Read a lot, Write a lot (Book a Week Series – Introduction)

“Read a lot, write a lot.” This is the mantra of a good writer or, at least, the one I stole from Stephen King. He says that a good writer should read between 70 and 80 books a year and I take him at his word.

In chess, if you never study the masters, you will be stuck under a low ceiling. You also need to log your time playing. If you don’t, you cannot develop an eye for the patterns. Following the “read a lot, write a lot” advice doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a great writer but not doing it probably ensures you won’t. So I’ll be reading a lot and writing about reading, too.

Reading is an emotional topic for me because for a long time as a kid I could not read. I am dyslexic and didn’t learn to read more than a sentence at a time until the third grade. At that point, I only half read books. I would undertake to read a paragraph out loud and then my mother would read the next paragraph to me.

It was generous of my mother to do this every morning. And I think it got me on my feet. The practice, the unavoidable act of reading, forced me to catch up.

By the time I was 13, you wouldn’t necessarily notice that I had had any trouble reading. I still read slowly but no longer had to read aloud, take untimed tests or rewrite things I had written backwards. The training wheels came off a little before puberty.

But, I was always sensitive about it. I felt stupid for not learning faster. I wanted to avoid reading the same way a kid who can’t throw a baseball as well as the rest wants to avoid gym.

Now I read frequently, but nothing like 70 or 80 books a year. So, I am game for a challenge. I am setting myself the goal of a book per week. If I keep on pace that makes 52 books in a year (did I say 70 or 80? I meant 52). For the next, who knows how many weeks, I will read and post a review for a different book here on North and Clark. Full disclosure, I plan to cheat every way I can: graphic novels, books I already finished this week and audio books are all fair game. I still think it will stretch me as a writer to take in all this material and knowing I will be reflecting on the books here in the blog will force me to read more closely. If you’re interested, follow along. I am going to start tomorrow with Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.


Coming up

Week 1 – The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Week 2 – The Mission Song by John LeCarré

Week 3 – Machine Man by Max Barry