They say you can’t be a writer if you aren’t first a reader. On the one hand, I’ve been reading for most of my life. Writer, fan, and all around nice guy Jamie Rubin recently commented on his blog:
High school and college taught me how to learn. Reading has taught me nearly everything else.
These words really resonated with me. I’ve been trying to read more lately, carefully spreading the reach of my knowledge eating tendrils. I have a hard rule that it has to be interesting to me, even if that trumps other merits. At the start of the year, I tried to establish that I would read nonfiction in equal measures with fiction, switching back and forth. That didn’t survive the actual test of reading, though.
So what has qualified recently to make it to my active reading pile?
- The Rise of Athens (fun)
- Vampire Forensics (research)
- Monsters Among Us (research)
- Persian Fire (fun)
- The Daily Stoic (fun/journal)
- Paperbacks from Hell (fun)
- In Joy Still Felt (fun)
Of that list, two notes. Paperbacks from Hell is an awesome journey, but it is very much a leisurely, almost coffee table setting journey I’ve been reading from it on and off again for months now, and can see it taking me another three or four months to finish. That’s ok – it’s not a race.
The Daily Stoic is, as you may have guessed, 365 daily stoic thoughts. I’ve been pairing it with my daily journal, partly to encourage me to journal more often (believe it or not, I journal daily even though I only blog once every few months), but also because it’s been nice to have some thoughts to chew on. Stoicism isn’t for everyone, but enough of it fits my world view to make it an interesting journey.
Two books in that list I marked as research. Scary stuff, that. I have a notion for a book I’d like to write (eventually – though maybe not right now), and I felt like I didn’t know enough on those subjects to write intelligently. I realize the subject matter isn’t exactly serious science, but they are a natural extension of the joy I’ve always had watching classic horror movies.
As for the Persians vs. the Greeks in that list – you should see some of the ancillary books I have lying around (who knew I had opinions on Iliad translations???). In some ways it was the first volume of Asimov’s autobiography, In Joy Still Felt, and his tales of walking around reading the Iliad that led me there.
My fiction TBR pile is actually larger, and equally chaotic. I’m still reading Stieg Larson’s books (Nordic mysteries), along with trying out Anthony Ryan (fantasy) and some classics I picked up on a recent trip to Powell’s (Pohl, Asimov, and Weber being the bulk of the pile).
And this is how I spend my summer 🙂
**EDIT – Added “In Joy Still Felt” to the list of books being read. Maybe my list is getting too long to manage…nah…