I have a terrible, dreadful confession to make: as a writer, I don’t read.
Isn’t that horrible? It seems I’ve fallen into the same fate as so many adults, who make excuses and come up with priorities, but who ultimately just don’t read. As a child, as a teenager, even as a young adult, I read voraciously. Not necessarily widely—although I definitely read the classics, my passion was for Star Trek, Star Wars and later Stephen King. Oh, I’ve read countless of those stories, but I haven’t read any Neil Gaiman; I haven’t read any Anne McCaffrey; I haven’t even read … well, I can’t even think of another author.
And that’s the point; I’m so incredibly illiterate that I haven’t got a clue what’s trending in the world of books and fiction. The last major piece of fiction I read was Harry Potter, and that was with my son as bedtime stories. The last book I truly remember reading at all was Her, by Christa Parravani. I made an effort at the Gormenghast novels a while back, but they were too slow for even my taste, and my stories are slow.
I’ve been so focused on writing, and building a world, that I’ve neglected the reason I started writing in the first place; I’ve forgotten the inspiration behind my stories. I wanted to create worlds, just like Tolkien and Rowling and King did, and while I may have succeeded at that, are they only derivative of those few writers? After all, what kind of a world is it, if it’s only inspired by a handful of others?
I’m not claiming to be the world’s most original writer—my fantasy is Tolkienesque to a fault. But there’s an element where I feel sorry for my world, and I feel guilt toward my readers—I feel that they deserve an author who’s actually read something.
So I’m trying to renew a commitment I made earlier in the year that I’ve completely reneged on. I want to read—just a little bit. A book a month. I don’t think that should be so terribly difficult, should it? Some people read a book a week. And here’s the catch: each book must be by an author I’ve never read before. I don’t just want to read for the sake of reading, although that’s certainly a worthy reason: I want to read to expand my horizons. I want to read fantasy, but I also want to read horror, I want to read literary fiction, and more (possibly not romance).
In that regard, I need your help. I’m going to start by perusing through my digital book library for the samples and free downloads I’ve accumulated over the years. Then I might have a look at my bookshelf and see what I haven’t touched yet. But beyond that, I need to know what’s good. What should I read? What have been your favorite books in the past twelve months? What would you recommend?
Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be glad to take your suggestions!