Under the big umbrella.

Thoughts & sundry on writing, books, and other kinds of comfort food.
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December 13, 2012 at 9:01am

bucket list reading.

Hey there friends.

OK. I don’t know a lot of people who read poetry for fun. And honestly, now that I’m no longer a college student majoring in poetry… I really don’t either.

But I want to. I still love poetry. And I feel like I should be reading it. As writers, we all should. Pulitzer Prize winning writer Amy Lowell sums it up beautifully:

We should read poetry because only in that way can we know man in all his moods — in the most beautiful thoughts of his heart, in his farthest reaches of imagination, in the tenderness of his love, in the nakedness and awe of his soul confronted with the terror and wonder of the Universe.

So. In pretty much the opposite of Farenheit 451, the government (well, the Library of Congress, to be fair) has compiled a pretty fantastic list of poems—and links to read them.

Give one or two a try. Some of my favorites are on there. Maybe yours, too.

It’ll make you feel better. And think better. And write better. Promise.

Image via mil8.

December 8, 2012 at 8:30am

Books are f***ing awesome. But you don’t have to take my word for it. 

August 23, 2012 at 8:27am

jamie oliver's book revolution →

This is just awesome. -Sarah Rhea Werner

July 24, 2012 at 9:59pm

on nicholas sparks.

Nicholas Sparks is the Nickelback of the literary world.

July 18, 2012 at 8:03am

when do you call it quits? [reading edition]

Josie Leavitt raises a great question in her post, “When Do You Stop Reading a Book?

I’ve always been of the opinion that there are so many great books to read that it doesn’t make sense to waste your time on something mediocre, poorly plotted, or thoughtlessly characterized, etc. 

I even have a special shelf on Goodreads of books I’ve started and never finished. They’re too clunky, too unbelievable, the main character is irritating beyond belief… you get the picture.

When do you stop reading a book?

June 11, 2012 at 8:08am

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.

— William Styron, from Conversations with William Styron.

March 28, 2012 at 8:25pm

don’t dismiss genre fiction.

A thoughtful post in defense of genre fiction. And BAD genre fiction at that.

From the article:

It’s not about shutting your mind off, or any other excuse, it’s about opening your mind, to the brilliant little sparks of joy embedded in even the worst told stories. See, individual books might be bad, but as long as you pull some piece of love out of them, fit it into the gestalt of the hundreds of other books you’ve read, it’s still making you think, still making your world bigger. Disparate stories from different genres might be brilliant on their own, but they can’t contribute to your internal world in the same way. That would be like trying to assemble a puzzle from only corner pieces. 

The endless piles of genre fiction are the key to happiness. They’re the key to picking out the things that actually make you happy in this world instead of the things that you’re told are good for you. Ninety percent of everything you read is going to be crap one way or the other, so make sure it’s the crap that makes you smile, and don’t apologize for it.

On that note, I fucking LOVE Jim Butcher, Elizabeth PetersJacqueline Carey, Diana Gabaldon, any and all “Star Wars" novels, and the delicious "Vampire Academy" series. YES I SAID LOVE.

Are there any books that you are ashamed to be seen reading… but can’t get enough of?

October 20, 2011 at 4:07pm

a professional writer is a professional reader. →

October 9, 2011 at 9:06am

reflection.

My writing tends to reflect whatever I’m reading at the moment. I’m sure it’s the same with you. And so my novel ends up with a passage of terse dialogue (All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy), followed by a poetic description (Crank by Ellen Hopkins), followed by some fluffy, incoherent garbage I delete the very next day (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon—which, to be clear, I adore), etc.

Sure, you could probably avoid this inconsistency by locking yourself in a tower in some deserted town with no TV, books, magazines, radio, other people, or other outside influence, but then you might lose out on a lot of what makes books great—allusion, inspiration, the organic growth of ideas from person to person.

And there’s a good chance you would end up writing something about a deserted town with no people—and no plot.

Is it possible to write outside of influence? Is it possible to write something that is purely your own?

Image via Cea.

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