So I read my way through school (lots of it) and out into jobs in bookstore. I worked in an independent bookstore in Rhode Island and another in New Mexico, where I was not just selling, but doing the ordering (different from the buying, but closer to first pick of the Advance Reading Copies). Even with a 35% discount, my husband said I should have been paid in store credit. The only problem with the bookstore? They didn’t want us reading on the job. The more hours I worked, the more books I got, and the less time I had to read them. But then I had my first child and we moved, and I left the bookstore gig behind...but I brought so many books with me to Texas.
When my kids were born, the “Mother Goose story times” were just another excuse to pick up a stack of books for myself, although I found myself spending more time reading picture books aloud. So I joined a book club and a writing group. My life was happy and suburban, but my reading was still dark...Denise Mina, Ann Rule, Lauren Beukes, Gillian Flynn, Val McDermid.
One year my husband gave me something I’d been dreading, a Kindle, just before I went away for a week. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I could finish a book and immediately obtain the next in the series, or another by a similar author. What a relief to learn I could check out Kindle books from the library...I might have bankrupted us with my book binging. It was on my Kindle that I read everything by Laura Lippman (and there’s a lot).
But I still enjoy walking the shelves at the library and looking for my next obsession. The most recent one was Nordic crime. I had already read Henning Mankell’s Wallander series, but suddenly I saw crime novels from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland everywhere. In the course of two years I read Anne Holt, Camilla Läckberg, Hakan Nesser, Kristina Ohlsson, Roslund-Hellström, Jussi Adler-Olson, Cecilia Ekbäck, Jo Nesbo, Stieg Larsson, Arnaldur Indriðason, LIza Marklund, Agnete Friis and Lene Kaaberbøl, Mons Kallentoft, Kjell Eriksson, Karin Fossum, Lars Kepler , Åke Edwardson, Kerstin Ekman, and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. Not everything by them... just everything I could get my hands on with Kindle as a supplement.
So the first way I became a writer was by reading. Reading widely and deeply. I’ve left off all the true crime, fantasy and YA novels, historical fiction, short stories, Man Booker award winners, book club picks, culinary essays, humor, travel lit, etc.
I know for a fact there’s not enough time to read all the good books. Because I have tried...but sometimes you have to put the book (or the Kindle) down and work on your own novel. More about that in the next post.
In the meantime, do you have any recommendations? I’m always on the lookout for my next obsession...