Haruki Murakami said “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” He makes an interesting point. So, simple advice would be wander away from the books everyone is reading and try something different. But it comes with a catch – you might have to work harder to understand the books and the ideas. It is okay to not understand a book or an idea. Research it, try to understand why you don’t get it. And make that a project. I know that seems like a lot of effort for a summer beach read, but the challenge comes with critical reading skills, the ability to not give up when it gets hard, and you will feel like new ideas and visions of the world are shifting. That is a good thing.
As people have finished my book, they have reached out to me. Some people mentioned that they wanted to go on read a new book as soon as possible. In one case, a reader went on to classic literature (win). I thought I would list some books that are some of my favorites in the hopes of inspiring a new pathway of reading. This list is an alternative to some of the mainstream reading that is hyped in the media and in book clubs. There is nothing wrong with best-sellers – if you like them – read them. They are popular and you can probably find someone in your social circles to talk about these books. These books on this list are likely available in libraries and used bookstores. If you don’t want to spend money on the titles, find them cheaper or through your library. I have an amazing used bookstore nearby called The Book Barn, but there is also an online retailer called Thrift Books that can find used books for you.
Some of the titles here are directly inspired books that connect closely with The Staff as a story. They are also stories and connections that resonate with me as a writer. They may not be your favorite books, but they should move you into the hinterland of your bookstore, away from the prepackaged lists, and into your own vision of the world. Find a writer that you love and read ALL their books. I just finished reading Erich Remarque’s collection of work and they were brilliant (All Quiet on the Western Front, et al.). Challenge yourself and you will find that reading is like binge watching a show on Netflix, you will want more. These aren’t in any order.
Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter
The Black Obelisk by Erich M. Remarque
Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
The Lottery (short story) by Shirley Jackson
The Birthmark (short story) or any Nathaniel Hawthorne
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima
A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
The Familiar (experimental fiction) by Mark Danielewski
1984 by George Orwell
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
If you are someone who likes a particular area of history, explore writers in that time. Don’t be afraid to look up writers from 1800-1860 and find out what is available. Give in to what you want. If you find a writer that moves you, read all of it. And then find out who inspired them and read more. I tend to read writers; not books. I know I like Murakami so I will read whatever I can find. Be passionate and find your own amazing journey through books.
Lastly, when you read something you are excited about, tell people. Shouted out on social media. It isn’t that they don’t care, they probably just don’t know about the books you are reading. Talk it up and compare notes. It is a great way to share books and ideas.
Let me know on social media what you are reading and what is inspiring you. Click the share buttons below and shout out what is important in your reading.