Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Books, Books, Books!

What books have inspired your reading or your writing? I’m not talking about writer’s craft books, although those are important and every writer needs a library of them. No, I’m talking about authors and books you love to read.

I read a lot (although sometimes sporadically, and currently obsessively) so narrowing my list down could be difficult. But everyone has books that speak to them. If you’re  a reader, there are certain books that you can’t do without. Think “stuck on a desert island” kind of books, the ones that no matter what happens, you’re going to buy those books, read and re-read them and nothing is going to make you get rid of them.
If you’re a writer, there are books whose style or imagery or characterization or POV you appreciate. The ones you dog ear or underline so that you can go back to them later and remind yourself of the best way to write something (no, I’m not talking plagiarism).  

For me, there are several books that have inspired me to become a writer. Julia Quinn is an expert at dialogue and changing POV mid scene. She teaches workshops about these topics and if you’re ever able to take one, I highly recommend it. When I first started writing, I couldn’t write dialogue without it sounding stilted. By reading authors who are experts at this, Quinn included, I’ve been able to practice that skill and make characters sound like real people in their conversations.

Lynn Kurland writes wonderful time travel and historical books. I love them as a reader, but as a writer, I love to study how she creates her characters. Her conflicts are agonizingly believable and she pulls emotion from you like no one else can. I dog-ear her books and when I’m trying to get just the right amount of emotion from my character, I often find that going back to her books and seeing how she does it helps me to do it better.

Robyn Carr creates a small town that I’d give my eye teeth to live in, but she also shows how to write a series using existing characters who populate that town. The structure is great and if you’re planning a series, check out her early Virgin River books.

Although I write contemporary romance, I don’t exclusively read that. The Beach Trees by Karen White is a wonderful book for readers and writers. Chapters switch between two female characters, and even without the subheads telling you which character is speaking, you know by how well developed both Julie and Aimee are.

We all have skills we’re good at and skills that need more work, and we can learn so much from each other and from other writers. What books are on your “must have” list?


  1. I have to confess I haven't read, or even heard of, the authors you mention, but, based on your recommendations, I'll have a look for them on Amazon.

  2. That's why book discussions are so important. We learn about great authors from each other.

  3. My turn-on romances are Diana Gabaldon's Highlander, and anything by Bertrice Small. I've never studied them for anything specific, though. I just aspire to be as good as they are someday.

  4. "Turn-on" or "Turn-to"--big difference! :) Either way, both authors are great and we can learn so much from them.

  5. Yikes...I could never play the desert island game with books...there are too many I like and feel I can't live without!

    I used to exclusively read romance...contemporary mostly, but with some historical thrown in.

    I've expanded my horizons over the years and read other things as well now too: I particularly like Clive Cussler action adventures, the Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series, and I read a lot of YA: mostly anything to do with vampires.

  6. I would have a hard time too, but I like reading a variety of different types of books. For me, it helps with my writing. But as I mentioned, I tend to read in spurts and right now, I'm all romance.