Monday, March 7, 2011

And the winner is...

Thanks to everyone who "liked" my new author fan page on Facebook. The winner of the autographed copy of Missy Teppens' His Forever Love is DEBRA BECHT. Congratulations, Deb! With this giveaway, I am renewing my personal commitment to good, old-fashioned book reading. Although, technically, reading a book on my Kindle might not be considered old-fashioned...

I like to start my mornings with a cup of coffee and my laptop. Minutes turn into hours as I find out all the latest about my friends and fellow authors on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, email, and blogs of every shape and size. (My username is PamAsberry if you want to look for me.) I value the personal connections; I acquire valuable information and insights. Like the caffeine in my morning joe, social networking is stimulating - and addictive. And sometimes I wonder if I am getting too much of a good thing.

I was an avid reader at a very early age. As an elementary student, I always checked out the maximum number of books allowed from my school library, and was given the privilege of choosing from the "adult" section in the bookmobile when I was in the sixth grade. Carolyn Haywood, Lloyd Alexander, Louisa May Alcott and Charles Dickens were childhood favorites. My appetite remained voracious through high school, when I discovered science fiction and fantasy, Ayn Rand and Hermann Hesse, romance novels and Gone with the Wind. I was wild and free - on the inside, at least. If you knew me back in the day, you might have called me as a bookworm. But I wouldn't have been offended. I would have simply shrugged my shoulders and moved on to the next chapter.

Everything changed when I got to college; I was too busy poring over textbooks and writing papers and practicing piano - and partying with my friends - to read for pleasure. I don't remember reading much those first few years of married life, either. As a matter of fact, it wasn't until I became pregnant with my first child that I seriously picked up a book again. But then it was to educate myself - first on pregnancy, then on child development and home education. And I read to my kids - many wonderful books by all the greatest authors for young people. I have delicious memories of those days; I hope my boys do, too. I still have a large collection of picture books and chapter books; maybe I will share them with grandchildren one day.

In the meantime, my little boys have grown into young men; they read for themselves, and I have given up on trying to solve the riddles of parenting. So the past couple of years, I have spent my free moments working on my own novel and reading nonfiction selections books on the subject of writing craft. But there hasn't been much time leftover for digging into a juicy novel. It seems selfish, decadent, a waste of time.

Or is it?

In his great book On Writing, author Stephen King says the following:

"The real importance of reading is that it creates an easy and intimacy with the process of writing; one comes to the country of the writer with one's papers and identification pretty much in order. Constant reading will pull you into a place (a mind-set, if you like the phrase) where you can write eagerly and without self-consciousness. It also offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done and what hasn't, what is trite and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying (or dead) on the page. The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor."

Those are strong words. But they ring true. I will feel better - and write better - if I eat less figurative junk food and opt for solid nutrition. My goal is a book a week.

Describe your reading habits. What was the last novel you finished? Recommended or no? Why or why not?


Sangu said...

This is a great post! I think reading is absolutely essential to writing: you can't fully appreciate the tropes (and learn how to avoid them) without reading in your genre; you can't be original or fresh if you don't know what's already out there; and the pleasure of reading beautiful words only makes your writing skills better!

At least, I tell myself these things every time I buy a new book or spend an afternoon in bed curled up reading :-)

Pam said...

Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your insights, Sangu. Here's wishing us both many pleasant afternoons with great books in our hands. Best of luck in all that you do!

Debra Becht said...

So most of my reading involves work for now along with Global Economics (for a class I am taking). Nothing exciting however, What Got You Here Won't Get You There is a fabulous leadership book. I weary of reading those things from time to time but this one is excellent in how it simplifies concepts and applies them in a practical way. The bonus is that it isn't the same ol' same ol'. Outstanding!

Debra Becht said...

p.s. I really love winning on your blog! Can you next do an autographed copy of Austen's Pride and Prejudice. My personal FAVE! Just kidding of course.

Pam said...

Deb, thanks for your recommendations. And I can autograph a copy of "Pride & Prejudice" for you... is that what you meant? ;-)