National Book Month

October 2019 is designated as National Book Month.

Books bring the world to readers.

I’m an author. But I was a reader first. As an introvert, I prefer reading to almost any social activity.

Lately though, I have been struggling to find books I like from beginning to end, but I still read a lot of fiction. Since June I have started about two dozen books, but only finished a handful of them. I think I suffer a bit from the pitfalls that can befall “reading as a writer.”

I am certified to teach English language arts and literature, so maybe this “read as a writer” brain is a hazard of the job. I believe it is extremely important that writers read widely, to see as many styles of writing as possible. But there are limitations. There is just not enough time in a classroom to consume and critique and consider more than a handful of works. And this list of works can be biased by district standards, teacher preferences, and a host of other politically motivated curriculum dictums in the classroom.

So a person who wants to be a good writer has to read outside of class. That means finding reading material. I do not hold that the only good writing is found in mainstream publishers’ catalogs, so you should search in your preferred genre(s) and sample writers who are publishing either independently or with small/micro presses.

As I said at the beginning though, not everything is readable. Be discerning. Recognize the good elements — maybe the author is creating particularly intriguing premises/plots, but their execution slips in world-building (there’s no “there” there). Or an author has a quirky well-rounded main character, but the plot is thin and see-through for every twist and turn. Maybe an author created an incredible plot with deft foreshadowing, and a delicious surprise ending, but the characters are all riffs of someone else’s. You can still learn from each of these authors’ works.

I’m linking to my Goodreads page where you can find my thoughts about the books I finished reading, as well as ones I started but DNF’d. There are also a few marked to-read that I haven’t gotten to yet. If you have a recommendation which should move to the top of my TBR, let me know.

My reading goal for October is to be able to read and finish at least one book that I can rate at least 4 of 5 stars. (Just one will do. I’m definitely more of a quality over quantity person, and not just in books.) What’s your goal for National Book Month?

~ Lara

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