For the past few years, I’ve participated in a reading challenge where I set a goal to read 52 books a year. That means I read roughly one book a week. I’m completing this reading challenge again in 2023, and since we’re nearly halfway through the year, it’s fair to say that I’ve read a good chunk of books thus far. I read for enjoyment, but I also read because it is necessary as a writer. When I read, I am actively engaging with the text, thinking about how that particular author uses language, structure, plot, literary devices, narrative, character development, etc. Every time I read a book, I am researching, learning, and searching for inspiration. Therefore, it’s a vital part of the writing process.
I like to switch up the type of books I read, alternating between fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Even though as a flash fiction writer I read a lot of flash, it’s important to branch out and read other genres. For instance, reading poetry inspires me to be more lyrical and poetic with my diction and figurative language in my own writing.
I would like to share some of my favorite reads of the year so far, along with books in my To Be Read (TBR) pile. I will include a 1-2 sentence description of how I found inspiration in the book for my own writing.
Favorite Reads of 2023 So Far
A National Book Award winner in Translated Literature, Tokyo Ueno Station, is a novel that is a stellar example of an in-depth character study rich with emotion.
This Time Tomorrow is a novel that uses time travel in a clever, straightforward way. It is structured beautifully and displays a father/daughter relationship and grief in all its depths. This book is a great example of how to write about an emotional topic, like grief, in a raw, unique way.
Ambrotypes is a collection of flash fiction, so it is right up my alley. When I read flash, I read every story twice to really soak in all the elements the author is employing to create a fully fleshed flash.
Another National Book Award winner, The Rabbit Hutch was recommended to me by two different people as a novel that I might enjoy, so I knew I had to read it. The recommendation was spot on because this is a masterful work in character and structure. Gunty gives the entire cast of characters such depth in the alternating POV structure.
And If That Mockingbird Don’t Sing: Parenting Stories Gone Speculative is a flash fiction anthology revolving around the theme of parenthood. Each piece is written by a different author, so I was able to learn from 75 different flash writers.
Published in 1993, The Domestic Life is a poetry collection written by Florida author, Hunt Hawkins. His poetry is so complex in that it is able to capture humor and grief so well. As I mentioned above, I like to study poetry for the language, but this book showed me how to weave two conflicting emotions in a successful way. I often try to weave comedy and serious topics together in my own work.
Books in My TBR Pile I’m Looking Forward to Reading
- Once and Future Lovers, Sheree L Greer. This collection of stories is written by a local author, and I love supporting local writers. It includes flash fiction, so that’s another appealing aspect for me.
- Flash Fiction America, Edited by James Thomas, Sherrie Flick, John DuFresne. This book is full of amazing flash writers that I’ve found inspiration in the past, so I am ecstatic to dive into this book and consume all the flash.
- Mistakes by the Lake, Brian Petkash. This is a collection of stories by another local author. When I read fiction books, I like to switch between novels and story collections, so I look forward to reading this book after I finish the novel I’m currently reading.
- Thunderbird Inn, Collin Callahan. Winner of the Silver Florida Book Award in poetry, I picked up this book at an event celebrating the gold and silver medalists (I already read the gold medalist’s book last year).
- Happy Place, Emily Henry. I don’t typically read romance novels, but I have really enjoyed Emily Henry’s books after a friend recommended her to me. I’m looking forward to gobbling up Henry’s latest release.