I know it’s been said that a writer must read a lot in order to write well.
This was probably said by someone whose only job was to write. It was definitely not written by a mom who works two extra jobs in addition to writing and parenting. I know that time is limited. And although I LOVE to read, I also know that it sometimes takes a back seat to the ‘have-to’ list that is my life. So I would amend that you should read as often as you can. And it doesn’t have to be grand, sweeping novels of classical literature. Reading articles (well written and somewhat brain stimulating), short stories, poetry, or flash fiction all count.
Being what it is, when I get to sit down and read a book, I will often fall into lighter genres of fiction, usually, with a preference for romance, suspense, psychological thrillers, fantasy and urban fantasy, speculative, some sci fi, and a dash of historical fiction. That’s not to say I don’t read non-fiction. But I tend to reserve those books for book club invites and I’m not too proud to say there are some of those I never finished.
So, in thinking about reading, I’d like to offer you some good rules for every writer to follow when it comes to the limited time you have.
- You should always have three different books on your nightstand at all times.
- Something you love (by genre or author)
- Something that challenges you (out of your genre, or tougher content)
- Something that broadens your knowledge base or improves your craft.
- Take a book along whenever you
- have more than five minutes to wait
- are traveling, anywhere
- want to feign being ‘busy’ in the company of people you’d rather not talk to.
- When you find yourself dreading a book, not because it’s challenging to your beliefs or makes you similarly uncomfortable, but because it’s nauseatingly boring or poorly written…stop reading it and move on. Life is too short to waste reading time on something that doesn’t bring you joy or positive change
So, now that you have a good reference for how to choose a book and how to get it written, here’s a list of books I’ve recently finished reading or are on my nightstand. I encourage you to be eclectic and curious when you chose your books, but always have something familiar for the nights when you need the comfort of an author or genre you’re familiar with.
Check these out:
In the category of craft/professional development:
- Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life by Teresa R. Funke
- Breakthrough: How to Overcome Doubt, Fear, and Resistance to Become Your Ultimate Creative Self by Todd Mitchell
- Write Naked by Jennifer Probst
- Ed Parker’s Encyclopedia of Kenpo by Ed Parker
- Seishin Shuyo: Mental Training in Traditional Martial Arts by Jimmy Lockett
- The Trail Runner’s Companion by Sarah Lavender Smith
For something that challenges/stretches my worldview and brains:
- Killers of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
- Rising Strong by Brené Brown
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- How to See Yourself as You Really Are by the Dalai Lama
- TransQuality by Bethany Beeler
- Ornkey: A Historical Guide by Caroline Wickham Jones
In the category of somethings I love:
- Mr. Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson (all of his books thus far have been phenomenal)
- The Miriam Black series by Chuck Wendig (again, a smart, beautiful writer, with a heavy dose of IDGAF bravado)
- Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater (haven’t read yet, but looking forward to it)
- The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (I couldn’t put this one down)
- The Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy by Nora Roberts (both of these series are ones I could reread every year)
- The Three Sisters Island Trilogy by Nora Roberts
Well, there you have it. Go forth and spend some of these beautiful days, beneath the shade of a tree, losing yourself in the written word. Voracious readers (in the time they have to give) make better writers.