An absolutely essential part of writing, as we all know, is reading. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. My best ideas are often inspired by whatever I’m reading. I often find myself adopting writing techniques from other authors for my own writing style.
One thing I haven’t done with this blog that I feel will be a huge help to you, the aspiring writer, is to showcase some of the books I’m currently reading and interested in reading.
You’ll find I read a little bit of everything: fiction, style and craft, non-fiction, poetry, classics, short stories, mixed genres, and contemporary. The only genre I typically avoid is sci-fi — not because I look down upon the genre, but because I’d much rather see the show or movie.
I think being open to a wide range of genres and going out of my comfort zone has been a huge help to me. It helps me break away from my usual writing habits, which is what I think leads to writer’s block.
Below, you’ll find all kinds of books that I personally find interesting and reasons why I think they’re worthy of being on that month’s reading list.
What I’m Currently Reading
This edition of White Noise by Don DeLillo isn’t the copy I have, but I can’t imagine a not-translated work of fiction being all that different — especially since it’s a recent book too. I’ve only just started reading this book, but it fits perfectly with what I’ve been into lately. It’s a dystopian novel about a professor who starts up a Hitler studies program at his university. Everything appears off from the beginning: he and his wife were previously married and have kids from their previous marriages. Time will tell what happens as more begins to unravel.
August Reading List
Yes! The Panic in Needle Park is also a book! I absolutely fell in love with the movie when it was on Netflix because I have a huge thing for old-school New York City in movies. Al Pacino is also my favorite actor and everything he does in his early movies is amazing. This movie was Pacino’s big break, which ultimately led to his role as Michael Corleone in The Godfather. For those of you who don’t know what the movie is about, it’s a tale of two heroin addicts in New York City. It has a documentary vibe to it and goes into the nitty-gritty details of what it’s like to do heroin. Heroin is a huge problem in my hometown right now, so this book hits really close to home.
There There is written by a Native American author who grew up in Oakland. I heard about this book recently on the New Yorker podcast and I am waiting for my next paycheck to come so I can buy it and check it out. The book is about Orange’s life and what it’s like for a Native American to grow up in the city rather than a reservation. I’m in love with anything and everything that brings Native American culture to life. We live in a world that doesn’t want to view these people as anything other than logos and caricatures.
You’re going to have to wait on New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, but you can preorder it if you want it immediately. I’m extremely excited to see a new book on microfiction coming out and I hope it really takes off. I think writers should explore short fiction, sudden fiction, microfiction, flash fiction, and hint fiction more to learn more about what it takes to break down a story to its most essential points only. If you don’t have a solid foundation for a story of any length, it will never be clear. With these subgenres, you’re forced to really focus only on what matters. There are top authors in here like Joyce Carol Oates, so there’s no reason to think that this is just a niche genre.
Americanah is an award-winning book by an extremely talented Nigerian woman who explores race in America and what it’s like to be black and not an African American. In an ironic way, our politically correct world can sometimes assume — incorrectly — another person’s race which leaves that person in a peculiar situation regarding their own identity. If you’re not paying attention to the literary scene in Africa right now, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an amazing woman to listen to. I’ve also listened to her speak and she’s just so aware of everything around her on a micro and macro level that most writers can only ever dream of reaching.
Many people are saying Calypso is David Sedaris’ best book so far. They’re laughing, crying, and finishing the book in a matter of hours because they can’t get enough of it. David Sedaris is a regular on the New Yorker Fiction Podcast, which is, again, where I first heard of him. He’s an extremely talented storyteller and reader, putting his heart and soul into everything he does. In this book, he’s tackling huge issues that we can all relate to in one way or another: family, alcoholism, political correctness, and suicide. Family connects every story together. I find it rare when I look through Amazon where nearly every reviewer is in agreement that this book is fantastic, regardless if you’re a Sedaris fan or not.