Writers are Readers and Other Platitudes

It’s common knowledge that a good writer has to read. Of course, they have to read to understand their market, their own readers, and critics. This is the kind of reading that writers and students alike understand: research. Some of it is fun, naturally. As a writer, you enjoy the art form of words on a page, painting a world for you with the turn of every page. But then there is the homework that we would much rather skip; the kind of reading that we leave until we’re done with all of our other tasks until it cannot feasibly be put off any longer. The tedium will pass, however, and then it will be done, and your work will be fun again.

But I don’t want to talk about that kind of reading. I want to talk about the kind of reading a writer does that makes them want to be a writer in the first place. I believe it is too common that we hear the phrases “I hate reading,” or “I never have time to read anymore.” Before NaNoWriMo this year (National Novel Writing Month, for those of you who don’t know), I found myself in the second category. I worked an office job with a 9 to 5, came home, ate dinner, wash, rinse, repeat. I stared night after night at the television, pointedly ignoring my bookshelves on the far wall, laden with unread stories promising me far more entertainment than reruns of Supernatural.

As a child, I was kicked out of the library for listening to music while reading and missing the bell signaling the end of recess. In high school, the school librarians let me eat inside and kept me company as my closest friends. But then I hit college and all of a sudden I “didn’t have time” to read anymore.

It took writing a novel for me to remember how important reading is. In between searching for the right words and any words, I rediscovered how transcendental reading could be. Picking up my first pleasure-reading book for the first time in what seemed like ages (Rebecca Podos’ Like Water, if you’re wondering) flooded me with nostalgia and joy. I was twelve and curled up with the first Harry Potter, fifteen and hiding in the bathroom at one in the morning to finish What Happened to Lani Garver. I was fully immersed in a world other than my own, and it freed my mind.

I say with absolute certainty that picking up a book other than my own during the month of November is the reason that I ever reached the finish line.

With all that said, realizing that I’d forgotten what the joy of reading felt like was a cold, harsh reality. And so I have decided to change that. In 2018, I’m going to read 52 books in 52 weeks. That’s one book a week, every week, for a year. For this challenge, each book will be at least 150 pages, and I’ll write a blog post for every book that I read. Whether it’s a novel in itself, or I’ve got two words to say about it, I want to share with you what I read and why. This is an immersive journey, and I’d be honored if you would come on it with me.

Let me know what you’d like me to read, and what you’d like to hear about. I haven’t finished compiling my list yet, and I may not until the week I’m supposed to be reading it! But I’m human, and I’m going to let my life and my reading list grow and develop as I do.

Here’s to a new adventure.

x FG