Monday, 9 August 2010
The Importance Of Reading - Lucy Coats
We are all, at some time in our writing careers, asked to give advice to would-be writers (in my case usually kids). I don't think I would be exaggerating if I said that 99.9% of us would tell them to read. In fact, that's pretty much what it says on my own website under FAQs...'Read. Read read read and read some more. Read widely—diaries, letters, biographies, novels, travel, non-fiction. Read everything you can lay your hands on.' But, given the pressures of a time-poor modern life, do we take our own advice? I wonder how many of US read as much as we used to--and when we do read, whether we keep up with what's being published in our own industry. This was brought home to me last year in particular, when I took part in several rounds of the annual Kids' Lit Quiz. I realised that although I was pretty ok on children's and YA books of the past, there were great gaping holes in my more recent knowledge. Of course I'd read the 'biggies'--Garth Nix, Pullman, Rowling etc--mostly because they were what my own kids liked. But there was a lot I'd missed. So I set myself a task earlier this year, because I knew I was going to be flat on my back for a couple of months. I would catch up on YA novels in particular and try to fill in some of those gaps. So I'm now up to speed with Louis Sachar and Patrick Ness and Skulduggery Pleasant and many more. I've also read a lot of new stuff published this year, including some fabulous reads by other members of the Scattered Authors' Society. In the process I've learned that there are a great many good books out there and a lot of talent. I've also had a huge amount of fun (though I've spent far and away above what I should have on the book budget). But I'm sure I've missed masses too. So if any of you out there have any suggestions for a 'non-obvious' and amazing recent book you think I absolutely HAVE to read, then please tell me in the comments below or tweet me at @lucycoats. I'm on a reading roll!