Friday, August 1, 2008

Reading multiple books . . .

By Lonnie Cruse

I usually have a couple of fiction books going at the same time. I also read non-fiction books on writing or self-help. Then there are the chapters to critique for my critique partners. And since I tend to "get lost" in the books I enjoy, only coming up for air in order to eat or take a potty break, the settings and characters are very real to me. I find myself thinking about the characters and settings and plots as I make the bed or wash dishes. What's happening to so and so right now? (Nothing is really happening because it's fiction, but try to convince me of that.) Where will he or she go next? Will a character I've grown to like be killed off? How soon can I get back into the story and find out? And if it's a chapter from one of my critique partners? Eeeek, that means I have to wait for the next weekly submission. Drives me crazy.

And I can get confused about which character is in which story. Which plot line is in which book. Which ending went where. Let's face it, I'm not as young as I was yesterday. Or the day before.

I soooo appreciate an author who creates characters I love to read about and settings I'd like to visit and re-visit. IF that doesn't happen, the book goes into the "dispose of gently" pile, to be sold at my writer's group auction to raise money for the group OR to a used book store so I can get a book I will enjoy. And yes, I do buy new books at conferences and at book stores. I know how much authors need the royalties. I need them too.

Writing stories for others to read is great fun (unless, of course, I'm stuck). Hearing someone say they loved my story or my characters is pure joy. But I was a reader a long time before I was a writer. I adore getting lost in a book. Either reading it or listening on audio. When I'm at a signing and folks walking by say they don't read, I smile, but I truly feel sorry for them. Sure there are lots of things to do to keep us busy that don't involve reading. I do those things too, (sewing, bike riding, hiking, fishing, etc.) But reading stimulates our brains, our imaginations, teaches us new things (think Tony Hillerman's tribal series) and gives us hours of pleasure. What's not to love?

If you agree with me, take time to read to your kids and grandkids. Give books as gifts (making sure you know the reciepient's tastes or giving book store gift certificates.) Share your thoughts about your favorite books with other readers. Share your books, if you can bear to part with them. I bought a hardback copy of my favorite book, WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE by Shirley Jackson to keep and a paperback copy to loan to friends. I love Jackson's writing and want to introduce others to her. Whatever it takes, let's get others into reading.

One more thought. IF you struggle with bookmarks, try to find a book thong at your local book store. It's a strong string with beads or other decorations at each end. The book thong doesn't hold up the pages the way a cardboard bookmark does. It's unobtrusive in the book and easy to move. I love mine. I have a collection of bookmarks that includes a bent copper wire with beads, a cross-stitched bookmark I made, carboard versions with various sayings, and much more. Do you have a favorite bookmark? Feel fee to share.

Have you read a good book today?


Jen said...

Bravo! Bravo! This is a wonderful post. I, too, have copies of books that I am willing to loan to friends. I also LOVE to give books as gifts! One of my favorite things to do these days is read WITH my niece (she's now seven and we take turns reading) or read TO my nephew (he's three - not yet reading on his own). My other favorite thing is sharing books on my blog that I've discovered and love. What fun books are!!

My sister gave me a book mark that is a "no slip" bookmark. It has a beautiful butterfly design on it. That's my favorite at present.

Sandra Parshall said...

I can't resist picking up writers' bookmarks at conferences, so I have a lot of those around. Somebody gave me a thong bookmark once, but I kept losing it, and I have no idea where it is now. My favorite bookmark right now is one that I designed and had printed to give away at the third birthday celebration for beloved panda cub Tai Shan at the National Zoo. Tai is on the front, a list of important dates in his life is on the back. Just looking at a picture of Tai always makes me smile, so this bookmark serves more than one purpose.

Dave said...

I usually use a marker that reminds me of the place I bought or read the book. For a recent trip to Denver, I read My Antonia by Willa Cather to get in a western mood, and the bookmark was my admission ticket to the Denver Art Museum. Other bookmarks have been Metro tickets and Southwest Airlines drink coupons. (

Lonnie Cruse said...

Jen, you sound like my kind of reader!

Sandy, I love bookmarks like yours that remind me of something I love.

Dave, great idea to use a bookmark that reminds you of where you bought the book! I hadn't thought of that.