So, I love books. I’ve always loved books – as a little kid, I would check out as many hardcover bandes dessinées and flimsy, illustrated chapter books as I could (conscripting my parents’ two library cards along with my own for MAXIMUM BOOK), and I read voraciously throughout my school years.
Then university happened, and grad school, and reading became that thing I needed to do in order not to fail my classes; still, fiction was my constant friend, and in my free time I devoured sci-fi and fantasy novels, manga, mystery.
But as time wore on, I eventually found myself in the situation of needing to work full-time (and then some) to make ends meet, plus writing a novel and some short stories and some educational Youtube videos because when the Sorting Hat landed on my head it said HOUSE HAMILTON so things have been noooon-stop.
I think over the past year I have read about five books. When that magical thing called “free time” happens to me now, I usually feel like I need and want to spend it writing; if I don’t have sufficient brain for writing, I’ll watch Bones or something on Netflix, or revisit Skyrim, or take a glorious nap. But this past weekend I went to NerdCon: Stories, and an idea that came up a few times in panels could be paraphrased as this:
If you want to write, read widely.
Now I have in the past treated my writing like it’s a tenuous thing, like reading too much will irreparably damage my personal authorial voice and turn me into a pale copy of whatever I’m reading. I think, at this point, that this perspective is actually crap. Sure, I can tell in the revision stage of my novel which part I wrote while I was reading The Poisonwood Bible, earlier this year. But the result is not any less my writing, and it doesn’t even stand out unless you already know it’s there. Really, there’s never been a time when reading hasn’t improved my writing, overall. And reading – especially reading widely, diversely, reading perspectives and priorities different from my own – tends to make me feel like it improves me as a person, too. There’s really no downside, except TIME.
Ahh, time. Given that the full-time-and-then-some-plus-myriad-projects life is still one I’m very much in, I don’t really feel like I have the luxury of reading as widely as those helpful NerdCon panelists tended to suggest. I would love to try reading things that will challenge me and delight me and make me grow as a writer and a human. But I also need to like, sleep, and do dishes.
Which is why I have decided to embark on the AMBITIOUS PLAN to read ONE BOOK PER MONTH for the next while. Maybe it’ll last a year, maybe less, maybe more. I’m not putting myself any limits on genre, period, age group, or topic. I’m not letting myself feel inferior to those cool cats who aim for fifty books a year or whatever. Twelve books will be more per year than I’ve read for a long time, and the idea is really exciting to me. So I’m just gonna read one book per month starting now, and see what happens.
Also, to make this even more fun, I’ve decided that I’m also going to write something about each of these books right here. 😀 Probably something review-y, although I’ve never written book reviews before now. Certainly some kind of summary of my impressions. So keep an eye out for those posts – I will be tagging them one month one book on tumblr.
The book for October: Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older. I’m like 30 pages from the end, so expect a review soon!