Do you want to read more but aren’t sure how to find the time? This is a great post to get you started: Finding Time to Read | Farnam Street. It’s less about strategy and more about motivating us because reading is one of the most important and rewarding things we can do with our time. Also, I believe that avid readers also make better writers.
Before I started journaling my reading, in 2001, I just read whatever caught my eye at the bookstore without any sort of plan whatsoever. Over the decade since I started journaling, I’ve gradually become more purposeful in my reading, and if I look back over my journals (now on LibraryThing), I can see a steady improvement in the books I choose to read reflected in higher ratings and fewer abandoned books.
At the beginning of the year, I did an exercise where I identified my top 10 favorite books of all time. I noticed that 7 out of 10 books were written by women (and of the 3 on my list written by men, one of those men was gay), but in my general reading, I’m still reading 2 books by men for every 1 book by a woman, according to LibraryThing stats. I decided to get even more purposeful in my reading and read mostly women, choosing books that are similar to my top 7 favorite books/authors. I still have a lot of unplanned reads, but the deliberate planning has been helping me discover new-to-me authors and break out of my ruts. This month, for instance, I’m reading 5 sci-fi/fantasy books all by women I have never read before.
My goals to stretch even further would be to read more women of color and more authors from countries other than the US/Canada/Britain. I would also like to read more gay authors and more authors of color generally. As a former English major, I find that I have about had my fill of the white male voice, even though there are many white male authors whose books I enjoy. But I want to hear from some other voices and open up my world even more.
For further reading:
I wonder if it is possible to really know a novel after one reading. Of course, some are better off forgotten. I have found that journalling my reading helps immensely with recall, though.
Ursula K. Le Guin on the false dichotomy between genre fiction and literary fiction and the endless, meaningless debate over which is better to read: Le Guin’s Hypothesis | Book View Cafe Blog.
If you’re one of those people who never reads genre fiction, you should read Ursula K. Le Guin. She is a better writer than almost anyone I can think of in either realm.
Amazon recently posted a dubious list of 100 books to read in a lifetime.
I just found this antidote on the Millions, which I love.
What would you add to the list?
I realized with the first two reads of the year, I have an accidental theme going on: reptiles in my fiction! With Swamplandia! it was alligators; then there is a snake in The Burn Palace. Our upcoming book club read is set in Texas, so I wonder if a lizard will figure into the plot.
That got me wondering how many of my past reads featured reptiles, so I did a quick search. Snakes are by far the most common reptiles to show up in my book reviews and summaries. Going back in time, I see there were significant snake scenes in:
- The Burn Palace by Stephen Dobyns
- Horns by Joe Hill
- Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
- The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
- The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
- Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King
- The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, with the python and the story of “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”; there is also the story of “The Elephant’s Child,” from Just So Stories, which has both a bi-colored python rock snake and a crocodile.
There are quite significant cosmic turtles in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, from which I’ve read Small Gods, and in It and The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. As for actual turtles, they don’t seem as common, although the Mock Turtle in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland certainly comes to mind.
Would you be more or less likely to read a book with a snake in it? I’d rather meet one in fiction than in real life, that’s for sure!