Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reading is Fundamental

I've been told that one of the best things a writer can do is read. And, I do. Not as fast as I used to, but I still knock off 2-3 books a month.

I would like to share my thoughts on three of the books I've read over the last couple of months. These are recommendations, not reviews, although I will comment on each.

The first is 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I always enjoy a good King. Wait--that doesn't sound right. I enjoy reading a good Stephen King novel. This one was particularly interesting to me because of the setting. I was raised in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (or Ft. Worth/Dallas area depending on your affiliation), I grew up in the era depicted and his description of Texas is spot on.

This is not scary King, it's suspenseful, fantasy, time travel King. It has to do with the Kennedy assassination, but I will go no further than that. You have to read it to find out the details. He still manages to throw in a few creep factor things that give you that 'something's not quite right feeling.'

11/22/63 gets four out of five stars. The only reason it's not five is because of the length. I am not averse to reading long tomes, but I know the average reader might balk at it's 842 page length.

(I'll let you in on a secret. Before I started revisions on my book, it was well over that. Suffice it to say, I am cutting).

The next book is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This is a great read, and again it's the era I grew up in. It's set in pre-integration Mississippi and is written from the perspective of three women, two black maids and a young, white journalist/wannabe novelist. Their collaboration makes a powerful, poignant, funny, entertaining read about women and how they overcome their fear, make discoveries about themselves, and form a bond, regardless of race, in a time of unrest in the South.

If you're not a reader, see the movie. It follows the book well enough. This one I give 5 stars for a heartfelt story, and characters who became my friends.

The last one is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This is my genre! If you love paranormal fantasy, this is a must read!

A circus that only opens after dusk and closes with the coming of dawn (and it's not about vampires). It's existence based on a wager made by two rival magicians. The book is richly dark and sensual. It brings to my mind a marriage of Something Wicked This Way Comes, Wuthering Heights, with a little Cirque du Soleil thrown in.

I read this book on my iPhone. Yes--I said iPhone. I think that speaks volumes that I was willing to continue to read it in that format and not stop long enough to buy the physical book. Of course, I now would like to have a copy in my library.

Absolutely 5 stars for this one. Entertaining, exotic, sensual, mystical, imaginative and just an engaging read all around (a book tailor made for Tim Burton's directing--just sayin').

Thank you for indulging me in my opinions. I hope that they might encourage you to pick up one or all of these books and that you enjoy them as much as I did.

R.G.

2 comments:

Jody Romero said...

I love your reading reccomendations. I have read "The Help" and totally agree with your recommendation, but have not read the others. I have to watch my reading as I can read too much and not write enough. In a class I took there was a week in which you were challenged to read nothing for one week...it was near impossible but my own creative ideas flowed in me.

p.s. I love the idea of a writers retreat at my mom's villa in MX - she would LOVE it!

R.G. Calkins said...

You know, I'm having the same issue with my reading. It's so hard to put it aside and do my own writing. My own creativity is better when I'm not immersed in someone else's work.

I think I have a plan, but it will take me longer to read things. I will read only on the light rail to and from work and not pick it up when I'm at home. I will use that reading time at home to write. I've got to get more disciplined.

I think we should work on arranging the writer's retreat. There are people in my other group that would be interested as well. Let's talk after group.

Robin