Reading for Pleasure and Then Some
Those were the days when I read for pure pleasure. Of course,
at times my reading was assigned but I don’t recall
distinguishing between that kind of enforced reading and any
other kind of reading.
Except, perhaps, for the finding of the books when school
was not in session. In the summertime, I rode my bike a couple
miles to my small-town library on Main Street (a beautiful
old Tudor style building in a town of only 4,000) and was
allowed to browse in the stacks—any stacks at all—to
my heart’s content and borrow as many books as I liked—books
for children and books for adults that—in some places—have
since been banned. I was only limited by the number of books
the basket on my bike would hold. And time was no issue at
all. During the school year, I didn’t have the leisure,
but I’m not sure I really noticed that either.
Later, as a lit major, I had a recommended reading list.
One I never finished. I felt pressured by that, and still
do. Still, reading was not a labor for me with the exception
of my early forays into Shakespeare and Beowulf
that didn’t allow me to scurry pell-mell along with
the thrust of the story.
And today? Well, today I must sandwich my reading between
my times writing and a whole lot of other stuff—some
nearly as wild and wonderful as the reading and some . . .well
. . .not so. So I very carefully choose books that I need
to read and books that I want to read. But they all must fit
within a certain parameter. That is, they must inform my writing
career in some way.
And I’m never more careful with that selection process
than when I’m actually writing. Because what we read
gets absorbed into our subconscious and often comes out on
the end of our pens (or typing fingers). There can be a danger
in that. It’s called plagiarism at the worst, but there
is also a danger it can influence our voices too much. I choose
to be on guard against that, but not to let it discourage
me from reading books that will inform what I make my living
I do, however, only select authors with the best voices,
the finest techniques. If I’m going to sop up some of
the skills of another author, I want it to be best nourishment
I was not disappointed with Wally Lamb’s new We
Are Water. Because I am a Vine reviewer for Amazon, I
was able to snag an early review copy just as I was finishing
a final draft of my new novel This Land Divided.
I was delighted to be reminded of a few techniques for transitions
that I hadn’t used and, at the same time felt again
like a child who was reading for pure pleasure. For fun. For
I speak to that experience a little in my Amazon review.
While you’re there, do read some of the other Vine reviews.
I believe Wally’s book can be preordered. We are right
on the cusp of its being released. How lucky can we readers
(and writers) be!
Tips and Tidbits
(Each month in this box, Carolyn
lists a Tidbit that will help authors write or promote
better. She will also include a Tip to help readers
find a treasure among long-neglected books or a sapphire
among the newly-published.)
Peter Boweran has updated his
The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book
into a Full-Time Living. I highly recommend
it for writers who are thinking about self-publishing
and writers who have published any old way but
find their books languishing.
Tip for Readers' Tip:
La Bella Mafia by Morgan
St. James and a foreword by Ali MacGraw is hot
off the press. The story of a child of the mafia
and shelters, it’s a memoir with everything
a reader hopes for in a memoir—pathos, celebrity,