When You’re Not Writing, Read (Plus the 10 Books Meme)

31Y7scFrOIL._BO1,204,203,200_When I was an MFA student, we had packets due every three weeks, five a semester.  These packets consisted of original work and an essay about a book we had read.  Thus, I spent a lot of time reading.  It was then I realized that one of the best things about being a writer is that reading is actually part of the job description.

Of course, I've been a reader since first grade, when I initially started being able to discern that words on the page actually meant something.  I think most of us writers come to wanting to be a writer through reading.

It is my opinion that all writers should inhale words as if their writing life depended on it–because it does.  That advice that you shouldn't read while writing lest the reading you are doing influence your work?  Bull puckey.  Even if you set out to mimic a favorite writer, the words are filtered through your unique experience and will come out totally different.  (And, indeed, a very good exercise to do to train yourself to be a writer is to copy out the words of your favorite novel.)

My reading habit has been completely revitalized this year with the purchase of first a Kindle and next an Ipad mini.  Something about reading on these mobile devices turns me into a speed demon.  And because Kindle books are a lot less to purchase, I'm willing to be more open-minded about what I read.  I've discovered some very different and interesting authors this way.

But what started this rumination on how reading affects writing is that a friend tagged me on the current Facebook meme that is going around–10 book that have stayed with you.  Since I'm never on Facebook (you'll find me on Twitter all day every day but Facebook and I have never bonded) I thought I'd do it here.  Besides, this way you guys can share with me books that have stuck with you.  The idea, I gather, is to do this fast and not overthink it.  So here goes mine:

1.  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (One of the best books ever.)

2. The Pink Dress by Anne Alexander (YA classic before there was such a thing as YA.  My sister and I lust for a copy of this book, currently priced at $889+ on Amazon.)

3. Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver.  (I love this book so much.) 

4. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.  (He's one of the most underrated of American writers.  I read this right after I read #3 above.  Amazing.)

5. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.  (Adore.)

6. Creativity in Business.  (I don't even know who the author of this book is, but I read it years ago and it changed my ideas about what was possible in business.)

7.  The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.  (Seminal.  It changed my life.  So did studying with her in Taos.)

8.  Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge.  (Plucked this one from my Mom's book shelf when I was a kid.  Apparently its a movie, too.)

9.  I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.  (Just read it if you haven't.  Please.  It's a charmer.)

10.  The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  (Time to reread this terrifying classic.)

Okay, I'm cheating and adding another:

11.  The Golden Treasury of Caroline and Her Friends by Pierre Probst.  (My favorite book from childhood, bar none.  I had a copy of this for years and lost it when our house burned down a few years back.  If anyone has a copy they want to give me, I'll love you forever. I'll name a character after you.  I'll send you everything I publish for life.)

Yeah, so, this is a quirky list if their ever was one.  I bet yours is too–and I'd love to read it!  Leave one book or ten in the comments.

PS–Stay tuned this week–I've got my annual word of the year post coming up and a Christmas giveaway!

PPS–If I were a good blogger, I'd put links to all these books in.  But I'm not.  If you're interested, you'll find them. 

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8 Comments on "When You’re Not Writing, Read (Plus the 10 Books Meme)"

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Sandra Pawula
Guest
12/15/2013 22:18

There’s so many books on your list I haven’t read. But, A Wrinkle in Time is one that certainly made an impression on me. I love the Kindle too, mostly because I don’t do well with printer’s ink or mold. I feel lucky to have one. Thanks for all these great book ideas.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
12/16/2013 05:59

So glad you're another Wrinkle in Time lover!  And yes, I thought I was going to hate the Kindle but I've read more books since I got one than I have in years–and I read a lot.

J.D.
Guest
J.D.
12/17/2013 17:59
The list was a good idea but too many girly books. I’ll look at a couple. I also have a reading device, a Nook. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of commerce, but I am also a fan of libraries. I check ebooks from three libraries. One is the Atlanta library–I had to purchase the card there–and two small nearby towns. The selection is not like a book store but that is what commerce is for. Just as a challenge I will look form Margaret Atwood in my libraries. Great job, Charlotte. You are a good blogger! And… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest
12/17/2013 18:11

Oh J.D. I love you so much! I love me my girly books! And I bet you'd enjoy Margaret Atwood. She also writes great speculative fiction. I, too, love libraries. Hey-I am rooting for Auburn! Thank you, as always, for reading and commenting.

Sent from my iPhone

Mary Rives
Guest
12/19/2013 07:07

actually, charlotte, you are a good blogger, and i think you know this. you are following the rule of not posting links to direct others from your site elsewhere–part of good blogging!

and funny, i bod with fb but not twitter! surely i;d waste less time playng if in the reverse as it is for you!

happy holidays!

mayr

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
12/19/2013 07:25

Thank you for the compliment, Mary!  And yes, I've always thought it interesting how some of us love Twitter and others love Facebook–to each his own.  

Zola Noble
Guest
Zola Noble
01/05/2014 15:38

Your list inspired me to read Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner, and Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver. Loved them both! Thanks!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
01/05/2014 18:05

Oh I'm so glad!  Those two are my absolute favorites!

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