Ah, reading. I love reading. I love books, all of my books, my preshuses, my pretties, my books. But lately, the only reading that happens is the recipe cards for dinner and the books I read to my kids each night.
But still, to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. So I try to carve out reading time for myself. And here's how:
- I read my bible. I should read it more, but shouldn't we all?
- I read in the tub. It is the longest stretch of uninterrupted time that I can find some days. It's quiet with a door on it.
- I switch between fiction and nonfiction. Fiction because I love it and dream of writing it some day and nonfiction because that's what I write and I want to get better at it. I want to read other writers to learn from their construction and flow.
- I try to read a half hour before bed. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. I usually know within a page or two if I've got enough energy to read or if I'm just falling asleep at the page.
I think it's important to read, not just as a writer, but as a mother. I want my family to read - I want it to be our culture. From books we can learn about ourselves, others, places we've never been or may never be. We can experience a little bit of life safely, we can take the bits of the world we read and keep it inside of ourselves, using it like a bit of our own life experience.
I think of my own reading life. I learned about love, hardship, forgiveness and strength between the covers of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder even as I lived in a foreign country that didn't even have a winter season.
I lived on the edge reading Sweet Valley High, preparing myself for all the difficult days ahead in my own school career.
I cried and mourned reading Watership Down and viewed the world with a little bit more of a critical eye to the kindess expressed and harsh words spoken. I learned what really mattered.
There are things I could do much better in my reading life. One thing I'd like to do is to get better at remembering the author's names and who wrote what... I often remember a plot or a scene but not the actual book or who wrote it!
And that brings me to another point... you hear all the time about plagairism and theft of ideas. Some are blatant, some are word for word... but sometimes I wonder if there are phrases in my own writing that I've heard somewhere else or that I've read somewhere else. Certainly there are... but where did they come from, who said them first?