I work for a community college, and in higher academia, we are blessed with having a winter break that spans a little over a month. My years have taught me that I have to be careful with this time, because it feels like I have a lot of it. I do; it just goes quickly, leaving me wondering what exactly did I do during break other than binge watch Community and SuperStore?
This break, I am setting myself up for success! I’m going to use this time to invest in my independent author community. I asked the #writingcommunity writers to suggest some books to read, and they delivered, giving me a range of exciting stories to read during the coldest, darkest Connecticut winter months!
Here is a list of my line-up as well as a link to purchase the books, if you are break as well and want to do a pseudo bookclub.
This has come up often in my various online writing groups:
There’s a writer, new to the world of compiling stories in a text based format. Like me, they want to be the next Ms. J.K. Rowling…
They have a manuscript ready for review and are eager to either workshop or jump straight into finding the agent that will make their dreams come true.
The only catch: they haven’t read a book in years, and this really doesn’t sit well with a lot of other writers. “How can you not love reading?” the other writers ask. The non-readers become pariahs in a community that was meant to support them.
In their defense, aren’t writing and reading separate activities with one being passive and the other active?
To me, it’s ok that that non-reading writers do not read; I’m not out to manage anyone else’s time, but I’m wondering if writers can become great if they don’t.
I tried to do some research.
I put “Famous authors who don’t like to read,” into Google, but I only found various sites telling me that this idea doesn’t exist. In order to write you MUST read! Article after article says it, so it must be true. On the other hand, there are some Reddit threads of people thinking it’s ok for writers to not read.
Or maybe the bolder point is that craft is of little interest to certain want-to-be writers. In our 15-megabytes of fame culture that favors quantities — friends, followers, number of comments — over quality this might be what it all comes down to, because if you can be recognized and rewarded as a writer without being much of a reader, guess what, most people will not try to read James Joyce.
Is it fair to say that all non-reading writers are just out for the fame? Sure, especially when a lot of reading writers are doing it for the same reasons.
I will openly admit that I have not had a huge amount of sales, but I have two shrines in various workplaces with my books on display. Whether these people have read my work or not, they know I have tangible books out there in the world that people are reading, thus identifying me as a writer. The books don’t have to be good for this to be part of my identity; they just have to exist. I love identifying as a writer and that others identify me as one.
To conclude, my research didn’t really answer my question on whether you have to read to be a great writer.
If anything, it led to more.
Despite respecting the non-reading writers, I haven’t lost hope in converting them into avid readers. Sometimes we just need to be introduced to a new perspective.
Here is my response to the top three reasons that I’ve been told why writers don’t read:
There’s never enough time:
That’s a valid point no matter what a person is trying to accomplish. There are only 24 hours in a day. Other than a serious dedication to time management, it’s hard to find a solution to this universal problem. Do you really have zero time to read, or do you not want to invest your time on it? Even 10 minutes a day is better than 0. I learned that philosophy from Hal Eldrod’s Miracle Morning.
In 10 minutes a day, maybe you could get a book read every few months. That puts you leagues ahead of fellow non-readers!
Which leads to the next reason also involving time: It takes away from writing time.
This is also legitimate. I read less when I’m writing, and write less when I’m reading, but I’m still always doing both within my day. When I was going for my B.A. in Creative Writing, I had already developed a deep link between reading and writing (which is probably why I am super judgmental in regards to writers needing to read). It was necessary to budget time for writing because it was part of my degree program, but I didn’t have the same level of eustress to manage reading. As such, I mentally converted reading time into an “Independent Study.” Every class that I enrolled within I found a book to correlate with it. For example, when I took a non-fiction workshop, I read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. With this philosophy, I made reading a priority, thus furthering my inability to separate reading from writing.
But ugh.. sometimes reading isn’t pleasurable, which is fair, especially if you were forced to read texts like the Scarlet Letter in high school. Writing and reading; however, are like muscles. They need to be exercised and diving into extreme sports, like 1000 pages of The Stand by Steven King, can cause serious brain fatigue. Ease into it, grasshopper! If you aren’t swallowing novels like they’re tic tacs, that’s ok. There are some amazing short stories out there, like Donald Barthelme’s “The School.” They can give you the same satisfaction as reading novels. There’s a yearly anthology that I love called The Best American Short Stories, which has some of our best contemporary authors compiled together just for you! A couple of pages a day can introduce you to great writers.
Now that I have addressed the reasons non-reading writers don’t want to read during their writing journey, here’s three reasons why I think you should:
Passion is hard to keep consistent when you’re writing. My first official novel took 2 years to complete from start to finish. It took J.R.R. Tolken twelve years to write The Lord of the Rings. If you are curious about other turtle paced writers check out this article: 7 Novels That Took Their Authors Years To Write (To Make You Feel Better About Not Finishing NaNoWriMo). Reading keeps you invested in the project even after your writing bug has disappeared. Additionally, it shows you that if books like those listed on the worst books can get published, it means your book can get published, too! <~ although hopefully it doesn’t show up on the worst books list.
Like I’ve said before, I’m a big time book pusher. When I’m talking about my book, I’m also pushing other books. “Oh you liked mine? Check out this one next!” This allows me to move beyond my one and done book and be a wealth of information for my readers, which keeps them coming back! It lets them see that I am just like them! I care about my readers, and I know they’ll appreciate my recommendations. Bonus points if they have recommendations for me! In the independent book selling market, this level of connection with readers is crucial.
I learned a lot from my creative writing classes, but none of the education really sunk in until I saw it in practical application. Reading immerses you into various techniques and styles, allowing you as a writer to better develop your own. By reading books, I learned about flow of ideas, how better it is to show vs. tell, and where to insert physical description. I also learned to reflect on my responses to what I was reading and utilize these to project the same responses for my audience. As such, reading has made me a better writer. Beta reading has made me an even better writer.
At the end of the day, if you’re a writer who doesn’t like to read, you probably didn’t read this post (totally ok; it kind of lost my attention at the end as well). If you did, you just read like 1000+ words, so you can now say you’re a reader. Kudos!
Am I saying that you have to be reader to write, nope, but I am saying that if you want to be a GREAT, you should.
If you have any recommendations of books that turned you
from a non-reader into a reader, please share them in the comments. I’d love to
see what books brought others to the reader side.
When I was growing up, my mom used to take me to a British
tea shoppe forty minutes away from our home. I’m guessing it was her way of
trying to raise me with some sense of her culture, but I was not cultured by
any means, which meant I was in constant opposition of the woman who ran the
shop. She was an “elbows off the table, child!” type of person, so you can
imagine we got along smashingly…
As such, I’ve always had a bitter taste for tea. Now that I’m an independent woman, in control of where I can put my elbows, I’ve been relaxing my opposition of tea.
Especially when I think of Lewis Carroll.
I loved Carrol’s interpretation of the world through Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, because it reminds me a lot of how children initially observe their surroundings and try to put everything into a larger context. They are paraded by adults through constant stimuli, all of which often seems new and disconnected!
As an adult, the book allows you to go back to the excitement of throwing all logic going out the window and appreciating the randomness that is left.
In his tale, there’s an iconic moment where Alice runs into the Mad Hatter, who is having tea with the March Hare and the Dormouse. I loved it because ALL THE RULES of tea time are flamboyantly and willfully ignored. Take that, mean tea shoppe lady!
If tea must be endured, that’s the kind of tea time that my kids will be growing up around.
Legend tells of a heavenly chain of bookstores in the far off shores of Niantic where there are thousands of books available for a low fee. They have cats, they have playgrounds, they even offer snacks and coffee. It sounds too good to be true.
Seriously though, I knew the Book Barn in Niantic was not a legend; it exists. Part of self-control; however, is knowing that you shouldn’t go into these kinds of establishments, or you’ll walk out penniless. Staying away is a matter of fiscal responsibility.
On my birthday; however, the family and I decided to make an epic day of going to the Book Barn’s all four locations. FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER.
I’m pretty sure my family thinks it is hilarious
when I drop my very rigid purchasing stamina and splurge. What’s one more
dollar book, mom? Get all seventeen books in a science fiction series from the
All those books, and we barely broke over $100.
It’s been almost a year since the great book splurge
of 2018, and I’m still working through my selection.
Up on the list right now is Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.
I noticed that there was a little insert. Robin
asked her dearest friends and family to take care of her book and to ensure it returned
I found it in a used book store, guys. Either Robin no longer has a library (Dang, did she watch Marie Kondo too?), or a loved one violated her request to return it to her personal library.
I’m pretty conflicted about this. I’m sorry Robin.
Not only do I have no ability to return it to you, but I wrote in it… a lot.
The note had me thinking:
I loan books out all the time. In fact, I’m a self-proclaimed book pusher. If there is a book that I think you’d like, I will hound you to read it, and if I have a copy of that book in my possession, it’s easier to push it onto you.
There have been a fair number of books that I have purchased,
and I won’t ask for them back. I figure there’s gotta be a good reason that someone
didn’t return it: the most likely being they never finished (or started?)
reading it, but plan to.
I loved the idea of showing the connection that these books have to my own personal library. Even if they never return, they had a spot within my illustrious Scriptorium, if but only for a small moment in time.
And maybe it’s the conditioning of my college days to
keep a mental log of commentary while reading so I can write a fifteen page
paper later on it, but even to this day I still love annotating the books that
I read. Even if it’s, “OMG what are you doing?!”
So, I made my own little inserts for the Scriptorium books. I put my web address in case anyone comes upon the book, in say a used book store, and wants to reunite it with the Scriptorium. I’m one step ahead of Robin!
I also made a blank one, in case anyone else on the internet would like to bedazzle their own personal library books. If you’d like the PSD copy to alter it to put your own ideas, email me at Faith.Allaire@yahoo.com and I will gladly email it you.
I am a child of The Princess Bride movie. The witty banter, the belief in true love… the passion for adventure.
It’s crazy that my literary week has been consumed with William Goldman only to hear that he passed away.
It wasn’t easy explaining that to the kids. I had them fall in love with an author only to have him pass away.
Last night we got to the part where the man in black is climbing up the cliff.. and the rope is cut! But dang if that doesn’t stop him! Up he climbs, the true spirit of perseverance. But who is he?
And being 10, she kept saying “Inconsiderate” instead of inconceivable. My constant corrections were driving her crazy, but this is something you have to get right! It’s these small details that stay with you forever.
Of course, I corrected her by saying “You keep saying that word! I don’t think it means what you think it does.” Which cracked me up immensely, but irritated my little young reader. And when she got to the part were Inigo says it, the look on her face was worth it…
Not knowing how the tale unfolds, my daughter mourns the death of Westley. She was upset that he died because Buttercup loved him. Westley will be reborn… he will live on and will continue both his own legacy but Goldman’s as well. As writers, isn’t that one of the finer ironies in life? Your characters will live again and again within the minds of the reader long after you’re gone.
Thank you William Goldman for helping to shape my childhood, but helping me pass on memorable moments to my children.
November is National Novel Writing Month, and if you don’t think that I am the kind of person to take that seriously, then by golly you know nothing about me, for I have taken National Novel Writing Month TO THE EXTREME!
In addition to that- I am listening to Steven King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” Honestly, I almost bailed when the Foreword mentioned his love for Elements of Style, but I am trying to be respectful of others making choices that might not exactly align with my own. I figure this is a good step in that direction. So far, I’ve enjoyed learning about little Stevie King!
I am also reading John Dufresne’s The Truth That Tells A Lie. I have read sections of it before for classes, but now I am going read it cover to cover to get the full Dufresne experience.
And to round off my obsessive tendencies, CNN was having a promotion of StackSkills courses featuring writing and copyediting. As I just finished my Bachelor program, I thought it would be fun to stay on the learning wagon and see what their courses have to offer me (plus it’s cheaper than going to get my Masters!).
Is anyone else celebrating National Novel Writing Month, and if so, what are you doing?
My son’s school is expanding, which kind of sucks because my property taxes went up, but it’s exciting because it looks like my kids now go to the school of the FUTURE. Seriously, I think they modeled the look of the school to be like a building on the Jetsons…only firmly cemented on Earth. Could you imagine the taxes needed to keep up a building that defies gravity?!
Now, I don’t know if this really makes sense, because you figure that if the school is expanding, so is the library, but they recently did a purge of books. I am proud to say that my book squirreling fanaticism was passed off onto the eldest, for he came home with more than his fair share of free books.
He had me in mind when he snagged one:
The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson.
coffee… social activism… rebellion… angsty characters..
Yup that about sums up my needs as a reader.
I will be making sure that every adolescent that crosses my path knows of this book’s existence. In a world that is so politically charged (and divided), this book inspires our next set of social justice activists. Now, the main character didn’t exactly set out to be a political revolutionary, but I’d wager neither do most social activists. It’s one of the consequences of seeing the need for change in the world you live in and realizing that no body is going to bring about that change but yourself.
More importantly, you don’t need to be older, smarter, or richer, in order to create change in the world. Young people are doing amazing things each day.
For example, The Stoneman Douglas Highschool Activists on creating safer gun control:
Malala Yousafzai advocating for women to receive equitable education:
Sophia Cruz on humane immigration practices.
It’s truly amazing whether you agree with their stances or not. Every day, no matter what your age or position in society, you have a voice!
And writing is a great tool for becoming empowered!
Stevenson wrote The Latte Rebellion during a NaNoWriMo challenge, which given that it is the Eve of NanoWrimo, should inspire those embarking upon National Novel Writing Month. I’m surprised that so many writers around me have not heard of this, so let me do a quick clarification. November (yikes that’s tomorrow) is National Novel Writing Month, and there is an organization called NanoWriMo that challenges writers to spend this month plugging away at a project. The goal is to get to 50,000 words, which is the smaller side of an average book. They have an online forum page, regional chapters who host events, web series, and word sprint mini challenges to keep writers engaged. They also host CampNanoWrimo events twice a year that allow you to set your own goals.
I find it incredibly useful to build up your writing muscles, but more importantly to NETWORK! Writing is incredibly isolating, and so it’s healthy to find a community of writers to support and to be supported by. I’ve found a lot of my online community by being a resident CampNaNoWriMo member. This will be my first official attempt at NanoWrimo itself. I have faith that if Stevenson can be successful, I can be as well!
I would like to personally thank Felicia Day for her memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). I know her from her internet show, The Guild, but my mom, and most everyone else, know her as Charlie from Supernatural.
I’ve always loved her because she outwardly owns how I feel on the inside – an awkwardly adorable nerd. I could tell right away that she was a kindred spirit.
When I saw her memoir was on audible, it became my summer jam. Audible books are great, especially memoirs being read by the person themselves, because it feels like you are having a conversation with them.
I finished Day’s book while recovering from eye surgery. The memoir felt like she was saying “Yeah, you crying tears of blood is a bit weird, but have you heard about how I was homeschooled?” <~ It was the perfect distraction to help me re-coop.
I thought my right eye was literally going to pop out of my socket. I essentially laid on the ground thanking gravity for its existence, because I felt it was the only thing keeping my eyeball on the inside of my head. It wasn’t paranoia; it was science!
I really identified with her needing to get that 4.0 in college. Sadly, in both community college and in my four year institution, I did not maintain it. And you know what, I’m still bitter. The classes that took me down were supposed to be easy and fun ~> Looking at you Digital Photography and Introduction to Mythology! Felicia’s ability to keep her 4.0 is proof that she deserves to be put on a pedestal that I will forever worship.
There were other gems found in that memoir, specifically the issue involving GamerGate. I admired Day’s incredible strength in defending all gamer women. I’ve been accosted myself a few times playing games, and as one who has taken numerous sociological classes with a focus on gender, I can attest that these conversations are not only vital but well over due.
I am, however, disappointed because she mentioned that a PDF should have been included with the audio book, yet I never received it. I missed out on glorious visual elements that would have fully engaged my experience with this memoir.
Being partially blind for an entire week made me a bit crazy, but since the whole point of the novel is to own what makes you a weirdo, I feel comfortable sharing this with you all. Crazy and weird are practically synonyms right?
One of the final classes I that I had taken at Southern New Hampshire University was a Social Medial platform building course for aspiring authors. I learned a lot, and it was that class that birthed this site!
The course also introduced me to Twitter and how it can be used to gain an audience. Oh boy, that was the beginning of a serious social media addiction. Not to brag.. but I have a whole 265 followers. I’m practically Twitter famous at this point.
It was thanks to Twitter that I have been introduced to the world of independent authors, and I am loving it. There are so many passionate people contributing to this underappreciated area of writing. I’m not going to lie. Some of the independent authors that I have read were a miss, which has been fun in its own way. I’m learning what I want to do as a writer, and especially what I shouldn’t do.
When you find an author who is amazingly awesome, it’s like finding buried treasure.
One treasure of an author that I found is Carla De Guzman. I read The Queen’s Game and instantly loved the dynamic set of characters she wrote about. Nina is a strong woman who feels insecure about leading, and Felipe is a super smart and incredibly deserving leader in his own right. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the situations that Guzman presented to them.
Over a month ago, the kids and I went to this amazing summer fest that they have on the subbase.
They had paintball- which got super heated because you had grown men serving in the military either pairing up with or going against children. My son was accepted into this super alpha group of guys, and I now think he assumes being the in the Navy consists of drinking, cursing, and playing paintball.
Rock Climbing- the guys that manned this station were so great with kids. I saw more than a fair share of kids get halfway up, realize that heights could lead to impending doom, and freak out. These guys deserve hazard pay..
Inflatables galore- Most of these involved waiting in a line until an unspecified amount of kids cycled through. This one little kid was like NOPE. He barreled through the line and monkeyed his way up the slide and then proceeded to hide within the innards of this Ironman bouncehouse. My daughter was asked by the attendant to perform a special ops mission to retrieve said kid, which she agreed to do, but then didn’t. She left the kid to be feral for another 10 minutes before the kid came out his own. I can laugh about it, because it wasn’t my kid…
They also had a pretty cool archery set up, but most of the little kids couldn’t wield the bows, so they were natural targets for the bigger kids… <~ I’m really starting to see that Navy kids are both brutal and fierce creatures O.O
And fireworks: The best I had seen in years!
But what got this military spouse happy was the FREE STUFF! And imagine my extreme giddiness when my daughter, knowing that I am huge nerd for books, snagged me a free book by James Patterson.
I had given the book a good home, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to ever read it. Action Thrillers aren’t what I normally read. But then Alycia asked me if I would go to a book signing to meet Patterson. Naturally, you should read a book from an author before you meet them right? I remembered that I had one of his books! It felt like the book was free twice over!
Unfortunately, we couldn’t attend, but I was motivated to finish his book. Once you start an action thriller book, it’s really hard to put it down.
One thing I really liked about Patterson’s work was how he seamlessly combined three different crimes into one flawless experience. It wasn’t just a “ME SMASH ACTION TOGETHER,” but rather each crime had a key element that connected each to the next one. There was a continuity, so to speak, that kept up the pace of reading that, dare I say, made it enjoyable?
Like so enjoyable that I feel kind of sad that I didn’t start the series from the beginning? Patterson, what have you done to me?!
There is also some pretty hilarious irony in the fact that two of the main bad guys in this book are Naval Academy Officers, and this book was given out for free at a Navy Family event….
Can we take a second to look at this guy’s photo on the back of the cover. Is this really the photo they liked and felt should take up the entirety of the back of the book? Over the few days it took me to read, I felt like this guy was staring at me confused..
Like he was asking me how to fix his computer and couldn’t understand what I was talking about when I suggested turning it off and back on. He knows what that means, but can’t fathom why it works..
Or was that really the top I wanted to wear to work?
Another cup of coffee, Faith.. really?
Or it looked as if he was trying to figure out if a certain vampire was his son…Pattinson is obviously the British version of Patterson.. AND look, they both share that confused browed scowl! No DNA test required!