Friday, January 22, 2010

For the love of reading

I've always been a big reader. My love of writing was born from my love of reading. When I talk to aspiring writers, I always say the most important thing to do for your writing is to read read read. Every now and then I meet an aspiring writer who says they don't read or hate reading and I totally don't get it. Books are my teachers. I get ideas from them, learn new tricks. Whenever I read an amazing book, it inspires me to work harder. I want to be as good at that author at plotting or description or dialogue or just come up with a story as powerful as they did. But most importantly, books rejuvenate me. When I'm burned out, they get my creative juices flowing again. And I like to just be a reader and get lost in a story, another world.

But for awhile there I wasn't taking my own advice. I allowed myself to get too busy to read and then I wondered why I was having writer's block and feeling burnt out. Now I'm back on track and so far this year I've really been enjoying my reading time.

First up, I reread, SONGS FOR A TEENAGE NOMAD by Kim Culbertson because it is being re-released later this year by SourceBooks new YA imprint and I was honored to be asked to blurb it. Revisiting Calle and her story was like getting to hang out with an old friend again. Here is the blurb I came up with, not that I'm entirely sure it does the book justice:

"The best kind of song takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. It makes you think. You find yourself humming and pondering it for days. SONGS FOR A TEENAGE NOMAD does the book version of this. It's an unforgettable story that music lovers in particular will appreciate, but every teenager trying to find their place in the world should read because they will definitely relate to Calle."

Then I read SWEETHEARTS by Sara Zarr while I was on my honeymoon and I've gotta say, I'm continually amazed by that woman. She is one of my writing idols. I love how real her characters are. And it is truly refreshing to see class issues dealt with in YA lit and read about working class characters.

Next up, I checked out an author I'd been meaning to read for awhile because I've heard nothing but good things. I read UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld. And I had a similar reaction as I did when I read Sarah Dessen for the first time a few months ago (JUST LISTEN along with THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan were the books that got me back into reading regularly), which was basically WHY DIDN'T I LISTEN TO EVERYONE AND READ THIS SOONER! Seriously, UGLIES just blew me away. It's the kind of story I've loved to get lost in since I was a little kid. I love realistic fiction, but glimpses into potential future paths for humanity just really get me. Not only is it a completely different world to escape into it, when it is done right, these types of books are really philosophical and get you thinking. UGLIES is definitely done right. I can't wait to read the rest of the series. I thought about rushing to check it out of the library, but I think I need to own it. I've got a dystopian idea up my sleeve and once I finally get around to it, I'm guessing Westerfeld's books will be those good teachers I was talking about earlier.

So I'm saving to get the other books in that series, but right now I'm reading THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold. Nope, I never did get around to reading it when it came out. I was still in grad school then and reading mostly for school, but I've always been intrigued and the release of the movie reminded me of it. And I like to read books before I see movies, so I'm reading it ASAP so I can go check out the movie.

And after that I have an extra special treat waiting... a package arrived for me while I was on my honeymoon and it contained one of my most highly anticipated books for this year SHADE by Jeri Smith Ready! Yep, my dear friend Jeri was kind enough to send me an ARC of her YA debut because we have a special interview planned.

So those are the next two books I'm reading before I get back to my Scott Westerfeld. After that I think I'll be looking for some good realistic contemporary. I've got a couple on my TBR pile, but I'm always looking for recommendations, so please comment away with yours!

PS. If you are in Illinois and want to make sure we continue to have good libraries, please go here and tell the comptroller to fund them!


Anonymous said...

At moment, I am reading The Talented Miss Highsmith by Joan Schenkar

an exhaustive (and exhausting) bio which, like previous (and far less obsessive book by author who did not have same access to Highsmith's archives or intimates) more fascinating and engrossing-to me, anyway-- than any of the writer in question's actual novels (but now I really understand WHY).

Ella Press said...

cool books.
i'm waiting for the sequel to uglies to come out in argentina. here it's called traiciĆ³n (betrayal). it wouldn't have looked good to translate "uglies" to spanish!

Ella Press said...

oh, and i'm reading:
nightfall, by lj smith;
tomorrow, when the war began, by john marsden;
purple hibiscus, by c n adichie;
and listening to the AB for shiver, maggie stiefvater.

i need to learn to be more patient and read one book at a time.

mermayd said...

reading "the barrens" by joyce carol oates. close to my heart, set in south jersey, i love regional literature, thats why "ballads" is so good. you really capture the feel of your town and it's teens.

Kathy said...

I'm discovering the work of Paul Zindel, a devastatingly talented YA writer whose work is nothing short of iconic. Just read "The Pigman" and "The Pigman's Legacy", now about to launch into "My Darling, My Hamburger" and "Pardon Me, But You're Stepping On My Eyeball."

I also just read "Ballads of Suburbia", which was stunning!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks for all the reading suggestions guys! I will check them all out. Ella, that is so fascinating that Uglies is called Betrayal in Spanish. What would Uglies translate as?

Kathy and Mermayd, thanks for the compliments on Ballads. Mermayd, I will def check out that Oates novel as I do like books that capture places really well myself.

marina said...

songs for a teenage nomad sounds pretty freakin' awesome. i'm gonna have to look for that. right now i'm mixing my books i'm reading. i've got world of pies which is really short and i should have finished by now but i stopped over christmas because my boyfriend actually got me a signed copy of joey ramone so i've been rereading parts of that. haha. but i'm totally gonna check out teenage nomad.