Posted by: Katie B | May 11, 2011

My Reading List

Read, read, read.  It’s the mantra you hear at every writing seminar from, well, everyone.  Agents, editors, published authors, industry professionals, they all repeat the same advice to new writers: you have to read to write.  I completely agree (which I tell them with a sincere smile topped off by an enthusiastic nod), and then they ask that follow-up question.  What have you read lately?

Nothing.

I can think of nothing.

My beside table supports a lethal pile of books, tipped into the corner of the wall to prevent it from falling on my head at night, and I can’t think of one title.  I can recal every bedtime story I’ve read over the past seven days, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.  It’s like an interview question; it’s a test.  What have I read that’s pertinent to what I do?  Have I really been reading, or am I mindlessly agreeing with my interviewer because I desperately want to be published?

Well, I have read.  A lot.  Countless pages, really.  And so that I can remember them, I am creating my Book Review page.  Now, when confronted with brain freeze, I can whip out my laptop with feline grace (I don’t yet have a handheld surfing device), surf over to my website, and suggest we review my recent conquests together.  Sounds plausible, doesn’t it?  Probably not.  But the simple act of writing down my recently read titles might help them stick in my mind.  It’s worth a try.

A little side note about the reading mantra…while I agree that you need to read in order to write, I don’t agree with some people’s position that you have to read “the most” in your genre.  Their point is that if you want to become published in a genre, you should study that genre.  It does help to know what’s been published recently, so that you don’t repeat it.  And it’s helpful to get a sense of how your genre is written (word play, syntax, vocab, etc.).  But after writing all day, everyday, in my genre, the last thing I want to do is read every night, all night, in my genre.  I need a break.

Reading in other genres keeps my mind fresh and helps me to better understand my own.  Other genres have different styles, different vocabulary, different themes.  These differences help me to better understand my own genre, as much as reading in my genre does.  I also get inspiration from those other genres.  Reading something new and amazing always opens up my mind to possibilities, regardless of what genre it is.  My “juices get flowing”, as my mother always said, and the ideas just pour out.  And this spark can come from something as sweet as the middle grade novel The Penderwicks (big sigh here – such a great book) and as savage as the adult book The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo.

And now to the list

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