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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