Reading and Learning

I posted just the other day on reading and since then I’ve come across several people talking about the same sort of thing. Great minds eh? Interesting how synchronicity works. Or serendipity – or something anyway. And several of you have been kind enough to comment on the post, most of you saying pretty much the same – that you couldn’t possibly envisage a world where you were not reading something. And I think we were all agreed that writers need to read and sometimes to read in a constructive way, not just for the pleasure of taking in another’s ideas.

So I was intrigued to find a brilliant blog which has dealt with this point in several different ways. For instance, this post from Moody Writing What can you learn from reading?. The article dates back to November last year, but is no less important because it’s got a few whiskers on it.

I talked about learning from bad books as well as from good ones and Mooderino suggests that learning from bad books is easier than learning from good books – and the point is a valid one. Sometimes it’s difficult to work out the subtle ways in which a tremendously brilliant author has put a tremendously brilliant novel together. And the article is also correct in that it is easy to be sucked into reading the novel, even if that isn’t why you’re supposed to be reading. I have found myself in that position many times. Back to the process of annotation to keep you on track. It is easier to stay in charge if you read actively, with pen or stickers in hand, in the full knowledge that this isn’t for pleasure (well, not totally), but is part of your research.

In another post (that goes back to June of this year – I’ve been around this blog quite a bit!), Moody Writing talked about the The Real Reason Writers Need To Read. This article is interesting for a slightly different reason, because it relates to how others may read your work and what you should take from that. I have been lucky in that I have great respect for all those readers who have tackled my fiction and commented on it. Their views (even the most caustic – ouch!!) have been given with love and considerable depth of knowledge. And we can appreciate the criticism and are able to take it on board, because once things are pointed out, those other works you have read click together inside your head – you know your critic is right without knowing how you know.

So if you were interested in my original post – – then I urge you to read both of these articles over at Moody Writing. Along with another post from July Reading with an Agenda, where Mooderino too is advocating the old notebook. I don’t know Mooderino, but I’d like to think we would get along: there is a lot on here with which I can identify.

Thank you Mooderino for your great articles and I hope you won’t mind my passing them on to a wider audience.


8 responses to “Reading and Learning

  1. It is important for writers to be readers if only to pick up on the errors that others make and to avoid them yourself! I have always been an avid reader but ever since starting to write book reviews for my blog and Good Reads, it has made me so much more conscious of failings in my own writing.

    This can only be a good thing.

    • Yes, you’re right. I can’t understand how a writer cannot also be a reader.
      Actually, I can’t understand why everyone isn’t an avid reader – there is so much to enjoy in so many subjects.
      And yes, it does make it easier to understand why my own writing fails.

  2. Does there need to be an elaborate reason? I agree with all the ones you list, here and in the other post, but “should” the reason why especially writers read a lot not be the fact that we love language and words and get enjoyment out of stories and/or words used in a beautiful and/or effective way? 🙂

    • Whilst I agree with your comment about just for the love of language and words and to get enjoyment out of stories and so on, this post related to the previous post (the link between reading and writing) where I commented that I knew a writer who said she did not read and I didn’t see how that was possible, both for the reasons you describe, but also because surely a writer needs to know what is happening in her genre and also how to write a novel anyone would read.
      And that was what prompted me to write what I did.

      • Oh, yes, I understood, I read the first post as well. What I meant to express was that I really don’t understand how someone who writes him-/herself is not interested in reading (especially from a favourite genre), for all the reasons you mention (knowing what’s going on in the genre, etc.), but I can’t understand it especially because of the things I mentioned. Sorry if it sounded confusing! 🙂

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