Taste In Books or Filling in the Gaps
of us were English majors. Some not. Some of us thrived
on Shakespeare. Some said phooey.
All of us read. I feel assured of that or you wouldn’t
be reading a “Back to Literature” column.
Regardless of our backgrounds, we’ve all heard that
we should read to expand our interests and tastes. Some
say it will even make better voters of us.
However, I think if we get stuck in a genre—say
only romances—we do ourselves a disservice. Surely
we should enjoy what we read, but we won’t get the
most we can out of our reading if we stay too narrowly
focused—only the books of one author or only nonfiction
or only historical fiction. And I firmly believe that
we should sprinkle in as many great books as we can. Classics,
if you will. And do it often enough to—well become
I found a list of the greatest books ever written. The
choices may be arguable but one cannot argue with intent
of those who assembled the list. I like that they include
lots of classics and that they do separate fiction from
nonfiction for those who have a preference or those who
like to balance their reading. I thought it might be fun
for you to see how many you’ve read. Gauge your
relative success on your age. If you’re a senior
you may have read more than if you are fifteen. If you
are an English lit major, you may have read more than
if you majored in engineering.
Actually, how many you’ve read is not nearly as
important as how many you’re going to read. Or your
motivation to set a goal. Make a list of those that you’ve
always wanted to read and then add a couple you’re
sure you’ll hate. That’s to guarantee that
you will do some stretching.
resolving to reread one you’ve already read and
pledging to read three more in the next year.
I hope you'll use my Noble (Not Nobel!) prize list for
suggestions, too. It appears every January at MyShelf.com.
And my "Back to Literature" columns are archived
right here on this page. Each one has some suggested reading
in the box at the bottom of the column.
logged onto Amazon Kindle and picked up lots of classics
listed on the reading list I was given when I was in school
and—I’m ashamed to admit—never completed.
And most of them were free! Now I will never be without
something excellent to read.
I’ve gotten off to a good start in 2014. At least
good enough to recommend a couple brand new books written
by authors accepted by our industry as “literary
authors.” One is Wally Lamb’s We Are Water
that I mentioned for technique in the 2nd edition
of my The Frugal Editor and the other is Anna
Quindlen’s Still Life with Bread Crumbs.
Back to those goals. For most of us--we busy ones--how
about a commitment to read just one of the books on that
list. C’mon. Just one.
Tips and Tidbits
(Each month in this box, Carolyn
lists a Tidbit that will help authors write or promote
better. She will also include a Tip to help readers
find a treasure among long-neglected books or a
sapphire among the newly-published.)
multi award-winning The
Frugal Editor is now in its second
edition—as an e-book (the print edition
is coming a bit later.) It’s been reformatted,
updated and expanded.
Tip for Readers' Tip:
I’m rereading some of James
Michener’s books and I’m starting
with one that wasn’t a favorite in its
Covenant. Michener has been out of
favor—his books are too long, people
sometimes say. But I always loved his books
way back then. I felt satisfied—as if
I had learned something and been entertained—when
I turned the last page.
nominate a book that fits within the parameters listed
in this year's Noble Back to Literature column. Explain
in 25 word or less why your nomination is a work of literary
merit and sent directly to me.
Nominations must be signed with your real name, e-mail
address and a URL if you have one. Email
Winners feel free to capture a
banner for your website!
Howard-Johnson is a multi award-winning novelist, poet
and author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of
how-to books. She occasionally teaches classes for the
renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program.
Website - My
Review Blog - Email