?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Writing About Reading/Research

A while back I started to track how many books I read throughout the year. The goal was 52 books in a year, one a week. Beyond recording the numbers, I tracked reading patterns; sometimes I'm in the mood for lighter fare, and at others I'm interested in heavier works.

I've seen other challenges, where the bar was higher, but I've yet to reach 52, so setting up myself for failure before I've even begun the year never seemed a good idea. No matter the number, it's all research; when you're a writer, you're learning how others present ideas, handles sentence structure, dialogue, scenes and paragraphs. You're even gathering ideas, because you've got your own take on how a story should be told or you want to explore a plot thread. A good example of the latter is Gregory Maguire, whose most popular works, such as Wicked, approach classic stories from another direction.

My reading tastes favored the lighter side this year, if you can consider pulp novels from the 1930s because of their length. I recorded 44 books this year, and most of those were the Sanctum reprints of the Doc Savage and The Shadow novels written by Lester Dent, Walter B. Gibson, and others. They're certainly not "light" in subject matter, since death and destruction provide the meat and potatoes for those stories. Back in grade school, I had to give a speech as part of an English class, and I spoke about the various ways Dent eliminated villains in his books, which could range from drowning by pet octopus to poisoning by vampire bat. Gibson's bad guys usually fall to bullets fired from The Shadow's .45s, but there are gems throughout, this year's ironically coming in the freshman outing of Theodore Tinsley, Partners of Peril, rather than from Gibson.

I believe I would probably top the 52 mark if I included actual research reading. This year's efforts involved passages from Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark and other resources discussing autism, as well as hours browsing through books and articles about Ann Arbor and the U.S. Marshal service. So, I'm going to change the list for 2011, adding those into the total. Non-fiction is as instructive as much as the fiction.

Some of the books are repeats. Last year's first book was The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks, which I first read when I was back in high school. I didn't quite finish it by December 31st last year, so it kicks off 2010 rather than ending 2009. I'm in a similar spot starting 2011, which will see The Devil's Playground by Alan Hathaway and Lester Dent from January 1941 as the first book read.

Another selling point of the Sanctum reprints are the essays by Will Murray, Anthony Tollin and others, which provide insight into the pulp history surrounding the stories. I gained more respect for Dent's ghost writers when I learned both Hathaway and Harold A. Davis were managing editor's for Newsday, which started publication in 1940. Davis held the position first, succeeded by Hathaway in 1944. Murray notes that Hathaway was considered the "driving force" behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting of labor racketeering in 1954, which was the first of many earned by the tabloid.

BOOKS
1 - The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
2 - The Stand: Captain Trips by Stephen King, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Mike Perkins & Laura Martin
3 - Die Trying by Lee Child
4 - The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton
5 - Tai-Pan by James Clavell
6 - Devils of the Deep by Harold A. Davis and Lester Dent
7 - Thunderhead by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
8 - The Polar Treasure by Lester Dent
9 - Tripwire by Lee Child
10 - Pirate of the Pacific by Lester Dent
11 - Blockade Billy by Stephen King
12 - The Living Shadow by Walter B. Gibson
13 - Nothing To Lose by Lee Child
14 - Lingo by Walter B. Gibson
15 - Partners of Peril by Theodore Tinsley
16 - Under The Dome by Stephen King
17 - The Lost Oasis by Lester Dent
18 - The Colorado Kid by Stephen King
19 - Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
20 - Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
21 - The Sargasso Ogre by Lester Dent
22 - The Sea Magician by Lester Dent
23 - The Living-Fire Menace by Harold A. Davis and Lester Dent
34 - The City of Doom by Walter B. Gibson
35 - The Fifth Face by Walter B. Gibson
36 - The Awful Dynasty by William G. Bogart and Lester Dent
37 - The Passage by Justin Cronin
38 - Running Blind by Lee Child
39 - Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
40 - Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: City of Night by Dean Koontz
41 - The Men Vanished by Lester Dent
42 - Frankenstein: Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz
43 - The Conspiracy Club by Jonathan Kellerman
44 - Quest of Qui by Lester Dent


I track movies and DVDs that I watched throughout the year, if only to remind myself to balance that activity against book reading. It's easier to sit down for an hour or two than it is to read a book. These vary more than my reading, though I would consider all genre efforts, even though it includes pieces such as W. by Oliver Stone, Hart's War, a World War II drama starring Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell, or the surreal Choke, which is based on one of the novels written by Chuck Palahniuk.

MOVIES / DVDs
1 - Choke
2 - Splinter
3 - Yes Man
4 - House of Bones
5 - Stargate SG-1, Season 2
6 - Hart's War
7 - Lost, Season 5
8 - Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
9 - Stargate SG-1, Season 3
10 - Julie & Julia
11 - Stargate SG-1, Season 4
12 - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
13 - Poseidon
14 - The 39 Steps
15 - Stargate SG-1, Season 5
16 - Monsters vs. Aliens
17 - Stargate SG-1, Season 6
18 - The Rock
19 - 2012
20 - Couples Retreat
21 - Up
22 - The Invention of Lying
23 - The Time Traveler's Wife
24 - Merlin, Season 1
25 - Angels & Demons
26 - Stargate SG-1, Season 7
27 - W.
28 - I Love You, Man
29 - The Kingdom
30 - Inglorious Basterds
31 - Stargate Atlantis, Season 1
32 - Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
33 - Stargate SG-1, Season 8
34 - Avatar
35 - Sherlock Holmes
36 - The Dresden Files
37 - Doctor Who and the Daleks
38 - Hostel II
39 - Stargate: Continuum
40 - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
41 - Fever Pitch
42 - Reaper, Season 1
43 - Ginger Snaps
44 - Stargate SG-1, Season 9
45 - Stargate Atlantis, Season 2
46 - New Moon
47 - Role Models
38 - It! The Terror From Beyond Space
39 - Stonehenge Apocalypse
40 - True Blood, Season 1
41 - Stargate SG-1, Season 10
42 - Stargate: The Ark of Truth
43 - The LXD, Season 1
44 - True Blood, Season 2
45 - The Lake House
46 - Third Girl
47 - Appointment With Death
48 - Murder on the Orient Express
49 - Dexter, Season 1
50 - Quigley Down Under
51 - Supernatural, Season 1
52 - Hellboy: Sword of Storms
53 - Dexter, Season 2
54 - Cloverfield
55 - Hellboy: Blood and Iron
56 - Stargate Atlantis, Season 3
57 - L.A. Confidential
58 - Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster
59 - Weeds, Season 1
60 - Weeds, Season 2
61 - Merry Madagascar
62 - Kung Fu Panda Special
63 - The Fly (1958)
64 - A Walk in Her Shoes
65 - Supernatural, Season 2
66 - The Ugly Truth
67 - Red: Werewolf Hunter
68 - Scrooge
69 - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981)
70 - Stargate Atlantis, Season 4
71 - It's A Wonderful Life
72 - Knight and Day
73 - Valkyrie
74 - The Sound of Music
75 - Bad Santa
76 - Supernatural, Season 3

Latest Month

February 2012
S M T W T F S
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
26272829   

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow