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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Happy new year! The fact that I’m saying so on the 14th of January should give you some idea how busy the first two weeks of 2013 have turned out to be.

I’m currently researching my next WIP, reading whatever and wherever my subconscious takes me to try to make sense of the hints of a story it sends up every once in awhile for my conscious mind to chew on. Consequently, I’m reading stuff I would probably never otherwise pick up, from pictorial and written histories of Vancouver in the last five decades to biographies of musicians and lots in between. At the moment, that includes reading Rod: The Autobiography, the un-mysteriously titled autobiography of Rod Stewart.

I’m a writer who doesn’t outline, but has to feel her way into and through the story. So when I read something Rod said about the writing process, it made me smile both because I related to it and because I’m reading the book to help me do precisely that. For all my writer readers, and anyone else who doesn’t quite know where they’re going until they get there, I give you Rod Stewart on writing:

“The whole process is a mystery to me, in any case. When we wrote ‘Maggie May’ and the song was in its formative stages, just a sequence of chords that needed some words and melody to fit, I hadn’t got a clue what the number was going to be about. I was just mouthing away and making noises, some of them words, in the spaces where the vocal was supposed to be. And suddenly ‘Wake up’ snapped into my mind — not even ‘Wake up, Maggie,’ just ‘Wake up.’ And where that came from, or why, I have no idea. You just have to think ‘Thank fuck,’ and allow yourself to set off after it, down the path to the rest of the story.”

Ain’t that the truth?

Back soon!

(Oh, and for the sake of proper attribution, that quote, used for commentary/review, appears on page 124 of the hardcover edition of Rod: The Autobiography by Rod Stewart, Crown Archetype 2012)

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Chacun son goût

My next door neighbours are a couple in their eighties. They’re the best possible sort of neighbours to have in lots of ways. They’re quiet, friendly, warm, and exactly the sort whose home we happily watch when they’re away and who do the same for us. They’re also interesting people. They’re into everything from helping refugees to getting lots of exercise to writing poetry and self-publishing it for their families. They’re computer savvy and independent, and over the years, we’ve talked lots about books, because they’re avid readers.

Until now, we’d only mentioned titles and authors to each other, but after a recent visit, I offered to lend her a couple of books I thought she might enjoy. I picked two: one I liked with a subject I thought would appeal to her, and one that ranks as one of my own favourite reads this year. I didn’t tell her anything about the books when I dropped them off.

This morning, she brought them back. The first she liked well enough. She found the topic interesting, as I thought she would, and the writing solid.

The second, a book I loved, she didn’t like at all. With an eye to making future suggestions she’d enjoy more, I asked her what she didn’t like about it, and she said she didn’t like the writing, that it got a bit better as she went along, but she just didn’t like it and didn’t really know why. She doesn’t mind reading outside her usual areas, she said, but likes good writing, first and foremost. (The implication, I suppose, was that this book wasn’t it.) Then she asked me what I thought of it.

This book had me hooked from the beginning, and I think it’s beautifully written. She was very surprised when I told her it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year, and that I like the writing style, the characters, all of it.

It was a very good reminder that reading is utterly subjective. One person’s favourite read is another’s wasted reading time. The variety of books available at any bookstore should be reminder enough of that, but it’s easy to forget, especially when you’re looking for someone to love your baby enough to publish it or if you get a poor review.

So next time your work gets slammed in a review or you get one of those “not right for me” rejections, remember that that one was my neighbour, but the next one may be me, hand-selling your book to everyone I can talk into buying it because I loved it so much.

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Read anything good lately? I’ve been making a bit of a dent in my TBR pile. That’s not to say I haven’t added more to the pile as quickly as (*cough* more quickly than) I’ve taken some out, but still…

The past few months of reading have brought a mix from meh to marvellous. Nothing I didn’t care to finish, which is a nice bonus, and a couple of excellent ones with characters and stories that have stayed with me, clear in my memory, long after putting them down. That’s rare, and I appreciate it. Here are a few, chosen for being memorable enough that they came easily to mind when I was sitting on my patio thinking about what I’d read recently:

 

The Self-Preservation Society by Kate Harrison
This is the second of Kate’s books I’ve read. In the first, Brown Owl’s Guide to Life, she impressed me with her handling of multiple points of view and a flashback timeline, too. This one has a simpler structure, but is also well written. It’s a little bit silly and a I’ve no idea how well she handled the medical subject matter, not knowing anything about brain injuries, but as a summer read, it was fun and I appreciated that the main character resisted changing. Don’t we all?

 

 

 

 

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

Regular readers of my blog may remember the kudos I gave Susanna for her The Winter Sea. I loved this one, too. Within a few pages she had me absolutely hooked, and had my writer wheels turning trying to figure out how she’d done it. Once you’ve read it – not before – you should check out the lovely video Susanna has on her blog, sent to her by an Australian woman who reads Mariana over and over and over again.

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

I’d been eyeing this one for awhile, and finally bought it a couple of weeks ago. I had a feeling it would be something special, and it is. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. Jojo Moyes does a beautiful job with both the parts set in the early 1960s and the present day.

 

 

 

 

Not unusual for my recent favourites to be British women’s fiction. (Yes, Susanna is Canadian, but her publisher, Allison and Busby, is in London.) I tend to love books that would fit handily in the soon-to-be-nonexistent “strong romantic elements” category of the RWA Rita awards, and many of the books I love best have been nominated for the British version, the Romantic Novel of the Year award from the Romantic Novelists Association.

What’re your favourite recent reads?

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Reading Idiosyncrasies

I know people who always have several different books on the go, sometimes one for work, one for the car, one for home… I am not one of those people. When it comes to reading, I’m a serial monogamist, one book at a time. 

Reading my one book at a time today, I realized something else I do when I’m reading. Often, right in the middle of an emotionally-charged scene, especially an absorbing one, I’ll put the book down, sometimes even mid-sentence, to do something menial. Today, for example, I put my book down to lower the sun umbrella on my patio. It wasn’t something I needed to do in that moment, and I realized that it’s a habit I have, putting books down in the middle of their best parts to give me a few extra minutes to absorb the story and not let the scene rush by too quickly. Does anyone else do that?

What are your reading habits? Do you read more than one book at a time? Zoom through the good bits or try to slow down and savour them? And then there’s the whole question of dog-earing or using a bookmark…

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Choosing Happy

My name is Kathy, and I read romance. I read other stuff, too, but for the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on the love story part of my insatiable reading habit.

I’ve never picked up a traditional Harlequin category romance, I must admit, though I’m sure there are lots of great ones out there. Very short novels, as so many of those are, have never attracted me. But longer romances like Nora Roberts’s trilogies, contemporary romances by the likes of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Susan Wiggs, regencies by Mary Balogh and others, and women’s fiction that isn’t technically romance but often still has a strong romance element, like those by Kate Harrison and Cathy Kelly and many others, these are all books I enjoy. It’s what I write – more the romantic women’s fiction end than straight romance – and it makes me happy to read it.

For me, there is something to be said for sinking into a joyful story, for coming out the other end of conflict and possible loss and ending with something good. I like romantic gestures and love and seeing people connect, whether in the real world or in fiction.

I happened across this lovely bit below in the Mary Balogh book I just finished the other day, from the main character’s thoughts in Seducing an Angel, and it sums up why I like to read happy books, watch movies that leave me feeling good, write what I write and surround myself with people I love who bring joy to my life. I’m think I’m going to adopt this as my philosophy of life. Something to pin on the bulletin board beside the computer, don’t you think?

“The world was a wonderful place, and if it was true that there was no such thing as happily ever after, then at least sometimes there was happiness pure and unalloyed, and one ought to grasp it with both hands and carry it forward to make the hard times more bearable.”

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