Good Reads, Bad Reads, and the In Between

Reading isn’t for everyone, just as much as math isn’t for everyone. Cards on the table: I’m not a math person at all. I’m a writer and, therefore, a reading person. I have to be. Literature is crucial to writers.

It’s important to know what’s out there. So much about style and prose can be learned from classics. So much about the latest fad can be gleaned from contemporary pieces. So much about “what-not-to-do” can be taken from poorly written fan fiction. (Nothing against fan fiction, but since there are no restraints to what can be written, some stories get… crappy…)

With the rise of self-publishing and e-books, authors have greater opportunity to publish their works. They don’t necessarily have to achieve the approval of agent, editor, and publisher. They can make their books available for whatever price they please. However, since they don’t go through the whole process, some of them turn out like the poorly written fan fiction. Some of them are undiscovered gems with great plot, few grammar issues, and relatable characters, but certainly those are harder to find.

Since receiving my Kindle as a gift, I use it all the time. I have bought several cheap, self-published books, along with the more expensive published books (when I have the money). I’ve found I’m inspired by both the superb books I find, as well as the terrible ones.

When I read an incredible book, I’m inspired to write one just as good. I want to write words and worlds, and wonders. I want the plots to be complex, the characters to be real. Reading a good book gets stories flying through my head.

When I read a terrible book, I’m inspired to write a better one. From these books I learn what doesn’t work. I learn what to look for, what to focus on, what the reader will be looking for, and it improves my own writing. Sure, sometimes I have to torture myself to make it through reading just a few pages, but it always makes me want to pull out my latest story and to improve it.

Reading can, of course, be good for those who aren’t writers as well. Authors always have a motive for writing that often includes morals, lessons, of social statements. Books weave words together to incredible effect. That is what I want to do. I want to write a story, good or bad, but hopefully good. I even think I can, if I keep reading, learning, working, practicing, and seeking inspiration from the works of others.

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