Kerri Miller, Stephen King & Writers on Reading

Stephen King said, “Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

A writer who doesn’t read is like a diver who doesn’t swim. You might fall gracefully into the water, but then you’re kind of up a creek, so to speak.

King goes on to say, “The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.” Since I’m not interested in making more of a fool of myself than is absolutely necessary, I read.

I find the more I read, the more I long for really well written books. It’s like a perpetual treasure hunt, filled with false leads, promising roads, and a whole lot of bad beginnings. But it’s a journey I not only love, but need.

Recently, I came across a new favorite place to find some “You’ve Got to Read This Book” kind of advice: Kerri Miller. 

Kerri Miller, host of MPR News and Talking Volumes, is a reader extraordinaire. She actively reads and reviews books across genres, interviews authors, and writes about book news.

The Thread: This exclusive weekly book pick and literary news site is my favorite go to place to learn about books. Kerri’s coverage is exceptional and diverse. It might cover expected topics in new ways,” The Best Books of the 21 Century (So Far),” or be bizarre and relatively unheard of such as the recent, “Why a fictional character gets an annual festival in Lindstrom, Minn.” I look forward to the weekly email. And often, one of two of Kerri’s books end up on my reading list.

The Thread Book Club: Every month, The Thread Book Club selects a book and invites the author for a conversation in the studio. Readers can join the conversation and submit their own questions for the author. This month’s pick is Patricia Park’s, Re Jane. A modern retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, with its own modern flare. Park recasts Jane as a first generation Korean-American in New York City, struggling to find her place. What’s not to love?

In order to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. I used to read just for the pleasure of it, in order to fall into a new world, a different place, someone else’s life. Since I’ve become a writer, I also read to hone my work. I read other writers and then tear their books apart. How did she do that? I underline favorite sentences, favorite transitions, places where the book shines.

The Best Advice Ever for a budding writer? Read. Read. Read. Or as Stephen King more bluntly said, “If you’re just starting out as a writer, you could do worse than strip your television’s electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it back into the wall. See what blows, and how far. Just an idea.”

The photo, a cross section of my current reads, is actually a pretty good overview of my taste in reading.

Mystery: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Narrative Nonfiction: The Boy Who Played with Fusion

Fiction: A Friend of the Earth

Essay: Many Alarm Clocks

Prison/Jail writing: Locked Down, Locked Out

Art: The Lost Carving

Writing: The Write Crowd

Medical: Body of Work

Spiritual: Lioness Arising

Local Author: Undiscovered Country

I think the only genre I routinely read that isn’t showing is The Classics (which I read constantly) and Dystopian YA.

Happy Reading!

Jill Kandel
jill.kandel@gmail.com
3 Comments
  • Gianna Anderson
    Posted at 13:05h, 20 July Reply

    Reading is yummy.

    Thing: Get a backpack. Put a book in it. Get to the top of some mountain. Read said book.

    This seems like a fabulous formula. Imma try it.

    (Now it is typed. I have to. Perf.)

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 10:21h, 21 July Reply

      And do not come down from the mountain until A. You have finished the book. OR B. You have, in a fit of honesty, thrown the book off the cliff.

  • Gianna Anderson
    Posted at 12:04h, 24 July Reply

    Oooh.

    Yep.

    We make cool plans.

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