Writing is hard work.
And sometimes, after a full day of work and mothering… I just don’t have any parts of my brain working at full functioning levels to plot, dialogue or edit. Last Friday was one of those days. I had taught half a day, visited my son’s school for Muffins with Mom, done three Career Day Presentations at a local elementary school, ran a rummage sale for a few hours after school and managed to get the boys fed and in bed.
I sat down. It was 9:00. I couldn’t fathom doing a single thing more. Even my Friday cocktail sat in a melted pool of ice. If I couldn’t finish that, how on earth was I going to puzzle through the forty pages of edits and editions I needed to type into my novella-in-progress? I couldn’t.
What do writers do when they are too tired? This writer reads. It is my reward, my learning experience, my relaxation… all in one. So today, instead of productively detailing a technique or sharing some bit or writer wisdom, I am going to tell you about the best books I have read lately. If you find yourself burnt out at the end of your day and unable to be productive on your WIP, here are a few books for you to consider. (** Disclaimer, other than being great written works from which to learn or enjoy, the books below are not writing related what-so-ever.**)
A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
When one woman sets out to live a year of her life as a woman of the bible would, hilarious, relatable and intriguing events occur. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book that my pastor ensured me was “funny”, but I can tell you I am taking a lot more than funny away from it. Rachel is the girl next door. Nothing fancy. Nothing perfect. A regular-Jane, attempting to live life as a good Christian woman would. It is her “every-day-ness” that makes her lessons easy to apply to your own life. And if you are not ready or willing to cover your head at all times, call your husband master or sleep in your front yard during your period, you can learn valuable life lessons vicariously through Rachel’s experiences. Through this book I have learned that not all customs (religious or cultural) that seem from a distance backwards or barbaric, truly are. I learned a lot about what it means be a Christian/Biblical woman, but mostly I learned about how to be a woman of high moral character, one that from any standpoint or walk of life I would admire. For the record, my pastor was right. This book is very funny. I would also label it thought provoking, enjoyable, and an easy read.
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
This is the fourth and final book in The Raven Boys series, and because the literary universe loves me, it was released on my birthday. The sheer weightiness of my schedule prevented me from picking it up until yesterday… but now that I have, I will cease to do anything unnecessary until it is finished. Beautiful prose weaves a fantastical tale of a girl, her psychic “relatives” and four Prep-School boys on a quest to find an ancient king and collect their one wish reward.
“These days, they all had their hands thrust into the sky, hoping for comets.” – Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven King
If every book that was thrust into my hands, or onto my computer screen via an inbox advertisement or jammed on to my shelf was like this series, I’d never write or cook or sleep a full night, ever again. Do it. Stiefvater, she’s amazing. Just read them. All of them.
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Reading just a chapter a day aloud to my students was pure torture. This book begs to be devoured. (Judging by their audible groans at the end of every chapter, I think it is safe to say I am not alone in this sentiment.)
Sage is an orphan that has been pulled from a medieval orphanage and thrust into a dangerous game of political intrigue. Conner plans to mold Sage, or one of the other three orphans he has “selected”, into the supposedly dead Prince Jaron. He plans to claim the throne through his chosen boy, rule as a regent and live himself a pretty fine life. What happens to the three not chosen? Well, one is already dead.
Secrets and facts are woven into half-truths and bold faced lies. The reader is tugged (not always so gently) through each chapter with the promise of more truth around every corner. Who will be chosen? Who will be declared the winner at the end of the dangerous game? The best part of this book just maybe that reaching the end is truly only a beginning. Two more books follow in this incredible middle grade series.
Laugh-Along Lessons by Helen Lester
Reading at home this spring has happened less than I would have liked, but one book my sons (ages 6 and 3) have gone to again and again is Laugh-Along Lessons by Helen Lester. While it slightly resembles a school-basal text book, I assure you it is much more fun. Inside, 8 great stories featuring real-to-life problems and characters walk readers through sticky situations and their sometimes funny solutions. My sons and I adore the illustrations by Lynn Munsinger, an added bonus. My favorite is “Princess Penelope’s Parrot”, while Kameron loves “The Wizard, the Fairy and the Magic Chicken”, and Riley likes “Me First” best. There is really something for everyone. One short story turns into two more helping us easily fill up our reading calendars.
A few Side notes
I read to my middle school students each day, 5 minutes aloud at the start of class. This year I have read some amazing titles: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper and A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen would top this list (along The False Prince mentioned above). I also had the pleasure of re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Maniac Magee, both truly a treasure.
Books on my TO-READ-List include: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, Baby Fat: Adventures in Motherhood, Muffin Tops and Trying to Stay Sane by Pauline M. Camposand The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
What about you? What have you recently loved? What is next on your list?