This post is (more or less) a continuance of my previous post ‘Reading with intent’, where I discussed my reading plans:
- to broaden my reading material in an effort to expand my exposure to different genre’s and hopefully challenge my self as a writer; and
- to read ‘like a writer’ – that is, to try and take in the specific tricks, tips, and tools used by other authors to make their writing more interesting, more compelling, and more readable.
So far I think this has gone pretty well (keeping in mind it has only been two months):
- non-fiction; finished The Right Stuff and Strunk & White’s Elements of Style,
- classics; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Fahrenheit 451.
- on-line literary magazines; Aurealis – Australia Fantasy & Sci-Fi & LampLight – a quarterly ‘Dark Fiction’, and
- baby-steps into getting some gender balance into my reading; Lauren Beuke’s excellent Broken Monsters.
As to whether my writing has improved… I shall leave that observations to those who choose to read what I put here. 🙂
So what’s all this about re-reading? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of reading with intent?
In my view… yes and no.
By definition re-reading a story I am certainly not expanding my reading set. I’m going over old, familiar, ground.
But I feel there are three aspects of re-reading are in line with my reading with intent plan:
- I only re-read books I like – so why not analyse why I like them.
Some books I re-read every few years – Lord of the Rings. The Thomas Covenant Chronicles (which I will re-read in December). The Horus Heresy series from the Black Library (the subject of the photo). So on my next re-read of these novels, I intend to turn my mind to why these are so compelling – what is it that makes me come back for a second or third (or ninth, or tenth) time. Hopefully this will inform my own writing in some way.
- Re-reading is quick and fun – its like a sugar hit.
I think one of the best things about re-reading is the speed – being familiar with the story generally means I can finish it in half the time, but still get that satisfying ‘just finished a book’ feeling. That satisfaction keeps me coming back for the next book, and the next, and the next. That said, I think an old favourite novel is like chocolate – excellent as an occasional comforting treat, but dangerous if that is all you ever consume! If all you ever read is Lord of the Rings, then as a writer I expect it would be difficult to produce anything that isn’t wholly derivative of JRR’s masterwork. But going back and revisiting old friends after journeying to different places, different novels… can be an excellent thing to do (particularly at this time of year).
- A re-read is a book that’s easy to put down – critical in the very busy silly season.
December is a time for friends and family, for socialising and talking and such. It is not a time for keeping my nose in a book and grunting at people who interrupt (or so my Mum tells me anyway). So new and exciting books are off limits for the next month – instead I shall content myself with books where I know the end, where I know what’s coming – and where interruptions don’t feel like someone is dragging me out of a movie halfway through.
Is this a month of copping out? Well you might have your own opinion, but I don’t think so. But what the hell, even when stretching myself during reading (outside genre, non-fiction etc.), I read primarily for enjoyment.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any novels that you keep going back too for another read- anything I should really try?