What are you Reading?


Good writers read a lot, and most recommend that aspiring writers read a lot too. But what if you don’t like reading?

Teachers say that a child who doesn’t like reading just hasn’t found the right book yet and I imagine the same is true for everyone. So how can you go about finding ‘the right book’?

In this post I describe a way that’s convenient, free and updated every week. Read on ..

Why should Writers Read?

There are a number of reasons why reading is good for writing.

Some people believe that you’re more likely to produce sentences and paragraphs that are well thought-out and well formed if that’s what you read. On the other hand, here’s William Faulkner’s advice:

Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out.

Reading a wide range of material is likely to expose you to new vocabulary, new ideas and new ways of writing. Reading to understand someone else’s perspective helps you to become conscious of and then articulate your own. Reading can also provide insights into your research questions, and inspire your creativity.

You just need to find the right book …

You can’t Judge a Book by its Cover

A little while ago I wrote about choosing a book because I loved the photo on the front and was intrigued by the blurb on the back. The first chapter lived up to my expectations, but by the fifth I knew I wasn’t going to finish the book.

Given that you can’t (always) judge a book by its cover, here’s another way to choose what to read next.

Introducing Books and Authors

Podcast Graphic

Books and Authors is a podcast of two radio programs from the BBC (British Broadcasting Company): Open Book and A Good Read. You can subscribe and download the podcast or listen online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/openbook

Image of 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North'

Image from booktopia.com

In Open Book, leading authors talk about their work. Recent programs include Christos Tsiolkas describing the real event in his own family that inspired The Slap, and Richard Flanagan on his latest novel set on the Thai-Burmese railway, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

But it’s A Good Read, that most helps me choose what to read next.

The host of A Good Read is the engaging, friendly and extremely widely-read Harriett Gilbert. Each week, she invites several guests to talk about one of their favourite books, which Gilbert and the others have also read.

The guests are different each week and represent a fascinating cross-section of readers. Rarely do they all agree about the books they discuss – and this helps me decide which ones I think I’ll like.

The books range from classic fiction to contemporary graphic novels, and include thrillers, science fiction, biographies, non-fiction, travelogues and more.

A Good Read is less than 30 minutes long, and Gilbert keeps the discussion moving swiftly from topic to topic, covering plot, setting, characters, writing style and other books by the same author. It’s a great way to decide what to read next, or at least to come up with a short list. And if you listen in the car, traffic jams become a lot less annoying too.

Here are some of the books discussed in recent programs. Listen to the podcasts and pick one for yourself.

Images from goodreads.com

Images from goodreads.com

What are you reading, and what made you decide to pick it up?

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  1. I have a HUGE reading list and love reading books of all sorts. This looks really interesting. I’ll be forwarding your article to a few people. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Alison hirst says:

    Hi Alison
    Great hints for someone like me! I also like to watch Jennifer Byrne and guests on ABC and listen to Harriett Gilbert’s World Book club (podcast) for more ideas. I love the photo of your book shelf by the way. Great choices!

  3. Brian Green says:

    Most interesting. I do not choose a book by the cover, or the blurb on the back.
    Some years ago I was introduced to books having a ‘onewordtitle’. Every one of them has been a good read…for me!
    You may wish to look up the following, and no doubt find more. I give the titles only, because I am currently away from my books and can not remember the authors……

    ……Gum : Coal : Cod : Fahrenheit : Atlantic : Gold ;………. Oh yes, and a title with two words, which I have not yet tackled..”On Paper”..


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