My daughter made me this reading list. I don’t read enough MG, in her opinion, and she’s set out to right that wrong. 

I read a lot. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me. I go through binge-reading spurts, where I can sometimes read a book every two or three days. I love the feeling of having a “book in the wings” — something waiting for me when I have a few free moments. I am addicted to the thrill of dipping my foot into another place, spending my time with new people, and being pulled along by a narrative. Back in college, I used to think that I couldn’t read while I was actively working on a piece of creative writing. Reading while writing filled me with a sense of self doubt so crippling that it stopped my creative process in its tracks. Thank goodness I grew out of that, or I’d either be spending my time a) not reading or b) not writing. Now I can happily do both.

My kids are big readers, too, but my daughter far surpasses my son in the sheer volume of books she can read in any given month. I don’t think a day goes by when she isn’t in the middle of some novel. She also knows quite a bit about what works and doesn’t work for her in a novel. She will peer over my shoulder when I am writing and ask me whether or not I really think it’s a good idea to start my book with that POV, rather than with the other main character’s, or if I’m planning on writing about x, y, or z (she was the first person who had to suffer patiently through a long and rambling account of what my next book will be about). If I am busy I will sometimes brush off her advice in the moment but then it comes to me later. Was I planning on writing about x? Why not? Should I start from that POV, or would it be better to start another way?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how so much of the writing process is not — and shouldn’t be — a solitary pursuit. The actual writing part is, of course. But there is so much behind-the-scenes work that goes into writing that is far from being solitary. Reading, for example, a critical part of writing, is more fun when you get to share a book with someone else. Each time a person raises a question (or two, or even a dozen) about something written (either by me or someone else), I can feel my brain flickering, making sense of what they have said. I get the chance to see what I’ve written from another perspective. Sometimes what I see is difficult, and painful; other times it’s enlightening. Sharing what I’ve written is always scary, but I also know it’s an important part of the letting go process that gives a writer the perspective they need to move forward.