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Dewey’s Readathon Reading List Lights the Way

This entry is part 32 of 32 in the series Read-a-thon

Deweys Readathon reading listDewey’s Readathon Reading List Preparation

Creating a Dewey’s Readathon reading list is so much fun because the readathon days are magical for me. I love reading and confess that those wonderful huge blocks of time where I escape to other worlds has eluded me during the recent ins and outs of daily life. How about you? When’s the last time you curled up in your armchair with a steaming mug of pumpkin spice coffee or tea, a scone, and good book? This Saturday is a perfect day when you make that happen.

My Dewey’s Readathon Reading List

Of course, preparation is the anchor for any success when it comes to a marathon, even a reading marathon. Aside from gathering snacks, clearing daily tasks, and notifying friends and family, the list of potential books to be read is all important. I like to have a neat stack of five to ten books reflecting a combination of interests and in varying length so that there is an answer to any mood that might rear its little head. Here’s a glimpse into my Dewey Readathon book list plans:

How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams

If you have had your share of failure in life, Scott Adams may very well have the book for you. A friend of mine suggested How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life the other day and said she found great nuggets of inspiration.

Everything you want out of life is in the bubbling vat of failure. The trick is to get the good stuff out. ” —Scott Adams

So who’s Scott Adams and why would he be of interest for a Dewey Readathon? Well, for one thing, he’s the creator of Dilbert, “one of the world’s most famous syndicated comic strips.” So you know not only will it be well-written but it will be funny. Might make for a great way to either begin the marathon or end it. You know how it is when you’re reading in the wee hours and the eyelids start to blink and close. Dilbert’s creator might be a worthy antidote.

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury

For me, Deweye’s readathon is not a full readathon experience without a dip into one of my favorite books on writing. I adore Bradbury’s The Joy of Writing and think everyone should read that essay—and read it more than once. I often turn to that particular essay before beginning a session of writing. Bradbury does a great job of reminding me why I do what I do.

If you are writing without zest, without gust, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. You don’t even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is—excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches. God knows it’d be better for his health.” —Ray Bradbury

How about you? Are you full of “fevers and enthusiasms,” or, like me, do you sometimes run hot and cold? Perhaps you’ve stored your creativity in a deep freeze? Bradbury’s essay will move, excite, and ignite. It is a great antidote and one I keep nearby, always.

Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing by David Farland

The idea of infusing your stories with resonance is not something I think most writers hear much about but it is a powerful technique and worthy skill to develop. David Farland is intentional in using resonance in his own writing and has devoted a book to the subject.

Well, of course, one of the most important skills for a writer to master is the proper use of resonance.”—David Farland

I admit I haven’t been as intentional in my use of resonance as I could so this is a definite read.

Redemption Road: A Novel by John Hart

No, I haven’t forgotten about fiction. I’m eager to read Hart’s latest book, Redemption Road. Not only is he a great writer but he’s a fascinating speaker, too. Earlier this year I attended his local book signing and enjoyed listening to how he works, what makes him write, and how he stands firm on writing stand-alone stories rather than working through a typical mystery series. I read John Hart becomes his use of words makes my heart sing. Talk about poetry in prose. . . .

It was a paradox of life behind the walls, that where any day could end in blood, every morning contrived to start exactly the same. A man woke and, for two beats of his heart, didn’t know where he was or what he’d become. Those few seconds were magic, a warm flicker before reality walked across his chest, the black dog of remembrance trailing at its feet. This morning was no different from any other: stillness, at first, then memories of all the things that came with thirteen years in a box. Moments like that were bad enough for most.

For a cop, they were worse.

For a cop like Adrian, they were unbearable.

It took Hart five years to produce Redemption Road. Well worth the wait, I think.

The Best American Short Stories 2014 by Jennifer Egan and Heidi Pitior

One of my favorite series has to be the annual “best of” whether it is American short stories, American mystery stories, American essays, nature and science writing, etc..  I’ve been reading them for years and find them to be wonderful resources when it comes to discovering new authors.

To me, fiction writing at any length, in any form, is a feat of radical compression: take the sprawling chaos of human experience, run it through the sieve of perception, and distill it into something comparatively miniscule that somehow, miraculously, illuminates the vast complexity around it. I don’t think about short stories any differently than I do about novels or novellas or even memoirs. But the smaller scale of a story is important; the distillation must be even more extreme in order to succeed. It also must be purer; there is almost no room for mistakes.” —Jennifer Egan 

For writers and readers in general, there are many advantages to reading short stories. First, they’re short. Obvious, but it still helps to point this out in the helter-skelter world we inhabit. But short stories are an art form in and of themselves, one that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Telling a good story within such compact parameters takes skill. It’s a bit like the difference between driving down a tunnel versus exploring a world of caverns. Excitement and reward lies at the heart of each.

So there, you have it. Come Saturday, I’ll be tunneling and spelunking my way through fiction and non-fiction alike. How about you? What’s on your Dewey’s Readathon reading list? What books would you read? (To join me, go here.)

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