August is reading time
August is a no TV month for me. Unless there is an important news bulletin, a hurricane (necessitating weather watching), or something unusually compelling, I am not turning on my television. Amazingly, I go to bed earlier, read and write more, and sleep better.
Best of all, I am reading. As a writer, I need to read a lot! I need to compare styles, study dialog, see how books are put together, and appreciate the works of others.
This summer, I’ve read about 25 books (ten since the end of July) and there are several in the pipeline (stacked on my nightstand, or on the table in my den where things wait).
My August Reads (so far)
The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett
Dressed for Death by Donna Leon
Make that Deux by Julia McDermott
Still Life by Louise Penny
The Maid by Nina Prose
Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Daniel Silva
The Lincoln Library by Amor Towles
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
One by One by Ruth Ware
The IT Girl by Ruth Ware
I’m hungry for books. Thank goodness they are calorie free! When people ask how I am doing, I talk about what I am reading and what I am writing and ask what they are reading. I’m less focused on world news or elections (I have already mailed my primary ballot and spent considerable time studying candidates). Just let me escape in a book. It is an August thing.
This week, I am reading three books. They are vastly different and good reads. Wolf Hall is the first of the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy, by Hilary Mantel. A Traveler in Time was written in the 1930’s for older children and is about time travel; I thought my granddaughter would like it but wanted to read it myself, first. The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling), is the first in a series about a private investigator.
Reading connects me to people. Two neighbors and I like Louise Penny's books and have decided to acquire all of them, share them, then pass them along to other readers or feed the “Little Library” boxes that are around town. We all read quite a lot and books give us something to talk about when we are out walking our dogs. Other friends and I share reading suggestions. Books are a great conversation starter.
One of my greatest joys, when my boys were young, was reading to them. Now, I read to my grandchildren. Books influenced them from toddlerhood and reading is an important part of their children's lives now, too. There is nothing better than having a little person snuggle in your lap and ask for you to "read pleeeeeease." And isn't it better for them to see us reading books than glued to our phones and tablets?
At this stage in my life, I don’t want to keep books but pass them on. I use the library, but it is often hard to get the books I want to read when I want them. We need to support the local independent bookstores. I also order used books online (ThriftBooks) and use audio books occasionally, but prefer to touch and turn the pages. Different fonts intrigue me and I pay attention to how the chapters are organized, the way the Table of Contents is put together, the cover art and bio, and the author’s notes. I also love the smell of a new book. It's not just about the words; it's the total package.
I believe books are supposed to be shared, which is another reason I prefer printed books over e-books. When I travel, I use e-books. Audiobooks are great for car travel or in lieu of watching television while I do projects like needlework, ironing, or cooking. But real books are the best!
One of my daughters-in-law is an English teacher and a voracious reader. In addition to being a wonderful mother to two of my grandchildren, Liz is a source of book ideas and it’s fun to share books. We both finished reading The Lincoln Highway this month and she gave me her copy of The Midnight Library, which I highly recommend.
My preference, especially in August, is to read historical fiction or mystery books. Similar to the reasons I love Wordle, Nerdle, Sudoku, and Quordle, I like a book with a good puzzle. Mystery, suspense, or detective books exhilarate me because I like nothing better than trying to figure it out. And in August, my reading repertoire does not include self-help books (I generally loathe them anyway), or lengthy history books.
This month, I'm reading whatever is next in the pipeline. I have learned that if I begin a book and am not enthused by the 50th page, then I pass it on. There are too many good books to waste time on an I don't enjoy.
Now that I am writing a book of my own, I have a much great appreciation for what it takes to write a book and I need to continue reading to motivate me, support other writers, and to keep learning. I’m in awe of those who write, publish, then write some more. My experience so far is that it can be exhilarating, that only other writers understand what I am going through, and that it is often hard, frustrating, and difficult to get through a slump.
Most importantly, writers need community – other writers and mentors in particular. My memoires group of six provides inspiration. My All About Writing mentors and working group keeps me focused and motivated. Without them, it would be a very lonely and much longer path.
I can’t wrap my arms around what it will be like to publish a book just yet; there is lots to do, but I’m getting close to finishing the first draft. Maybe some August you'll be reading my book. I'd be so honored if you did!
Please support independent bookstores. It would be a very sad world without them. Independent bookstores provide personalized services, hands-on browsing, support for authors and their promotional events, and neighborly enthusiasm. Most also carry e-books and audiobooks. They use apps that you download on your phone or tablet. It’s easy and you can support a local business. We need them and they need our business to keep their doors open!