderful. He makes the finer points of English and common misuses humorous with his dry wit.).

Anyway, I am making a new goal to try and do more reading. Maybe not a book a day (actually, that is a definite "no"), I'm not even going to try and get a book knocked out in a week. No, I am going to set the goal of one book a month  (Seriously, this is low for me. I am *almost* world renown for my high speed reading and comprehension skills. But I want to work on picking apart and analyzing a little bit more). I might move along faster than that, but that is where I am going to start (After all, I don't want to sacrifice much needed sleep to get this accomplished). 

I have made a list of books (many of which are within my genre of writing: fantasy, but I'm not limiting myself to that) I would like to read within the next year or so (recommendations from friends, school or out of my own personal interest), and I am going to share it with you.

Here it is, in no particular order:

* A Thousand Acres
by: Jane Smiley.
 This one I heard about through school. It interested me as it is a retelling of a favorite Shakespearean tragedy of mine (which I also acted a main role in a couple years ago. Favorite part ever!). It is the tale of King Lear, only it is retold in more modern times and set in Iowa.

*The Books of Bayern
by: Shannon Hale
 These are a reread. They (series of 4) were my among my favorites in high school and I want to go back and pick them apart. Shannon Hale is one of role models in the world of young adult fantasy. I love all of her work. Her character Razzo is high on my list of best characters of all time. Love, love, love. Anything with her name on it I highly recommend.

 *The Martian Chronicles
by: Ray Bradbury

I am a Bradbury fanatic. He is probably in my top 5 favorite authors; I love his descriptions, deep and unusual metaphors, and short, choppy sentence structures. I am ashamed I have never read this. It has been on my list for a long time, but none of my local libraries seem to own it. I might break down and buy the thing. It is a must for any REAL fan. It is also where one of my favorite bands, The Rocket Summer, got its name.

*The Mists of Avalon
by: Marion Zimmer Bradley

This was also a school recommendation. It is the story of King Arthur, Camelot and all that stuffs as told by the female characters in the story. Yes, I am one of those dorks who is into weird stuff such as Arthurian legend; I am known to get mad at Monty Python for getting it all so very wrong.

*Seeing Redd
by: Frank Beddor
The second book in the Looking Glass Wars series. I read the first one on my Rhode Island vacation and now I need to get to the second. It is a fresh take on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. The main character Alyss is actually the evil "Queen of Heart's"- known as Redd- niece. She has to regain her place as princess and restore her world back to how it should be, all the while time traveling in and out of her reality into historical England where she is friends with Lewis Carroll. New perspective and a tweaked plot; same characters, but with a slight twist. Good youth fantasy read. And if I want to write the stuff, I have to read a lot of it.

*A Fine and Private Place
by: Peter S. Beagle.

Ever read The Last Unicorn by Beagle? I HIGHLY, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend it. It was so unique and memorable that I am seeking to read his other works.

* A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
by: Douglas Adams

It is just one of those books that everyone is supposed to read, particularly those with any
interest in writing fantasy or SciFi. I haven't, so I will.


 *Culture of Honor
by: Danny Silk

A little bit of nonfiction is always good, and Christian nonfiction can be among the best (sometimes...). This books comes highly recommended by youth leaders and my youth pastor. My youth group, Merge Ahead, is talking about honor this quarter, and there will be a lot of reference to this book. I figure I might as well read the whole thing.

So, that is my list. It will keep me busy for a couple months.

What about you? 
What are you reading? 
Any books you have hopes of reading in the near future? Any recommendations that you think I should add onto my list?
I would love to hear!


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Beth said...


-You should add Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy to your list. It is excellent in places, but also terribly flawed - which makes it interesting to critique.

-You might like The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinley. It's a Newbery. There's also a sequel - The Blue Sword.

The Many Colours of Happiness said...

You should definitely read 'The Book Thief' as well as 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close'! They are a completely different genre to the others but the way both of the authors write is really inspiring :)

Isabella Kiss said...

I actually read the book thief back in high school, but my sister just got it for her birthday and I was thinking about reading it again. And never heard of that other one, but I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

and Beth, do you own them? I'd assume so. When I need more material I'll letcha know. We'll bein contact. :)

K.M. Weiland said...

100+ books a year used to be the average for me too, but time does seem to have a way of shrinking. I don't think I made it quite to a hundred last year, although I did better this year thanks to my pile of research material for my WIP. Couldn't agree more about how crucial reading is to a writer. Study to show yourselves approved!


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