Reading is one of my favorite things to do. I can be obsessive about it and have probably spent more money on books than anything else in my lifetime. Barring things like houses and cars… as far as general consumables (clothing, cosmetics, music, movies) I’d say books win by a landslide. Paper books were always a favorite but if I had my way, I would have every book as an audio book. I love audio books. I didn’t when I first tried them out, back when I was living/working in Bennington in the early 2000’s. But when I started working in Michigan and spent so much time in the car, audio books were the only way I could ever fit in reading. In addition to listening to them in the car they were also my soundtrack of choice when walking the dogs and before going to bed at night. I also have and love my kindle, although since my original kindle died I’ve had a rocky relationship with my new one (features aren’t nearly as good).
That said, I read a ton. And while I will read anything, I find there are certain genres and stories to which I’m drawn that have shaped my idea of story and character and that have guided who I am as a writer. Now, let me be clear: I am not going to blog my book. First, I have never been able to do two things well: one of them is finding the main idea. Go through any of my childhood tests or look at my lesson plans from when I was teaching and you will see that I really struggle with Main Idea. It’s supposed to be one of the most basic of reading strategies (as opposed to context clues, which I am very good at; compare and contrast, which I’m also really good at). I can find symbolism, interpret difficult texts, seek out rare connections to others texts, biblical stories, folk lore, songs… but don’t ask me to tell you the main idea. Because I will turn into a babbling idiot and eventually just run away. The other thing I cannot do is summarize. There are so many layers to everything we read and watch that when I try to summarize, I want to share every single detail, all the nuances, every thing that caught my eye. Needless to say: not a summary.
So, for these reasons I will not blog my book. It would drive people away and if there was an option on Goodreads to say, “I never want to touch this book” (a la my shelf, “don’t let me read the sequel”) people would immediately run and click that. And who wants that? Not I, said the fly. The other reason is that my story is exactly that: mine, and I don’t want people to know about it until it’s polished and proofed and edited to greatness. Because, let’s face it, writing is often the easy part. It’s the editing and revisions where the magic happens.
That said, I’m more than willing to talk about the types of things that hook me. The things I keep going back for more of. Who knows, maybe someone will read this and say, “I love that stuff, too!” and decide to watch for my book. The goal is to have it traditionally published by the time I turn forty. I find that the things I read are in line, albeit it sometimes loosely, with the stories I create in my head. And the ones I commit to paper. That said… here’s a few things about what I love to read. And that have influenced my writing although do nothing to describe what/how I write.
- I Love, But Am Tiring Of, Dystopic Young Adult Series. I have to say that I’m over the whole Hunger Games/Giver trend of teen against dystopic society. That is not to say I don’t like those books, I do. With ferocity (The Giver is the greatest piece of YA fiction ever written). I just find that that particular style of YA has been saturated and I’m interested in some other versions of YA.
- YA Books Involving Medical Ethics Might Be The New Trend. A few weeks ago I was talking to some other readers about what they thought was “next”. We’ve had wizards, dragons, zombies, vampires, werewolves in our recent YA reads. But just like Twilight is old news, so will everything else. Right now I’m a few books into The Jenna Fox Chronicles and greatly enjoying them. The subject matter is fresh and while I’m not always sure exactly where it’s going, I am kept interested.
- Anything Speculative. Without knowing it had a name, I’ve loved speculative fiction since I was a kid. I was obsessed with The Twilight Zone or any sort of story that I described as “Not really science fiction but kind of like, ‘it could maybe happen in the near future, but it hasn’t happened yet'”, which was a favorite way for me to describe the stuff I loved. While not a book Black Mirror, a British television series, captures this brilliantly.
- True Crime. If it happened, and especially if it is unsolved, I get interested to the point of obsession. My newest obsession is the Maura Murray case. I was introduced to this via an article on Cracked that I read on a whim. The author has a great blog on the case that I’ve started reading from the beginning and imagine I will get all the way through at a pace considered impossible. Past obsessions include: Taman Shud, and The West Memphis 3.
- Numbers Stations. Mostly unexplained, and undecipherable, Numbers Stations are found on short wave frequencies and contain encrypted messages using tones, numbers, letters, and morse code. For the most part, it’s accepted that they are used to communicate intelligence information between agencies/governments/spies. I loved listening to shortwave radio in the 90’s and was always freaked out by these. More and more are going off the air but some still exist. There have also been some that have recent activity. You can read through a list of ten of the most famous ones here. And I’ve included a video for those who want to get an idea of what they are.
While my novel is not about medical ethics, dystopias, numbers stations or mysterious dead men on the beaches of Australia, I do find that these types of things influence what I read and also find their way into my writings, even just in tone or style. I love a good mystery, I like to be scared not with gore but with the unknown, and I think that there is nothing better than a story that could be completely different than what one finds at face value.
I also read plenty of “normal” stuff, but these mysterious, unexplained things suck me in like QVC does a shopping addict.
What do you read? How does it translate into your writing? And if you’ve got a creepy unsolved mystery please share in the comments, I’m always looking for more!
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