Monday, February 28, 2011

The Benefits of Reading

This year I've made a point to set aside time each day to read for fun. With school it isn't always easy, but I've found it really beneficial. Not only am I finally getting through the massive pile of books beside my bed, but I've been picking up tips I can apply to my own writing.

For example:
- I've learned a lot about characterization from reading Stephanie Perkins' ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, which I may or may not go back to from time to time because I adore it so much. It's so important to be able to relate to a book's main character, and Anna is perfect. Not only that, St.Clair and the other supporting characters are fully fleshed out. I've tried to take note of how they all relate and interact with each other, and apply that to my own writing.

- JANE EYRE offers a plethora of great descriptions. I'm a sucker for longwinded, detailed descriptions of people and places, and Charlotte Bronte is a genius when it comes to setting. I've been using a notecard as a bookmark, and occasionally jot down words or phrases I particularly like. Those have all come in handy when editing my own manuscript; I've discovered a new way to vary words, and I think it's definitely made my own writing stronger.

- THE HUNGER GAMES is the best example I can think of when it comes to conflict. It's everywhere, from the plot to the characters' relationships. The stories are tight and constantly moving forward; there isn't anything extra. I've been able to cut chapters from my own work and write new ones that are more than just filler. Honestly, filling only belongs in delicious pastries, not books.

I could give you a hundred more examples, but you might hate me if I did. But I urge you guys to pay close attention to the things you're reading. No matter what, I can guarantee you'll learn something. Great books are great learning tools, and books you dislike will teach you how to do things better. Either way, you can't lose.

Here are the books I've yet to read (I told myself I couldn't buy any new books until these were all read):
CRESCENDO by Becca Fitzpatrick
XVI by Julia Karr
INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher
EVERCROSSED by Elizabeth Chandler
BITCH IS THE NEW BLACK by Helena Andrews

What do your TBR piles look like right now?


  1. I try not to make TBR piles or lists...they get too big and scare me lol! But you're 100% right--reading teaches you so much about writing. I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy (yes, I'm late on this one) and you're right--the constant tension is so well-done.

    Mmmm...delicious pastries with filling...

  2. I finally got a library card over the summer, and it's probably one of the best ideas I've ever had. Even when our main library doesn't have something, there's a pretty good chance one of the other 10 libraries in the county does, so they'll cheerfully get whatever I request from one of them.

    I've read Wuthering Heights a few times and it's my favorite book ever. I'm in the middle of Incarceron right now, and it's really good. If it wasn't the end of the quarter I'd totally have read the entire thing in one sitting. And XVI, Across the Universe, and Twenty Boy Summer are all on my TBR list.

  3. How do you like Jane Eyre? It's one of my all time favorite books. I love Mr. Rochester and I'm so excited for the movie. I love the 2006 version of Jane Eyre so I'm hoping I wont be disappointed by the new one. I hope you enjoy the book. I think I might reread it. :)

    TBR list
    A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
    Wuthering heights by Emily Bronte
    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
    Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern

  4. Rowenna, at least you read them! The HG trilogy is by far the greatest thing to happen to YA literature, as far as I'm concerned. (Next to Harry Potter, anyway.) Those books can teach us a whole lot about writing and what makes a good plot and excellent characters.

    Steph, all of my friends had to read WUTHERING HEIGHTS in high school and hated it, so I was always afraid to read it. But lately I've been hearing from so many people who enjoyed it that my curiosity's been piqued. Without a teacher telling me to read it, maybe I'll actually be able to enjoy it! I'm certainly enjoying JANE EYRE!

    Samantha, I am LOVING JANE EYRE! I'm surprised by how much, actually. I just got to the part where Mr. Rochester shows up.

  5. Ahh so glad your loving it. It's going to get better! I can't wait for the new movie although I love the 2006 version. Watch it when your done you will love it!