What Our Writers Are Reading
We asked our writers to give us a few reading recommendations – books/writers they love, books that have influenced their writing, or even just what’s open on their desk at the moment.
Reading is as much a part of the writing process as actually putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, whatever you prefer). Sometimes finding a writer with a voice similar to yours (or what you hope to be) can be inspiring – and sometimes experiencing a work completely outside your usual comfort zone can open up your perspective.
Check out what our writers had to say:
From Laura Lee Bahur: The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley
My first of his I’ve read. This was a mystery/thriller with such elegant prose and powerful and simple story. I am now so in love with this writer I am going to read everything I can get my hands on. As an author in love with noir enough to marry it, I am inspired by the way Mosley loves his characters, and allows them to change.
From Jeff Folschinsky: World War Z by Max Brooks
I don’t know how much influence this book has had on my writing, but it is one of my favorite books. I re-read it every Halloween. Sort of a tradition now. It’s a very primal form of storytelling that reads like a history book filled with individual interviews with the survivors of the zombie apocalypse. It combines the Sci-fi/ Horror style of story telling with the current political environment that our society finds itself in, making the prospect of a zombie outbreak seem all too real and scary for the reader.
From Sean Kozma: The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Being an avid reader, there were any number of books I could have chosen for this request. I was sorely tempted to pick The Hobbit, as it was the first story I ever remember my father reading to me as a kid, as it certainly had an influence on me that persists to this day, but I think I’m going to have to go with a much deeper cut than that. A pick that hasn’t recently been made into a movie (nor is likely to be), and that honors a recent loss to the literary world, whose larger work I am only beginning to explore. My pick is Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory, a delightfully dark and humorous tale of a sixteen year old boy named Frank, living on an island off the coast of Scotland, and who has already killed three people, including his brother, and his cousin Esmerelda. A slight read at just under 200 pages, it was Banks’ first novel, and a true grotesquery of horrors awaits within, including the titular Wasp Factory. I really can’t say much more without spoiling it, save to say that the copy I have has about sixteen or so quotes from reviews at the front, and all of two are positive, the rest condemn it as an appalling piece of filth that should be burned rather than read. That alone should be encouragement enough to read it (it was for me). As for how it influenced me, well… that book, and Banks’ career after, contain at least this very important lesson for any writer — write what you want to write, and the rest be damned. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have just begun exploring Banks’ Culture novels, and I have a bit of reading to do…
From Chelsea Sutton: Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
A friend gave this book to me as a thank you gift for writing a couple original monologues for his daughter, just because he thought I might like it. And I have to say, this is probably the best payment I’ve ever received for anything I’ve written (not that I’ve received many payments). Kelly Link’s short stories are in the vein of magical realism/fantasy but don’t get me wrong – this is not hobbits running around in the woods kind of fantasy (no offense Sean). There are wizards and ghosts and zombies and dueling librarians – it’s dark and hilarious and very moving all at the same time. Her prose is very easy to connect with, very confident and very beautiful. And since reading this short story collection, I’ve searched out all her other works (two other collections, Pretty Monsters and Stranger Things Happen) and wait eagerly for that novel she’s been promising. Her stories are an inspiration to me. I basically want to be her – is that weird?
From Taylor Ashbrook: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving & On Writing by Stephen King
This may be my all time favorite book – which is saying a lot since I have a lot of “favorite” books! The characters are fascinating and quirky and rich and the story is engrossing – the best of the John Irving style, with the most satisfying ending. The only other book I can think of that can compare in terms of end satisfaction (at least the only one I can think of at this moment) is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which may also be my all time favorite… I will say this: “Mockingbird” also has one of the best film adaptations ever. Definitely can’t say the same for Meany (it was tried and failed so miserably that John Irving insisted they take his name and the name of his book off the film).
If you want to read a book about writing, I could give you a list to keep you reading for at least a year! I love to read books about writing. Of course, I must not be the only one because there are many, many books on writing to read out there! I will, however, only suggest On Writing by Stephen King here. Not only is it a great book about his writing process, but he also tells his own story about being hit by a drunk driver. No one else could express the true horror of that nearly fatal experience like the King of Horror. Honestly, I will read anything by Stephen King. Even when I don’t like the book overall, I still love his “voice.” I’m always sad when I reach the end of any piece he’s written.
Three Choices From Ken Patton: For me, reading is always a potpourri of various books, all being read simultaneously. Usually there is the one I read to have fun and escape, the mindless guilty pleasure one, and the one that feeds my brain, and helps me to further my skill set in one way or another… to that end, the books that I’m currently reading are:
Just Lucky I Guess – A Memoir Of Sorts by Carol Channing
Making Trousers for Men & Women by David Page Coffin, and
Gooseberry Bluff Community College Of Magic by David J. Schwartz
I’ll leave it to you to decide which book feeds which need… 😀
From Tyler Tanner: Currently Reading: The Devils Brood by Sharon Kay Penman & The Walking Dead Compendium Vol.1
Recommend: Anything by Sharon Kay Penman if your an Medieval English history buff. She managed to fictionalize Richard III as a protagonist with out altering a single historical fact in “The Sunne in Splendour”. Challenging me to look at characters from a different perspective outside of a popular or common historical narrative.
Guilty Pleasure: Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. A great Thriller / Airport reader.