Currently listening to “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes. (Listening to a different playlist today).
“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD
I believe I may have mentioned this somewhere before, but I heard it said once that the best writers are the best readers, which was rather disheartening for me at the time. I was born with a dislike for reading. It’s not that I disliked books or stories. On the contrary, my favorite part of school in 1st-4th grade (I had the same teacher all four years there) was lunchtime, when my teacher would get out a book and read it to the class as we all ate. But God forbid I ever had to read anything for myself. My stepfather offered me money numerous times, if only I would read a book he wanted me to read. I’m not talking about $1.50 or something like that, either. He once offered me $100 to read a set of small children’s books. I never took him up on it. No, I didn’t want to read. But I did want to write…badly.
I think part of my dislike for reading had to do with the fact that I had some dyslexic tendencies when I was younger. (I say dyslexic “tendencies” because I was never actually diagnosed with dyslexia; I just could not, for the life of me, tell the difference between certain letters…p, b, d, and q, for instance…). I was also easily distracted. Think Doug from Up…
It wasn’t until I got into college that I started really reading. It was also during that time that I really started writing well, too. After I graduated, however, life began to take over again, and slowly my reading started to dry up. Shockingly, (for me, at least), so did my writing.
Despite graduating with a degree in English, I have only really developed an appreciation for reading within the last couple of years, and even then, I lacked the self-discipline necessary to actually finish what I started reading. Now, at last, however, I think I may have found my solution. And that solution is Goodreads.
I discovered Goodreads, a site meant to connect readers to authors and vice versa, back when I was still in college. My mentor and professor, Dr. Robinson, was the one who introduced me to it, and I liked the way it all worked, especially the digital “bookshelf” feature. Here you can search through the massive database of books and add them to a list of either “read,” “to read,” “reading,” or some other custom list. I was really good about adding books to my lists…not so good at actually making use of those lists.
That is, until this week.
Keeping with the theme of writers as good readers, I decided to organize my “to read” list into a purposeful collection of books, with a goal of finishing one book a month. (I know I have that capability now because I read all of Pride and Prejudice in the course of a long weekend back in May when I went on a trip from Arkansas to Tennessee). To give myself some variety, I organized the books I wanted to read into a rotating list. Book 1 on the list is an independently published novel. Book 2 is a classic, book 3 is non-fiction, book 4 is a sort of self-help, book 5 is a traditionally published fiction novel, and book 6 is back to being an independently published novel. I did this because I have begun to feel that I need some diversity in my reading. Though some might argue my definition of diversity (some of the first books on my list are ones written either by my mentor or by friends from college), I felt that I needed to, at the very least, start somewhere. Why not start with that long list of books I promised I’d read and never did?
With that being said, I should probably post this and actually go and read my goal for the day. And in the mean time, I would love to hear back from all of you. How important do you think reading is in the life of the writer? Have any of you ever struggled with reading in your past? How did you overcome it?
Anyhow, thanks visiting, and I wish you a wonderful rest of the evening. (Or morning, or afternoon, depending on where you are). Happy reading!
P.S.: Interested in what I’m reading? Feel free to take a look at my Goodreads bookshelf here. (I’m still organizing it, though, so bear with me. >.<)