Book Lists

I recently sat down and reorganized my ‘finally read that’ book list. Mostly because 2020 was coming to an end, and I wanted a fresh start for a new year.

Also, I decided it was time to face the reading disaster that was 2020 and figure out how to move on from it.

I read 62 books in 2020.

I’ve decided to consider it an accomplishment, considering that I survived a global pandemic, learned how to successfully work from home, started dating my best friend and subsequently married him, and somehow planned an entire wedding in three months.

Reading was not a top priority. So we’re calling 62 a massive victory.

Thankfully, 2021 is here at last, and since I am not planning on arranging an entire wedding this year, I’m hoping that my time will be somewhat less limited. There’s nothing worse than a writer who doesn’t have time to read. We get cranky. Our idea box gets all stopped up. It’s bad.

While I was reorganizing my ‘finally read that’ book list, I did a few quick calculations and discovered that—including the two books I’ve already read this year—I have read 292 books since the beginning of 2017.

I’m hoping to add another 100 to that in 2021.

I’ve discovered that the best tactic for building a solid book list is to start the year off well. I’ve read two books already this year: The Inferno and The Purgatorio. Paradiso would have been next, but I buy most of my books in thrift stores, and that’s one volume that I haven’t found quite yet. Since I haven’t been frequenting thrift stores lately, I took the plunge and ordered it.

Thank goodness for Barnes and Noble.

While I wait for it to show up, I’ve been reading a collection of George Bernard Shaw’s plays. I don’t read plays often, but the ones I’m reading now have convinced me that I need to read more of them. The dialogue is quick-witted and smart-mouthed, and the characters are vivid and interesting. As a scriptwriter for a radio program, my writing lives and dies on the quality of my dialogue, and it’s been fascinating to study these plays and the technique that went into them.

Everything I read, whether history or children’s fiction or classical poetry, is part of my education as a writer. I am firmly convinced that you can learn from anything. The best books teach me what to cultivate in my own writing, the worst ones, what to avoid.

Here’s to another year of learning, and another book list!

Any books you’re planning on reading this year? Tell me about them in the comments!

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