19th Century Chick Lit

Part of the Web site, www.19thcenturychicklit.com, this blog is about the connection between the popular women writers of the 19th century and today's women writers and readers. I'm actually interested in women writers from lots of different time periods and genres--the 19th century is just my starting point.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Reading Diet

I need a book on my nightstand at all times, plus a queue of books in waiting, otherwise I just feel very ungrounded and very hungry. That’s because I look at my reading list sort of like my food pyramid. I love to alternate between lots of different genres of books—like ones where I learn something about a historical period, person, or event (the nourishing fruits & veggies), ones that speak to my writing business (the all-important protein), and then the ones that are just pure entertainment/inspiration/amusement (the base of it all: My carbs!).

Here’s what I’ve been chowing down on this month:

My veggie: Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. I’m not even a horse person, and though I grew up in Kentucky, I can’t say I’ve ever really watched or cared a whit about the Derby. But I got totally engrossed in the tale of this spunky horse and the unlikely cast of characters who made him. I skimmed over the parts that went into great detail about the races, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. If nothing else, it’s worth it just to read the chapter about the awful things jockeys have to do to stay thin. And we thought we gals had it bad. Sheesh.

My carbs: Digging to America by Anne Tyler. I love how ordinary and real the characters are in Anne Tyler books. This is a great little book about two very different families who both adopt baby girls from Korea, and how their lives begin to intertwine.

My protein: On Writing by Stephen King. So I’ve never read (or seen) anything by Stephen King because I hate to be scared, creeped out, freaked out, or grossed out. But I was looking for a little motivation, and I heard from my writer friends that this was an awesome book about writing. So far, it hasn’t disappointed. I’m just to the point now where he and his wife are so poor they’re barely making it, and then he learns that he’s sold the paperback rights to his novel Carrie for $400,000, and his wife begins to weep. Good stuff.

Okay, one more protein-packed serving of writing wisdom: The Well-Fed Self-Publisher by Peter Bowerman. I picked up this book after reading a Q&A with Bowerman on the Renegade Writer blog I’m investigating various publishing options out there, and that Bowerman is one smart cookie. I’m totally jazzed already, and I’m only on page 5.

And here’s what’s in my queue:
First, I’m anxiously awaiting Query Letters That Rock by Diana Burrell and Linda Formichelli, authors of the above-mentioned Renegade Writer blog.

Second, I was listening to Kiran Desai being interviewed on Fresh Air on NPR the other day, and now I’m way intrigued to read her book, The Inheritance of Loss.

And finally, as we approach the holiday season, I’ve decided it’s the perfect time to re-read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I just never tire of reading about those spunky March sisters. Plus, I've realized that my companion Web site, 19th Century Chick Lit is shamefully lacking an entry on Little Women--which is most certainly a 19th century chick lit classic. This gives me an excuse to reread and update!