Last year I took it upon myself to read. Not as a success strategy or anything, and not that I don’t usually, but more as an exercise in wanting to fill my mind with magical and thought provoking words. Stephen King, in his book On Writing, says:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
While this is somewhat dramatic, I have found that when I make time to read I also make the time to write.
Starting in January 2017 I carved out time in the morning for sitting down with my breakfast, my coffee and a book and reading for half an hour. It is a beautiful, calm way to start the morning and simplify life.
When I’m feeling stuck in an area of my writing, sometimes taking my mind away from it can be a beautiful way to actually cultivate creativity through rest.
As a creative little exercise I decided to note down all the books I read in 2017 and I thought I’d share them with you, along with my bottom two and the top three non-fiction and fiction. I have to say, mainly for my own sake to acknowledge the crazy amount of information I consume daily, that as an academic I also read a lot of academic books and articles but I have omitted these from the list and just kept it to the books I have read for pleasure.
You will notice there is a mixture of fiction and non-fiction because I like to mix things up. There is also a lot of Elizabeth Strout’s novels because I discovered her last year and she has become my favourite author. Her writing is exquisite.
I have also written one word next to the book to try and depict how I felt or what I thought as a result of reading it. For some you will see I was somewhat underwhelmed. I wasn’t attempting to be clever, I was simply putting the first word that came to mind.
20 plus books I read in 2017
1. All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy | TRUE
2. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath | SAD
3. Rest: Why you get more done when you work less, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang | LIFE CHANGING
4. My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout | DEAR
5. Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan | GRILLING
6. Swing Time, Zadie Smith | FLAT
7. Burial Rites, Hannah Kent | EERIE
8. The Good People, Hannah Kent | CHILLING
11. Anything is Possible, Elizabeth Strout | EXQUISITE
12. The Collected Stories of Richard Yates, Richard Yates | SIMPLICITY
13. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert | SURPRISING
15. Wild: A Journey From Lost to Found, Cheryl Strayed | BEAUTIFUL
16. M Train, Patti Smith | ANNOYING (and pretentious and mind numbingly boring, but anyway …)
17. Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout | CLEVER
19. Resurrection, Leo Tolstoy | RELEVENT
20. The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout | GRIPPING
21. Amy and Isobelle, Elizabeth Strout | CONFRONTING
So there you have it folks, my bottom two would have to be “M Train” by Patti Smith, which I found deeply patronising, pretentious and boring and “Swing Time” by Zadie Smith in which I spent the entire book wondering what on earth it was about and when she was going to get to the point … she never did.
Top three fiction
My top three fiction are “My Name is Lucy Barton” and “Anything is Possible” by Elizabeth Strout who has the ability to tell stories about normal people better than anyone I have ever come across. The third is “All the Pretty Horses” by Cormac McCarthy. My mum has told me for years this was her favourite book and now I see why. He has a knack for portraying language like no other and I felt transported into the countryside alongside those cowboys.
Top three non-fiction
“Rest” as it really did change my life and how I think about work. “Big Magic” – I put off reading this as I am writing a book about creativity and fear and didn’t want to get put off. Elizabeth Gilbert actually talks about this very thing in her book and the importance of writing our story knowing that it comes to us for a reason and that we need to hold onto that magic and run with it. Lastly, “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed was beautifully told and I devoured it.
I would love to know if you’ve read any of the books above, what your thoughts are on my list if you have differing/similar opinions, and also what your favourite books were for 2017. Type them below in the comments.
Have a great year of reading.
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