Monday, January 12, 2009

Why I Read

First, I'll write the easy post... the other post after this one is much harder.

Anyway, whenever I meet writers looking for an agent, they're amazed at the fact that I read published books on a regular basis.

"How can you read?" they ask.

"If I didn't read, I'd die," I answer with complete honesty.

Because the thing is, books are as essential to me as breathing is. I can't live without them, and trust me, my slush pile just doesn't cut it sometimes. Raw books, which I guess is the best term to call manuscripts in their unpublished form... they're wonderful to read and an essential part of my job. I spent part of last week totally digging a YA book, and ended up calling the author to offer her representation. But most of my slush reading is not as satisfying as that; I crave the polish of published prose that has been made incredibly shiny. I'm not sure if that makes sense to people, but it's how I feel.

So this year, for the first year since 2005, I'm going to actually bother to keep track of how many books I read. I'm not counting manuscripts, but ARCs are fair game. As long as it's handed to me in bound form, I count it as a book. That's how this game works, at least for me. =)

The books may or may not have little reviews attached to them, depending on my mood and whether I hated or liked a book.

I read because if I didn't, I wouldn't be me.

Books Read So Far:

I can't really comment much on the cookbook, except to say that the tofu and eggplant gratin was not to my taste, and that the beef onigiri were quite good.

It's a very short book, and I had never read it.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you. I love writing in no small part because I love reading. I can't imagine not ever reading books.

Lisa Iriarte said...

That's a good idea, counting the books read in a year. I only started blogging midway through last year. However, I review every book I read on my blog, so it will be easy for me to keep track. Do you have an estimate that you think you will read this year? It would be interesting to see how close you come to it and whether it is high or low.

Jenny Rappaport said...

Well, my last year of college, and the first year I started agenting, I read 142 books. I expect it to be significantly less this year. If I hit 100, I'll be happy. =)

Elissa M said...

I'm not sure I'd want an agent who doesn't read. ARE there agents who don't read? I mean, that's what the industry is about. If you don't read published books, what the heck are you doing in the business (whether you're an agent, editor, or writer)?

Yes, there are time issues, but an agent/editor/writer not reading is like a professional musician not listening to music, or an actor never watching a movie or play, or a chef never eating at someone else's restaurant, or... well, I think I made my point.

Rebecca said...

I'm with the previous comments. I write because I read (and, at this point, vice versa), and I can't fathom those who never pick up a book. I know a girl at work who says she's never finished one (outside of school, I would imagine). I'm going to try to keep up with my books via blog reviews as well - so far I've got 1.5 but the .5 was Kostova's lengthy book The Historian, which really ought to count as a whole.

mvg said...

Completely agree w/the statement "If I didn't read, I'd die."
Somewhat off topic, but worth a look is this revealing glimpse of the nitty-gritty of book publishing (it's only 3 mins):