Help Me – I Need to Read

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!

One thought on “Help Me – I Need to Read

  1. McCaffrey is good, lots to choose from. I like Garth Nix; his Seventh Tower series is not bad, and I love his Old Kindom books — some strong female characters in there. And Louis L’Amour, just for something outside of the fantasy comfort zone!

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