At the beginning of every new year, I make a list of middle-grade books I should read and study, since that’s the genre in which I write. They are award winners mostly, or books recommended as “must reads.”
Most teachers encourage you to read a wide variety of books, and I always start with the best of intentions. But time to read is short for everyone.
Me and My List
Occasionally a book on the list really grabs me, and I sail through it. But more often than not, I have to really push myself to finish.
These popular books are well written, and for the most part, they deserve the honors and sales records they’ve garnered. However, many just aren’t “me.” Either I really don’t like them for some reason (subject matter, language, depressing ending) or I lose interest because I know that I never want to write a similar book. With time to read so very short, I hate spending it reading something I just don’t enjoy very much. I always feel guilty about it, but I finish few of the “must reads” on my list.
And then I read one of the free ebooks I downloaded from the NaNoWriMo give-away last month. It’s called How to Be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play by Babara Baig. Listen to her advice for writers:
You need to learn how to read as a writer. What that means, first and most importantly, is that you need to read for pleasure. Never mind all the books you think you should read; what do you want to read?… Find a writer whose work you admire and feel you can learn from — choose someone whose level of skill you sense you could achieve someday, not a writer whose way of writing feels unattainable…You may want to choose a writer whose books focus on subjects that interest you. Then immerse yourself in this person’s work and see what you can learn.
Even though I agree with this advice, you’ll find plenty of teachers who will say the opposite. This is just my opinion based on years of trying to read the children’s books and adult books I “should” read. Nowadays I start them, but if I just don’t like them after ten or fifteen pages, they go back to the library unread. I’m giving myself the freedom from now to read what I love.
And with that said, I’m ready to dig into a book I bought for my birthday. I love P.D. James novels, and I love Jane Austen. Guess what the new James novel is? A lover of Austen herself, she just published Death Comes to Pemberly. I expect I’ll finish this one!