Our fearless leader has suggested that we spend this month’s blog post discussing our recent reading adventures. In years past I have been a voracious reader, consuming anywhere from 50-80 books a year. You can imagine with numbers like that there would be a fair few stinkers in that group, a hefty number of average reads, and a handful of delicious and worthy stories that I simply had to add to my bookshelves to be consumed again later. Unfortunately those numbers are things of days past. My Goodreads account is woefully inaccurate and neglected. But this last year has been a whirlwind of adjusting, stretching, and growing to meet the changing needs of my family and my career.
Yes, I can now say career because Xychler publishing has picked up a short story of mine for publication in their spring anthology (look for it April 30th). I am an author!! It is the biggest baby step I have ever taken; putting myself out on the limbs where the published leap about. It feels effervescently good, and totally unnerving at the same time.
All this new territory, and I’m mostly talking about the changes in my family not my writing, has hampered my reading time. I’m lucky if I get through my book club selection every month. When I am unlucky I manage to find the time to pick up something I have been looking at for a while, only to find it lackluster at best. Of the last five books I’ve read, only two where worth their ink, and one of them was Charles Dicken’s, A Christmas Carol. To own the truth, I think all the writing, reading about writing, learning about writing I have done in the last few years has made me a finicky reader.
It used to be that even when I found something that wasn’t great I could still read through it and embrace the bits that were good while acknowledging that it wasn’t high literature. Now if there are more than two typographical errors anywhere in the first five chapters I have to walk away. I am hyper aware of anything that feels stilted, muddle, or contrived, and more often than not I end up putting the books aside rather than getting angry at the authors for wasting the English language.
I genuinely hope that this is a phase, because I miss reading with that naïve bliss of just following the story where it takes me. Of course, there are a few benefits to my new palette. In my pickiness I am no longer spending time finishing books that just aren’t worth the read. And though this is a new phenomenon, I have found myself being more judicious about what I even pick up, what I put on my computer’s kindle app, what I suggest for my book club’s reading list. I’m not saying everything I read needs to be high literature, certainly what I write wouldn’t be considered such, but it does need to have worth. It needs to show awareness of its craft. It needs to have something to say.
I’m not sure that everything I write meets all or most of those qualifications, but I hope that my evolution as a reader will continue to bring those elements into focus with each new WIP. And maybe next time I pick up a tome to pass the time with I can say something better than, “Of all the books I’ve ever read, this was one of them.”
So what are y’all reading these days? Anything good?