Someone turned me on to the website Lithub recently and I’ve quite enjoyed reading articles written by readers.I can’t say the political undercurrents of the site are much aligned to my own, but the contributors seem to be smart and don’t let any academic axe grinding get in the way of making thoughtful observations about literature. At least as far as I’ve read.
I quite enjoy the interviews with authors that the site publishes. A recent one I read is with a woman named Katie Kitamura. I’m not familiar with her work at all, but I really dug this quote of hers:
“It’s very hard to be ambitious as a writer if you’re not ambitious as a reader.”
That is one of the truest things I’ve ever read about the craft of writing. There are certainly people who are not great readers who write enjoyable books, but all the greatest authors, who wrote with style, were heavy readers.
Lately I’ve been reading almost obsessively. I set a decent goal of 100 good books this year. I’m on book 14 and 15 right now. It’s not unusual for me to have a few books going at once, but lately I’ve been maxing out at one or two. For me, it’s better to focus and immerse instead of flitting my attention all over the place.
Book 14 is a book called Dear Genius. It’s a list of letters from a children’s book editor named Ursula Nordstrom. It’s a cool look into the life of a professional editor who worked on some of the greatest children’s books of all time. It’s long, but it’s a quick read. It does get a little boring here and there.
Book 15 is Neil Gaiman’s collection of essays, The View from the Cheap Seats. Like everything he’s done, it’s excellent. I’m even jealous of how good his opening dedication is.
I was just recommending Sandman today to someone at the office. That series is to my mind the best comic book of all time. It has just about everything: action, sex, drugs, dreams, murder, magic, gods, heroes, authors, and even a golden president. The art is wonderful throughout and the story is truly a classic. If educators of the future have an sense, it will be added to the English canon.
Gaiman has immersed himself in the language. He’s read all the right books, and even some of the wrong ones. Be borrows from things correctly and lets his touch be felt in other writers. I can’t think of anything he’s done that I haven’t enjoyed.
Book 16 is going to be his new book, Norse Mythology. I pre-ordered it months ago and it just showed up today. I don’t know anything about it. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.