On Reading for Writers, and Writing for Readers

I’m still amazed by the number of writers who think they do not need to read books by other authors, or who think that reading other books while writing will somehow ‘influence’ or ‘change’ their own writing voice. WRONG!! I’m also amazed by the number of readers who, not knowing the first thing about what a writer goes through to create that book, write reviews or make comments that prove their ignorance. (I just witnessed this in a long string of comments about a book I had enjoyed. Not one of those negative readers said anything about the quality of the author’s writing style, which in my opinion was high and of more importance than whether or not he had based his *novel* on his own childhood and friends … But I digress.) So I’m posting a Roundup of articles on reading that I’ve been collecting over these past months – articles I hope will appeal to the writers and readers in all of us, so that we also have a better idea of how the other half thinks or approaches a book, whether they are writing or reading it. There are also a few reading lists thrown in at the end, just in case you’re looking for suggestions on what to read next. (By the way, the title of this blog refers to the fantasy course I’d like to teach one day. smt)

On Reading for Writers – and what readers like
From My Own Blog: I ♥ My Editor!
From BOOKRIOT: A Friendly Guide to Tasteful Disdain by Jeanette
From Bridget Whelan: Reader’s Bill of Rights — Quotes for writers (and people who like quotes)
and Stephen King on why readers stop reading — Quotes for writers (and people who like quotes) (Bridget has been featured on Reading Recommendations)
From ICT in Education: Reading in the Mobile Era
From HuffPost: Reader Reviews Vs. Reviewer Reviews: Is There a Difference? by Rachel Thompson

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On Writing for Readers – and why writers write the way they do
From disappearing in plain sight: Gatekeeper or Renegade: What kind of Reader Filter do You Prefer? by Francis Guenette (Francis has been featured on Reading Recommendations)
From wordserve water cooler: What Stories Teach Us by Patty Kirk
From HuffPost: The World Needs More Poetry by Bryan Berghoef

Lists of books for your reading pleasure …
From HuffPost: HuffPost Editors Share The Books That Changed Their Lives (video)
and 21 Amazing Last Lines From Literature That Will Make You Want To Read The Whole Book
From BuzzFeed Books: 23 Books You Didn’t Read In High School But Actually Should by Spencer Althouse
From PW: Best Books of 2013 and Best Books of 2014 and PW Top Authors Pick Their Favorite Books of 2015
From The Telegraph: Best novels and fiction books of 2014
From The Guardian: Readers’ books of the year 2015
From Flavorwire: The 25 Best Websites for Literature Lovers by Jason Diamond
From BOOKRIOT: Book Lists for Every Type of Reader: A Roundup of “Bests” by Kelly Jensen and Used Bookstores: A Lifelong Love Affair by Amanda Nelson
From Pacific Standard: You’re Missing Out on Great Literature by Anna Clark
From Real Simple: 50 Books Real Simple Readers Love

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7 responses

  1. Thank you,. I’ll enjoy browsing that little lot. 🙂

    Cheers

    MTM

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, MT!

  2. “Reading can seriously damage your ignorance.” Such a great quotation!!

  3. I’ve always been an avid reader, mainly because my siblings never let me control what was on tv and I didn’t enjoy their programmes… But I’m now hoping to do a Creative Writing course at Uni, and I still remain in complete awe of all the authors who have managed to sit and think about all of their plot devices, all of the sub-plots and little foreshadowings that create a fantastic novel. I think that reading what others do would possibly change your own writing because you like this idea, or that reference. It isn’t a bad thing, it allows for personal growth and a wider range in what’s ‘out there’ to read!

    1. Best of luck with your Creative Writing course, bradhadair37! And you are correct – reading what others write ‘should’ change your own writing … for the better. By reading, we see what works and what doesn’t and what good writing is all about. And then we can employ all that we’ve discovered and make our own writing the best it can be. Not imitate or copy other writers, but appreciate when another author writes well, and understand why their writing works. We should also read less-than-good writing and recognize why that doesn’t work. We’re always learning, we writers, and reading books should continue to be part of that learning process. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Author Rebecca Heishman

    I’m starving to read books. But I am engrossed in writing all the tall tales that have lain dormant in my heart all throughout the years that I was working in healthcare. I was an avid reader all my life, and I miss that very much. But, I simply can’t find the time to enjoy all the new books that are out there waiting for me. My Kindle is loaded with wonderful treasures ready to be enjoyed. I’ll get to them soon. But I’ll soon be 65 years old. Time is not in my favor. So, I stay in an ongoing writer’s frenzy most days. I have to reach my writing potential while I still have the mental strength to complete it. I believe that’s an issue for many busy writers these days. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for us to read everything we know we should.

    1. I know this is true for you, Rebecca, as it is with so many other authors (see my earlier post, World enough and time …), and even though we may not be able to keep up with everything we should be reading and write at the same time, we do still need to take time away from our own creativity to see what others are doing – not because that reading influences our writing but because it makes our writing so much more full. But you are correct – we can only do as much as we feel capable of accomplishing. And that amount is different for every single writer out there. Thanks for your comment, Rebecca!

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