I should preface this by stating I’m very bad at making time to read nowadays. I’m so busy with running, creative projects, Spurs and work that there’s little time left for literature, even though it’s a pretty central aspect of my development as a writer and director. Consequently, although this post was inspired by The Broke and the Bookish’s latest Top Ten Tuesday feature, I’m going to do a top 5, in order of preference.
1) The No Rules Handbook by Lisa Goldman
It’s a bit of a cheat this, as I haven’t yet finished this book, but it’s already clearly my favourite book of 2015 so far. Lisa Goldman is running the Arcola Writer’s Group, and most of the exercises we are using in the workshops come from here. Like all good books, it makes you want to read other books within the subject/ genre. It’s also reminding me of many valuable lessons learnt reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces, which provided the template for George Lucas’ smash-hit movie Star Wars.
What I particularly love is the way each chapter sets up a basic rule of writing, analyses why the rule exists, then deconstructs it and encourages you to break it. The book is all about finding your own voice as a writer, learning to tap into existing good practice but recognising when to ditch it and go your own way. For Star Wars fans, it’s the equivalent of Luke turning off his targeting computer and blowing up the Death Star.
2) Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger & Scott Douglas
I credit this book with giving me the know-how to run a Boston Qualifying time and a PB at the Paris Marathon. These guys have been round the block and got the t-shirt. I found the chapter on nutrition particularly useful.
3) Like the Wind Magazine #4
Again, cheating in a way. Like the Wind is a magazine, not a book. But for those not in the know, it’s a great quarterly magazine full of stories by runners. It’s not about how to run, but it might remind you why we run. I featured in issue 3, so order from the back-catalogue if you want to hear about my adventures running in the Thai jungle.
4) Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
I love fantasy, I love comedy, so when the sad news came that Terry Pratchett had shuffled off this mortal coil. I immediately reached for the first Discworld novel I still had knocking about. This old favourite is laugh-out-loud funny and well worth checking out. So what if I’ve read it before?
5) In Search of Lost Time: The Way by Swann’s by Marcel Proust
I’m not gonna lie. This was one of the most boring books I have ever read. It’s beautifully written. I often found myself marvelling at a wonderful turn of phrase. But frankly life is too short to spend time doing things we don’t enjoy. I persevered with this book because it has a reputation as one of the greatest novels ever. I persisted in the hope of divine inspiration, of a Eureka moment perhaps. But it didn’t come. The idea of trawling through the remaining volumes in the series is in no way appealing. If you enjoy Proust, good luck to you. But it’s not for me.
And that’s it. While I’ve dipped in and out of several other books, I’ve only read numbers 2-5 from cover to cover. Got any tips for how I can increase my reading over the second half of the year?