When Writers Read

Posted by Judy | 2:43 PM | 8 comments »

Reading has been a pleasure of mine since I was a small child, leafing through picture books . Later, my sister and I played “Librarian”, placing books in a cupboard in our basement, carefully lining them up in alphabetical order, and producing our own version of library cards so that friends could check out the books. And a few of them really did!
As I grew older, reading became a welcome escape for me on lazy summer days when I sat on the front porch with little else to do or cuddled up on the couch on cold, rainy days when, page by page, I could travel away to sunnier places.
As writers, we are told to read, read, read. How else are we to know “what’s out there” ? How else are we to see samples of good writing-and bad? How else are we to make our writing relevant?
I still read for pleasure—and always will—but now I’m mindful of words that fit perfectly, well-placed descriptions and the moments when the characters all but dance off the page. Yes, it does slow me down a bit as I linger over them, but it also enhances my reading pleasure.
How about you? Have your reading habits changed because you’re a writer?
PS One thing I now allow myself to do is to put down a book that is not enjoyable for me. If the writing, the premise, the plotting is just not connecting with me, I am able to tell myself that it’s okay to stop reading. Is that true for you?

8 comments

  1. Mary Marvella // May 27, 2009 at 4:57 PM  

    Ah, Judy. I've tried to keep my innocence when reading. I read for fun and relaxation. I also read some books out of my usual genre.

    For an English teacher, it's doubly hard. Yes, bad grammar stops me.

  2. Barbara Monajem // May 27, 2009 at 5:35 PM  

    I haven't been able to keep my innocence... I notice stuff I never did before, mostly to do with plot structure and character arcs. Also, I notice repetitive use of words even in really great stories. It's a bit annoying to notice such detail, because usually it doesn't affect the story one bit! Bad grammer (and I see more of it these days than ever before) is REALLY annoying!

    I didn't used to stop reading books if I wasn't enjoying them, but now I do it regularly.

  3. Judy // May 27, 2009 at 5:58 PM  

    Thanks for the comments. I find that knowing about some of the requirements of good storytelling doesn't detract too much, but makes it pleasurable when I see it well done...

  4. Mary Ricksen // May 27, 2009 at 6:11 PM  

    I read voraciously. It's my addiction. I have been known to stop reading a book I didn't care for. Usually I don't but I've picked up books by the very best authors, that I just couldn't get into.
    I notice the same things Barbara, but I try not to because it ruins the story for me.

  5. Edie Ramer // May 27, 2009 at 7:08 PM  

    I'm sure I read many badly written books before, but now it bothers me too much to read further. The Da Vinci code was one book I couldn't read.

  6. Beth Trissel // May 27, 2009 at 11:26 PM  

    I read so much more for research these days than pleasure and am determined to get back into the fun stuff again!
    Thanks for your inspiring post.

  7. Leigh Duncan // May 28, 2009 at 9:07 AM  

    A fellow writer once told me, "Life is too short to waste on a bad book." Before that, I read cover-to-cover, no matter what. Now, I'm free to put something down if it doesn't reel me in. Unfortuately, I have to work at finding time to read for pleasure these days.

  8. Joanne // May 28, 2009 at 3:08 PM  

    I totally agree with you, Judy. I will stop reading a book that I don't enjoy. And, I still see typos in best sellers.