Reading For Writing

I’m not one for making resolutions. However, I don’t avoid them if they seem like worthy goals. In that spirit, I have been taking on the Goodreads reading challenge each year. Personally, I think writers ought to be avid readers, as well. Reading is what inspired me to try writing so why on earth would I give it up?

Nevertheless, the more involved I’ve become in writing and blogging, the less time I’ve devoted to my books. Last year, I set the goal of reading 25 books for the Goodreads challenge: 2 per month (plus one). I am sorry to say, I fell short by 5 books. But with researching for my writing, I still did a lot of reading. At any rate, this year, I’ve lowered the bar to 20 books and I thought I’d share the ones I’ve chosen to read:

  1. A Line In the Sand – The Anglo-French Struggle For the Middle East, 1914-1918; James Barr
  2. Living – Henry Green
  3. Loving – Henry Green
  4. Party Going – Henry Green
  5. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
  6. Down and Out In Paris and London – George Orwell
  7. Storm Of Steel – Ernst Junger
  8. Devil’s Brood – Sharon Kay Penman
  9. The Man In the High Castle – Philip K. Dick
  10. The Mother Tongue – Bill Bryson
  11. The Gods of Guilt – Michael Connelly
  12. Princess Margaret: A Biography – Theo Aronson
  13. The Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney
  14. Blue Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson
  15. A Farewell To Arms – Ernest Hemingway
  16. Garden Of Lies – Eileen Goudge
  17. On Writing; A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King
  18. W. B. Yeats and the Muses – Joseph Hassett (started, but not finished)
  19. The Crimes of Love – The Marquis de Sade (started but not finished)
  20. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath (started but not finished)

If I manage that, I will clear the precariously stacked pile on my bedside table! Yes, I still read paper books. I consume books in three formats, actually: paper, e-book and audio-book. I also usually have several going at the same time. For example, I listen to an audiobook while exercising, read one non-fiction/biography and one fiction book all at once. As long as I keep the genres distinct, I can keep from getting them confused.

So, my writer friends, what are you reading this year?

Artwork: ‘Serenity’ – Sheree Valentine Daines

87 thoughts on “Reading For Writing

  1. I actually increased my challenge this year because I need to be more focused on reading again. I used to read a book a week and I want to get back there. It’s a place of peace for me.

    I haven’t set in stone my list yet but I can say yours are on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I am honored! Thank you! I read a lot of research material this past year, so I don’t feel too bad about not meeting my Goodreads challenge in 2016. I know I’ll be at it again when I get back to my ‘soldier’ story… Reading is my escape, too. Immersion into a whole different world!

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  2. I need to read more too. I’m not setting a number goal, but I’m trying to build that time into my day just like any other priority. It definitely is one of the things that fills my well. Thanks for sharing your list! I love to know what others are reading and check them out. The Bell Jar is one of my all time favorites.

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    1. I had never read it before. I’m enjoying it but Plath is overwhelming with simile and metaphor. I’m listening to the audiobook which might be making me hyper-aware of it. Anyway, the story is compelling!

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      1. Interesting! I haven’t read it in ages, but recently bought it in paperback again. I also read a few at a time, so I can pick up whatever I’m in the mood for that day, lol. Happy reading!

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  3. I haven’t been reading much… And it’s directly tied to the start of my blog. I was reading 2 or 3 books a week for a while! But when I spend a lot of time writing, I tend to stop reading. If I translated the amount of time I spend reading blogs into book form… I’d be reading at least a book a week. I’d love to do that… but something else will fall away… Oh, and as for which books I’d read… I have a bunch waiting for me (all real paper books)… and none of them are by authors like Hemingway. I’d probably get laughed at for my book stash…

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    1. I feel like I’ve missed out on so many of the classics. I am slowly catching up. And I’ve been so pleasantly surprised! Anyway, the best books are the ones that transport you to new worlds. Don’t let anyone make you embarrassed about what you read. Or you can send them to me and I’ll set them straight!

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      1. Awww! That’s just a hangover from high school. My junior year, my English teacher spent almost the entire time on The Red Badge Of Courage. It was dreadful and torturous. It put me off reading anything related to the Civil War for years so I get it. But my recent readings of The Old Man and the Seas, The Great Gatsby and a few others were really enjoyable. Try an audiobook maybe… With a fabulous voice for narration: Colin Firth, Jeremy Irons, someone like that!

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      2. I don’t know… I feel like those kinds of books just aren’t for me. Maybe I’d enjoy them… but I’d never choose them over my usual picks. I also think that one of the only things we don’t have in common is that I’m not really a fan of historical fiction. Ahhh…friendship shattered…!! 😄

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  4. I’m always reading and like you I have different books on the go depending on what I’m doing. There is a paper book to go in my handbag for train journeys and any spare few minutes I may have in the day time. I tend to read in digital form at home, though not always. I don’t do audio books though, I can’t get into that for some reason. I’ve read a few on your list, Madame Bovary about 20 times over the years, lol

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    1. Ah, I was saying that I feel like I’ve been short-changed on some of the classics. Some are more difficult to ‘read’ than others. Thus the audio version! Madame Bovary is one of my paper books, though, and it is up next!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, the classics are *usually* the classics for a reason…but not always so I know what you mean. I’d love to know what you think of Madame Bovary once you’re done. A lot of people find it tedious but it had a profound effect on me, hence why I’ve read it so many times!

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      2. I believe, as in all things, it’s a matter of taste. I don’t pretend to like something just because it has literary accolades. So on to ‘Madame’ and I’ll let you know!

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  5. Classics? “C’est un grand livre … personne ne le lit. / It’s a great book, nobody reads it” … Voltaire. I love the idea of the list though. However my reading is always more “pick and go”. I have re-read Phillip Larkin’s poetry since Christmas. I used the Collected Poems, but there are several books in that one book. Then I moved to José Hierro’s poetry, a selection, not the complete works. I finished Sarah Bakewell: At The Existentialist Café, one of my Christmas books. I re-read Monkey Temple … for the fun of it. I am now on Thomas Peace: The Fountain of Youth and enjoying it very much. I carry one of two books Renaissance and Baroque Spanish Poetry and the Poems of Fray Luis de León with me every time I go out and dip into them whenever I get the opportunity … I may add to this and turn it into a Wednesday Workshop … reading is fun.

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      1. Why ever not? I have been wondering how to maintain a Wednesday Workshop, but a regular reading of the Quixote would do just that. 5 chapters a week: 24 weeks. It would get us through to summer sunshine. I’ll think about it for next week’s Wednesday Workshop Post.

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  6. Autobiographies of long-time sportscaster Joe Buck and Hall of Fame QB Steve Young are on my desk to get to sometime soon. I DO branch out and read non-sports stuff…just don’t have anything on my radar right now. I can’t read more than one book at a time. Get engrossed and have to plow through them straight-away. If I had your knack for multi-tasking with multiple books I could see myself getting to 20 in a year. Read on Meg!

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    1. As long as the subject matter isn’t too closely related I can manage a couple books at a time. Otherwise forget it! Some of those books on my list are research materials for my writing too! Thanks Bruce!

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  7. well I have two books so far this year… I am alive and you are dead, a biography of Philip K Dick by Emmanuel Carriere, and The conductor by Jean Ferry. I am currently reading The Opposing Shore by Julian Gracq. I have books on Lee Miller, a study of Surrealism by Mary Ann Caws, Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar and Pybrac by Pierre Louys are after that. The Louys book is apparently the filthiest poem ever written and it is illustrated by Toyen, happy days indeed.

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  8. There are, of course, only so many hours in a day. However, reading is a kind of a ‘refueling’ practice for me. It lets me see what’s popular in the medium currently, better understand the direction of the industry, and see how people are challenging old assumptions about best practices. Reading can be a very constructive practice and contribute to one’s own writing in that way.

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  9. Hi, Meg. Just found your blog. Nice list. I also have multi-format reading habits. Right now I’ve got “Shoot Me, I’m already dead” by Julia Navarro on Audible, “The Best American Essays” on Kindle, and “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac in my purse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, indeed that is a full schedule. And the modern world adds to the cluttered existence we live, as well. i was really disappointed in myself for not making my goal last year. And this year I am taking more advantage of audio books to make good use of time: like driving or exercising. Thanks for your comments!

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  10. Hi Meg, I’m curious what reading format do you like the most from the three forms? I like ebooks, but that’s just me. I hope you complete the challenge this year!

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  11. I am new to blogging but I just cannot leave reading for the world.
    It is actually like a religious ritual that I make sure I do everyday without fail and with full faith.Last year I was able to read 37 books.I wish to read more this year.
    Happy Reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, I’m not sure how to answer such a broad question… Let me direct you to the page on my blog called Diary of a New Writer. It’s a series I compiled about how I began writing after abandoning it as a young person. I hope that helps. And feel free to ask follow up questions. I am happy to help. 🙂

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  12. Stephen King’s “On Writing” is one of my bookshelf mainstays. It’s been awhile since I read anything adult-oriented; lately, I’m reading children’s books aloud 3-10x a day!

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  13. Love your comment about how reading is what made you become a writer. As a writer myself, I always go back to reading when I get tired or burnt out. It reminds me how much I love books and why I started.

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  14. I’ve never done the book reading challenge on Goodreads…yet. I know it’s late in the year, but I think I could still make it if I set a modest goal. Also, your blog is awesome! I’m new to blogging and trying to find my niche, so glad I found this one 😀

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  15. I’m a writer and I love to read, but I’m so picky about what I read, that I often just find myself going back to my old favorites again and again. I really should set myself a reading goals list of NEW things to explore! I have some books at home I could add, even. This was good advice, thanks!

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