…would you trust a chef who doesn’t eat?
Or a singer who doesn’t listen to music?
I don’t think so.
Then why should you trust a writer who doesn’t read?
A few days ago I was thinking about this and I realised that lately I’ve been reading far less than I used to. I wasn’t a precocious reader. Yes, I liked books even as a child but I read not more than five or six per year. It was only later, when I was about twelve years old, that I became the bookworm I am now.
I don’t really know how it happened, but something clicked in my mind and suddenly I couldn’t live without a novel on my bedside table. Believe me, I reached peaks of insanity. I started bringing a book with me everywhere. I used to read during breakfast, during the car ride towards school (obviously my father was driving), at lunch (was I alone or not), during every afternoon break from study, at dinner (much to the disappointment of my parents) and, if the book was really absorbing, at night when I should have been asleep. In order to gain credist for school (and gain free acess to novels) I volunteered at the local library. I still know most of their inventory by heart.
Growing up I learnt to keep my obsession for books under control (more or less). I understood that books weren’t going anywhere and that they weren’t going towards self destruction if I didn’t read them fast enough.
I still feel drawn to books but in a more mature way (you can ignore this clear attempt at self conviction).
Only… now there’s something wrong.
As I said, lately I’ve been reading far less than usual, because my waking hours are split between work, writing, family and everyday chores.
Sound like good excuses?
Not to me.
I have to find time to read, for three main reasons:
1. my to read shelf is heavy with new tomes
2. my wish list is endless
3. a writer who doesn’t read is a fraud.
In the past few months I tried to transform everything I can in something helpful for writing, productivity and procrastination killing. So I thought, I write about everything why not writing about what I am reading? It may be helpful to read novels in a more critical way and learn something in the process.
I confess I rarely read novels or other books in a critical manner. When a story catches me I forget to pay attention to details, so in the end I am not able to explain why I enjoyed it so much even if I know what I’m searching in a book.
At the moment I am reading Calasade: Blood Isle by Mark Stone. Calasade is a Greco Roman Fantasy world. As the author says, it has enough in common with Ancient Rome to sound familiar, but it’s also original and unique in its own way. Blood Isle is one episode of many that take place in Calasade world, but it can be read as a stand alone story.
The first word that comes to my mind thinking about this book is: different. This novel is different from anything I have read before (and believe me, there’s a good number of fantasy novels on my shelf). It’s different for the setting, of course, that doesn’t resemble anything already seen, and it’s different for the approach.
From a fantasy I learnt to expect certain things: a great danger for the world and its order, a villain who seeks some form of power and a hero who, willingly or unwillingly, undertakes the voyage to defeat the enemy. Well, this time the danger and the enemy are not clear from the beginning, the reader explores this new world without really knowing who is the bad guy and what he wants and this make you read the entire novel with a different perspective. Moreover the hero, Caderyn, is one of the most unwilling and troubled heroes I’ve ever read about. This adds another layer to the story, because along the way he has to fight his own demons (which are big ones).
The pace of the narration is good, not so fast that you get lost and not so slow that you get bored by details. The main issue that slows my reading is language (but it’s my problem because English is not my mother language). The mixture of English, Latin and Latin like words adapted to sound more familiar to English-speaking persons is sometimes a little difficult for me, but it’s just a matter of getting used to it (which happens after a couple of chapters).
Plus: this book has beautiful illustrations.
On the whole this is a novel I can’t wait to finish, because it’s really interesting and innovative.
I just have to find some time!
What about you?
What are you reading at the moment?