Last year I began a little experiment. I decided to make a note of every book I read.
Why? I’m not sure; part of it was to see how many books I get through. I firmly believe that all writers should read lots – after all, it’s only by reading you see what others are achieving with language – and I wanted to see if I read as much as I thought I did.
What I found was interesting.
Keeping a record of all the books I’d read actually spurred me on to reading more. It became a bit of a personal challenge to see how many I could get through. I learned to fit reading around more of my day-to-day activities – in the morning over breakfast, whilst waiting for a haircut, during lunchtimes at work.
Reading more also meant I read more widely. Completing books didn’t take so long so I was free to take chances on something I hadn’t tried before, safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be mired in something I found difficult for too long. I found I was reading seasonally; I read Witches Abroad whilst on holiday (well, on my honeymoon) and a clutch of horrors around Halloween.
Oddly enough, it didn’t feel like the extra time I was putting into reading actually took up any of my time. I still worked at my writing, still played drums, still kept the house in order. And frequently what I was reading inspired me to write more – particularly works by authors that were new to me.
I’ll be keeping a record of all the books I read this year too. Obviously, I’ll try and read at least one book more than last year. I’m sure it’ll be as inspiring and satisfying as it was last year – I fully recommend giving it a go!
If it’s of interest, here’s my list of books that I read in 2018:
Stephen Hawking – A Brief History of Time
Ben Elton – High Society
Robin Hobb – Royal Assassin
Ellis Peters – A Morbid Taste for Bones
John Marrs – The One
Michael J. Malone – House of Spines
Colin Stuart – 13 Journeys Through Space and Time
James Herbert – Others
Elizabeth Moon – Remnant Population
Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (A few of my childhood favourites crop up here after I visited my parents for a weekend)
Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident
Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code
Terry Pratchett – Johnny and the Dead
Anthony Horowitz – Groosham Grange
Anthony Horowitz – The Unholy Grail
Terry Pratchett – Witches Abroad
Mark Forsyth – The Etymologicon
Clive Barker – Books of Blood Vol. II
Terry Pratchett – Carpe Jugulum
Neil Gaiman – Norse Mythology
Thomas Olde Heuvelt – HEX (A brilliant modern horror. It was genuinely scary; I was hesitant to turn off the lights after reading)
Chris d’Lacey – The Fire Within
Clive Barker – Books of Blood Vol. III
Robin Hobb – Assassin’s Quest
Garth Nix – Sabriel (My first time reading the Sabriel books. I was pleasantly surprised by how imaginative, grown up and occasionally even gritty they were)
Bram Stoker – Dracula’s Guest and Other Stories
Garth Nix – Lirael
Stuart MacBride – Now We Are Dead
Garth Nix – Abhorsen
Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House (The first of a few horror stories. I read Hill House before watching the popular adaptation on Netflix but actually preferred the latter)
Stephen King – Firestarter
William Peter Blatty – The Exorcist (This made such an impression on me I wrote a post about it here)
Liam Smith – After Life (Yes, it’s my book, but it’s so long I thought it should count for this list. My sole resolution this year is to contact agents and to try and get this published)
Stephen King – The Gunslinger
Stephen J. Martin – Superchick
Stephen J. Martin – A Rock and Hard a Place
Stephen J. Martin – Ride On
Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol (’tis the season for a ghost story. I enjoyed A Christmas Carol much more than Dickens’s longer books for which he was paid by the word)
Terry Pratchett – Hogfather
Suzannah Lipscomb – Witchcraft
Terry Deary – The Lambton Worm
I also intermittently read the following tales by H.P. Lovecraft from the Necronomicon. As short stories, I felt they should be on a separate list.
The Call of Cthulu
The Silver Key
The Dunwich Horror
The Strange High House in the Mist
The Whisper in Darkness