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Writers do well to heed the siren call of books

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series 31 Days Blog Challenge

A huge part of the writer’s life is bound up like the pages they create between book covers. While your brain may be full of craft and your mind on the page staring back at you, don’t for a minute think you can skate by without reading. For a writer, it’s like breathing. Without it you die.

I confess lately I’ve paid more attention to the story god than the god of reading and it shows. Life within a book brings communion with writers present and past on a deeper level than a simple conversation over dinner or at a conference. Life is examined. Stories are plundered and my whole being is cast out into a sea of words where worlds and characters greet and embrace me.

I am an eager reader who is all over the map. There are no genre boundaries for me. With fall around the corner and my TBR stacks threatening to collapse, I thought I’d share five books that have the siren call and are luring me even as I compose this post. Let me list them for you.

The first is, of course, all about the writing life. I’ve had it a number of years but haven’t pulled it out of the TBR stack by the bed. The Writing Life: Writers On How They Think And Work edited by Marie Abana promises to be a huge distraction and a gift to my insomnia. Within the pages of this book are fifty of today’s finest voices spilling their secrets, confessing their frustrations, and sharing stories that entertain, engage, and encourage.

Next on the list is the highly acclaimed NYT Bestseller Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes. First, I confess I’m immediately interested in a book that took thirty years to write. Second, the description of the compelling narrative that opens the book is enough to draw me in. Finally, I think it’s time I read a book about the Vietnam war. It’s taken me thirty years to cross that threshold.

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy has been positioned on the nearby shelf so that I see it every day and yet I haven’t taken the plunge. It’s a striking cover and I know the prose will leave me breathless. It’s time to give myself up to the total immersion I know Ellroy demands.

The dog lover in me begs for more books. Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing, and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon answers that plea. This memoir of a 24-hour stint at an animal emergency hospital with all the rich characters, animal and human, will no doubt pose as many questions as I’m sure it answers and prove to be thought-provoking.

Finally, I am a sucker for a good science book, especially one in the hands of a writer such as Michael Pollan. I mean, he writes about the Tulip Wars. The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World isĀ one of those books that is wide-ranging and includes as much history as it does science.

So those are my five picks for the fall. What are yours?


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  • Cinnie2

    I’ve been thinking about this very thing tonight, Vikk.
    I really got a lot out of dissecting those books as you suggested, but I really want more to focus on my own work right now than reading much other fiction.
    However, I am trying to wade through “Atlas Shrugged” and starting another one of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I’d love to read Dracula again and see if I like it as much this time. I read it twice about thirty years ago.
    Other than that, I am reading books on writing, hoping to finalize my plot and get this written.
    I loved reading your post. Good food for thought, as well as a lovely flow of words.

    Claudine