Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Writers Read; Readers Write

The fact is, if you're a writing you're likely a reader as well. This isn't always the case. It applies more to those who write for the love of it rather an as a way to make a few extra bucks turning out e-books.

Not only are writers also readers, they tend to have a sort of romance with the books they read. There might be love, hate, indifference or outright hostility toward the books they read. They are also very likely to have their own library of books. It might be just a single bookshelf, or it might be an entire room stuffed floor to ceiling with piles of books they have read and re-read; want to read or will likely want to read again.

I have always been of the opinion that not only should I read the books written by the authors whose writing I enjoy the most, I should also endeavor to read the books those authors have themselves read. In this way I hope to experience the same thoughts or emotions or they might have experienced, and glean some of the same insight they enjoyed.

There is no harm in this. I am not seeking to copy their style, or even replicate their inspiration. I just want to share something personal with them which I could not otherwise share.

I wish it would have occurred to me sooner that others were doing the same thing. If it had, I might have been inspired to write a book about it, like Leah Price.

Alongside the formidable collections—featuring Alison Bechdel, Stephen Carter, Junot Díaz, Rebecca Goldstein and Steven Pinker, Lev Grossman and Sophie Gee, Jonathan Lethem, Claire Messud and James Wood, Philip Pullman, Gary Shteyngart, and Edmund Whit—are short interviews with the authors about the books most important to them (including their top 10), their style of organization, and their thoughts on what the future of books might hold. (Cue in writers on the future of books.) The interviews are prefaced by Leah Price's fascinating brief history of bookshelves, from the rise of the vertical book on a horizontal shelf to how social bookmarking services are changing our relationship with tagging and indexing information.

Click here to read the complete review of Price's book.

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