Rediscovering a Love of Reading

Wednesday, June 28, 2023


I used to be a voracious reader. But somehow over the past few years, the number of books I’ve read dwindled. I’m not sure if it had to do with the fact that I stopped visiting the library in person during the pandemic, I was working a contract job that required me to work a lot of nights and weekends, or if I simply got addicted to all the shows the streaming services offered me at the touch of a simple remote. It’s also difficult for me to read a lot while I’m working on a large creative project and in the last year, I’ve completely revised a young adult novel and began a developmental edit on a suspense thriller. 

But back to books. I have an obsession with buying them. There are stacks and stacks of books lying all over my house. I just spent less time reading. I remedied that this past year by discovering an app called Libby that my library uses, and I can “check” out books for my Kindle and Audiobooks through the app for free. Since I listen to podcasts constantly, I told myself I could also use that time to listen to audiobooks. That won’t interfere with my “creative writing” time. In the past few months alone, I’ve read or listened to at least five novels, and I’ve taken something valuable away from each one of them, such as: 

"The Last to Vanish" by Megan Miranda. This is a suspense/thriller, but I found the pacing to be slow in the beginning and had a hard time getting into it (I read other reviews that said the same thing). I pushed through and took notes on how the author dropped “clues” to the mystery throughout the way, how she used setting to create a sense of foreboding, and how she structured the novel by introducing the missing people in backwards chronological order (several people have disappeared from a mountain town over the course of several years). 

"The House in the Pines" by Ana Reyes. The first pages of this book are some of the most captivating I’ve read in a long time. I’ll admit when I first started reading this and saw the protagonist suffered from sleep issues, I was frustrated. My current protagonist also has insomnia and it’s a common trope in thrillers. But the more I read the book and figured out Maya had repressed memories, the sleep issues and addiction to anti-anxiety medication made sense. The flashback scenes are written in present tense, while present-day scenes are in past sense, and I feel this was an effective way to structure the novel without making it confusing. 

"Twenties Girl" by Sophie Kinsella. I first read about this book in “Save the Cat Writes a Novel” by Jessica Brody because it’s considered to be an “Out of the Bottle” story that uses magic or wishful thinking to tell a story. I love this genre and had so much fun reading about a British young woman named Lara who is haunted by the fun-loving ghost of her great-aunt Sadie, who appears to her as a 1920s flapper. This book helped me study the “rules” that must be put into place to keep a novel like this consistent (why can only Lara see her aunt? How does Sadie convince people to do things they might not normally do?) 

"Hello, Sunshine" by Laura Dave. I haven’t read her most recent release that’s now a series on Apple TV (The Last Thing He Told Me), but I saw this available in audiobook through Libby and decided to check it out. It felt like a cross between a book club selection, romance, and light Hallmark movie. I was interested to read about a cooking “influencer” whose world came crashing down when her fraud was exposed since I’m writing a similar storyline in my current novel. I also enjoyed the foodie details and descriptions of Montauk, Long Island in New York. 

Most recently, I read Elin Hilderbrand’s latest summer novel “The Five Star Weekend” and finished it in two days, although there were a few things I disagreed with in the plot (no spoilers!). I’m not onto “Daisy Jones and the Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid since I watched the series on Amazon Prime and loved it. I’m embracing my rediscovered love of reading and have been surprised by how much joy these books have brought me. 

I’d love to hear about any good books you’ve recently discovered!

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer who also produces the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas


Angela Mackintosh said...

I recently rediscovered my love of reading thanks to my Audible subscription! I traded my podcast time for books as I ride my exercise bike, and I've also been reading more ebooks. My reading slowed down the past few years because of streaming at night, and I'm always too tired to read after that. But I recently switched to reading books in the morning right when I wake up. So I'll read a few chapters and that serves as a warmup for writing, too! :)

The most interesting book I've read in the past few weeks was Sing Her Down by Ivy Pochoda. It's definitely not for everyone. But I loved the writing and characters. It's a violent western-style novel with a showdown between two female inmates that takes place in Los Angeles during the pandemic. Pochoda says her influence was Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men and Blood Meridian, so if you like those books, you'll probably love this book with a feminist twist.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

The biggest problem with book posts is that I'm already a voracious reader. I read something like this and just request more!

What have I recently loved? Hide by Kiersten White was fantastically creepy w/o too much gore. Flamer by Mike Curato is an excellent graphic novel about a scout admitting to himself that he's gay while at camp. Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling is a environmental SF. Excellent book.

Renee Roberson said...

Angela--Reading first thing in the morning also works well for me, too. To be honest, a lot of it is by the end of the night, my eyes are sooo tired and if I put my glasses on a Kindle is the only way I can read because I can adjust the size of the font. I love being old! But back o reading in the a.m., I feel it's a great way to get inspired for any writing I have to do for the day, too. And I never realized how much time I had for audiobooks between doing chores around the house, walking, or hitting the gym. I love hearing about all the books everyone is reading (or listening to)!

Sue--For this post I was going to include a few different pictures of all the places books are "gathered" in the house but I didn't want anyone to turn me into "Hoarders." I'm going to try and do a purge soon and donate some of them, but now that I have the Libby app I feel like I'm cheating on all the books I've purchased but haven't read yet!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Repeat after me -- books are not clutter. Books. Are. Not. Clutter.
I love the Libby app although it may make reserving audiobooks too easy.

I always have a book going (right now it is No Parm No Foul by Linda Reilly) and an audiobook (City Beautiful by Aiden Polydoros).

Nicole Pyles said...

I'm finally reading again too! It's been a while, I have to tell you. The one I'm reading right now is an indie published book called "The Fountain," by John Heldt. I didn't realize how much I loved books about the idea of time travel but I'm really enjoying this one. It's nice to be back in the groove again!

Ann Kathryn Kelly said...

Renee, my reading fell off a cliff for a few years ... but then again, I count my reading as a journal editor in my win column, so maybe I'm not as lame as I first believed myself to be. LOL. I love the premise of Twenties Girl! I just bought a book that I've yet to crack open -- not a new one -- but a friend recommended it. The Art of Racing in the Rain. The dog is the narrator! I'm prepping myself to go through a box of Kleenex when I finally do crack the spine. My friend said she cried ... so ... uh oh ...

Kelly Sgroi said...

Reading inspires me and it also calms me. I would never not read but depending on the speed of life, sometimes I read more or less than a few books a month. Taylor Jenkins Reid's books are brilliant!

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