Another part of anyone’s journey as a writer is to find out about–and read!–new writers. It’s about expanding one’s palette, growing in your awareness of styles, voices, and subject matter.
This is one of the great things about grad school: you’re constantly hearing about or having to read authors you’ve never heard of, or that you’ve heard of but hadn’t read yet. But you don’t have to go to grad school to do it. It happened to me in my book club too. As the resident book snob, I dismissed many-a-best-seller only to find myself pleasantly surprised (i.e., in anguished tears over the plight of the protagonist) at the book’s end.
Because it stresses me out to take on large, multi-part tasks, this task is going to be split into a few parts, each of which I’ll elaborate on as needed. The focus here is #1; the others are forthcoming:
1. Discover any new writer.
2. Discover the work of a writer you’ve always meant to read but never got around to. (New to you.)
3. Discover a writer outside of your usual interests/genres, someone you would not otherwise read.
To do: Discover any new writer. Read a book by that person.
Just how does one discover a new writer?
1. Ask a fellow human being–a friend, relative, local librarian, teacher, haircutter, doctor (my doctors tend to be astonishingly well-read!)–to make a recommendation.
2. Browse the library or bookstore. Choose a cover that grabs you. Go to the shelf of staff picks (that’s what they’re there for).
4. Browse online. Here I’ll re-recommend the Emerging Writers Network. Also check out Bookslut (interviews, reviews, blog), Poetry Daily, Rain Taxi (review of books). Click links from these sites, and see where you end up!
To really get the most out of this task, try to find something you’d not normally read. Stretch yourself. Seek out the new and unusual.
Follow up: Tell a friend about the book. Whether you liked the book or not, talking with someone else about it will get you to formulate an opinion and articulate your response to the book. It will also promote literature AND your level of happiness!
(From the link above: “The happiest participants had twice as many substantive conversations and one third as much small talk as the unhappiest participants.”)