I have a pile of books I’ve been meaning to get around to reading. I’m hoping to review some of them in the not too distant future (take this time frame with a pinch of salt!) but before I get ahead of myself, one major factor needs to be considered. As I look at the pile, it becomes apparent that this requires some serious time management allocation. A skill that I’m not even sure I possess. There’s a fine balance to tread as a writer when it comes to your reading/writing ratio. I think it’s a widely accepted notion that the art of writing is preceded by the pursuit of reading. Most writers would agree that it is a necessity to read in order to season and hone your writing skills. I wonder though how necessary it is to separate the two experiences instead of marrying them together.
Reading for Fun
As a bookworm, I like to isolate my book reading experience to just that, one of sheer pleasure. Sifting through pages to simply find those Aha moments of spotting nifty literary techniques or the like makes the experience about as pleasurable as pulling teeth. I’m a sleepy reader anyway so it wouldn’t work for me. I’m the type of bookworm who loves to curl around a paperback at night and fall asleep, page to cheek.
How Reading Shapes Writing
I definitely feel that my reading history has shaped my writing overall over the years but not in a way that is entirely specific. My voice is my own but being an avid reader has definitely tapped me into the general conventions of fiction writing such as creating irony, humour or creating the type of lingering sentences that poignantly end a chapter.
The line between a bookworm and a writer is definitely fine. We read for pleasure and we also knowingly or not take nuggets of information onboard about a number of things whether it be tone, cadence, sculpting a protagonist or creating humour. I don’t really like to consider these things when reading as I want to benefit from all the cosy things about being a reader and not wracking my brain thinking about how it will improve my own writing. This process of learning from reading is somewhat organic anyway.
My Current Reading List
So, back to the original point of my impending reading list. I have a few oldies in there as I love to reread past books- if I get around to one of my listed books Never Far From Nowhere by Andrea Levy will be my fourth read! For those obvious reasons though, it’s at the bottom of my current to read list. One past read that I will be prioritising however is Wild Seed by Octavia Butler. I don’t often read Science Fiction novels but once my now late uncle recommended this to me over a decade ago, I had to give it a try and I was not disappointed. I look forward to revisiting the world of Anyanwu, an immortal shape shifter and you can watch this space for an impending review. This book literally changed the way I look at Science Fiction books forever.
I started reading This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins last year and ended up putting it down because of a stain in the book. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but I purchased the book as new and to find a damaged, stained page in it really put me off as I am easily grossed out. Call me an OCD reader but I like my pages to be clean: they can be worn, discoloured through age and curved but they can’t be dirty! I was really engaged by what I was reading up until that point however, so I will make it a point to finish and review. It was also refreshing to commit to a non-fiction read, which I don’t often do (note to self, more non-fiction reads!) Why should I deny myself a reading experience because of a dodgy seller? Humph!
Other upcoming reads high on my list are Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid and Leon by Kit De Waal. The last three books I have mentioned are high priority reads but the others are subject to change as I flip through my book collection and make more purchases. Nothing makes a bookworm/writer like me happier than having a to-read pile of books on my bedside table and who knows? If the beliefs of giants before me are to be considered, it will inform my writing process in some meaningful way.