Writing About Reading: An Intro To Good Reads

I have a confession to make. I didn’t fall in love with LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge. Don’t get me wrong, I loves me some Geordi! But long before I stumbled into the world of TNG, I was a fan of Reading Rainbow, and LeVar, encouraging kids to read because it was fun, was my knight in shining armor. (Still is, but that’s for another post…)

Books are precious gifts from writers to the rest of the world. I love reading new stories by new (or at least new-to-me) authors. Reading keeps my own creative juices flowing and my mind fresh. As a writer, reading helps me hone my own style and inspires me, causing the little seeds of ideas in my thoughts to blossom into something amazing. A book tells a story in a way that a movie or TV show simply can’t.

With reading being one of my biggest passions, it only makes sense that it will be a regular topic in my column here at GDG. It will be a semi-regular feature called Good Reads. Before launching straight into the book talk, though, I wanted to give you all a little background on why this is such a big deal to me.

I’ve Been Reading Since Before You Were Born!

I have always been a bookworm. No, seriously, always – I learned to read before I started kindergarten. We’re talking 1983, here. I grew up in the country and had only three TV channels (on a good day, if the wind didn’t shift the antenna too much), so books and I became fast friends. Every year through grade school, it was a fierce battle between my friend Ben and me to see who could read the most books each school term. I don’t remember who won each year, but I do know I won in 2nd grade; I still have the copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I received as a prize for reading the most. I read anything and everything I got my hands on, from classic fairy tales to presidential biographies. (You could say I was an odd kid. Go ahead, it’s OK.)

High school came, and with it, access to the high school library and its interesting assortment of novels. I also started sneaking some of the bodice-rippers my mom was fond of reading. So, I read a lot of Danielle Steele and Stephen King in my formative years. Once I got my driver’s license and a job (and hence, my own money), I started taking trips to the nearest city and buying new books of my own, based on little more than if the cover art was attractive and the back cover blurb was interesting.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gone through a few dry spells where I haven’t made as much time to read as I should (like college), and I don’t read quite as voraciously as I used to, but I still love it passionately. I will read a full-length novel in one sitting when time allows and I can’t bring myself to put it down, and I always have a book on my nightstand. I will happily spend hours – and all my spare money – in a new or used bookstore, and I still buy a lot of my books the way I did in high school. That’s how my husband does it, it’s how my mom did it, and it’s worked out pretty good so far.

These days, my reading interests are mainly in the genres of science fiction and classic swords-and-sorcery fantasy, but I also enjoy urban fantasy, craft books, and non-fiction (especially history).

Reading Rainbow For Grown-Ups

While I’m still steamed over the recent cancellation of Reading Rainbow, I’m even more disappointed that there was never really a version of it for the big kids (or adults, I guess you could call us). Book reviews are generally boring, technical, and often give away the plot. I’ve never been a member of a book club, but the concept just rubs me the wrong way: a bunch of people reading the same book at the same time, and the lovers and haters of the story trying to sway the other side to their way of thinking. Bleh. Plus, what if the book is bad? I don’t want to waste time talking about a bad book, much less reading the book itself. Life is too short, and there are too many good books out there, to spend precious time reading something crappy.

Almost as much as I love reading, I love connecting with fellow readers. What I’ve always enjoyed most is just talking with someone one-on-one about a book that I liked, or that they liked. I think that’s the best way to learn a little bit what a book is about (without having the plot spoiled), what’s special about the book that might make someone like it, and why it’s worth reading.

I can’t talk to each of you one-on-one, as much as I would like to. So, my Good Reads feature will have to do. I plan to focus on books that are a little outside the sci-fi/fantasy mainstream, whether they’re from small press authors, new authors, or authors writing outside their normal genre. I’m just going to talk about books I like, and tell you why I like them, and why I think you’ll like them too.

As a sneak peek, here are some books I might be talking about in the coming weeks:

  • Prophecy of Swords by M.H. Bonham
  • The Magelore and Elflore trilogies by Christine Morgan
  • Harry Turtledove’s Beyond the Gap trilogy
  • Barb Hendee’s Vampire Memories series

I’m excited to start talking with you all about some great books!

Are You A Reader?

What do you like to read? How do you find new authors?

About c

By day, Connie Thomson (aka Ariel Manx) is a mild-mannered shoe salesgirl, geeking out about insoles, outsoles, and shanks. But when night falls, she takes her turn at the helm of 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming, where she writes, edits, and does layout for table-top RPG products. Regardless of her persona, C is always a fangirl, bookworm, and craft diva. (Email C or follow @arielmanx on Twitter.)

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