I don’t read as widely as I used to. Most of the time, I’m focused on my writing, and it takes Herculean efforts of will and determination to force myself to abandon my computer for someone else’s writing. And, recently, I’ve been reminded how much I enjoy reading.
It’s relaxing. Not to the point of putting me to sleep, and I’ve read some books that would put other people to sleep in an instant. No, while relaxing my body, reading invigorates my mind. Sometimes this is a good thing, because I see the words I’m reading form pictures, like a movie, in my mind. I can sometimes hear the voices of the characters in my mind’s ear. It’s passive, so I’m not putting forth the effort necessary for my writing, but I get the same pleasure from it because it requires many of the same mental faculties writing does.
Sometimes this is a bad thing. Rarely, I’ll come across a book I think is so bad I can’t finish it because it inspires me to write better than the book I’m reading. Occasionally, I come across books I can’t finish because I simply lose interest; in one book I recall, the most interesting character was a side character who didn’t have a pov, but who I wanted to follow instead of the actual MCs; I’d purchased this book and the second in the trilogy (the only ones available at the time; the third hadn’t been printed yet) based on the back cover synopsis and my reading of the first few pages of the first novel; it had an interesting concept and I thought it would be much more fascinating than it ultimately proved to be; as I recall, I made it through two thirds of the book before finally giving up on it because it wasn’t telling a story that gripped my attention. With much more frequency, I discover books that send me right back to my own writing because they inspire me to write a story just as good as the one I’m reading, and my progress through these is understandably slower. Even more often than that are the reads I find that grip my attention but aren’t particularly inspiring of either detestation or an urge to write just as well; these I can generally get all the way through in a reasonable amount of time.
The annoying (in a good way) books are those which alternately entertain me and inspire me to write just as well. They drive me batty because I can never predict just what I’ll feel upon reading the first few lines of a page after picking them up any given time. I may be drawn in, immersed, and read a few or more chapters quite happily without thought of my own writing. Or, I may read the first line, think of something similar in one of my own stories, and set the book down to look at my own writing.
Mostly, though, I find reading relaxing.
I have a (very) limited amount of print books in my home these days. When I moved to a smaller apartment—the living room here is a little less than half the size of my last place’s living room—I got rid of one of my bookshelves and a lot of the print books I’d had lying around. These included books both read and unread. I culled my hardcovers and trade paperbacks to fit on one tall shelving unit, have reduced my paperbacks to one shelf of a three-foot-high bookshelf, and had to use the other tall bookshelf and the other three-foot bookshelf for my writing binders and DVD movies respectively. I don’t just get a movie streaming service like Netflix because I don’t watch movies or TV enough to warrant that monthly fee, and I rarely go out to see new movies these days ’cause I don’t see ads or commercials because my TV wouldn’t pick up even the local TV channels even if it was hooked up. TV and movies don’t interest me like writing and reading do.
But even so, I’ve been making mostly ebook purchases recently. If I feel like trying a new author or series of books that happen to be traditionally published, I go to the library (now that I live two blocks away) to check them out. Otherwise, I pay attention to what my friends—both online and local to me—are saying about the books they’re reading. Most of my reading for the past several years, in fact, has been ebooks. I’ve rarely touched a print book that wasn’t some sort of nonfiction I’d purchased specifically for research purposes for my own stories. Otherwise, if it’s an ebook, it’s generally cheap enough I’m willing to risk my money on trying something new by an unknown author, and I’m usually well-rewarded.
This recent writing downswing—since Bryce’s death—I’ve been reading much more. I’m finding a kind of solace in my reading that I’m unable to attain sitting at my computer trying to get my creative mind to work. They say in order for creativity to come, it must find you working, but no matter how much I try to work on my writing, I can’t find the desire most of the time, so I read. I have a pretty big TBR pile on my Nook, too, and I replaced it just yesterday because of several issues with my old Nook 1st Edition that I’d bought years ago; it was a tough ereader and survived many drops, but there were just too many issues with it and it was time to replace it. It says something that I hiked myself up to my local B&N to buy my new GlowLight—and not just the fact that I had $75.00 worth of B&N gift cards to cover most of the purchase price of the new Nook itself.
I needed a new ereader right now because there are several books I want to finish on that thing! LOL