Sunday, 9 February 2014

The importance of reading

A few books to read
Lionel Shriver has written an interesting article in The Guardian about 'How Not To Read.' She talks about how precious time reading books is and how it shouldn't be wasted on bad books or books that are not right for that particularly time in your life.

I can imagine a few university students throwing their hands in the air as they fight with their reading lists. Yes, we make our students read, some of them much to their consternation - but am here to be a writer not a reader has been said to me in the past. However, I would argue that you can't be a writer without being a reader.

I am often amazed by the number of people who say they are trying to write for children yet have not read a children's book for many a year. Relying on past and distant memories of childhood stories or books that they have read to their, now grown, children. But telling stories does not stand still, you need to know what is working now. What publishers are looking for. Be open to ideas.

Also don't just rely on reading children's books, if you want to write for them, read everything and anything. Read adult books, poems and non fiction. Challenge yourself, read outside your comfort zone. You never know it might surprise you. It will help you become a better writer. Like Shriver says though, don't battle through a book just because you think you should (unless you are a student and it is on  the reading list - then just read it, there is no excuse for not being prepared for class). Give a book a good go but if it isn't holding your attention, ask yourself why. What isn't working for you and then, maybe, you can ensure that your writing doesn't fall into the same trap.

A brief post because what else is there really to say, other than get out there and read, that's what I am going to do now. I need to make inroads into that pile of books that are photographed above. They are all part of the research for my academic book.

In the meantime, what has been your most favourite book recently?

On Friday afternoon in a Creative Voice class I asked the students to bring a favourite piece of music. One student brought this track by Alan Parsons and told a very moving story connected with it. I had not come across it before so thought I would share. A new entry to my sound track. As it is my birthday tomorrow maybe the fact this is called Old and Wise is a pertinent one, though at the moment I feel anything but wise.


  1. Wise words, indeed! It's only fairly recently that I've allowed myself to ditch a book before the end. What is more useful than force-reading though is, as you say, reading widely. Reading outside your comfort zone brings so many rewards both as a reader and a writer. And the most recent book I've enjoyed - loved! - is Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer. It's utterly compelling.

    1. Thank you Sue, Rubbernecker is not something I have read - now adding it to the TBR list!

  2. I came here through Nicky, via Facebook. So glad to meet you/

    1. Hello, good to meet you too. Thank you for popping over to the blog. Hope you enjoyed it