Read, Read, Read

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

~Stephen King

I met a young man in a critique group who had an excellent premise for his novel. I asked him if he read anything in that genre. His unflinching reply, “Oh, I don’t read books.”


Good writers read and write a lot. Inspiration can come from various sources, not just their own genre. As a memoir and fiction writer, I’ve read a number of books that have helped me improve my creative skills. Some books I’ve kept in my do-not-lend collection.

The Cry and the Covenant, the historical fiction by Morton Thompson, chronicles a doctor’s efforts in preventing women from dying of childbed fever. As a teaching physician at a hospital, he insisted that his students and colleagues wash their hands after working on a cadaver and before helping a woman deliver her baby. This was before widespread acceptance of germ theory and his colleagues resisted his efforts. Women continued to die. Thompson’s description of the ignorance of the medical staff and the doctor’s frustration was powerful.

I reread Lynn S. Hightower’s Flashpoint to study her writing style and because I enjoyed the fact that a female serial killer was quite intriguing and believable. Hightower is excellent in this genre.

Charles Pellegrino’s Dust is a terrifying tale of a worldwide biological chain of events that threatens the survival of mankind. Since reading that book, I haven’t met a dust bunny I didn’t try to kill.

Phantom by Susan Kay is a powerful prequel to The Phantom of the Opera. Each chapter is told from the point of view of the person with whom the phantom comes in contact, beginning with his mother who recoiled at the sight of her disfigured newborn. This book demonstrates strong character development.

The World’s Love Poetry, edited by Michael Rheta Martin, contains more than 500 poems – lyrical, bawdy, tragic, beautiful, and moving – from centuries ago to modern times.

The Stovepipe by Bonnie E. Virag is an emotionally moving memoir of a young girl’s struggle and survival after she and her many siblings were taken from their home and put in foster care. The book ends with “After Thoughts,” a touching recap of her family members’ whereabouts.

I’ve enjoyed rereading the adventures and viewing the awesome pictures of the travels of Kwang and Kook-Wha Koh in their book, Hopping Seven Continents, Maybe one day I can go to some of the places they’ve been.

The young man I mentioned did self-publish his book, but the story wasn’t fully developed or well-written. No surprise there. He should have read more books.

What are you reading?


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    • Kelly Bixby on June 11, 2014 at 6:03 pm
    • Reply

    Your reading interests seem quite varied, and your love for books comes through in your article. Like you, I find pleasure in good writing and in learning from others. If only we had more time…

      • Book Lover on August 19, 2014 at 11:08 am
      • Reply

      If I live long enough to read every book presently on my book shelves, I will be at least 100 years old. But, of course, I’ll find more books I MUST read along the way. So many books, not enough time.

  1. I don’t think I would be as good a writer if I didn’t read the genre I love to write. My ‘read’ stack on is over a thousand. I’ve found read what is good and bad, applied it to my own writing and the improvement in my own manuscripts is astounding. I like your comment about Dust. Very funny. You can kill my dust bunnies anytime. Nice work, Book Lover.

      • Book Lover on May 26, 2014 at 9:45 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you for your comments on my blog. I’ve also read many books which have helped me enhance the quality of my stories. I’m a true book lover.

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