Monday, October 10, 2011

Reading for Pleasure?

I try to read two books a week. In recent conversation, I casually mentioned this fact to a few friends of mine and they looked at me like I’d grown a third ear—on my eyelid. They said, “I don’t know how you do that.” And I thought to myself, “How can I not do that?”

Look, I’m as busy as the next person, but reading is a priority to me. Often it takes precedence over exercise. Sometimes *gasp* it takes precedence over writing. It’s relaxing, it’s fun, and it’s a gihugic learning experience. Here are just a few of the reasons why I read as much as possible.

1) There are so many good ones (on my bedside table) waiting to be read. (Invincible Summer, Personal Demons, Going Bovine…) And publishers and authors keep putting out new ones. (Lola, Mara, Daughter of Smoke and Bone,…)

And I really want to read them all RIGHT NOW.

But since I can’t *sigh*, I read a little bit here and there.

2) Inspiration. I’m inspired by beautiful writing (The Sky is Everywhere, Before I Fall, The Forest of Hands and Teeth), by phenomenal voice (Hourglass, Maximum Ride), by just super awesome stories (Hunger Games, Divergent) and it makes me want to be a better writer. Sometimes, reading really good stuff rejuvenates me. And I want to open a new doc and write for hours. (and hours and hours and hours and...)

3) Reading reminds me that the business is subjective. That there are “not so great” books out there.

PS - notice I didn't put any pics for this one. Why? Because what doesn't work for me, may work for you. And I like to stay positive while making a point. And...that is all.

4) Research. Not intentional most of the time, but I’ve read so many books in the past year that have helped answer WIP questions – are my paranormal origins sound? Is there a market for my book? Can one of my main characters really get away with that thing I can’t tell you or it would spoil the story? (Perfect Chemistry, Shut Out, Boy Toy, Perfect, Jinx, Teach Me, Save the Cat, Moonglass, Swim the Fly, Before I Fall, The Sky is Everywhere, Ripple,...)

5) Reading EXCEPTIONAL work strengthens my own writing. I want to get more in tune with my senses. With my character’s senses. I strive to be more consistent and concise—in EVERYTHING. I aspire to make every scene move the story forward and to make EVERY WORD COUNT. (Hunger Games, Anna and the French Kiss, I am Number Four, Ripple, Freefall, Divergent, Hourglass...)

6) I learn stuff—about others. About myself. (Thirteen Reasons Why, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Heaven is for Real, Speak, The DUFF, Wintergirls, The Perks of Being a Wallflower...)

7) I really do enjoy reading. It’s NEVER a chore. I love losing myself in a book for several hours. I fall in love with characters. I immerse myself in new worlds. I laugh. I cry. And I especially love when a story sticks with me long after I finished reading. (Hunger Games, Perfect, Beauty Queens, Where She Went, Looking for Alaska, Boy Toy, Room, Before I Fall, The Help, Maximum Ride, Sisterhood Everlasting, Will grayson, Will grayson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Burned...)

So, that's why I read. I'm not always successful with my "two a week," and am often difficult to deal with when I'm deprived of my reading time, but it's been a fairly manageable goal for me. And a most enjoyable one too.

PS - speaking of reading, check out YA Confidential and read what Copil Yanez (our guest blogger) has to say about writing like a guy. Hi-larious.

And how about YOU? Read any good books lately? Do YOU have reading goals? What are some of the reasons YOU read?


  1. Okay. You read a little more books than I do. I read a book every 1 to 2 weeks and peeps still ask me that question. They think I'm nuts.

  2. All excellent reasons, but I enthusiastically agree with 2, 3, and 7. The one nice thing about having a lengthy non-driving commute is all the reading time it gives me!

  3. Couldn't agree more with your reasons. Your #3 has been a real source of encouragement for me as well. Whenever I worry that my story isn't as awesome as the Hunger Games or Divergent, I try to remind myself that all books are different and readers' tastes are all over the map.

    I also love books that stay with me. You know you've done a good job when I would rather live in your messed up dystopian/post-apocalyptic world than my own! lol

  4. I try to read at least a book a week, more if I have extra time. For all those reasons. Plus, books are and have always been my escape (which explains why I like fantasy so much). I also read to see what's on trend (not just in subject matter but in writing style and character style and all that, too) just because I want to know. (Not because I either try to write very differently or very similarly.)

  5. You have excellent, excellent points in this post!

  6. I pushed my comfort area over the summer to read outside my genre of choice. Couldn't be more right than with #6 and #2 hit the nail on the head what those books did for me. I'm not going to write any time soon in that genre but it was a growth experience.

  7. 2 books a week is what I am for, too, but I've really been slacking lately.

    I'm in an online book club and people are always asking how we find so much time to read. It's such a ridiculous question...we make time for things that are important to us. How do you find so much time to watch TV? Or go to the gym? You make time for it if it matters to you. I love reading, and I'll always make it a priority.

  8. These are all excellent points for reading.

    I ALWAYS have a book going. But, being dyslexic I'm a slow reader. I would LOVE to be able to read two books a week. I'm doing well to read one book a week, but most of the time it's more like 10 days per book.

  9. All excellent points... these should be brought up whenever someone says they write but don't read! I'll read anywhere from one book a week to one book every two days... depending how much I'm into it!

  10. Yay! I finally get to sit down and comment on the post I pimped this morning! Excellent points as always, Alison. I'm so happy to be an avid reader, and to have found a community of people who appreciate books as much as I do. I pointed this out when I replied to your comment on my blog earlier, but I recently had an acquaintance mention that she started a book and loved it so much that she finished it in eight DAYS. The whole time she was talking I was thinking: If I love a book, I usually finish it in eight HOURS. So funny how people approach reading differently!

  11. Can I tell you how much I loved this post? :) I loved how you didn't mention the ones you don't like. Very classy. You are awesome. That is all. :)

  12. I don't necessarily have reading goals, but I do try to always be reading a book. I love research reading, which most books I read are some kind of research since they are almost all YA. Sometimes I read a few books week and sometimes I read a few books a month. It depends on what else is going on in my life and what books are there for me to read. I don't enjoy all books, in fact, I'll stop reading if I don't like it after a chapter or two. But the ones I love, well...writing comes second sometimes for me too :)


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