Okay, so this tag might be over a year old. But our love for Hamilton never dies, amiright, gang? So, I’ve just got to do this tag.
It’s October 22nd. The air is full of the smells of roasting coffee and possibly unshowered readers. Your ears prickle at the scratchy sound of pages turning and the crinkle of snack food wrappers. Twitter feeds are being scrolled through fervently; instagram pictures snapped every new hour; and book after book cries as it’s mercilessly devoured by a hungry Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon participant voraciously gobbling their TBR stack.
That’s right, it’s October 22nd, and that means it’s time for another Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon! I’m running a mini-challenge for this hour: Plan A Bookish Party. I ran this mini-challenge in 2015 on my old blog, and it was a great success. So, let’s get started!
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is Books You Read Because of Recommendations. I’ll be the first to tell you: I’m kind of really bad about reading books people specifically tell me to read? As soon as there’s any kind of expectation, as soon as I feel like they’re waiting for me to read the book, I panic and can’t handle the responsibility. So, flat-out recommendations don’t always work on me. I think I need to discover books for myself, and follow my random reader-ly whims?
Let me tell you what does work on me, hook, line, and sinker: pretty pictures on the internet. I am really, really, really bad about bouncing from my Instagram app to my Amazon app and nabbing a new book based on a pretty cover artfully posed next to a coffee cup. I don’t know what consumer itch that scratches, but it definitely works on me.
So, here are a few of my favorite books that I read
because of a superficial attraction to pretty pictures on the internet because of Bookstagram.
Consider the following scenario: You’re grappling for a description your brain flatly doesn’t want to visualize. Your characters are standing on a dock overlooking a lake, and for some reason your pesky gray matter is acting like you’ve never even seen a lake before. What does a lake look like?? you ask yourself in a state of panic. … Wet?
Or maybe you want to name a character or location in your novel something significant, something historical and symbolic that’ll make future academics nod approvingly at your cleverness. Only, the spells in Harry Potter exhibit the breadth of your Latin education…
Or, after months of labor, you’ve stapled, glued, spackled, spat, and slapped your story together only to step back and find … it looks slightly wobbly, crooked and flimsy, and like a asthmatic’s breathless wheeze could knock it clear over. (As an asthmatic who has before found herself unable to summon the lung capacity to blow out birthday candles, I truly understand the meaning behind that hyperbole.)
In all of these cases, books are your best friends.
The books in this list are ones I consider Required Reading for people who love to write. They’re books that’ll fill your brain with juicy words to chew on, books that’ll help you fix problems you’re having with your draft, books that’ll answer creepy questions like “what if I want my protagonist to get shot, but not too shot, if you know what I mean?”
(I genuinely believe we’ve all Googled that quandary as writers. Does “I don’t want him to die, just have a pretty bad time…” sound at all familiar?)
Without further ado…
I love these books so much. My first foray into the Descriptive Thesaurus series was the Emotion Thesaurus, but I just got the two beauties pictured above last week, and I am getting so much use out of them already. The idea of the Rural and Urban Settings Thesauruses is to help writers visualize the settings of their novels by offering concrete, sensory details to kickstart your creativity.
For instance, the Urban Settings entry for an Alley lists sights commonly found in alleyways (from “crushed takeout cups” to “broken wood pallets”), associated sounds (“wind scraping trash into the corner”), smells (always incredibly helpful to me, as I don’t have a sense of smell!), tastes, and textures (such as “the squishy, wet give of stepping on trash” and “rough bricks beneath a palm.”)
These thesauruses aren’t meant to do your writing for you, but rather help you get into the mindset of the scene you’re trying to set. If you haven’t been in an abandoned alleyway any time recently (or a submarine, military helicopter, carnival funhouse, etc.) it can be hard to remember all those little details that make a description so vivid! I love these books.
“Reading Nourishes Writing” is a hugely important maxim over here at Happy Writer, one that I remind myself of constantly. (Especially when I’m feeling guilty for setting aside my laptop for a few more minutes of reading time.) As a writer, nothing will boost your creativity more than reading books, than filling your head up with words, and beautiful descriptions, and vivid settings, and characters so real you can see the sunlight glinting off their hair and hear the padding of their feet as they walk across the room.
Reading books will show you how other authors solved problems, how they structured their story, how they fleshed out their characters. You wouldn’t try to build a car without ever looking at the insides of a real, working car, would you? You can flip through dry manuals, sure, but a real peek under the hood will help you visualize where all those nuts and bolts and tube-y bits really fit. (Tube-y bits. I obviously know tons about cars.) Same principle! Learn by Doing. Write by Reading.
So, if you’re a writer out there who feels a little guilty whenever you set aside your WIP to read a couple more pages of a book, don’t! You’re filling the well, inking the pen, eating the food that’ll give you energy to keep moving. And, if you’re a person like me, who has mountains of books she never quite finds the time to conquer, here are some upcoming readathons that’ll help motivate you to take that break, refill that well, and read some books!
The Great Twitter Readathon: Hosted by Sierra Abrams, this readathon will run exclusively on Twitter September 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. There is an optional group read as well as group chats, if you’d like to join in!
The Tackle Your TBR Readathon: Every year, Wishful Endings hosts the Tackle Your TBR Readathon. Running from September 12th through the 26th, the Tackle Your TBR Readathon is a laidback, no-stress challenge that demands no expectations: just a chance to motivate ourselves to read a little more than we might’ve normally and make a dent in our towering To Be Read stacks!
Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon: Held twice a year in October and April, the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is my favorite reading event. A full day of challenges, prizes, snacks, and a bajillion pages read. This year’s event will be on Saturday, October 22.
Epic Reads Open Reading Decathlon: Or, if you can’t fit a formal readathon into your schedule, might I suggest the open-ended Epic Reads Reading Decathlon challenge? All you have to do is read 10 books in 10 days! Easy, right? (heh. sweats)
Have you ever participated in a readathon? What’s your best number of books you’ve ever read in a single week? If you know of any other readathons happening soon, leave them in a comment below and I’ll add to this post!