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Category: Reading

On Book Clubs

On Book Clubs

Until recently, I’d never belonged to a regular book club. When I lived in Iowa, I did belong to one sponsored by the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, but the members were all writers who were interested in discussing technique, so I thought they probably weren’t typical. When I moved to Illinois, though, the building complex I live in turned out to have two book clubs, and I was invited to join both. I read all the time,…

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Being Influenced by Other Novels

Being Influenced by Other Novels

I recently blogged about books that have influenced me as a writer. One question that comes up is the difference between being influenced by other novels in your genre and copying them. In some ways, if you’re writing in the same genre, you’re bound to use some of the same elements. Readers choose those genre books partly because they like those elements. But readers also like to be surprised, so a writer can’t just reproduce what’s already been done. Instead,…

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Books that influenced me as a writer

Books that influenced me as a writer

I was recently on a panel for which we were asked to talk about books that had influenced us as writers. It sounded like an easy topic, but the more I thought about it, the less clear my answer got. We’re influenced by our reading in both conscious and unconscious ways. In some sense every novel I ever read has influenced me. Reading is the way most of us learn the shape of story in our culture. However, I eventually…

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Quality in Young Adult and Middle-Grade Fiction

Quality in Young Adult and Middle-Grade Fiction

I recently had some trouble enjoying a middle-grade book, so I went over to Goodreads to see if anyone else reacted the same way. One negative review started off: “This was a book for kids, so it didn’t have to be great literature or anything.” At that point, my blood pressure shot up, and I stomped away to do laundry. Dismissing whole genres Let’s try that sentence out on other kinds of books. It was a mystery, so it didn’t…

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What Keeps Me Reading

What Keeps Me Reading

I toss aside unfinished maybe a quarter of the books I start. Today I was analyzing what keeps me reading. I’ve blogged about what one critic calls the four doors into a book (language, character, plot, and setting). My variation on the ways that draw me in would be theme, character, plot, and setting. Theme I like a book that’s about something, and for me that seems to mean a thematic element. Not a moral, i.e. not advice about how to live,…

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Recent reads: YA fantasy, MG fantasy, YA non-fantasy, Adult mystery

Recent reads: YA fantasy, MG fantasy, YA non-fantasy, Adult mystery

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to read a bunch of good books. Among them were young adult and middle-grade fantasy, young adult non-fantasy, and an adult mystery. I’ll review them below and rant a bit about how books are categorized on the shelves. Young Adult and Middle-Grade Fantasy Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore Cashore says she originally wrote this book as a choose-your-own-adventure. In post about her writing process, it’s clear that she revises a lot, and Jane…

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