Things I’ve Learned from Summer Reading

Two months ago, on the first Monday of my summer holiday, I blogged a post titled, “Summer Reading.” Today is my last Monday of summer vacation, so it seems fitting to reflect on my summer reading. Although it’ll take more than a single post to capture my reflections, so today is a simple list about some of the things tumbling around in my mind as I’m in the midst of my quest to read 100 YA books.

  • Just reading is not enough. It is important to record the books you’ve read and your thoughts about the books. A personalized system is the key for this to work.
  • As of right now, my current book count is 46 and 1/3 books read (Based on a recommendation, I started Before I Die around midnight.).
  • I like having the Kindle app on my iPhone. I read more this way. I also like the highlight and note feature. I can still mark passages and leave “sticky notes” even though the book is an electronic version. However, I dislike buying a Kindle book and then wanting to have the “real version” and having to buy it too.
  • I’ve fallen in love with the Amazon app too. My favorite thing about this app is it has the “Customers who bought this book also enjoyed . . . ” feature as well as reviews. It also makes it a little too easy to buy books!
  • When I’m writing, I read differently. There are some passages that inspire me to pick up my pen and try to write a scene or two. Writing makes me delve deeper into my understanding of the craft of writing.
  • As I read, there were some questions that would tug at me. I would read several books with a question or two in mind in order to come to an understanding of the issue tugging at me. Some of the questions nagging over and over were:
  1. How does a conflict develop that propels me to want to read more?
  2. What makes characterization strong and intriguing?
  3. How do relationships overlap between characters and “rub” against each other? What is the “ripple effect” of the main character’s actions and how does this collide and become motivators for other characters?
  4. How do relationships develop and deepen (or break) between characters?
  5. How do writers make readers connect to the characters?
  6. How do writers develop tension?
  • Sometimes I read to escape. I just want to lose myself in the story. There are some books like this in my count. I left them because through reading this way I realized the importance of character relationships.
  • Sticky notes are never handy enough.
  • There comes a point when, if you want to truly understand the craft of writing a particular genre, then you must reread and study to figure out the art of writing. I’ve started this process by choosing a few books I want to reread and figure out the inner workings. It is by this type of close study that I can figure out the inner-workings of the genre.

And one more thing . . . a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of Laurie Halse Anderson’s blog. (I linked here a couple of weeks ago too, when sharing my favorite authors.) For the month of August she is encouraging everyone to WFMAD (write fifteen minutes a day) with tips, encouragement, and challenges. So far this month I’ve written everyday and this will be just the inspiration I need to keep going, even when the chaos of being back in school comes. I’m excited to participate in the WFMAD challenge. Wanna join us?