Do you have a book, or series of books, that you love to read over and over? I certainly do. And it always seems to depend on the time of year. I get nostalgic to read the Wheel of Time series over winter, Harry Potter during the summer, and the The Last Apprentice series during autumn. I do a lot of re-reading.
In fact, when I was first married, I had a small collection of books that I would cycle through and re-read all the time. My husband, who is all about progression, would rib me about it. He would ask if I ever wanted to read something new. I did, sometimes. But I was comfortable in my cycle.
At the time, I had in my possession, the first book in the Wheel of Time series. It had been given to me by a friend years earlier, and I had never cracked it. Since my husband was familiar with the series, and knew my love for all things fantasy, he urged me to read it. That was his first mistake.
I finally consented, and boy, oh boy, did it open a floodgate. I gobbled the series up like chocolate. I loved it. I even waited patiently for each new book to come out until I finished the series. And since I had found so much enjoyment in reading it, I figured that there were probably many other books out there that I would enjoy as well.
My husband’s second mistake was to tell me that he would never set a budget on books. My own personal library has quadrupled since then. I’ve found a love reading new things, and I still sometimes go back and read old ones too. There are just certain books and series of books that has shaped my life so much that I have to go back sometimes. I crave the stories, and the feelings they evoke.
Lately, I’ve been reading a book called, “Why Write?” by Mark Edmundson. It’s been a huge game-changer for me. In fact, I would even go so far as to call it life changing. It has changed my view about why I want to be a writer, and it has also led me to make many fascinating discoveries about myself and my habits and motivations. It’s amazing- if you’re an aspiring writer, I can’t recommend it enough. And, like my friend who introduced it to me, I have to say that you need to buy your own copy. I’m not sharing mine.
Anyway, Mark Edmundson talks about the brain being a muscle. If we want to improve it, we need to use it, right? He says that if writing is exercise, than reading is our diet. We aren’t going to progress as writers if we are reading the same things all the time. We need to expand our horizons. Learn new words, let yourself be exposed to new metaphors and turns of phrase. It’s a big deal.
In that light, I decided to put down Winter’s Heart, the ninth book in the WoT series, and pick up another tome that has been patiently waiting its turn on my shelf- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I bought it years ago because my husband wanted to read it, and it’s also been on my To Read list. I really like it so far.
Does this mean that I’ll never get back to Winter’s Heart? No. I’m sure my days of re-reading old favorites won’t end. But I do desire to broaden my horizons, as the saying goes, by trying to read more non-fiction, more classics, and maybe a little less fantasy, though that is my greatest love.
Hopefully, this new mental diet will make itself apparent at some point in my progression.