It’s right there in the header of my website, yet I’ve let it slide from my routine. It’s not writing (though I haven’t touched my Camp NaNo project in over a week!), nor is it dreaming—I do that plenty.
No. I have neglected reading.
In recent years, the amount of leisure reading I do has dropped dramatically. It could have to do with the amount of academic reading I now do. I have grown in my fondness of various types of reading because of the academic reading I’ve done. These past couple years, I’ve been saturated in literary fiction, poetry and drama and I’ve discovered a love of British literature and Russian drama, but despite loving what I get to read for school, the experience of reading for school or oneself is very different.
It could have to do with the different ways I fill my time as I’ve grown and gone through high school. Whatever the case may be, I don’t do enough reading, I miss the amount of books I consumed during junior high school, and I want to return to that.
Reading is one of those essential pastimes for writers. How can you expect to write stories if you don’t read other stories? Reading fuels the imagination, it informs us about style and form, and lets us experience the community of other writers by immersing ourselves in their work.
When looking for writing advice, one of the things that comes up time and time again is the advice to read. To read lots, and to read widely. The advice is to read widely in your genre, but also to venture out to the vast world of literature. It is advisable to read well-written and highly acclaimed books as well as poorly received books. Reading is never far from the heart of writing.
From the reading I have done, I know there are certain tropes and cliches that I love and some I hate. But I also know that even a trope I dislike can be written well and done in a way that puts a new light on it. I know I’m a sucker for a good hero story, but I also I know I don’t like love triangles.
I love reading and trying to identify what it is that is drawing me into the story or losing my attention. I take note of the words the author uses and avoids. I read for inspiration. I read for entertainment. I read for the attachment I feel to worlds and characters. And of course I hope that one day all the things I love about reading will be presented in my work and other readers will feel the same way about my worlds, characters, and stories.
Clearly, there are benefits to reading as a writer. And clearly I need to push myself to get back into reading.
So, I’ve decided to challenge myself to read 15 books before the end of the year.
I want to reread the Chronicles of Narnia, I want to read some middle grade fiction for ‘research’ with my Issac Normal stories. I want to read a couple fantasy books I’ve been eyeing and finish the books I’ve currently started.
As I complete books, I will update you on what I’ve been reading.
In the meantime, if you have any books you think I should put on my 15 book list, let me know and I’ll add it to the TBR list!
What books have you been reading lately? Which books/stories have you found most helpful to you as a writer?