What Are You Reading Now?

Writers benefit when they read widely, not only in the genre in which they write, but across all genres, and non-fiction as well as fiction. In addition to the inherent pleasure of reading a good book, writers gain a greater understanding of and appreciation for the craft of writing: how to structure a story, character development, use of dialogue, balancing narrative, dialogue and action, creating rising action, and much more.

Each year I set a goal to read 25 books. I just finished reading Ann Patchett’s latest novel, State of Wonder. I’ve always been a big fan of Ann Patchett’s work and her new novel does not disappoint. Here are some books I’ve read recently:

In Zanesville, by Jo Ann Beard

Northwest Corner, by John Burnham Schwartz

Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan

Innocent, by Scott Turow

Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro

The One That I Want, by Allison Winn Scotch

Decoded, by Jay-Z

Where do I find out about books? I choose books mainly based on reviews in The New York Times, Goodreads, fiction writers’ blogs, or recommendations of friends.

I gravitate toward family sagas, because that’s the genre in which I write, but I also enjoy murder/mysteries, women’s literature, biographies and even the occasional sci-fi thriller. I read mostly for pleasure. Sometimes I am drawn to a  book because of similarities to what I am currently writing. At other times, I select books for research. I read Decoded because I am working on a novella where one of the major characters is a
rapper and I didn’t have a clue about how to write that kind of character. I like Jay-Z’s music and the book gave me some great insights into the psychology and sociology of rap music.

What are you reading now? How do you decide on a book you’re going to read?



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2 responses to “What Are You Reading Now?

  1. Most recently I’ve read, or re-read,
    Madness in the Air, by Paul Hoffman. A fascinating biography of Alberto Santos-Dumont.
    The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain, which my youngest daughter bought me.
    CEO of the Cockpit, by Kevin Garrison. A humorous and highly accurate view of the life and times of an airline pilot.
    Yesterday’s Polk County, by Louise K. Frisbie, a historical study of the county I live in here in central Florida.

    There is no rhyme or reason to what I read. I simply pick up whatever appeals to me at the moment. Some are highly respected pieces of literature, some are trashy novels, some are technical books, and occasionally there’s something that’s just plain funny or entertaining.

    To an extent I view books very much like I view people. The facade is very rarely a true representation of what you’ll find if you look deeper inside. Sometimes you’re disappointed even though you had high hopes. Sometimes you’re fascinated by one that you had little initial interest in. It’s all an adventure. So I just read what I think I’ll like – and so far I’ve benefited from the activity regardless of whether the choice was a good one or not. I learn something either way.

    • Jamie,
      Thanks for your email. Sounds like you read a diverse selection of books. Reading widely broadens a person’s horizons and introduces the reader to new perspective. I’ve wanted to read the Marl Twain book. did you like it?


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