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Books you might not read if you weren't a writer

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Mike Jung

I do agree with everyone who says that whatever they read informs their writing - my experiences and interests, literary or otherwise, are the single biggest well of story material available to me. But sometimes there are specific things I want to be more aware of, or to get better at. For example, my first book originally had a female MC. Felt like the way to go, but I wasn't at all confident about my ability to write a female protagonist, so for a while all I read were books with female protagonists (which is not how I usually make my reading choices). Diane, I did similar things to what you did, picking out books with commercial or critical success, or status as recognized classics that were new to me, or buzz in various places, including here. So I read ARTEMIS FOWL (meh), and DIARY OF A WIMPY KID (funny in unexpected ways), and BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA (my choked-up reaction in no way diminishes my rugged manhood), and THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO (awesome!).

Awareness is a big part of it for me too - I didn't pay all that much ATTENTION to the children's market, I just read stuff as I heard about it instead of actively seeking it out.
#31 - February 16, 2009, 09:17 PM


I really get the trepidation with crossing genders. My current mc is male and even though I have teenage sons and spend a lot of time around boys I also feel the need to immerse myself in books with a male mc. Even great writers struggle with this I think. I just finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (or something like that). It won the Pulitzer and it was a great read but the author switched back and forth between several voices and I felt the short section that was narrated by a female character was strikingly less inspired than the sections with a male narrator. I really don't feel he got inside the female mind. It seemed a shallow rendition compared to the rest of the book.
#32 - February 17, 2009, 04:26 AM

Everyone has mentioned lots of great choices here.  In addition to those, I also wanted to add Life Is Funny by  ER Frank.  Very interesting "shorts" that all tie together as you discover the characters' relationships with one another.  I also loved Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

Thanks Mike for starting this thread. I am also working on a YA and am trying to read a ton of it to familiarize myself with what's out there.  This has been very helpful to me as well! 

Hugs, Jodi  :love
#33 - February 17, 2009, 10:36 AM
WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN, Flashlight Press, May 2011
GOOD NEWS NELSON, Story Pie Press, Dec 2012

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#34 - February 17, 2009, 11:24 AM

These replies have been fun to read!  Like Anne Marie, I've tuned in more to mid-list books. I was never a huge fantasy fan growing up, but I've opened up my mind considerably and have been quite delighted. 

#35 - February 17, 2009, 12:15 PM

Just recently, The Hunger Games and I loved it.
#36 - February 17, 2009, 01:32 PM
Film school grad. Time traveller. Billy Bragg fan. Canadian/Irish novelist of character-driven fiction from sci-fi to slice of life.

I read a Harlequin-Nascar romance about a 40-something empty-nester. Harlequin sent it to me as a "sample" to help me decide if I should sub to their line.

TOTALLY NOT  my style.
#37 - February 17, 2009, 03:13 PM
Agent with D4EO Lit
Published by Penguin & Flux:

What a great topic!

I'd never have read anything by Meg Cabot.  Her book covers are so pink and froo-froo, and that is just NOT my thing.  And yet, I've thoroughly enjoyed many of her books. 

Before I realized I wanted to write for kids, I had that ridiculous notion that I shouldn't be reading YA or MG because I was no longer a young adult.  Go ahead, point and laugh at me - I deserve it.  :D  But now, I read all the YA and MG I could get my hands on.  So, I guess you could say that most of the things I'm reading now are things I definitely would not have read if I weren't writing for kids.  And I would be seriously missing out.  :)

#38 - February 17, 2009, 04:12 PM

I don't think there are any I read bc I write.  I read a bunch solely bc I taught or had to read to prep for a new course (some of which were painful to read).

I read a stack solely bc I'm a mom (a few of which were stick-a-sharp-thing-in-my-eye experiences) & co-read w the kids.

I've discovered books bc of knowing authors or reading reviews or industry chatter, but I can't think of any that I actually read bc I write.  If it doesn't appeal to me, I'm not reading.  I've had to do enough of that as a mom. *represses memories of some books*

#39 - February 17, 2009, 11:04 PM


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