Reading is as much a part of writing as storytelling is. We can learn so much from previous literary geniuses. The experts (agents, editors, best-selling authors) advise writers to read currently published books in your reader-age and genre. I, too, encourage this enlightening thing to do. What I would also like to suggest is to revisit past books you love.
Another of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to reread some classics. I thought of “two” I’ve loved in my past: George McDonald books and Arabian Nights. (I know I’ll read more than just these, but they are on my absolutely to-do list.)
Several times in my past I’ve started Tales from the Arabian Nights, (from Sir Richard Burton’s English translation of part one of the ten volume story); still it’s nearly 900 pages long. My goal is to finish this one volume in 2014. The stories within stories within stories are fascinating, and undoubtedly the reason why Shahrazad not only lived but saved the lives of so many women. What a study on plot! My trouble with the intertwining tales in the past has been if I put the book down for a couple of weeks, I find I must go back and reread lots in order to figure out which story thread the present tale is generated from. So, no two-week put downs this year!
I’ve read many a George McDonald book (English translated) and have rarely found such memorable characters. My intention to reread some of his books was merely to re-acquaint myself with some dear old friends. I’ve started The Fisherman’s Lady, and to my delight and duh-surprise, I’ve rediscovered that McDonald wrote books set in his contemporary time period, which so happens to be the very time period of which I write with my historical novels. And doubly ironic, Richard Burton’s translations were made in the 1880’s. Hey! That’s my writing time period, too!
But please, writers, besides reading currently written or classic books for studying purposes, don’t forget to read for the enjoyment! Now excuse me while I head back in time and place to northern Scotland.