I have always loved books and reading. Yes, this is my first library card from 1972. It opened hundreds of worlds to me. I’m always sad when people say that they don’t like to read. Reading is entertainment, an escape, a journey to new places, a portal to new worlds, and research. Writers must read.
Stephen King said it best, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” By reading other authors, you learn vocabulary, literary techniques, and genre conventions. Look at the way the words flow in a work that you like. The author creates the story and moves the plot along. It’s not a play-by-play of every detail that happened in someone’s ordinary day. Look at the dialogue. It’s not mundane chitchat. Good authors don’t tell their readers things. They show them. They are artists who paint a verbal picture.
Stephen King’s On Writing is one of the best “how to” books for writers. When I started writing, I read every book about writing that I could get my hands on. I spent more time reading those than I did writing. Over the years, I kept a few. On Writing is one of those. It’s good to learn new things about mechanics, but I think reading books in your genre teaches you more about the conventions (e.g. cozy mysteries don’t usually have graphic scenes or language; mysteries usually have a dead body in the first chapter). You learn how to use language, describe things, and which point of view to write from.
I love receiving books as gifts. This year for Christmas, I received two books about books, and I can’t wait to read them. I still have gift cards left, so I’m not done with the book shopping.
Are you on Goodreads? I like the annual book challenge. I need to think about my goal for 2019. I usually go with 26 (one for every two weeks of the year), but maybe this year, I’ll set a stretch goal. I like how the site keeps track of my totals for me and helps me to remember to leave a review. Plus, at the end of the year, I liked seeing all the year’s books.
What are you reading right now?