Like most heavy readers, I usually trade my books in at a used book store after I’ve read them. I’ve started making exceptions to that habit in recent years. When I found myself buying some of Dostoevsky’s novels to read again, I realized a “read again” shelf might be a good idea.
Writers learn from reading other authors as much as they do from studying the craft and writing. If a book has something I want to pick up as a writer, I put it on my “read again” shelf. It might be interesting plot twists, depth of characterization, unusual narration or point of view, the way the pages fly by, the way they define or break their genre, or some other reason. Whether I hope to learn from the author or not, all of the following are great books.
Haruki Murakami is not a prolific author. He is a great author. His books will still be read 100 years from now. While getting tips from prolific authors is great, we want to learn more than how to write a pile of novels. We want to write interesting stories worth reading again and again. Murakami writes those kind of stories.
Haruki Murakami is one of those authors whose writing was a hit from the very first novel. He didn’t write anything until he was 29 and then decided he could write when inspiration hit him at a baseball game.
His books are best sellers and have been translated into 50 languages.
I’ve read most of his novels more than once. They are not copy-pastes of one another. This is not an author who gets the job done by imitating himself. He seems to be trying to give us something about culture and relationships within the context of mystery stories. When I say mystery, you think of a crime story and the search for the culprit. These are not that kind of mystery. You’ll need to read him to find out exactly what I mean, but I’ll try to explain.
What does reading have to do with writing? Quite a bit. If you weren’t a reader, you wouldn’t be a writer. It’s hard to imagine what kind of writing a person would produce if they didn’t read. Hard to imagine because it isn’t published. We can see the short version of writing by non-readers in some of the status updates on social networks.
I could do some research into what writers read, but I already know the answer. Writers read everything. How do you decide what to read?