Saturday, September 14, 2013

Why I read

I read because I cannot keep myself from reading. Yes, I keep magazines in the bathroom. Eating dinner alone, I dine with my iPad of a book or magazine. Late at night, at my desk, too tired to be creative, I read. (I’m one of those rare creatures who can’t read in bed.)

I grew up a reader, which I’m sure is due to the old adage about reading to your children. I remember most my mom reading The Wind in the Willows but also something about Reddy Fox and, of course, The Little Engine That Could. Once I was old enough to read on my own, there was no stopping me. Summers when I was nine, ten or thereabouts, I rode my bike every day to the Blackstone branch of the Chicago Public Library, took out several books, and rode home to spend the day on our screened-in porch reading. The neighborhood kids thought I was nuts. I remember going through the Little Colonel stories, Bobbsey Twins, graduating to Nancy Drew and Cherry Adams, a nurse, and finally to Frances Parkinson Keyes’ Gothic stories of steamboats and New Orleans and the deep South.

In college, I majored in English because I liked to read and, after all, some man was going to marry me and take care of me—well, that part didn’t work out, but I kept on reading.

Mysteries have been one of my lifelong passions—along with the literature of the American West—so it’s no wonder I find myself writing mysteries today…and reading them. The last few days have found me deep in Diane Mott Davidson’s The Whole Enchilada. Davidson is one of the authors who can make me so immerse myself in the world of her novel that I am loathe to leave it, especially for the world of the novel I’m writing. So I was glued to my iPad—when I could keep it from Jacob. This novel, as all of her others, is superbly plotted, with more intricacy that I can possibly think of for my own novels, and I read it anxiously all the way to the end—when, after all is solved, an event is sort of stuck on that’s unexpected and unrelated and left me a bit dissatisfied. But who am I to criticize Davidson who is one of the leading lights of today’s culinary mysteries. Now I’m hungry to jump into another book and avoid my own writing. But my mind is beginning to work on possibilities for the direction my new novel will take. Part of the problem is that I’m stuck in the boggy middle, still pretty far from shore.

I guess I’ll just keep reading. Part of the advantage of reading is that it makes me rethink where my novel is going, even if I do it subconsciously.

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