Reading Makes Me Good Writer

November 4, 2010 at 7:35 am | Posted in Life and Living | 8 Comments
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Last night, I headed up to Connecticut to meet the author of one of my favorite books (dog lovers, if you haven’t read Ted Kerasote’s Merle’s Door, you are really missing out).  It’s not every day an author hooks me, especially enough to actually want to meet him.  But I was always told, “you have to read in order to be a good writer.”

Guess what?  I hated reading when I was young.  I remember struggling with reading out loud in class (like most kids did) and since I have a terrible fear of being embarrassed, it made things that much worse.  There was one year where I even did my summer reading project on the same book for two years in a row. You couldn’t pay me to read.

When I got to college, I decided to major in English.  I chose English because I wanted to write, and at that point I wasn’t interested in the news so a Journalism major wasn’t fitting.  I wanted to write creatively. I wanted my soul to fllllllyyyyy!  But guess what? There is a lot of reading involved in being an English major — and a lot of it is NOT fun.  I struggled in 17-19th century British literature, but I loved my Shakespeare class.  It was a real give and take, but the major take away for me was a growing enjoyment for reading in general.  I fell in love with Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation (no relation to the movie) and The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston in my Women’s Autobiography class.  I was inspired to start building a collection and continue reading after college.

But I couldn’t pick up Shakespeare when I got home, no matter how hard I tried. I just couldn’t get into the classics on my own.  I could however, easily get through a Dan Brown novel, and fell in love with The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, Lucky and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and Wicked by Gregory Maguire.  Most recently, I’ve been able to read several Jody Picoult books from start to finish in just a few days.

I love strolling through the book store, so much sounds so interesting! But it’s true in a literal sense that you can’t judge a book by its cover. I need to be drawn in immediately. There’s just too much going on in my life that I get easily distracted.

I always try to read books my dad recommends, but it just doesn’t work.  Everyone has their own taste. I imagine my taste will change as I get older, but one thing is for certain.  I won’t totally give up on reading.  After all, all writers need readers. Gotta represent!

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  1. As I get older my love for reading grows. I can really say that I love to read. My taste is somewhat all over the place. This year alone I have read books from The Tiger: Vengeance and Survival, Harry Potter and the Deadly Hollows, a Sarah Silverman bio called The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, and Requiem for a Dream.

    • interesting taste for sure!

  2. Barnes and noble on 14th street union square has always been my santuary. Even though it’s chaotic in there, it always seems peaceful. read plenty of books in that cafe…

    • it’s nice to be able to escape into a book, once you find one that you can. And certainly reading somewhere that isn’t home probably helps!

  3. I love books. I’m a reader, always have been. God, I loved my teen and YA fiction!

    Now, I’m at a bit of a loss. I’ve read a few classics (mostly a horrendous struggle) and have a few more to tackle. Aside from that, I don’t really know what I like. I’m all chick-lited out. I do like my Dan Browns and other semi intelligent stuff, but I’m hardly a literature snob.

    Picoult books are pretty much all the same, but at least they’re easy to read.

    • I certainly feel you. It’s all about trial and error. Lots of error.

  4. Once upon a time, when I was a kid, I read books for fun. Then sometime around high school I stopped reading for fun because I started to find it boring (I probably should’ve just found different things to read). Then when I got to college, I tried out journalism and pre-law before switching to English. For someone who hadn’t really read in a few years, that probably wasn’t the smartest idea. All the reading it required pretty much forced me to teach myself how to read all over again. I still don’t enjoy reading as much as I did when I was a kid, but studying English did help me appreciate good writing.

    • reading is tough! I think I may struggle with it for a long time but I’ll never give up. Hopefully, you won’t either. 🙂


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