We all know by now that I am up for a challenge. We also know that my book counts have been abysmally low (for me) over the last couple years. So I suppose it’s only fitting that I’ve spent the last couple days immersed in reading.
Since Saturday morning, I have burned my way through Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors and two fantasy novels. Well, nearly two. The second should be done before bed tonight.
That’s with two performances, over four hours of driving for said performances, almost-sufficient sleep, and a full day of work.
I’m feeling rather proud of myself.
And now I’m taking up Elisa’s challenge from last week: five books I think everyone should read and why.
Except there’s a twist.
See, there are books I still haven’t read – despite some amount of interest – due to the fact that someone, at some point (likely my sister, many many times when we were kids) told me I had to read them. I’m stubborn that way. Give me some choice in the matter, and my lizard-brain is happy with the appearance of control.
Without further ado, my list, in no particular order:
Anything by Tamora Pierce. Seriously. Especially anything set in Alanna’s world. I would recommend starting with Alanna: The First Adventure. I covered some reasons in last week’s post, but the best reasons are the ones you discover for yourself.
Likewise, anything by Nnedi Okorafor. I picked up an ARC of The Shadow Speaker at the used bookstore where I used to work, and I literally did nothing else until I finished it. Few books have ever made the world disappear so completely. And every single story I’ve read since has made me equally as breathless.
Anything by Jane Lindskold. I haven’t met many people who have heard of her, though she’s been publishing for a while. I first discovered her with the book Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart, the first in a series centered around a young woman named Firekeeper by the giant, intelligent wolves who raised her, and her introduction and integration into human society. Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls is another favorite, not set in Firekeeper’s world. Her books seem to always make me look at what it means to be human.
For any kind of artist, I have to recommend Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. This is non-fiction, and a book to chew through slowly. It’s actually an entire, intensive course in freeing yourself to create. To actually follow the program takes an intense amount of time and energy, but there are so many ways to modify it to suit your life and spoons. I definitely recommend following the course as outlined in the book at least once. It provides so many strategies and approaches to being creative and living a creative life. I learned an incredible amount about writing and myself as a writer from doing this.
Last but not least, if you’re a writer – especially if you’re a newer writer at the beginning end of the spectrum – find a book that is poorly written. Bonus points if you enjoy it anyway.
At ten, I discovered a book that I immediately read over and over. When I sat back and thought about it, trying to pinpoint what I loved, I realized it was not terribly well written. In short, I realized that I could write a better, stronger story. I learned then how much can be forgiven if the story has a fast enough pace. But nothing gives me encouragement and comfort like that book.