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Reading Nourishes Writing

    Reading Nourishes Writing

    January Reading Wrap Up (+ Mini-Reviews!)

    Hello, happy writers! I have to admit, as we crash into a rather dreary and windy February, I’m torn between two states of mind: January lasted literally 800 years and How in the world is January already over???

    January felt like a bit of a dud month to me. I didn’t get nearly the amount of writing and editing accomplished that I wanted to, and I had a hard time concentrate on writing in general. But! I did get a few things done! Sort of!

    One of the achievements I managed in January was to read 8 books! There are a lot of bloggers for which 8 books in a month is standard, if even a low number for them, but for me, it was a pretty big deal! I averaged finishing about two books a week, which made me feel really good. I found that I was generally in a more creative place and attitude the more consistently I read, so I’m hoping to keep up with this pace throughout the year. Fingers crossed!

    Now, onto the reviews!

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    Reading Nourishes Writing

    Yes, I’ve Read That Book … And, No, I Couldn’t Tell You A Thing About It

    I have a question to pose this week, and it’s kind of a strange one: How important is it for us to remember the books that we read? Or, more specifically, how much of a book is it important for us to remember?

    The main message, surely, is an important nugget to wedge into your gray matter after completing a novel. Once you close the covers of the Harry Potter novels, you should probably remember, if asked, that a main lesson was to defeat evil with love and not the other way around.

    The main characters, too, should probably at least ring a bell. You might not remember their names, but hopefully you can recall something of what they wanted. Maybe you don’t remember that the main character of 1984 was named Winston (who could blame you, really), but you could probably, if pressed, recall that he was trying to rebel against an oppressive government, to escape the watchful eye of Big Brother.

    The general idea of the setting is another aspect of a novel that you probably don’t want to blank on. If someone holds up a copy of Game of Thrones and asks you where it takes place, and you can’t remember if the story happens in an underwater submarine or in the magma-spitting center of a rumbling volcano in dire need of a lozenge*, that’s probably going to be embarrassing.

    * it’s one of those two, right?

    But, is it that big of a deal if you can’t recall the actual events of the book? If a year passes and you can’t really remember much about a book’s plot, does that mean you’ve failed as a reader — or that the book has failed as a written work? How detailed does the footprint have to be to count as an impression left on the reader? Are we talking bruise marks in the exact grooves of the tread, or can it just be a marking vaguely heel-shaped? Can you still count a book as one of your favorites if you can’t actually remember anything that happened in it?

    I think so.

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    Reading Nourishes Writing

    Bout of Books 21 | Announcement

    Hello, Happy Writers! I hope 2018 is treating you well so far. (Or at least not battering-you-about-the-head as much as 2017 did…) I have a boatload of resolutions this year, mostly around productivity and positivity, and one of them is — surprise, surprise — to read more books. That’s why I’m participating in the 21st round of Bout of Books!

    Bout of Books is a low-pressure readathon where you can set whatever goal you’d like, meet other readers and bloggers, and generally spend a week making an effort to read a little more than you might’ve done otherwise. I always have a ball participating in the 24 Hour Readathon, but I’m definitely looking forward to a little more casual affair this time. (Sitting down and reading for 24 hours straight is tough, you guys.)

    Here are some of the books I’m hoping to finish (or at least make a sizable dent in) this week:

    Cover to Wide Sargasso Sea

    Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys

    From the GoodReads description:

    Born into an oppressive, colonialist society, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent sensuality and beauty. But soon after their marriage, rumors of madness in her family poison his mind against her. He forces Antoinette to conform to his rigid Victorian ideals.

    The Cover to the Library at Mount Char

    The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins

    From the GoodReads description:

    […] Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient customs. They’ve studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.
    Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation.
    As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own.
    But Carolyn has accounted for this.
    And Carolyn has a plan.
    The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she’s forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

    Salt to the Sea Book Cover

    Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

    From the GoodReads description:

    Winter 1945. WWII. Four refugees. Four stories.
    Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept…


    Are you participating in Bout of Books this week? I’d love to know what books you’re planning on devouring! Drop me a comment, let’s chat!

    The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 8th and runs through Sunday, January 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 21 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

    Reading Nourishes Writing

    24 Readathon Hour 11 Mini Challenge: Plan A Bookish Party

    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!

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    Reading Nourishes Writing

    10 Books I Read Because of Bookstagram

    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.

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    For Writers, Reading Nourishes Writing

    Required Reading: 10 Books Every Writer Should Read To Boost Creativity and Feel Totally Awesome

    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…

    10 Books Every Writer Should Read To Boost Creativity and Feel Totally Awesome


    1. The Descriptive Thesaurus Series

    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.

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