September 26, 2003
33. The First Five Pages, Noah Lukeman
Well, strictly speaking, it isn't just about the first five pages, which is a relief to me. I was kinda worried. I had a hard time appreciating this book at first, because the opening sections are so basic and dull I was rolling my eyes. The later stuff though, was incredibly helpful. I so want to own this one and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. I have a feeling both are going to come in handy a couple months from now when I'm trying to edit my novel.
September 21, 2003
32. Telling Lies for Fun and Profit: A Manual for Fiction Writers, Lawrence Block*
I love this book, not the least because it's a fun book to read. Block has a really engaging style. He's a witty guy. I'm not usually into detective or suspense novels, but I confess, I've read a couple of his just because of this book. It's not just that he gives some pretty sound advice (although he does), and it's not just that he does it in a fun way (although he does). It's that he's so damned encouraging. For that alone, I'd recommend this book to any writer.
September 18, 2003
31. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne and Dave King
This book was an absolute revelation. I read huge sections of it going, "Whoa. I do that. That's what's wrong! That's how I can fix that!" I can't wait to use the book to start editing stuff. Which, actually, I should probably do today. Seriously, I want to own this book. While I seriously try and resist the notion of a magic bullet for writing, I feel like I've had a whole new door opened for me on the editing process.
September 16, 2003
30. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King*
This is and will likely remain my favorite book on writing. I think this is the third or fourth time I've read it straight through, not to mention the numerous times I've flipped over various passages. Not only is it entertaining (I adore King's non-fiction style--it's amusing as hell, conversational), but there's some damned good advice in there. The first time I read it was in 2000, when it came out. I wasn't super serious about the whole writing thing at the time. I'd written a book for Tribe 8, had an idea for the novel that would become The Host (over a year later), but still wasn't serious. I was a little daunted by his recommendation of writing everyday. I couldn't imagine writing a novel. Still, I wanted to take his word as gospel.
Reading it this time was interesting. I'm working on novel #3 (even if novel #1 is still in first draft form and novel #2 was stillborn), and I've developed my own way of approaching things, my own way of working. Perhaps not surprisingly, even though I didn't consult the book as I went along, my work habits are pretty similar to what he describes in the book. Rereading it this time has made it tremendously clear just how big an influence on my writing he is, even if I haven't read any of his fiction in a year or two, even if I've only written one thing that could be remotely classified as horror. His approach to writing as a craft (moreso than an art) and his respect for great literature as well as for good 'popular' work (particularly his belief that there is such a thing) have really rubbed off on me, and completely affect how I approach my own work.
This was a good time for me to read this, it really gave me a little boost that I needed.
September 15, 2003
28. The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi and QiGong, Bill Douglas
I admit, I skimmed large portions of this book, because it gives instructions on doing one of the long forms of t'ai chi, which I'm certain I can't learn reading a book. It was very interesting from the philosophical and physiological standpoints of chi work, if a little over-enthusiastic at times. Apparently between them, t'ai chi and QiGong are good for everything. The biggest thing I learned? That the videotapes I've been using aren't, strictly speaking, t'ai chi. They're closer to the moving form of QiGong, but they use similar principles. Much simpler, more focused on the meditation aspect than the martial aspect. This isn't a bad thing. I'm curious to read more at this point.
29. The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
I can definitely understand why this was a revolutionary book for its time. Reading it from a historical perspective on feminism, it's fascinating. The image of the 1950s housewife was not the norm prior to World War II. I didn't know this. According to Friedan, there were tremendous strides made in the feminist movement in the 1920s and 30s, only to be lost after World War II in a backlash against feminism--which is how feminism came to be the perjorative it is today, by the way. While she has some very profound things to say about how and why that backlash happened, large portions of the book are interesting only as a historical document. A lot of what she has to say, on homosexuality and mental illness for example, is dated, but as I said, still interesting. If nothing else, she gave me a novel idea, so now I have to go start digging out some other classic feminist works. Darn.
September 07, 2003
27. Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, Mary Pipher, Ph.D.*
Wow, I finally finished a book. I'm discovering that I don't read as much when I'm seriously involved in writing a novel. I certainly haven't read much fiction. My library books, one of which is fiction, are sitting and moldering.
But anyway, Reviving Ophelia. I think this is probably the first 'feminist' book I read, definitely the first one I bought. And it is feminist. It raises some fascinating points about how our culture is poisoning adolescent girls, and how girls react to that, how they cope. It's worth rereading (I've read it several times), just because I learn something new every time, not just about psychology, but also about myself.
The next book I'll probably finish? The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. I'm so caught up in this. I'll definitely share my thoughts as soon as I finish it--assuming Toni Morrison's Beloved doesn't ambush me first.