June 28, 2016
Note From Rochelle
As summer gets into full swing, it’s time once again for the summer reading list. But first, I have a few hints on how you can make time to read. And, at the end of a post, you’ll have a chance to win one of the books I’m recommending.
Happy Writing (and Reading)!
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
How to Create a Reading Habit by Rochelle Melander
I created the hashtag, #WritersRead because I believe that the writers who read produce better books. But most writers are struggling to find time to write let alone read. I’d like to share some of my best secrets (and practical hints) for finding time to read.
First, make sure you have books! Support and use your public library. It offers all of us equal access to books—physical, digital, and audio.
That said, it’s helpful to have a few books of your own. I encourage clients to develop a small library of must-read professional books and resources and a stack of fun or interesting books. I also have a few books on my phone (audio and digital), so that I can listen to books in the car and read books when I get caught out of the house without one.
Next, find the time to read.
- Get up 30 minutes earlier than your family and use the time for a quiet breakfast and reading.
- Read while you exercise. But be safe! Read while cycling on a stationary bicycle or walking slowly on a treadmill.
- Listen to or read a book during your commute.
- Read during your lunch hour or on breaks.
- Set aside work time each week to catch up on reading you do for your profession.
- Set aside weekend time to visit a coffee shop, have a treat, and read a book. Or, if you prefer savory treats, head out for a plate of hors d’oerves and a cool drink.
- Replace one hour of email or computer time with reading.
- If you like audio books, you can read while cleaning the house, crafting, cooking dinner and more.
- Stop watching television a little earlier (or start watching a little later), and take back an hour or more for reading.
- Dedicate one afternoon (or day) per week (or month) as a reading retreat—and head out to a coffee shop, park, or library to read.
Give it time. Reading is a habit that takes time to establish—like exercising and eating well. My final bit of advice will help you ease into it: start with a book that rocks your world. You’ll get hooked. I promise!
—Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
#WritersRead: A Novel Prescription by Rochelle Melander
I’ve noticed how many books have been published about books. I stopped at the library the other day, and saw Hot Dudes Reading, a book based on a popular Instagram account. It’s a fun book to page through, but don’t expect to get a bunch of amazing book recommendations from it. (Oh well, I can’t have everything!)
If you’re looking for books to soothe your every mood, try The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin. In addition to providing specific books for modern ailments, the authors have added lists of books for the many moods we face. In honor of that book, I’ve organized my list by affliction. All of the books on the list are fiction. If the book is for children, I’ve added a grade level note after the summary.
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner. Charlie loves Irish dancing, ice fishing, and her big sister, Abby. One day while ice fishing, she catches a magical fish who offers to grant her wish in exchange for setting him free. She accepts the offer and makes a wish, but finds the results a bit—surprising! When her sister ends up in rehab for heroin addiction, Charlie looks to her magical fish to help her through the toughest time in her family’s life. (Grade 4-6)
Career, change of
Buried in a Book by Lucy Arlington. After Lila Wilkins loses her job at the local paper, she takes an internship at A Novel Idea, a literary agency in North Carolina. On her first day, an aspiring author drops dead in the waiting room. She suspects foul play and investigates, throwing herself into danger.
Bonus: Get a fun peak into the world of literary agencies.
(Enter to win a copy of this book below!)
Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter by Beth Fantaskey. Set in 1920s Chicago, ten-year-old Isabel Feeney sells papers and hopes to become a news reporter. When her favorite customer is involved in a murder, Isabel is first at the scene. She meets her idol, the famous journalist Maude Collier, and sets out to help her investigate the murder. Isabel hopes to catch the killer—and land a big story. (Mystery, Grade 4-6)
Community, how art connects
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Scientists have warned society about a debilitating flu, and it comes on a snowy night in Toronto. That night, child actress Kirsten Raymonde watches a fellow actor die onstage of a heart attack. A paparazzi turned paramedic tries to save him, and then walks home to care for his paraplegic brother. The flu overtakes society, and the world collapses. The story continues fifteen years later, when Kirsten is a member of the Traveling Symphony, a troupe of performers who travel around the Great Lakes region, performing for those who survived society’s great collapse. The story moves back and forth, before and after the flu, taking us through the lives and loves of the characters, revealing the intricate connections that hold them together.
Quote: “Survival is insufficient.”
Courage, to be yourself
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart. Eighth grader Lily Jo McGrother was born a boy (Timothy), and hopes to soon have the courage to face her world as herself. Dunkin Dorfman—born Norbert—has just moved to town from New Jersey and must come to terms with everything he left behind and the one thing he can’t—bipolar disorder. When Lily meets Dunkin, they find a connection that changes both of them. Though the story is packed with issues (gender identity, mental health, grief, bullying, family conflict), there’s so much here to fall in love with: shared pop tarts and donuts, comforting trees, basketball, Halloween costumes, and most of all, friendships that endure. (Grade 5 and up)
Quote: “Let the world see you.”
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire Competition, then she’ll get her picture in the paper and her father, who left town with a dental hygienist, just might see it and return. But first she must fulfill two key requirements of the pageant: learn a talent (baton twirling) and do good deeds. At baton class, she meets two of her competitors for Little Miss contest, Louisiana and Beverly—and when their teacher becomes less than reliable, they set off on a series of adventures. (Grade 4-7)
Quote: “Stand at attention!” shouted Ida Nee. “Stand up straight! This is the first rule of baton twirling, to stand as if you value yourself and your place in the world.”
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta. Set in Nigeria during the civil war, the book chronicles Ijeoma’s coming of age. At 11, Ijeoma is sent away to school and falls in love with another girl. When her relationship is discovered, Ijeoma suffers deep consequences and learns to hide this part of herself. Follow Ijeoma’s journey to adulthood and her struggle to make a life that matters to her.
Quote: “Mama used to say that our dreams were the way in which we resolved our problems, that every problem could be solved if we paid close attention to the tiniest details in our dreams.”
Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo. Angie’s big sister was always her best friend. But then she joined the army, was shipped overseas, and has been reported captured and feared dead. Angie is left behind with her less-than-sympathetic mom and adopted big brother. But everything changes when she meets the new girl, KC Romance. (Grade 9 and up)
Quote: “You’re not alone. You’re never alone. Use creativity to change what world you’re in at this moment.”
Loosen up, need to
When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad. Pippi Longstocking meets Anne of Green Gables in this funny middle grade novel. It’s Denmark in 1911, children are to be seen and not heard, and Inge Maria arrives on the tiny island of Bornholm to live with her staid grandmother. But Inge Maria isn’t very good at following the social rules on the island—with hilarious results. Soon the whole village is trying not to laugh or join in the fun. Will they succeed or will Inge Maria teach them that life can be fun? (Grades 3-5)
Mission, life and career
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. This novel follows the brilliant amateur botanist Emma Whittaker as she explores the world of mosses and dangerous new ideas about evolution and spirituality. It’s truly an epic tale, beginning with the story of how Emma’s father Henry built his enormous fortune and continuing with Emma’s career and both of their travels around the world. Read The Signature of All Things when you have a few days to lounge in the garden or on the porch and can allow yourself to get lost in the adventures of another age.
Quote: “The old cobbler had believed in something he called “the signature of all things”-namely, that God had hidden clues for humanity’s betterment inside the design of every flower, leaf, fruit, and tree on earth. All the natural world was a divine code, Boehme claimed, containing proof of our Creator’s love.”
Persistence, career and life
Best to Laugh by Lorna Landvik. When Candy Pekkala moves from Minnesota to Hollywood, California, she meets an array of interesting characters at her apartment complex, including a fortune teller and a female bodybuilder. She jumps into the world of stand up comedy—and her life takes off.
Quote: “Just remember, Candy, show business is cruel, but then again, so is life. It’s up to you whether or not to get undone by it.”
Bonus: Learn how to turn your life into a novel. Author Lorna Landvik was a stand-up comic before she wrote novels.
Rebelliousness, need for
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. In Carriveau, France during WWII, Vianne Mauriac is raising her daughter alone while her husband fights. When the Nazis invade France, Vianne is forced to take in a Nazi officer. Her rebellious younger sister, Isabelle, falls in love with Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France. When he betrays her, Isabelle joins the resistance and risks her life to save others.
Quote: “Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”
Second chances, hope
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Addie Moore and Louis Waters live in the same neighborhood in Holt, Colorado. Both have lost their spouses. Both face long lonely days and longer nights. But somehow at this late stage of life, they find each other and form a bond that brings light and comfort to both of them.
Quote “Who would have thought at this time in our lives that we’d still have something like this. That it turns out we’re not finished with changes and excitements. And not all dried up in body and spirit.”
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. When 26-year-old professional writer Nora gets invited to her old friend Clare’s hen weekend—a bachelorette party—she reluctantly accepts, mostly out of a mixed sense of curiosity and duty. But the party takes a dark turn, and Nora finds herself in a frightening game of cat and mouse. (Mystery, adult)
Quote: “You’d think people would be wary of spilling to a writer. You’d think they’d know that we’re essentially birds of carrion, picking over the corpses of dead affairs and forgotten arguments to recycle them in our work—zombie reincarnations of their former selves, stitched into a macabre new patchwork of our own devising.”
Writing Jobs, entry level
Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson. The reclusive literary legend Mimi Banning hasn’t written a book in decades but needs to—and fast—because she’s nearly out of money. To make sure she finishes on time, her publisher sends a companion, Alice Whitely, to monitor Banning’s progress and to take care of her precocious nine-year-old son, Frank.
Quote: On learning his mother is still writing her book, “I don’t understand the delay,” Frank said. “I wrote my book in an afternoon. I certainly hope this project of hers ends up being worth all the Sturm and Drang.”
Your turn: What’s been your favorite novel cure this year?
Enter to win a copy of Buried in a Book by Lucy Arlington