I've discovered who I am as a writer: a reader.

"If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write," Stephen King says in On Writing, and that was a boot to the head I needed at the time. As the mom of two young kids, a maniacally devoted church lady, PTO volunteer, and newly published author, I realized I'd been reading less and less, and the books I crammed into my sleepy head in the last grabby moments of my waking day were mostly research or writing/publishing how to books. Then Joan Drury, the wise woman who edited my second novel (she was "Joanie the Greater" and I "Joni the Lesser" a la Biblical distinctions) pointed out to me one day that a person who's never written a break-out bestseller is ill-equipped to tell others how it's done, and a writer is much better advised to read books that restore the love of language and refresh the joy of story, which is what drew us into the world of books to begin with. She gave me an "assigned if the spirit moves you" reading list that took me back to my reading roots, and sure enough, it totally re-energized me as a writer.

So here are a few books on my "assigned if the spirit moves you" (so as not to feel home-worky) list of books that might remind you why you write. The list ranges from classic Camus (The Stranger) to classic camp (Valley of the Dolls -- oh, yeah, that's right, I said it!) and includes favorites from way back when and right up to now. Read. Reconnect. Enjoy. And please hop in and share your list of Books That Made Me Want to Write.


Suzan Harden said…
Truer words, Joni, truer words...

My keeper shelf is, in the words of my husband, "eclectic."

All 14 Oz novels - L. Frank Baum
Tarzan of the Apes - Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Collected Sandman - Neil Gaiman
The Odyssey - Homer
The Dark-Hunter books - Sherrilyn Kenyon
Silver Metal Lover - Tanith Lee
The Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McCaffrey
Starburst - Frederick Pohl
Little House of the Prarie - Laura Ingalls Wilder

And that barely touches the surface...
Elen Grey said…
You have a lot of books on my keeper list, Joni. I'll add three treasures, among many.

The Vicky Bliss mysteries - Elizabeth Peters
A Vision of Light - Judith Merkle Riley
Changes at Fairacre - Miss Read - actually her entire series.
Joni Rodgers said…
Thanks, Elen and Suzan ~

Oz! Of course.

And you know what else I forgot to mention -- the Wrinkle in Time trilogy. Oh! And Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting. Dang. I feel another list coming on...
My keepers include:
The Hobbit and LOTR trilogy - J.R.R. Tolkien
Nightfall and Other Stories - Isaac Asimov
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. LeGuin
The Mists of Avalon - Marian Zimmer Bradley
Dune - Frank Herbert
Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry
Skinny Dip - Carl Hiassen
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith
Lots of Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben

Suzan, I loved The Dragonriders of Pern, and Tanith Lee rocks!

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