Have you ever wondered what your favorite author reads when they are not writing? I have and I don’t have an answer to share with you. But I have been thinking recently about the kind of material that I read. I think that I have pretty eclectic taste in both fiction and non-fiction, though I have to say not much non-fiction in my reading list in recent times.
To take you back to the beginning of my reading career I would have to go to somewhere around my third grade experiences I think. Fear not, this will not be a blow by blow account of my life reading list. Besides I doubt I could remember everything anyway. There is a significant set of books from that far back that I want to mention and also mention the folks that gave me access. The set was called “The Book of Knowledge” and the folks were my parents. They had to dig deep in the wallet to afford that set of encyclopedic content. What I remember is a collection of in depth articles that covered everything from history to how things are made. Reading was fun and I think I read every word in the set over the next several years.
In junior high school I discovered science fiction in the school library. A couple of authors stand out in my memory. Heinlein and Clarke captivated me and I still enjoy rereading their work. Other authors discovered became favorites as well. Herbert, Bova, and Asimov are just a few that have kept me interested in that genre. Lets not forget science fantasy with authors such as Brooks and the many others I’ve read and enjoyed, to many to name here. I really like the inventiveness that is required to spin a good tale.
As I got older I gravitated to classic mysteries by the likes of Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Leslie Charteris, Erle Stanley Gardiner, Tony Hillerman, P.D. James and so many more. It’s hard to declare favorites in this category but I think I would have to say Christie if pressed. From mystery to spy thrillers, and action adventure, my reading world has increased time and time again. Follet, Bruen, Silva, Du Brul, Griffen. Khourey, Nesbo and many, many other all find a place on my stuffed shelves. From these authors and their freres d’ fiction I find inspiration to try my own hand at writing. I don’t try to copy their characters or story lines but certainly I get some sense of how to do it from reading their work.
Most recently I have turned my reading attention to classics of literature that I thought I had once read but realized I had not until now. Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Christo and Uncle Tom’s Cabin in particular have been enjoyable. The first two especially because of the commentary on political history, written almost during the making of it, satisfies my considerable curiosity. I am currently engaged with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or, Life Among the Lowly, nearly finished in fact. This work by Harriet Beecher Stowe, credited with laying some of the groundwork for the Civil War, with its distinctly anti-slavery tone and theme has been a controversial book. For myself, I find parts of the book to be powerfully emotional, especially that section describing the death of the little girl Eva.
I am and have been a reader by choice. I believe entirely that reading is critical to a well developed intellect. Whether I have such an intellect is probably up for debate, but I think it is true that reading stimulates my curiosity and my seeking for knowledge at the very least. I don’t think that I could have even begun to think about trying my hand at writing fiction without a background of diverse reading. The authors I’ve mentioned and more have all had influence in and on my life. Their fiction, and the realism they capture clearly have an influence on the way I write by inspiring me to explore a fictional world that I have created. So I commend the activity of reading to everyone who reads this blog entry. Try it on, you’ll find it opens many doors through which your mind can invite itself to go. On the way I hope you have a go at reading The Chechen’s Revenge.
And BTW: On the right you’ll find a few of my reading choices listed on Goodreads. You can click the link for more and to find how to list your own reading list to share with friends and colleagues. Costs nothing and links you to like-minded people.
Good reading everyone. Thanks for your support.
Ron Stotyn, PhD