I always found it interesting that people would say it was important for writers to be readers. But now that I’m old(er) and wiser, I can see that over the years my writing output went down as my To Be Read pile got higher and dustier. Somewhat this is just because of that nasty, four letter word: Time. I don’t have any more time to read than I have to write.
I have done a few beta reads for writers I know, so I haven’t completely stopped reading, but I simply haven’t read enough books solely for pleasure in recent years. Last year I listened to some books on CD: “Wherever I Wind Up” by R.A. Dickey, “I Am America (And So Can You!)” by Stephen Colbert and “Heat Wave” by Richard Castle (because, why not?). I also read the comics page in the newspaper every day, but I don’t think that really counts, does it? But in all seriousness, that’s not enough reading for me to be doing in a year.
Time is an excuse. So I am going to blow the dust off of my To Be Read pile and get started on it. I have one more book on CD which I’ll start this week: “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” by David Sedaris. I know nothing about this book, but I received it as a gift some time ago so I should give it a go. After that, I’ll have to tackle a real book. I don’t know if I will go with an old standby like Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series, or start with a book in my To Be Read pile that I have never read, such as Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book”. I’ll let you know what I decide.
In the meantime, I’d like to know what you are reading and whether you think reading is an important part of writing. Let me know in the comments.
Today I am reading “The Burning Room”, by Michael Connelly. (The 17th book this year)
I do a little writing, no novels or anything, but I do think my reading helps. Another thing that helps, is editing the newsletter for my computer user group, though this keeps my writing time down quite a bit.
“Atto Run: The First Level of Hell”, by Joelle Legendre. Sci-Fi, and generally not my usual genre, but her poetry and comments on blog posts lead me to seek out her book.
I read several hours a day, but no specific targets. Newspapers, editorial comments and essays are my general foray.
I’m currently reading Peter Reinhart’s latest baking book, “Bread Revolution”. I’ll be doing my own research once I’ve completed the read. (Artisan bread baking is a hobby of mine.)
I am working on CJ Box’s Joe Pickett series. I love long series so I can get into the character.
Haven’t much time for reading either but I always have a book at hand. Some days I only read about 20 minutes and that’s rarely all at once. Just completed Elizabeth Stout’s The Burgess Boys, which I enjoyed. She also wrote Olive Kitteridge which won the Pulitzer, but I didn’t enjoy that one as much. Just started Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan, about the life of Paul Curtis, who spent 30 years capturing images of Native Americans in the early 1900’s. Also reading Puppet by by Eva Wiseman, young adult historical fiction based on an incident in Hungary in the 1930’s.
I try not to let other books influence me. I don’t want to sound like another writer, and I work hard to develop my own voice. But I’m always awed by how well so many others write and how much research they do give their work legitimate historical background and an authentic voice. That models well for me.
I’m currently reading “Rosie” by Anne Lamott. It’s wonderful! I think reading and writing do go hand in hand, but like you Rob, I haven’t read as much lately as I would like. But I don’t think it’s just time that’s the problem–it’s attention span. I think I’ve talked in my blog posts before about Nicholas Carr and his book “The Shallows”….he’s got a couple of books out that address the progressive scattering of our thoughts because of technology. I think he’s on to something. It’s almost like I have to retrain myself to be still, contemplative, and focused….which are all skills necessary for reading books. 🙂