For the Love of Reading

I’m a book worm. An avid reader. A book-a-holic.

Whatever you want to call me, I love to read.

I have loved to read since I was a kid and if it weren’t for my love of reading, I don’t think I would have discovered my passion for writing. The two go hand-in-hand, after all. As writers, we can appreciate the qualities that make reading so rewarding – we want to emulate those things in our own writing, we want to create good reading.

I’m not exactly sure when my reverence for reading began. I think it may have been in the third grade. I vividly recall our teacher reading to us, The BFG by Roald Dahl. It was even more enjoyable because he read the dialogue of the giants in funny voices – it was pure, engrossing entertainment.

It was around that time in my life I began to invent wild stories about grand adventures, keys to secret rooms and trips to unknown lands. These were the first short stories I ever wrote. I don’t think it is a coincidence that my love of reading and my passion for writing started right around the same time.

if you want to be a writerIn his book, On Writing, Stephen King writes, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

I’ve been making a point to read as much as possible this year. I listen to audio books on my way to (and from) work so that each morning, I start my day with words, plots, and characters circling in my brain. I read before bed and end my day with my creative mind at work  as I fall asleep.

I’ve written three short stories in the past three months. And I’m certain my increase in reading has contributed to  my increase in writing.

Susan Sontag says, “Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.”

Someone – was it Anne Lamott? – also said, that when we read good books, good books will come out of us.

I read the lyrical prose of Janet Fitch in White Oleander and I wanted to write beautiful words. I read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and I wanted to write a modern love story so heartbreaking it leaves you breathless. I read Water for Elephants and wanted to write a story about a time and a place in the past that feels so authentic it doesn’t feel at all like fiction.

Is there a special book that made you want to be a writer? What books inspire you to write, or to be a better writer?

6 thoughts on “For the Love of Reading

  1. I love books too! I’ve only recently discovered that I want to write. (Or maybe I knew it when I was younger, but was just too scared to try.) I’m inspired by many writers but one of the main ones is Ursula Le Guin. I’ve actually only read a couple of her books but the way she writes is gorgeous. Her style reminds me of reading a really beautiful fairy tale. I’m only working on my second novel now (the first one was a good way to learn but didn’t turn out very well) and I’m working on finding my voice.

    I’ve also read Stephen King’s book On Writing and he mentioned that writers should read at least 60 books per year. Which is how I ended up finding Goodreads. 🙂 I needed a way to keep track of my books and have also learned about books I’d never heard of.

    Reading books makes me want to be a better writer. It’s a shame that I can’t do both things at once.

  2. Special book? A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

    I must’ve read it when I was 12. I didn’t understand most of it, but it left a deep imprint on me. Since then I’ve wanted to be a “storyteller” – writing is my medium because it’s what I have the most experience at.

    Also I didn’t know King wrote a book about writing! I’ll have to look it up. Thanks a million, Jennifer!

    • I have not yet read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, I will have to give it a read.
      I recommend King’s “On Writing” – particularly the second half of the book. The first half is more of a memoir which is interesting, but doesn’t focus on the craft of writing.

  3. Pingback: Blogger of the Week -Jennifer K Blog « Dancing with Fireflies

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