Firstly, I would like to wish all of my fellow blogger friends a happy and creative 2016. Let’s hope it is a successful one for us!
In 2015, I read 13 books out of a planned 36 books, which wasn’t a huge achievement, and is certainly something that I aim to make up for in 2016.
The low reading number was mostly due to other life commitments, and also due to a year of meeting and staying with ‘bad books’. By ‘bad books’, I mean those books that spark your interest several chapters in, but then curve-off in interest, thereafter. For me, the ‘curve-off’ has been mostly due to the plot either become boring, or me not caring enough about the developments or outcome of the main character. In these ‘curve-off’ moments, I have found my mind wandering over to grocery lists or gliding through social media newsfeeds. But even so, I forced myself to stay with the books. A regret. But certainly a learning curve.
*Please note that I use the term ‘bad books’ for personal use only. I am aware that although I might not enjoy the books, it doesn’t necessarily make them ‘bad books’ in the wider universe.
But this bad book situation we all find ourselves in from time to time, creates a tricky dilemma for us as readers. Should we abandon a book, or should we stay with it? I guess the best way to answer this, is to ask ourselves, ‘Are we reading for the pleasure, or are we reading in order to develop our writing skills?’ If we are reading for the pleasure, then I’d advise abandoning a bad book. But for honing our writing skills, then I’d advise staying with it. They can colour your world and shape your skills as a writer.
For me, there have been many reasons for staying with a bad book. The first reason has partly been for achievement purposes – for getting my book count in. I felt that after investing time in several chapters of a book, that it would be a waste not to capture that time spent reading. This is plain awful.
Sometimes the reason has been due to wanting to know if the character makes it through, or finding out whodunnit? This is a great example of when an author has created a marvellous main character, but has lagged on the plot. But as a writer, this also tells me that creating great, rounded, characters for readers is a highly important aspect of writing. It means that a reader (including myself) is willing to stay with a book even with a lousy plot.
Sometimes, I have decided to stay with a bad book long after that ‘curve-off’ moment, in order to identify the elements that I dislike in the book; so that I don’t adopt them in my own work.
I have always been aware of, and believe in, the concept, ‘bad books can teach you as much as the good books, when it comes to developing writing skills.’ But I do believe that the ‘reading for writing’ direction can really put a damper on reading books for pure pleasure. So this year I am going to read for the pleasure! I am going to crush my curiosity over character outcomes, and I will remind myself, that spending time on ‘bad books’ is time lost on ‘good books’. But hopefully, I will still identify little ‘dislikes’ even in those good books. Because my favourite saying is, ‘the sweet ain’t as sweet without the sour.’
I will be writing reviews on every good book that I read this year. How will I develop these reviews? Well rather than analyse writing continually as I read (as I have done in the past), this year I am going to capture those magical moments and natural realisations whilst reading, and jot them down in my notebook.
Moments such as when you stumble on a perfectly constructed sentence, a beautiful word, stunning symbolism, or a descriptive setting that has the power to transport you there. This year, I am going to let my heart take the lead and allow my analytical mind to rest.
Here is the list of 13 books that I read in 2015…
Life Expectancy – Dean Koontz, Instructions for a Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell, The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton, The Book of You – Claire Kendal, Daughter – Jane Shemilt, The Little Old Lady Who Broke all the Rules – Carolina Ingelman-Sunberg, Never Tell – Claire Seeber, The Hobbit – J.R.R.Tolkien, Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie, Fiction Writer’s Handbook – Nancy Smith, The Memory Game – Nicci French, A Place of Secrets – Rachel Hore, The Scold’s Bridle – Minette Walters.
Here is the list of the 44 books that I plan to read in 2016. I have taken some books from previous lists, and some books are brand new and in the book charts. As the year goes on, some books may be added or replaced with new releases or old classics. Also, Richard & Judy are always an inspiration with the development of my reading lists, so I highly recommend you visit their book club.
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller
The Quality of Silence – Rosamund Lupton
The Girl in the Red Coat – Kate Hamer
Disclaimer – Renee Knight
The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett
Revolution – Russell Brand
On Writing Horror – Mort Castle
Writing – The Horror Movie – Marc Blake and Sara Bailey
The Girl in the Photograph – Kate Riordan
Vanish – Tess Gerritsen
Eyes of a Child – Richard North Patterson
The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson
Us – David Nicholls
Velocity – Dean Koontz
The Husband – Dean Koontz
I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh
The Year I Met You – Cecelia Ahern
Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey
Cilla – 1943 – 2015
Edie – An American Biography – Jean Stein
The Skeleton Cupboard – Tanya Byron
Want You Dead – Peter James
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
The Doll Maker – Richard Montanari
The Killing Room – Richard Montanari
We Need to talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
Never Knowing – Chevy Stevens
Trafficked – Sophie Hayes
Apple Tree Yard – Louise Doughty
A Kind of Intimacy – Jenn Ashworth
Everything’s Eventual – Stephen King
Songbird – Josephine Cox
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Richard Carison
Tapping The Source – William Gladstone
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
The Orphan – Christopher Ransom
No Time For Goodbye – Linwood Barclay
The Dice Man – Luke Rhinehart
Nightmares and Dreamscapes – Stephen King
The Host – Stephanie Meyer
Black Eyed Susans – Julia Heaberlin
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
So there it is! I really am going to push myself very hard to read these books, this year. Several of these books have been sitting on my book shelf for years. At some point, some where, they had triggered my interest in buying them, and there is a definite sadness in letting the years go by, where they collect dust. It’s time to open those pages and bring the characters to life!
Until next time, I say goodbye.