Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I’m just back from visiting my eldest daughter. Rebecca is a reader. I guess I should say, Rebecca is a READER. She is a college instructor but most of the reading she does is fiction, purely for pleasure. Her Kindle Fire has more books in it than any person I know. She read well over 200 books last year. She’s on pace to break that record this year. And yes, she also reads for her classes, grades papers and cares for a three-year-old. But reading is important to her– it’s her favorite form of entertainment.
Being with her made me think about my own reading. I’ve decided I am an intentional reader. I read bestsellers so I can try to figure out what makes a bestseller. I read good books recommended to me. I read everything– absolutely everything– written by my favorite authors. I read for escape. I read for edification. I read for knowledge. And I read for work, of course.
That sounds like a hodgepodge but it’s not really. Let me break it down.
First thing in the morning I gather my stack, my iPad and my fountain pen and head into my favorite “nest” in the family room. I brew my tea and put on the Irish oatmeal before I sit down to start my day. These days I read the daily reading from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. (Love this!) It’s my second year with this particular devotional but I haven’t rung every drop out of it yet. I’m also doing a Forty Day Prayer Challenge based on the book The Circle Maker (another favorite). This is called Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson. Then I always have a nonfiction book in process. I recently reread Crazy Love by Francis Chan so I’m following it up with a workbook, Living Crazy Love. I work on about half a session each day. After I’m finished with this I open my iPad to read my pre-planned portion of the Bible and then spend time writing in my prayer journal and talking and listening to God.
Some of my favorite authors are clients so I try to make sure I set aside time to read their new books. I sort-of call this work but feel guilty doing it on work time because it is usually pure pleasure. My fellow Books & Such agents represent some of my favorite authors as well so I make sure I read their clients’ books and sort-of call that work as well. Some of these books happen to fall into the bestseller category so I can kill two birds with one stone. 🙂
I also have potential new client work. Sometimes this is a real joy and other times it feels like I’m slogging though. I always put these manuscripts on my e-reader (usually the Kindle app on my iPad Mini) so that when I’m reading the manuscript it looks just like the wonderful traditionally published books I read on that device. I find I’m holding debut authors to a very high standard. It helps me decide how a potential client fares against the very best in the market. Reading these submissions does feel like work because I need to keep my left brain engaged the whole time, analyzing, critiquing and deciding.
And, like my daughter Rebecca, I read for pleasure. I sometimes imagine when I talk about a great new book or post another entry on our blog feature, “What We’re Reading,” that client-hopefuls must be wondering why I am taking time to read published books when they’ve been waiting to hear from me for many moons. The reason is that I need to read widely and for pleasure or I will lose touch with what makes a good book. It is every bit as important for my work as doing contracts or shopping projects.
When I’m talking to potential clients there are very few things that are outright deal-breakers for me, but when I’ve asked writers who they read a few have answered, “I’m not really a reader. I much prefer writing.” Really? Really? A switch in my brain immediately shuts off. You need to be reading on your subject or in your genre. You need to be reading business and marketing books because being a writer these days is akin to starting your own business. You need to be reading for pleasure, else how can you understand how to deliver that pleasure to your readers? And for me, I want to represent writers who don’t neglect the spiritual in their reading plan.
I’m guessing some of you can’t imagine having multiple books going at once and that’s okay. Others have devised a much more rigorous reading plan that includes the classics or educational tomes. Some read in groups. Others read to review. How about you? Are you an intentional reader? What does your reading plan look like? Tell us what you are reading now and why. Or, if you are are spontaneous and eclectic, sell us on that method.
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