Reading Wednesday: A PSA about the importance of reading plus Three New Books

 love_of_books_202371I love to read. That’s why I have reading Wednesdays. To share books that I’m reading because I don’t agree with the statistic that says 89% of Americans never pick up a book after high school. At least I hope that many people don’t stop reading after high school. Reading opens doorways to bold characters, different lives, and new worlds. Reading challenges the mind and opens the heart. Recently someone asked me about my four year old son, known on my blog affectionately as Chunk, who has been reading for two years. This woman asked me, “How did I do it?” First of all, I didn’t DO anything. He learned by himself. But when I recounted this story to my wonderful hubby, I added something to the story. I told my wonderful hubby that I wished I had told her it doesn’t matter at what age someone starts reading, it matters that people continue to read. My four children each have a different path to learning how to read. For me, however, as their mother, I’m not as concerned with how they learn to read, but whether they continue to read after high school. As their mother, I hope they all see me reading different books and want to continue reading about new worlds.

     On my last reading Wednesday, I highlighted three books: Techniques of a Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain, The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper G. Huguley, and Somewhere Along the Way by Jodi Thomas. I’m happy to write that I’ve finished all three. The first, Techniques of a Selling Writer, is a must for any wannabe writer. This is essential reading for establishing the importance of scene and sequel. Detailing the structure of a book through the beginning, middle and end, this book covers a lot of ground. For anyone who wants to write a book or does write books, I highly recommend this guide. The second, The Lawyer’s Luck, is a thought-provoking novella (with emphasis on novella). While too short, I highly enjoyed reading the story of Lawrence and Realie. Rather than painting two dimensional characters, Ms. Huguley depicts layered emotions for each character in her novella. The novella challenges a person to reconsider what he or she learned in history class and dig deeper into the complexities behind the heinous act of slavery. Told in alternating points of view between a runaway slave and a free man with African, Native American and white ancestry, the inspirational romantic novella examines the courtship of Lawrence and Realie over a geographic area from Ohio to Georgia. I recommend this and look forward to reading its sequel, the full length inspirational romance, The Preacher’s Promise. The last book, Somewhere Along the Way, is the second in the Harmony series which is more of a novel with strong romantic elements. I’d definitely start with the first in the series. While this book can be read as a stand alone, the characters’ stories are continued from the first book. I’d have felt lost if I started with this one. But Ms. Thomas weaves interesting characters in an interesting town that I’ll continue to visit from time to time.

     But now I’m reading three new books. I’m at the very beginning of two of them. I’m reading one book about writing, one book from the library, and one on my Kindle.

     ON WRITING BY STEPHEN KING. When I started Techniques of a Selling Writer, I decided to read five to seven pages a day since the writing was so dense with practical advice. So when I started On Writing, I didn’t know what to expect. I have never read a Stephen King novel. Don’t get me wrong. On a personal level, I have the highest respect and admiration for this author whose books have gripped so many. My grandmother was a Stephen King fan. She thought he wrote dark comedy. I’ve only seen one movie adaptation of his work: The Shawshank Redemption. This movie gripped me, and I watched with my husband wondering whether Tim Robbins’ character would break free of prison or get caught in his attempted escape. The acting of Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins bringing such subtlety and humanity to complex characters still astounds me even though I saw the movie eight or nine years ago.

    Even though I liked the movie, I’ve never read the short story Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption on which the movie is based. I’ve never read Carrie or Cujo or The Shining or The Stand or one of the many other novels read the world round. But everyone says On Writing is a must read for writers. And now I know why. This book is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Hands down. I’m reading it everywhere I go. On MJ’s curriculum night, I had my head stuck between the pages as I navigated the familiar hallway taking care not to step on anyone’s feet, but I had to keep reading the story of Stephen King’s 8th grade self selling his jelly-print published copies of his take on The Pit and The Pendulum. When I pick up Cupcake and Chunk, my head is stuck between the pages while Stephen King describes his grandfather’s toolbox and the tools that should be in every writer’s toolbox. I had to laugh at one point when he wrote about the act of writing. The line is “It’s not church.” I had my head stuck in the book on the grounds of the church where my twins attend preschool. I’ve read this in a doctor’s office, while waiting for children, on curriculum night and nearly everywhere else. I am engrossed in his curriculum vitae, his toolbox, and his advice about the act of writing. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I understand why everyone recommends this book.

    The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson. Even though I love On Writing, I’m also reading some books for fun. I’ve gravitated toward reading more romances lately because I’m a romance writer and I read them for pleasure as well as to analyze POV, characterization, dialogue, etc. But I also love mysteries, and I’ve allowed myself to catch up on three of my favorite series by three of my favorite mystery authors. I recently finished the latest Rita Mae Brown mystery as well as Carolyn Hart’s latest Bailey Ruth book. I’ve read all of the Goldy catering mysteries, and this book was finally available at my library. I’ve only just started and am at the start of Chapter 3. I’m already hungry as I am whenever I read one of Ms. Davidson’s mysteries as the heroine runs a successful catering company. My wonderful hubby and I listened to one of her books on tape during a trip a long time ago. He even told me his stomach grumbled at the description of all the marvelous food. 

     I keep reading these books because I admire Goldy’s resilience and tenacity. I also like the cast of supporting characters from her police husband Tom to her best friend Marla (and I keep reading because Goldy found happiness with someone after the Jerk and I want Marla to find someone also) to her catering assistant Julian to her teenage son Arch. Jake the Bloodhound and Scout the cat are also making appearances. 

     Pull Me Closer by Lauren H. Kelley. I belong to Georgia Romance Writers. At the first meeting I attended, I met two writers: Lauren and Jeanine. Lauren has gone on to self-publish three books in a series and Jeanine has become my critique partner. I love GRW, and I love to read works by the talented members who help and encourage each other. I spent three very enjoyable days with Haywood Smith’s Wife-in-Law, laughing and commiserating with the main characters. I thoroughly enjoyed Piper G. Huguley’s The Lawyer’s Luck (featured above). And I’ve spent quite a few hours enmeshed in Tanya Michael’s books revolving around either a family or a hot cowboy. 

     At RWA’s National Conference, Lauren asked me to read her third book. I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again, I can’t start in the middle of a series. So I purchased the first two books for my Kindle. I’ve started reading the first book. This steamy novel set in corporate America is a change of pace for me. I generally gravitate to romance books that revolve around a small town or regency England or the the pioneering wilds of America. I’ve only just started Pull Me Closer as well, but it’s interesting to read Kerrigan and Axel’s story. This is a steamy novel, and it targets an adult reader. Ms. Kelley’s background in corporate America is helping add detail to her story.

     So I’m reading three totally different books. But the important thing is that I love reading. I hope I pass that love of reading onto my children.

     What are you reading? Let me know.

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