Sunday, August 5, 2012

When Writers Don't Read

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."

~ W. Somerset Maugham

As an author, I am usually delighted at the success of other writers. Now that my sincere disclaimer is made, here comes the however. However, I recently read an interview with a New York Times bestselling writer who candidly confides she is "embarrassed" to admit she doesn't read much as there isn't enough time "for books." This seems a lot like an airline pilot feeling awkward about admitting that he never finished flight school or a filmmaker saying she doesn't like movies. I candidly confide when writers don't read, I hesitate about reading their books.

This same writer attributes her success to word of mouth, and again, I am happy for her. Although almost everyone who has read my memoir Mirror Talk has loved it, my book sales indicate they have apparently kept quiet, zipped, and mum about it. I say "almost" because of a woman in Germany who wrote me a lengthy email about all she thought wrong with my memoir and an odd young man (in his profile photo he is apparently wearing part of a whisk broom as a fake moustache) who also disliked my book. Mirror Talk received the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Best Memoir and I prefer this assessment of my work to that of the German woman and the whisk broom boy.

I have bookcases bulging with books but there are some books I don't want far from me and these are kept in the book basket beside my chair. My "To be read" and "To be read again" books include the poetry of Rilke, Yeats, and Dickinson, and contemporary poets Marilyn Kallet and Hans Ostrom; short stories of Eudora Welty, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Edgar Allan Poe; novels by the Bronte sisters, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tom Wolfe, Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, and Ray Bradbury; philosophy books by George Santayana and, one book about politics, written by Sidney Hook. The Bible, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, and Dickens are there too, all honoring my study with their eloquence. If the bestselling writer were to find time for reading, I would recommend any and all of the above authors. I would also recommend the following books by several friends of mine.

In Finding Clarity by Laura Novak, full-time mom and part-time amateur detective Clari Drake does some serious sleuthing. This quick, witty novel has a surprise ending even Poirot might not guess.

A little girl named Nell is the star of the totally original and totally charming stories in The Sun Zebra by Rolando Garcia. There is so much love echoing through these stories - love of family and love of nature - they are a joy to read.

Shades of Love by Sunny Lockwood is a collection of short stories about romantic love, married love, love between a mother and daughter, and a father and daughter. The only S & M you'll find in this book is sweetness of soul and the magic of a great read.

All three books are ebooks so you don't need a bookcase or a basket, just time for pleasure.