My favorite way to start each day is in my favorite chair with a book, giant mug of coffee, and boxer at my feet (or in my lap). I also carry books to doctor and hair appointments, as well as in the car when I’m waiting to pick up kids. Librarians have personally thanked me for keeping their circulation numbers high! I can’t think of a better thing to do than read when faced with spare or captive time.
What about keeping up with social media? What about the myriad of other obligations? What about using every ounce of spare time to be creative? It’s a great big juggling act, one we all face. For me, reading provides the inspiration I need to keep writing. It also fills the gaps when the creative muse eludes me. I wish I were the kind of writer who could flip a creative switch and write on command, but nothing could be further than my reality. Whatever your personal story is, I encourage you to carve out time for reading.
Support other authors. Get inspired by good writing. Read in your genre or explore new genres. Sprinkle in new books with the classics. Re-read classic picture books, middle grade, or YA as an adult, to renew your acquaintance with a treasured childhood book or to discover new appreciation for a classic. I prided myself on avoiding many of the classics in high school, only to find myself reading and enjoying The Scarlet Letter, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond now. It’s an interesting fact that these books are still being taught in today’s schools.
Even though the classics remain popular, as a writer, it’s important to realize that many books published in the past might not be published now. Rules and tastes change constantly, so I advise adding recently published books to your reading list. MG and YA are increasingly action-oriented, and tough themes once considered taboo are now addressed. And you must have been in an enchanted sleep if you aren’t aware of the current interest in LGBT literature.
So how do you keep up-to-date on exciting new books?
- Your libraries or favorite bookstores will happily point you to you to their new books sections, both in-person and online. On the website for Memorial Hall Library in Andover, Massachusetts, you can sign up to receive customized book recommendation newsletters. You can also sign up to receive Hugo Bookstore’s weekly shelf awareness post, at firstname.lastname@example.org, with reviews of new books and other essays.
- Talk with writing buddies and book groups to get suggestions
- Join SCBWI
- Join Goodreads (read Marcia Strykowski’s post on how to do that)
- Participate in ReFoReMo and other reading challenges (so much fun to do with a writing buddy)
- Track your favorite authors, editors, and publishers on twitter, facebook, and other forms of social media
- Check out these AWESOME resources for kid lit books and all things creative: Travis Jonker @100scopenotes, Mr. Schu @mrschureads.blogspot, Matthew Winner @ allthewonders.com, Colby Sharp @ mrcolbysharp.com, and fuse8productions by Betsy Bird (access through School Library Journal blog @blog.slj.com).
- Amazon invites you to follow your favorite authors to find out about new releases. If you own a Kindle, recommendations are tailored to individual reading habits.
- On the Writer’s Rumpus main page, follow the countdowns for new book releases by our talented authors!
- Kirsti Call, frequent Writer’s Rumpus blogger, reviews new books on her blog. Susanna Leonard Hill’s wonderful blog reviews picture books on Perfect Picture Book Fridays, and Lauri Fortino writes about Picture Books at the Library on her fun Frog on a Blog.
- The Association for Library Service to Children (alsa.com), the American Library Assocation (ala.org), and Publisher’s Weekly (PW Children’s Bookshelf) are incredible book list resources.
- Other book-related blogs I’ve discovered include Kidlit411, Bookbaby, and Bookbub
I’m sure I missed some wonderful blogs, websites, and resources, so please share any you find useful. And I’m always happy to give or receive book recommendations.
Happy reading, everyone!