I have a confession to make….
….I don’t hardly read anymore.
I know, I know, and I call myself a writer!
When I was little, I was a voracious reader. I’d read any book anybody put in my hands. I loved to read, I loved to learn, I loved the written word, and I just loved the possibilities of all the stories that were told and could be told. And, yes, I did want to write, even at that age.
Then I graduated high school, and got a job straightaway.
And ever since then, my reading tendencies have declined. If I do pick up a book, it’s almost like a chore to read it.
I don’t want to say that life got in the way, because it really didn’t. I have plenty of free time, but most of it is spent writing and listening to music or watching movies and now also practicing guitar and voice. And I am not a video game player, at all, so I can’t say I’m wasting that free time. And the blog is certainly not a waste of time, either, just so you know.
I used to think that, perhaps, it was the kind of genres that were out there. All those crime dramas and medical stories and thrillers and sci-fi stuff and romance novels that really just do not interest me in the slightest. On a visit to Barnes & Noble a couple years ago, I looked at all the titles on prominent display, and they were all of the like that I mentioned above, and I turned to my mother and said, “It’s no wonder I don’t read anymore!”
But I don’t think that’s quite it, either.
So, what really happened?
I don’t know.
They say in order to write well, a writer has to read. And so, I’ve been trying.
Inspired by Kendall Hailey, author of The Day I Became An Autodidact…., I tried just that – becoming an autodidact (a self-taught person). I read her book and compiled a list of titles and authors that I should check out. And I tried! They were mostly literary classics, and to her were required reading, and so I thought they should be required on my part as well.
But my brain went blank with a lot of them.
I maybe got through more than half of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment before I just couldn’t read anymore. While I own The Diary of Anne Frank, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and To Kill A Mockingbird, I have yet to read them. (GASP! Sacrilege, I know, that I call myself a writer!) I’ve slowly been working my way through a short story collection of Katherine Mansfield. I bought a tome of seven Jane Austen novels – haven’t started on that yet, and I’m kicking myself for that. And don’t even get me started on Shakespeare! I would like to say it’s mere intimidation, that I don’t like reading him, but the simple fact is I cannot stand Shakespeare. I cannot follow along with any of his works. Like Sylvia Plath trying to learn the German language, for me, Shakespeare is the equivalent of trying to read barbed wire. He does nothing for me. Never has.
But I did have some breakthroughs. I’ve always liked The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby. I’m not big on sci-fi/fantasy, but I love Anne McCaffrey’s Acorna series, and with Dad so big on “Lord of the Rings,” I finally read those books and I love those. I haven’t yet read John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, but I found, read, and loved The Pearl. And when I mentioned I wanted to start reading Hemingway, Pop suggested I start with The Old Man and the Sea and work my way through other books from there. And so I did.
And there are several authors I would really like to read, especially Jodi Picoult. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Jodi Picoult but haven’t read any one of her novels. And just this morning, I was reading something about Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; while considered a thriller, I’ve heard it’s also a fascinating character study, and it’s piqued my interest.
I’m completely open to any genre or subject matter when it comes to books and reading. But I suppose the kinds of stories I like to read are coming-of-age, character driven stories. If you go to my ‘Favorite Things’ page, one of the last little lists is ‘Favorite Books,’ and the titles therein are the sort of things I like to read. Sprinkled throughout various novels are poetry collections and short story collections, which I’m always on the lookout for, too. And I consider Sylvia Plath and Edith Wharton to be two of my literary heroines, and oh, how I wish I could write like them!
Here’s a couple photos of my ‘personal library.’
This is of one of the cubbies built into my bed’s headboard; it consists of my most favorite books ever:
This is the rest of my ‘library.’ Yes, the shelves are full to overflowing, so please excuse the mess you see – I just need a bigger bookshelf (or at least a second one):
Actually, I’ve found that one of the biggest anomalies in my library is The Boondocks. The Boondocks was a newspaper comic series created by writer Aaron McGruder. It was highly controversial, and isn’t run in papers anymore (he made a TV series of it which is doing better, or so I gather), but I loved it when it was out. Controversial or not, absurd or not, it was so true in so many ways; often times, Mr. McGruder was saying things that a majority of people were thinking but were too afraid to say out loud.
So where does a non-reader go from here?
I know the answer is simplicity itself – just pick up a friggin’ book and READ IT! And I will! I intend to!
Does anybody have any suggestions as to good books out there?