Saturday, August 15, 2009

OK, enough with the pity party. I need reading material, folks!

As Speculator pointed out in response to my whine last week, often doing more reading can help one out of a writing slump. With that in mind, and considering I still have a bit more summer for summer reading (I won't consider my summer over until after my Dad's visit next month), any suggestions? I like both fiction and non, and in fiction like pretty much everything from classic lit to mysteries to thrillers to sci-fi to literary type books. Not real big on fantasy unless it's superbly well done (a la Tolkein) or mixed with other genres. Also not real big on endless sci-fi series where the books don't stand on their own. And I don't do explicit, as you might have guessed.

Got recommendations?

Still plugging away at a couple of short stories (and my NaNoWriMo '08 story, which may never get finished), but this week has been another week of rewriting the same paragraphs over and over until I want to start throwing things. But the Ambassador is a bit hard to throw, and I'm not risking my pens, so I just stew.


speculator said...

Thus saith Speculator:
"There is a time to write, and there is a time to read."
How about tracking down the Johnston edition of The Cloud of Unknowing
-or digging into some Merton?

If you're looking for something that'll just plain get you writing, have a look at Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. Parts of it are laugh-out-loud.

Monda said...

Bird by Bird is an excellent idea. When I need a literary snack, I always go for the read-to-death classics. Lately I've revisited The Secret Life of Bees as well.

Strikethru said...

I find that a good way to get back into reading is to try something funny/easy, but still well-written, like Anne Tyler or Nick Hornby.

Mike Speegle said...

Of course I have to throw my sci-fi/steampunk two cents in, so here is an all-star reading list in that bent:

Snow Crash (a classic!) by Neal Stephenson (fun fact: he is the first person to use the word "avatar" in the sense that we know it today!).

The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer: a mindbending work by the same.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Yeah, I know that most people have read it, but if you haven't, you're missing out.

Conquistador: A Novel of Alternate History by S.M. Stirling. Another mindbender about an alternate America where the industrial revolution never happened.

And in the mystery genre:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Kind of a little trendy right now, but very good all the same.

And, even though you didn't mention horror, my all-time favorite horror novel(la), The Axeman Cometh by John Farris. A relatively slim book, which is good because the author orders you to read it all in one sitting in the preface. Very hard to find in real life, but available online.

But you don't have to take my word for it! Bu-duh-dut-da-da!

James Watterson said...

Let me see books on writing, I read the Modern Library Writers Workshop. Great book! Umm Writing Down to the Bones, also a goodie.

I love all of Kurt Vonnegut. I have almost read all of his books. I just love his style.

Some others: Douglas Adams, and of course H. P. Lovecraft.

Lovecraft wrote about the Danvers State hospital which was not far from where I use to live. Some creepy Ish went on there. The place was abandon for a while *chills* Ghosts, defiantly haunted the place. They actually made a movie about it called Session 9. Check it out awesome movie!!

On a happier note, Vonnegut Lived in Chatham on Cape Cod 25 Min from my house. And taught writing in my hometown.

deek said...

I'll throw some options out there that I always enjoy reading, but more importantly, gets me thinking in new ways:

Utopia and 1984. For different reasons, but both seem to get me thinking of different outcomes in the world, but just focusing on little details and changing them.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance...I've always enjoyed reading it.

And my all-time favorite, The Divine Comedy. Not exactly sure why I enjoy reading Dante, but I do.

Little Flower Petals said...

Ooh, Bird by Bird. I've read that, but it's been a little while. And "Writing Down the Bones" is one I haven't read. Good tips.

Jotting down many of the others to see what the library has. Not a big Neal Stephenson fan, though I kinda made myself read Snow Crash just in order to understand references. Some of it was a bit...umm...well, out of my comfort zone, let's say.

I *love* Anne Tyler. I'd give a great deal to be able to create such vivid characters. If Nick Hornby fits into the same light-but-quality-reading, I imagine I'd like his books a lot, too. Thanks for the tip!

Lovecraft is pretty much all horror, no? I most emphatically do not do horror. Poe is about as close as I get. I are a wimp.

I need to *buy* a copy of The Divine Comedy. I don't own one. Sad. And I haven't read much Dante since high school. Also sad. Are there a lot of different translations out there? Any recommended over others?

Oh, and thanks, I have the 80s version of the "Reading Rainbow" theme song (complete with synthesizery goodness) blaring away in my head.

speculator said...

PS- Have you ever read Elizabeth Berg?

-And don't forget poetry:
Dylan Thomas (he used words like Cartier-Bresson used a camera), my neighbor Mister Longfellow, and Thurber (LOVE Thurber).
-Last but not least, Archy the Cockroach (who jumps on a typewriter at the New York Tribune)!

Mike Speegle said...

Eh, I understand the Stephenson thing. It's definitely not everyone's bailiwick.

Butterfly in the skyyyy...
I can go twice as hiiiiigh...
Take a look-
It's in a book-
A Reading Rainbooooow

Anne said...

Well you've had tons of great suggestions. It ought to keep you busy for a while! For reading to lift your spirits-spiritually,that is, I recommend Etty Hillesum's Life Interrupted or Kathleen Norris' Cloister Walk. You can't go wrong with the classics like St. Francis de Sales or Thomas Merton. Happy Reading!

mpclemens said...

I highly recommend The Moon and I by Betsy Byars, if you're looking for a light writer-ish book. "Light" because it's secretly a youth book, and very slim -- you could easily power through it in an evening if you're a fast reader. It's excellent, and very funny. It's becoming part of my annual "psyche myself up for November" reading list.

In that same vein, I just finished Steering The Craft... by Ursula K. Le Guin. It's more of a writer's workshop/workbook kind of thing, but it's also a good read (and likely better if you actually do the exercises.)

deek said...

As to transaltions of the Divine Comedy, I have been happy with Penguin Classics with translations by Mark Musa. Granted, I am a bit biased, as he Mark happened to be my professor at IU back in '94 when I took some literature classes.

But, having read the three books in high school, again in college, and various other times in the past 10 years, I've not found the desire to find a different translation.

Duffy Moon said...

Coming late to the party, aren't I? I know you've been waiting for my input.

And you'll be glad you waited. Because I can pick out the exact perfect read for YOU at THIS exact time:

Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory". Why is this perfect for you, now? Because I just read it myself, and am wondering why I didn't read it before.

Little Flower Petals said...

Excellent suggestion! I've read The Power and the Glory, but it's been a few years. Graham Greene is a favorite of mine, and that may well be his best book. Definitely one to add to my to-read-in-the-near-future list.