Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What I've Been Reading

It's been a while since I've written a new post. January ended up being a bit busier than I expected, although the last week was a bit slower and more relaxed. When AJ and I got back to Boston, after spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Connecticut, it seemed that we had a constant stream of visitors! First it was my mom and sister for a few days, then my cousin for a week, and then my in-laws for a weekend. I went back to Connecticut with them for a few days and then my mom and her cousin brought me back to Boston and stayed for a few days.

But now things have calmed down enough for the new semester to begin.

Despite how unexpectedly busy winter break got, I still got in a lot of reading time. Reading really is the best way to pass the time during these chilly winter days. To get back into the blogging habit, I want to do a quick recap of the books I've read so far this year.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
I read this book for the third time around Christmastime and it felt like a completely different book. This is probably because I was in high school the first two times I read it and a lot of things have happened in my life that have allowed me to read this book in a new way. I found I could relate to it much more. I love the fact that this book has endured through many years even though it is not part of the typical literature canon—never once in my years of schooling have I been assigned this novel even though it is undoubtedly a classic. Smith captures a specific time and place and brings it to life. Reading this book, I felt like I was living the lives of her characters. I doubt that this will be the last time I reread it.

The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates
As you might assume from the title, this book is a collection of essays all regarding being a writer and what it entails. There is a lot of autobiographical information of Oates, herself, along with bits of information and knowledge from other famous writers throughout history. I liked learning about Oates because I am always fascinated by writers and their lives, especially writers who have such productivity  like Oates. I was a bit let down by it, though, because I did not feel like I learned so much about the craft of writing itself—but that might not really be the objective of the book. Regardless, it is full of useful and insightful information. It's a thin text and can easily be read in a day.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I picked this one up right after Oates's book and found that it was a bit more helpful in the writerly advice arena. This book, too, had a lot of autobiographical information. I skimmed a bit of the areas that didn't seem to pertain to being an author because the rest of the book was very focused on the craft and I was so eager to read those parts! King gives a lot of advice and discloses what kind of writing habits work for him and why they work. While his techniques might not work for everyone, they're definitely worth knowing, trying, and understanding—I mean, look at how successful he is. He must be doing something write.

I'm reading two books right now, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and Black Dahlia & White Rose: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates. I'm reading two because The Historian is close to 700 pages long so sometimes I need to take a break and read something else!

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