I've had a slew of really interesting books cross my desk at work this week (and it is only Wednesday!). It has been really hard trying to stop myself taking a pile of them to the circulation desk and slapping down my ID card and then carrying them off home with me. But I am trying to avoid those temptations this year (those being those temptations to drag stacks of books back and forth). I have two library books out still, one is in progress and hopefully will be finished in the next couple of days, and one is to be started very soon.
While I am trying to be very judicious in my library book requests, looking is still free! I am sure someone mentioned to me Stephen King's On Writing, so it caught my eye and I had a good (albeit quick) browse through. What really caught my eye were the book lists in the back of the book. He says advice he gives is to write a lot and read a lot. While I am not a Writer, I am still a writer and advice is always helpful. Someday I'll get around to checking out the book and having a better look at it, but I must admit that I did make a copy of those reading lists.
He says when asked what he reads, 'everything he can get his hands on' is the usual reply, but helpfully he gives a list of books that he enjoyed, and which 'worked for him'. On Writing was published in 2000 and the book suggestions he give are from the previous three or four years, and the anniversary edition of the book (which is the one my library owns) has an updated list. There are lots of books--far too many for me to try and list here, but I thought I might share a random few--books that I thought curious, that maybe I should look for, or even better--books that are on my own reading piles and should really pick up someday soon (since I am not checking out quite so many library books . . .).
So, here's a baker's dozen or so of books that Stephen King recommends:
A Death in the Family by James Agee (I have this one on my shelves, too)
Cathedral by Nelson DeMille (I've never read DeMille, but why do I think he would be great fun?!)
The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns (Have this one, too)
A Widow for One Year by John Irving (I have never read Irving and feel like I really should have--I wonder which book I might read this year?)
Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates (another writer whose books I seem to collect but don't read very often)
The Speed Queen by Stewart O'Nan (a book, maybe even an author I would never have thought to pick up)
A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell (yay for Ruth Rendell, who I heartily agree is a most excellent writer and I have this book sitting high up on one of my piles).
2666 by Roberto Bolano (HAD to have the boxed set of this but am sort of scared to read it)
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman (I listened to this on audio and it was Excellent--should really read the book, too)
The Fixer by Bernard Malamud (Must read him sometime)
The People's Act of Love by James Meek (agree with King on this one, too, a great read)
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (this one, too--one of the few books I have read in a very long time which literally had me on the edge of my seat and my heart racing--really!)
American Pastoral by Philip Roth (Oops, this one is on my nightstand--must give it some attention)
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson (Have this, looks really good, but boy is it massive)
Painting the Darkness by Robert Goddard (I have lots of his books, but I think I haven't actually read any of them yet--yet that is!)
I'm always curious to know what others are reading and loving, but I do find it especially fascinating to know what writers like to read. Unsurprisingly King seems to have lots of male authors on his lists, lots of suspenseful types of stories (though not at all exclusively) and a number of repetitions of authors he must like to return to again and again.
You know I love a good list and I will make my way through these and see if I can discover some new books as there are quite a few 'unknowns' to me!