Friday, June 7, 2013

Reading with intention

Not my house
Hey! It's been a while, I know. Well, here I am, back again. Did you miss me?

It's been a few months now since my reading schedule got a mind of its own. I'm a freelance editor, you see. What that means is that sometimes for months at a time people hurl manuscripts at me and my job is to read them and assess them or correct them or provide suggestions on their improvement... as fast as possible.

Now don't get me wrong. I love this job. It's the most inspiring and exhilarating thing I can think to do with my time and I get paid to do it!

But somewhere along the way a line has to be drawn in the sand. Somehow, amid all the not-yet-published-works-of-amazingness (or not-so-amazingness), I need to be filling my brain with something that reinforces what makes a book a work of amazingness... because otherwise the image of the ideal starts to liquefy.

And so I start flailing about for something to read that is either a classic or current market favorite. It's a good thing my house is stacked full of books. I'm  never far from something to read.

Susan Sontag says, "Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer." For anyone who desires to improve in the craft of writing (or editing), a conscientiously built reading list is a must. I struggle at maintaining this kind of discipline in my own reading life, largely because I am an emotional reader. I think that explains why I keep re-reading Harry Potter. I am attached to those characters at a deeply emotional level, and so returning to them and the world that J.K. Rowling created is a comfort that I cannot resist.

Still, I recognize the need to branch out, and so while flailing for books, I'm also casting about for inspiration. One of my favorite places to turn for reading list fodder is Margo Berendsen. She never fails to have a recommendation that tantalizes. The most recent recommendation of hers that I read and loved was The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson.

I also snagged a copy of the Indie Book Awards list from BEA (Book Expo America) this year, and I'm eager to try out a few of those authors as well.

Currently I'm reading a biography of Zelda Fitzgerald by Nancy Milford (from my flailing about)... and next in my queue is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (a Twitter inspired choice).

But what about you, dear reader? Where do you find your own inspiration? What books have left you bursting with emotion? I'd like to add them to my list!


  1. I feel like I've absolutely recommended everything by Lois Bujold before, but you should just have those on your books of awesome list (well, they're on mine at least). I'd also add to it Lian Hearn's The Nightengale Floor. Spectacular. The writing flows like water through a stream. The imagery, though sparse is vivid. The characters are powerful. It's very impressive.

  2. I was impressed with Lori Roy's Until She Comes Home -- it comes out next week, but I got an ARC, which I'm posting a review of Monday on Beyond Acadia. If you haven't read her first novel, Bent Road, I'd recommend it too.


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