Take, for example, my current bedside stack. I’ve loved the Lovejoy TV series for twenty years. Now I’m digging the Jonathan Gash novels that launched it. Even though I’m reading out of order, my wife bought me the latest installment, Faces in the Pool, and I had to honor her gift, right? Then there’s Dune, perhaps my favorite novel of all time. For nearly thirty years, I’ve been intrigued by aspects of the backstory that Frank Herbert built his novel upon. Although I bought it several years ago, I’m finally reading The Butlerian Jihad by his son Brian Herbert and cowriter Kevin J. Anderson. Enough, you say? Perhaps it should be, but it’s not. We’re planning our next trip to England, this time to Yorkshire, so I’m working my way through the James Herriot books. Currently, I’m enjoying All Things Wise and Wonderful.
Then there are the books I’ve temporarily taken a break from. Plutarch’s Lives and The Conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar currently head that list. I recently finished Dinosaur Summer by Greg Bear, and I enjoyed it so much that I had to start in on one of those old Tor Doubles that have sat in my bookshelf for...awhile. It contains his novella “Hardfought,” as well as a story by Timothy Zahn. It's good, just too complex for me right now. After hearing Neil Gaiman’s Guest of Honor interview at World Fantasy last year, I figured I should check out the series of comics that put him on the literary map. So I read the first part of the compilation The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes. Last, but certainly not least, there’s The Stars in Shroud by Dr. Gregory Benford. Although I delved so deeply into the novel last year for this blog, there are still a few aspects of it that I’d like to understand better.
Every evening, before I pluck one of the above from my stack, I usually read a few pages of something to my wife before we go to sleep. I think I must have missed my vocation. With the way my voice seems to make her drift off, I should have become a priest. Right now, we’re working our way through the Robert Silverberg story “Born with the Dead.”
As I’ve documented in earlier entries, Steven Brust’s novel Teckla recently shoved its way into my stack, and that’s bad, because his stories tend to make me want to abandon all else until I finish them. Yet, as I’m primarily using his fiction each morning to spur on my writing efforts, I don’t want to finish that novel too quickly, and end up opening another of his novels, and then another, until I’ve worked my way through the series. As much as I love his writing, I don’t want to be too heavily influenced by his individual style. As an author, I want to develop my own writing style (whatever that ends up being), not merely imitate his.
There’s one, final, practical consideration. Too much Vlad, or any other Brust novel, will distance me from the other novels in the stack, making them more difficult to read and finish. My love of reading drew me to writing. Why then must my reading time be so limited? Why can’t I read everything I want to read, when I want to read it? Well?
Okay, okay, okay! Maybe I’ll read just one more chapter of Teckla today.
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