Friday, September 11, 2009

Stretching Our Taste in Books Just a Tad

Some of us were English majors. Some not. Some of us thrived on Shakespeare. Some said phooey.

All of us are writers or readers. Regardless of our backgrounds, we’ve all heard that we should read. Authors should at least read books in the genre we write in. Readers should at least try to expand their interests and tastes.

I’m going to take it a step farther than that. I think we should all also read great books. Classics, if you will. Not necessarily all the time but often enough to inspire us to stretch just a bit, to reach for an important theme or a voice we haven’t tried. Or even to develop a turn of phrase, a metaphor, or a simile. Of course, readers may find a new favorite or new understanding by reading authors who write about the greatest themes of all.

Newsweek ran a list ( of the greatest books ever written. Their choices may be arguable, but one can not argue with their intent. I thought it might be fun for you to see how many you’ve read. Gauge your relative success on your age. If you’re a senior you may have read more than if you are fifteen. If an English lit major, more (perhaps) than if you majored in engineering.

Actually, how many you’ve read is not nearly as important as how many you’re going to read. Or your motivation to set a goal. For the ambitious, how about a resolution to reread one you’ve already read and a pledge to read three more in the next year.

I hope you'll use my Noble (Not Nobel!) prize list for suggestions, too. It appears every January at And my columns are archived.

Back to those goals. For most of us--we busy ones--how about a commitment to read just one of them. C’mon. Just one.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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