Monday, July 1, 2013

Read Like It's Your Job

Because, when you are a writer, it is your job. Yes you have to write, bum in seat, pound out the words. But you must read. It's fuel.*

you will trip over books in my house

you really will

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than declaring my book and audiobook purchases as a business expense on my taxes. I feel like I'm cheating the system (but I'm not, I've asked my accountant) because I get to do something I adore and it's absolutely a vital part of my writing job. I imagine that, if I were an agent, I wouldn't love reading so much, because there are things I'd have to read (query letters, partials, fulls) that I may not enjoy. But as a writer I can be the titular magpie and read whatever shiny thing catches my eye. It all goes in the hopper.

I read constantly. I usually have two or three books on the go at once - one audiobook and two ink + paper books and sometimes something on the kindle as well. Some reading is for crit partners and beta readers, but most falls into two categories: My genre/peers and My interests (which is not always what I write at all.)

One thing that's helped me stay on track is the Goodreads reading challenge. You can see my books here. and see how I'm progressing on my reading goal of 40 books this year.

Here are my favorite books from the last six months. In the coming weeks I'll be reviewing each of them. And when I say reviewing, I mean spewing such reader/writer love and awe and gushing that you'll need an umbrella.

ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell
WILD AWAKE by Hilary Smith
THE ONLY ONES by Aaron Starmer
WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead
CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein

So, what are you reading? What have you loved this year and what's been a disappointment?

*when I say fuel, I absolutely do NOT mean plagiarism. This is something I hear from new writers - the fear that if they read too much, and in their genre, they might accidentally swipe something they read somewhere else. My short answer to this is - read so much that you are AWASH in words. That your brain is churning with words from lots of sources that you can't even begin to lift a phrase, sentence or paragraph. My long answer is coming in another blog post soon. :)


  1. I just finished reading THREE TIMES LUCKY and loved it. But then, I love reading!

  2. i love reading so much i swear it's got to be considered a deadly sin.

    so far i've read 50 new books this year (not counting betas, crits, or old favorites that i've reread) and i still feel grateful that THIS is my job. being a writer definitely has its perks and tax write-offs for new reading material is definitely one of them :)

    *goes to find you on goodreads*

    PS - IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS was AMAZING. one of my favorites thus far in 2013 :)

    1. hi goodreads pal! 50 books is a lot for me because I only get to read when kids are unconscious (which is less and less time now, thanks a lot summer solstice!) But I love that I never ever feel there's 'nothing' to read' - and actually cannot understand people who say this. When I do hear someone say that I shove recommendations in their faces. I bet people love me ;)
      I agree with you on IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS. Cat Winters did such an amazing job of creating the time and space, when I think back on it, the world is practically sepia colored.

  3. I'll definitely check some of those books out to add to my list. I have a pleasure reading list about 100 books long. I also have a separate list of books to read for review, which I post on my blog.

    I'm finishing Darkfall by Isabelle Carmody and then I'll start on Chaung Tzu: Basic Writings (rec from a writing partner)

    For review, I'm working on The Mine by John Heldt. And, of course, my blogroll :)

    1. Hi Stephanie. Wow, a 100 books plus review books? I don't know how you do it (it really is your job!) I tend to go a bit slower - also, some books demand breathing space of me. Like, when I finished CODE NAME VERITY, I wanted to stay in that world with Maddie and Julie just a little bit longer. So I didn't start a new book until the next day - when usually, I put down one book, make myself a cup of tea and - if there's time - start the next book. Do you ever take a 'words' break? Like go look at art or nature or something to 'clear the palate'? I do that sometimes.

  4. Thank you for the affirmation-that one needs to read a lot-to better write!

    1. right after 'sit down and write' it's the best advice a writer can get - 'sit down and read!'


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