Book Reviews, Books, Read, Reader, Reading

Are you a Goodreader?

I suppose I heard about Goodreads for a year before I ever viewed it. And when I did, I only used it to see what other readers said about particular books. Not until several months later did I decide to use it to keep track of the books I had read, was reading, or wanted to read.

It astounds me that I can look up a book I rate at 5 stars and find at least a few have given it 1 star! It works the other way around too. Nothing else has better drilled into my mind that reading tastes are subjective. No matter how well I wrote a novel, someone somewhere would review it saying they wish they could give it 0 stars.

Despite those variances, I find Goodreads an excellent place to find suggestions of books to read. Unlike the Amazon or Barnes & Noble sites, Goodreads is oriented to the reader not the consumer. Because of that, I think the reviews and ratings may be more honest.

I haven’t written many reviews; I’m still working through my real bookshelves, listing the books I’ve read and rating them. If you’ve never visited the Goodreads site, I suggest you do. If you are, or become, a Goodreader, feel free to add me as a friend.

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Fiction, Read, Writing

Snail reading and writing

bookstackThere’s been some talk on agent blogs lately about how much time writers should devote to reading. By coincidence (?) in my rereading of Stephen King’s On Writing, I had just arrived at the section where he talks about reading. He says: “I’m a slow reader, but I usually get through seventy or eighty books a year, mostly fiction.”

I choked when I read that. Slow reader? What would he consider a fast reader? Someone who reads seventy or eighty books a month, maybe. Now, if any of you actually do read that many books a month—I’m in awe! Just please don’t tell me you also write two thousand words a day, like Mr. King does.

I do read. And I read on days that I’m writing. But I confess, by comparison to Mr. King, I really am a slow reader. So far this year I’ve read twenty-one books, fiction and non-fiction, plus a few dozen short stories. Of course, I’ve also read many trade magazines and online articles during this period, but that doesn’t count in book total.

And I have never written two thousand words in a single day. Though, maybe if I didn’t edit as I go, I could write two thousand words—on a good day. Not every day, like Mr. King does.

Is there hope for such a snailish writer like me? How do you measure up?

Questions, Tuesday Topic, Writing

The Tuesday Topic

tuesdayChange of pace today. I usually leave you with one question, but today I have ten … TEN! So, get your interactive boots on. You must … simply MUST speak back to me today. If you don’t, I’ll cry and that really messes up my keyboard.

The inspiration for these brilliant questions (really, aren’t they blinding you?) came from an article I read discussing what degree of creativity is motivated by nature vs. nurture. This poll is all very scientific and the only acceptable excuse for not responding, is that you’re not a writer at all.

1. Were there many books in your childhood home?
2. Were you read to you as a child?
3. Are/were your parents avid readers?
4. Are there other writers in your family?
5. Have you always channeled your creativity into writing?
6. What other creative talents do you have?
7. Do you believe you were born to be a writer?
8. Do you have an MFA?
9. Do you write with the goal of publication?
10. Are you already published?

Characters, Fiction, Novel, Read, Voice, Writing

Books that haunt you

I don’t know why, but lately I’ve felt the urge to re-read Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I have three books I’m reading right now, and many others in the queue, but I’m haunted by Empire Falls. I enjoyed the book the first time around, but I wouldn’t have ranked it as one of my all-time favorites, and yet now I’m compelled to read it again. Something new must wait for me within the pages.

I don’t claim to be widely or well-read in the classics, classics-to-be, or even recent best sellers. To be honest, I can’t always tell you how books find their way onto my to-be-read list. Perhaps the booklist fairy adds them according to my previous reads … sort of like Netflix recommending movies to me. Some automatic entries are books by favorite authors … a new Anne Tyler due out the end of this year, YAY! And I do jot down names of books that friends suggest, or I see while reading blogs, or hear mentioned in writers’ groups, but many of these I never finish. Reading tastes are personal. The book has to resonate with me.

I’m not in school, I don’t review books, nor do I have time to waste, so I only read what appeals to me … what speaks to me.

And sometimes a character’s voice echoes back years later, prompting me to restart the dialogue. Among the voices that speak to me most loudly, but in no particular order, are:

  • Celie’s in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple
  • Scout’s in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Maggie’s in Anne Tyler’s Breathing Lessons
  • Mason’s in Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist
  • Ivy’s in Lee Smith’s Fair and Tender Ladies
  • Eleanor’s in Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House
  • Sayward’s in Conrad Richter’s trilogy, The Trees, The Fields , The Town
  • Julie’s in Robert Morgan’s Gap Creek
  • Ninah’s in Sheri Reynold’s Rapture of Canaan (and probably Kenny’s in her newest The Sweet In-Between)

NOW … won’t you please share with me your list of books that haunt you?  Maybe you’ll help me discover a new favorite.