Like most of the readers I know, I love to read and I love to learn new things. My idea of a good time is to spend an hour or more in the library, browsing through the shelves like I would at a bookstore. I generally start wandering through the fiction section, looking for books I haven't read yet by my favorite authors, and to see if any of the titles looks interesting. Generally many do, so I try to limit myself to no more than half a dozen novels at once.
I then move on to the non-fiction sections. I love to wander through the stacks and pick up books on various topics that catch my eye. I find it interesting to explore new subjects and expand my horizons. Since I'm exploring new topics for my own benefit, and not for a class, I can skim through the volumes, read what sections I find most interesting, and skip anything that I don't feel like slogging through. I've learned so much about so many different subjects that way.
In thinking about my reading habits, I realize I've learned a great deal from reading fiction, too. I read fiction for the pure pleasure of reading, so if I find a novel intriguing I'll read it from cover to cover. And as most, if not all readers know, novels are a great way to take us readers into new worlds. I've also found that I learn a lot of things about all sorts of topics, like what it's like to live in Iceland or the south of Florida, what it's like to work in a factory, on a railroad, or even in the halls of Congress. The list goes on and on.
Since I began writing fiction recently, I've spent more and more time reading novels and thinking about them. As I'm getting ready to start writing my second novel, I've been very careful about what I've been reading. I'm trying to read the best writers, not to copy their style, but to get inspired with excellent writing. I'm also reading a lot of the American classics; like the Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald; Jack London's White Fang and The Call of the Wild; Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Some of the classics I read in high school or college. Others are new to me. Although I've always loved reading, I have never taken a college course in the Classics of American Literature. Nor have I ever taken a course in writing fiction. Exploring the American classics is helping fill those gaps, as well as inspiring me to strive to improve my own writing. But most of all, it's a lot of fun. And for me, that's what reading is all about.
Terri Morgan is a book junkie and journalist turned novelist from California. Her novel Playing the Genetic Lottery, was published in May 2012. She blogs on her website at
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