According to the quote website, goodreads.com, horror author Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. It’s as simple as that.” As much as I agree with Mr. King’s statement, I often find it difficult to read and write as much as I would like. Before it was a matter of completing my Bachelor’s degree and my workload was plenty as a double major. Now, it seems that as I am working more and preparing to pick up my entire life and move across the country in a little less than two months, I am again finding it difficult to find the time to do the two things that I love in life, read and write. I talk a lot about carving out more time for these two things, but I end up failing miserably. Anyway, I thought that it would be fun to share with you what I as a writer enjoy reading.
I mostly write Science Fiction. I do have some ideas for mainstream fiction which have never seen life beyond the pages of the notebooks where I write down all of my ideas, and of course one day, after I have earned my PhD and am teaching college for a while, I intend on writing non-fiction based on my research as well. As an author who mainly writes Science Fiction, I do not limit myself to only reading that genre. When I do read Science Fiction it’s usually the classic authors such as Philip K. Dick, Issac Asimov, H.G Wells, and for modern authors, I really enjoy the work of John Scalzi. For fiction, again, I resort to the classics. I’m a big fan of Steinbeck.
I am also a sucker for history. I very much like books that highlight a specific historical event, whether that event took place in here in the United States or in Ancient China, history simply fascinates me. Not only do I draw ideas from history for my writing, but I also think that it’s a good idea to have a good sense of history because as they say, those who don’t know it, are doomed to repeat it. I also very much enjoy biographies. Currently, I have three books which are biographies of Lyndon Johnson that are next in line on my list, one of which I am reading currently. When I need a quick read, say right before bed or I’m waiting somewhere for something, I Google random celebrities or people who have made some sort of significant difference in the world and read about their lives on Wikipedia, as factual as Wikipedia can be which I take with a grain of salt. If I’m not in the mood to read about somebody’s life, I Google a random topic that interests me, for example; recently I Googled and read the Wikipedia article about Alcatraz. I guess that makes sense seeing that I’ll be moving to California very soon.
I am also a political junkie, thus the reason one of my majors as an undergrad was Political Science and this is the subject in which I will be obtaining my PhD in, I also strongly believe that it is important for all people to stay informed about what is going on not only in their own country, but all over the world. For you cannot make a decision at the ballot box if you are misinformed even though I might tell you that you are wrong on a certain issue, I will never tell you not to vote even if I don’t agree with whom you’re voting for. So, I take it upon myself to read news articles about current events and public policy again, taking with a grain of salt what the American media tells me. I also enjoy reading the blogs of my fellow authors/writers. It’s always fun to see what they are working on, or what their perspective of a particular topic is, and just to see the difference in writing style between my own and theirs. From doing this, I have come to realize that even though we all follow the grammar and punctuation rules that come with the English language, not a single one of us writes exactly the same and that is the beauty of writing.
As you can see, as a writer, I read almost everything. It’s as Stephen King said, if you don’t read, you don’t have the tools to write. To say the least, I’m glad that I was the guy who never partied in high school and only went to I think one school dance, skipping out on prom mostly because it didn’t interest me and use that time to read, read, and to write. Now if I could just find the time to write more and get some things published which I intend on doing at first independently, then I’ll feel much better.
My fellow writers or non-writers but book junkies, I ask you, what do you read?