I’ve been kind of eclectic in my reading in the last month or so. I re-read S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, John Green’s Looking for Alaska, Brandon Sanderson’s The Emperor’s Soul, and Cherie Reich’s Magna’s Plea in fiction. In non-fiction I’ve been reading Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death, and Ray Bradbury’s The Zen of Writing.
I usually read a mix of fiction and non-fiction. The non-fiction is a vital way to learn a new subject or to learn from masters of a craft. If you’ve never read a book written by a test pilot or an astronaut, Chris’s book is quite a nice introduction to what it takes to be someone who’s job is to slip the surly bonds of Earth. I recommend it to all writers of Sci-Fi along with Chuck Yeager’s biography or Viper Pilot by Dan Hampton. While the topic of death is depressing, how humans deal with it is very interesting from a writer’s perspective. How my main characters deal with death is important for the first trilogy of the Star Saga. So Becker’s book has been akin to research into that topic. Again, The Denial of Death is recommended for writers. I’m kinda surprised that I have not read Bradbury’s book on writing before now. It’s very interesting to see where his ideas come from and to hear him explain how his writing career came to be.
I re-read The Outsiders because it was book that my oldest will read in school this year and I had completely forgotten what it was about. The thing that struck me the most unrealistic about the book was how emotional all the young male characters were. I certainly don’t remember being that emotional when I was a teen. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t live a very hard life as a kid. Green’s Looking for Alaska was a real joy to read and I could see that as a film some day. It was also my first John Green novel and I can’t say it will be my last. My current WIP is more Fantasy than Sc-Fi and so I tried to read some traditional Fantasy in short form to prepare for it. My first Sanderson novel was his Hugo winner this year. It was a very fun read and a gentle introduction to his universe. I stumbled across a short story about a Princess from Cherie Reich and read it more as research into Fantasy writing. Again, the main character in my WIP is a young Empress, so there are parallels to such stories.
In the coming months I intend to read some Space Opera again, with Rachel Bach’s new release, Fortune’s Pawn in my reader. I may supplement that with a Military SF book or perhaps something more traditional. As for non-fiction, the door is wide open for now.