Who Should I Read?

woman-armfull-books-bigst
There’s gotta be something good in here!

We all have our favorite authors (and some of you have read and enjoyed my stuff), but the question is…

If we, as authors, are supposed to “read a lot and write a lot” – not necessarily in that order – to improve our craft, then it stands to reason we should be, well…

Reading.

I read a lot, but probably not as much as I should.

Allow me to explain.

I read a lot of new authors. People who need the help that I can give them. People who need basic improvement.

I read other stuff, but mostly I do my reading in critiques. That’s where the biggest volume takes place.

Me, trying to look cool.
Me, trying to look cool. Not a lot of book reading got done on this snorkeling vacation.

What I bring to the table is an impatient reader who likes detail sometimes, likes the story to move along, and doesn’t mind dwelling on things that are important. What I referred to as a lazy reader. You have to hook me and keep me.

But!

If I am going to improve as an author, I need to read other authors, maybe, who are not like me.

So, if you’ve read my stuff or not, who would you recommend that I read? You can pick one author or three, but I would like:

  1. a specific book you read
  2. why it was important to you as opposed to your eighth grade English teacher

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Jenny's new bff Anne Rice
Jenny’s new bff Anne Rice. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

For example, recently Jenny wrote about how Interview With The Vampire really made her take a new appreciation of character development in the story. BTW, that post caught the eye of Anne Rice, author of Interview With The Vampire, who then posted about it in her – Anne Rice’s –  Facebook page. How cool is that?  (I did not read that book. I saw the movie. Click HERE to see he post that Anne Rice liked and made Jenny subsequently freak out.)

Anyway, I want your recommendations. Here three of mine.

  • Bill Cosby, his LP from 1968 “To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With” I watched as my older brothers and sisters laughed at this comedian who told funny stories about his life growing up, and it impressed me as a child that comedy was a powerful device. A record is just an audiobook, after all. It counts.
  • Mark Twain, “How To Tell A Story And Other Essays.” Not the stuff we were forced to read but his speeches and comments were what drew me to Twain. Then I saw that Bill Cosby was the modern version of this classic storyteller, and that good, funny writing could tell the rules to fuck off and still be amazing. Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, and a lot of others, would write in a similar style, but the original was the best. And he could be deathly serious at times, too, which I didn’t appreciate until much later in life.
  • Stephen King, “A Change Of Seasons,” specifically “The Body” opened my eyes to deep personal emotions in writing that anyone can connect with. It was my first exposure to King’s writing and I almost didn’t read it. A friend recommended it, and I said, “Aw, I’m not into scary crap, and his movies suck.” (I was thinking Carrie, Cujo). The Shining would become one of my favorite movies and King would become a favorite author, even though he still writes a lot of stuff I don’t like. Maybe I should read more of him, but The Body hooked me and kept me and I gained an appreciation of what it is to be a writer.

So those are my recommendations

What are YOURS?

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Your humble host.
Your humble host.

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

29 thoughts on “Who Should I Read?

  1. One of my favorite books is His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. It takes place during the Napoleonic wars, with the addition of each side having an Air Force comprised of dragons. The dragons speak in the language they heard while in the egg. It’s a compelling story and the language is gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘People of the Book’ by Geraldine Brooks. I’m probably revealing something awful about myself now, but I struggle, I mean REALLY struggle to read long books (attention span issues). I was given a copy of the above as an ARC about six years ago (ish), hadn’t read the blurb or seen the sheer size of it, and my first impression was “F***! why did I agree to this?”, but I said I would read it, so I did. (I should look up my review of it).

    Did I tell you about my attention span issues yet? Oh right! Okay, my only issue was the Chronology of the story, darting backwards and forwards in time, chapter by chapter. However, once I got a grip and focused my attention (I have attention span issues), I got over the issue and was so absorbed in the story, desperate to know what happens next, that I finished it and felt completely fulfilled. It’s about a book, a historical book (the Sarajevo Hagadah sp?) and I can’t stand history. That book did something right, it made me read cover to cover obsessively, about something I had absolutely no interest in. I should take another look at it to see how it was written, and how it fed my imagination to make me keep reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hemingway. I never read him in school. I picked up, The Old Man and the Sea last year, and haven’t stopped reading him since. My favorite novel of his so far is, For Whom the Bell Tolls. I love his descriptions of making love and of falling in love in that book, among other things… His ability to highlight complex emotions humans in the simplest of ways is profound. I often find the beginning of one of his novels to be slow, only to be amazed that by the end, he has completely tied things together in a way I could not have conceived. The middle to end of his books are often like a steady, rolling climax. So, yeah, I love the way he writes. LOVE!

    Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury was recommended to me and I read it. Never would have otherwise. I appreciated it and struggled with it in parts, but there was some beautiful prose and big picture insights on life throughout it.

    I feel like I am still finding my way through fiction because I used to read mostly non-fiction. I agree, though, reading out of our comfort zone opens up a world of possibilities, and as it’s been said, even reading a book we may struggle with, can be inspiring. Strange, but true. Writing and reading are subjective. It’s nice when we can appreciate the beauty of the art no matter what. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My recommendations will mostly be fantasy.

    Tolkien, although you’ve probably already read him.

    Anything by Connie Willis (who was recently made a SF grand master if you’re into such things)–my favorite is To Say Nothing of the Dog.

    Robin McKinley if you like fairy tales. Beauty is a classic, but Rose Daughter is the one I really wish I’d written. Or Pegasus, Dragonhaven, or Chalice if you want something totally original. McKinley is a genius. I would totally fangirl if I ever met her.

    Zelazny is another genius. I’d recommend Amber, but it’s five books long, and you said you have attention span issues. A Night in the Lonesome October is a short one by him.

    Terry Pratchett’s discworld, although the later books are far better than the earlier. Don’t worry about going back and reading the early ones. They’re all meant to be stand-alone. My favorite is Night Watch, although you might relate to Thud more because it has a lot about fatherhood.

    Diana Wynne Jones–Howl’s Moving Castle. This one was made into an animated movie if you like, and it’s child appropriate.

    And the Hunger Games trilogy if you haven’t already read it and can stand first present.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m like you, most of what I read is from crit partners. But, I love listening to audio books while I’m cleaning or doing laundry. Actually I read a few of your books that way 😉
    READ the Kite Runner, if you haven’t already. Amazing. Khaled Hosseini is so wonderfully descriptive. The way he brought the story around full-circle was beautiful.
    I also love Ken Follet (everything) and Maya Angelou.

    Liked by 1 person

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