Read Read Read – Read Everything

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.

Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window”

William Faulkner

read%20imageIt seems like any writer worth his salt advocates the golden rule of reading, and reading widely. I do think that one of my greater failings as a writer is that I had such a narrow reading focus for quite a large portion of my life. In fact, to a great extent, until the advent of the BF, I did not really read non-fiction for pleasure at all (newspapers and magazines excluded). It’s remarkably ironic really, as before we started going out, the BF almost exclusively read non-fiction. We’ve both encouraged each other to branch out, and have done. I now have some favoured non-fiction authors, one of which is Jared Diamond, acclaimed author of Guns, Germs and Steel – a title that I recommend to everyone. It is as an amazing analysis of the scientific reasons why Europe colonised the rest of the world and not the other way around. You might not agree with all of his theories, but  it is a truly fascinating read.

The reason I mention this, is (i) to encourage everyone to expand their reading horizons as I have thoroughly enjoyed expanding my own, and (ii) more to the point, I’ve come an article on io9.com entitled 23 Science Books That Are So Exciting They Read Like Genre Fiction, and I’m proud to say that, as a novice non-fiction reader, I’ve actually read two of them (which do read like genre fiction). A few of the others will be going on my rapidly expanding reading list.

io9.com’s list includes: Darwin’s Origin of the Species, aforementioned Jared Diamond’s Collapse, The Poisoner’s Handbook, The Silent Spring, and the one presently going to the top of my reading list, Rachel Maines  The Technology of Orgasm.

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10 responses to “Read Read Read – Read Everything

  1. You are right. It is so easy to get caught up in writing that I forget to read.

  2. Guns, Germs, and Steel is one of my favorite books. I try to use some of those ideas when I am world building. Who gets the dragons, the unicorns, or the shmeeps?

    • I never really thought about it, but even without meaning to, I now realise that have been using some of the concepts from Guns Germs and Steel in my world building. But do dragons and unicorns really count as domesticatable animals? It’s how you write them I guess…. shmeeps.

      • I believe a country’s supply of virgins is the bottleneck resource. If you have a lot, then you can domesticate lots of unicorns. If you sacrifice them to the dragons, well, now you don’t have as many.

        Also, virgins aren’t a sustainable or efficiently renewable resource. It takes time to raise more to a suitable age, and they have this annoying habit of ending up in haylofts and ruining the whole sacrificial virgin program the government is implementing to increase its dragon fleet.

        As for shmeeps, take some sheep, paint them blue, and tie bat wings to their backs. Once you run out of virgins, feed ’em to the dragons.

      • Bahahahaha… excellent, I love the way your mind works

  3. Great list and a timely tap on the shoulder. My trick is to keep 2 or 3 books on the go, say, a poetry collection, one that requires concentration and any popular/bestseller for light relief, then I have something whatever the circumstances or mood. You’re right though, you can’t be one without doing the other. I particularly like your term above, “fuel for writing”. Much meat in this article – well done. And good luck with the orgasm.

    • Thanks, I definitely have a few books on the go at once – I love it when one takes over though – that’s when you know that you’re on to a winner (does make the others harder to pick up again. Will let you know if the orgasm is worthwhile (although it is a bit of a ways down my list.)

  4. This is why Book Clubs are such a good idea, they encourage you to read wider genres. I always try to read a few books annually beyond my comfort zone. It is true – a writer needs to read.

    • Indeed! It’s really hard to push beyond your comfort zone in books, as it is a big time commitment, but with the right book, it’s worth it! The right book club can be great for that – time depending, and if you can’t make a commitment to an IRL book club, there are plenty of online ones that might suit.

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