I received an e-mail the other day from someone asking if I enjoyed reading books or just writing them. And if I did, what kind of books do I enjoy? I wasn’t sure how to respond to that because I don’t know one author who is also not a voracious reader. Sure some of us get busy with our own writing projects, and our To Be Read piles of books stack up, but we all enjoy reading for relaxation as well as because we learn things that we can apply in our own books.
For example, I have a large collection of reference books that I refer to quite often when I’m writing. Since most of my books are murder mysteries, it’s probably no surprise that titles include things like D.P. Lyles Forensics and Fiction, and the sequel More Forensics and Fiction, as well as Body Trauma, by David W. Page, and Lee Lodland’s Police Procedure & Investigation, and my friend Patrick J. O’Donnell’s excellent Cops and Writers books. If you’re going to write about murder and mayhem, you need to know how it affects the human body and the methods police use to find out who killed a victim and how.
For general writing help, I often refer to Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Writers, my old AP Stylebook from my newspaper publishing days, and the Chicago Manual of Style. Those last two are standbys that every author should have on their desk. Those are just a small sampling of the reference books I use.
When it comes to pleasure reading, I enjoy autobiographies, books about history, and most fiction, except for sci-fi and horror. Two of my favorite authors are my friends Billy Kring, with his Hunter Kincaid series about a woman border patrolman, and Ben Rehder’s Blanco County mystery series.
But not everything I read is mysteries. I’m about halfway through Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. It’s a coming-of-age story about a young man in a small Georgia town in the early 1900s. A while back, I finished The Last Madam, the story of one of the most infamous madams in New Orleans, written by Christine Wiltz.
I mentioned that I am halfway through Cold Sassy Tree, but I put it aside when a blog reader recommended William Manchester’s Glory in the Dream, which chronicles U.S. history from 1932 to 1972. It is a huge book, over 1300 pages, but it reads like a novel. It’s helping me a lot with my current Tinder Street book, and is absolutely fascinating.
Among books waiting their turn in my To Be Read pile are The Good Neighbor, about the life of childrens’ TV icon Fred Rogers, Courageous Women of the Civil War by M.R. Cordell, and We Are Still Married by Garrison Keller. There are quite a few other books here waiting to be read, too, and I hope I live long enough to read all of them. Then again, I hope I live long enough to write all the books in my head so you can read them. I should have started this writing gig when I was twelve years old. But even then, I think I would still be behind the 8-ball.
What are some of your favorite books?
Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Scribe’s Daughter, the first book in Stephanie Churchill’s Crowns of Destiny historical fantasy series about a young heroine who escapes a brutal prison to journey through imperial cities, dark swamps, and across stormy seas to unravel clues to the mysteries of her family’s past. In doing so, her discoveries make her the target of a man who would use her for his own dark ends. But first he has to catch her.
To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.
Thought For The Day – Someday I’m going to write a book about all the things I should be doing in my life. It will be an oughtobiography.