Tuesday, December 22, 2009

30 Books in 2009

One of the things I believe strongly, is if you want to be a writer, you must first be a reader. With that in mind I set out toward the beginning of this year to read (and track my reading) as much as I could. Now I have a pretty busy life. I have several hobbies, a wife and two kids, friends to hang out with, church events to attend, a business to run, etc, etc... so what this means is I have to work to carve out time to read. That said, I feel pretty good about finishing thirty books this year, including the daunting "Einstein" by Walter Isaacson. But something curious happened in my quest to be a prolific reader. I struggled to find books that I really, really loved. In fiction, there were only two, "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card and "The True Meaning of Smekday" by D.M. Rex. This may partly be due to the fact that I felt like I had to finish every book I started. Because if I didn't, then it wouldn't make my list. So I ended up reading some books all the way through that I normally would have put down. This took up time that I could have been reading something else that I might have loved. I also read a few series that ended up being okay, but just not great. I was invested enough that I wanted to see how the stories ended, but I can't see myself reading them again.

This all got me thinking about my own writing. Am I creating something that is just okay? Something that people might add to their list of books read, but not loved? If so, am I okay with that? Obviously there are many different tastes out there. Some people may have loved the books that I thought were mediocre. So there is always that possibility with my own work. I guess in the end I need to try to write something that I love, and hope there are others out there with similar tastes.

What about you all. What books have you read that you absolutely love? I'd love to add some into the queue for next year.


Sparrowflew said...

I actually have that same problem with the dictum that as a writer I must read and read and read.

It's a fairly rare book that makes me "lose myself" in the narrative. There's a lot of middling crap out there, and I feel sort of sad that 1.) I don't feel like I have the time to seek out the gems, and 2.) that I feel so jaded about it all. It's particularly noticeable with adult genre fiction. (I'm a bit of a grinch about Ender's Game, so I dunno if my adult recommendations would work for you ;) )

I'm working on a middle grade book, too, and I have run across some relatively recent ones that are just wonderful. Off the top of my head, The Spiderwick Chronicles were surprisingly funny.

Susan Quinn said...

I agree with Sparrowflew that there are a surprising number of MG (and YA) books that are EXCELLENT. I get reading suggestions from my kids, and not just because I run a blog on those books.

I just finished Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld. It was AWESOME. If you liked Smekday, you will likely like Uglies. Don't be scared off by the girl on the cover and the fact that's it' shelved in YA. Westerfeld is a master storyteller and this is true SF.

And if you want some wicked funny, try Artemis Fowl.

Congrats on making your goal! I need to read more, more, too. That's what holiday breaks are for!

D. Robert Pease said...

Sparrowflew, that is precisely my point with regards to Enders Game, I loved it, you not so much. There is room out there for a wide variety of books. As to the Spiderwick books, I liked them, but not to the point of losing myself in them. Probably the fact they were so short had something to do with that.

Susan, I'll have to check out Uglies. You are the second person to recommend it. And I agree with you about Artemis Fowl. I loved those books. But I read them last year, so they didn't count in my 2009 reads. I recently finished up the first Softwire book, based on your recommendation. I liked it, but didn't love it. Partly I could tell it was his first book. It was a bit rough around the edges here and there.

Susan Quinn said...

Agreed about Softwire - it was difficult in the beginning with all the tech-talk and not a lot of explanation. But the kids liked it.

What did you think of the Chima books? I've heard good things about her . . .

D. Robert Pease said...

It wasn't the tech talk that got me, it was the fact that he often-times jumped from one scene to another without wrapping up the previous. I just found myself going back several times to read the previous scene because I was lost.

As for the Chima books, they definitely got better as they went along. By the third I was liking them. But I didn't love them. They were definitely a little YAish. With some "love" stuff like your kids talk about. Nothing bad really, but just a little beyond middle grade in some aspects. Cinda is actually a member of our local SCBWI chapter. She taught a class I attended at our conference. A very nice lady. I got her to sign the three books for my son.