April ’15 Readings

Because my right brain and left brain doesn’t always choose to cooperate, I’ve spent far more time reading during my querying challenge month than writing.  Querying is stressful and reading is calming.  Querying is nail-biting, reading is tranquil.  Reading sweeps me a way yet still makes me feel I’m working toward improving my craft as a writer.

As I’ve become an old pro at reading like a writer, each new book teaches me something different about being an author.    Therefore, I have decided to keep a log of what I’m reading more consistently to continue to support our blog community’s growth as literate individuals and writers. I love all the great challenges and opportunities to have agents interact with followers found on other blogs but let’s face it with a kid at every academic level, a demanding college administrator job, and over 25 books at various stages of completion, this is all I can offer as my small contribution.

Like stated many times before, I devour books.  I typically read anywhere between two to three books a month and that doesn’t include all the children’s PBs,  blogs postings, magazine articles and the legendary New Yorker which is a pure rites of passage for me.  Think of watching a movie with Denzel, Leonardo, and Blair while indulging in a box of the most decadent Godiva chocolates. Every cell within your body sings the Ave Maria chorus like angels.  Pure Opulence!

That’s the New Yorker! But that’s for another posting, on another day!

This is what I read this month.

  What I know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

When I was a young girl, all I ever wanted for Christmas were books and my mother would buy me many and by New Year’s I would have completed reading them all.  This still happens; only my oldest daughter typically buys the book gifts.  When I received this book, I couldn’t devour it right away.  I thought the experience deserved more richness than that.     I felt I should have a ball gown, a harpist in the background, surrounded by bushels of rose bouquets and Calla Lilies to read Oprah’s first book.   Yet since none of this was about to happen I decided to read it eventually.  It was everything I thought it would be from Oprah.  However I did want so much more of her anecdotal, biographical stories.  I feel like she thinks she’s an open book so she didn’t share a tremendous amount about her personally. I did love her “sistergirl” stories of her and Gayle.  I just never get enough of those two.

Oprah seems to find more value in the nuggets given to purpose, identity, life’s journey, and a life well lived from all the great teachers, philosophers and minds throughout the globe.  That’s all well and good, however I believe growing up with heroes is important and the best learning comes from them.  Plus to be honest I just don’t agree with some of their teachings and philosophical mumbo jumbo. Although you still grow even in the space of understanding why you disagree.  Her accomplishments definitely honors her as one of my most prolific heroes and I would have loved to glean from her experiences far more throughout the reading of the book than allowed.

Don’t wait for the harpist and Calla Lilies. Read and grow from the book today.

(include the tea (which I didn’t know they had)



Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive

by T.D. Jakes

I have bought several T. D. Jakes books because I absolutely honor him as a prolific leader in every arena known to man, but to be honest I have not been a fan of his writing.  A bit over my head and I don’t know if this was purposely or just because I needed to develop more.  Instincts is still a bit heavy    on the adjectives and adverb usage but what an amazing, timely reminder that within each of us we have the ability to navigate instinctly  through any terrain we cross in our careers, with our families, in our personal lives,  in our talents and purposes.  We truly are the CEO of our lives and as such God has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness that we may have need of.  Bishop Jakes reminds us of this over and over again with a back drop of his experiences on an African safari.  Thoroughly he illustrates how to use your instincts to move forward in accomplishing your goals.  Some of my “Can I get an Amen’  moments came with “Builders and Bankers”, the Urgency of Now, Treetop Instincts and the most Important and most shout ‘til the walls fall down truth, “Instincts Execute”!    If you need a great kick in the buttocks to move forward in life and career, read Instincts!

I was shouting PREACH BISHOP! all throughout the reading and was thrilled to pass the book on to my twenty one year old daughter who has just been hired into a great company, with benefits and all yall.  Talk about timely.  This book will move you forward with confidence.

Native Son by Richard Wright  (The Restored Text Established by The Library of America Edition)

I typically try to get a classic author in at least every other month.  However the experience is usually difficult, surreal, and definitely not for the faint at heart for several reasons.  The topics are truly stark and the novels are LOOOOONG.    I often wonder how the editorial process took place in those days because these novels are whoppers.  I’m talking 200,000 plus words.  In the great words of Rowley of Diary of A Wimpy Kid “Zoo-We-Momma!”

This edition is valuable in the sense that Richard Wright has all his notes and research that helped in developing the novel included, even how he came up with the main character Bigger Thomas.  I felt as though I was at a literary event (which I love) and Mr. Wright was personally speaking to me about his writing journey in this annotated section of the book.  Priceless.  The novel is a little agenda driven and if you don’t find credence in the agenda it can be overwhelming.  I find credence!   But how relatable and truly timeless the work is, AMAZING.

Reading Native Son with today’s news headline as a backdrop is almost too heart pounding to bear.  But I absolutely loved the pacing, the language, the fluidity and rhythm of the writing.  It captivates and hold you entranced as the story resonates long after you have exhaustively put it down.  I found myself screaming out to Bigger to make different choices.  I also found it incredible how an author can create a character that you on the surface should utterly despise but still can sympathize and rationalize with his choices.  What a difficult discussion I would like to have with others who read this.   After reading a climatic point in the story I completed a piece for my short story anthology trying to mimic the emotion, pace, and energy.  I don’t know if I nailed it but it felt good stretching myself in trying.

Native Son is definitely not for the faint at heart but if you want to take a roller coaster ride in your emotions and grow as a writer this is the novel to read.

Share what you are reading in comments.

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