Coffee Time Tuesdays: Reading With a Writer’s Mind

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Writing this column is significantly changing my reading habits for the better. 

When I decided to start a column to hopefully refresh some of the content at Coffee Time Reviews, I didn’t expect it would take such a toll on my own reading experience.

Every time I pick up a book, finish a book, buy a book or sit down with a book, I’m now a lot more observant of my thoughts as I’m reading, my reasoning behind choosing my next read, and my feelings about the story.

There have been some exciting developments in my bookish life since last week’s Coffee Time Tuesday. Firstly, I began to develop a plan for my second novel, the inspiration for which has been haunting me for months now. Secondly, I realised I needed some substantial research in order for this novel to be good and believable. Thirdly, I bought books. Oops.

If this is the first time you’ve read something from me, I’m a published poet and aspiring prose author, with a debut novel very close to reaching the stage at which I will start querying for an agent. One of my most ambitious goals in life is to score a publishing deal for my novels. And the more I write, the more inspired I feel and the more novels I can see in my future.

Reading is of course a great asset to writing, particularly if we’re talking about fiction writing. Now, I read with a writer’s mind almost always. That means I ask myself why a book works and why another doesn’t, what makes a character so good, what makes a plot point fall flat and what makes dialogue come to life.

Lately, as I’ve been thinking more and more about my next novel, I’ve also been looking into what kind of books I want to start reading in preparation. I’m writing a novel about ballet dancers and figure skaters, none of which I am. But I’ve been fascinated with both worlds for so long and the story has been developing in my head for basically over a year now, so I need to get it on paper. 

Critically speaking, I think it has a lot of potential. But I need to consume some material about ballet and figure skating before I can dive into the meaty parts of my story.

This is not to say I want to start studying handbooks on ballet and skating technicalities, of which I actually have a good basic knowledge. But no, I want to read novels and memoirs focusing on the human aspect of these two sports. I want to know how it feels to live in that context.

And that’s why I bought new books last week. 

What I’m Reading

Waltzing into Waterstones the other day, I spotted The Turnout by Megan Abbott, a thriller about two sisters running a ballet school and an interloper who comes to ruin their plans as they’re preparing for the Nutcracker performance. 

This book seems to explore family relationships of all kinds (mother-daughters, sisters, husband-wife) in the context of ballet and I expect it has an interesting take on running a dance school. I’m reading this with a pencil and notebook in hand, taking in all the ballet-related details.

I’ve also been reading Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson, which has been praised to the heavens since it came out. It’s a short exploration of Black love and it’s beautifully written. There’s a lot to learn from Nelson’s style, which makes the mundane seem intense and authentic. I’m sensing a 5-star rating.

On audio, I started Written in The Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur, in preparation for a list of Pride recommendations. I almost always have an LGBTQ+ book on my list of current reads, and Scribd has a great selection of audiobooks, ebooks and graphic novels with wide representation.

Hot New Release

With Pride Month coming up and generally because we all need to read books with a diverse set of characters and by under-represented authors, this week’s hot new release is Akwaeke Emezi’s You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty.

Emezi’s latest book comes out today and it’s a story of loss and navigating romance through grief, themes I’m exploring in my second novel too. So I’m excited to pick this one up and get a glimpse into how this acclaimed author explores rebuilding your life after the death of your significant other.

And that’s it for this week’s Coffee Time Tuesday. Lots of vulnerable talk about my author plans and some insights into how my writing and reading are interconnected. What are you reading with your hot drink of choice this week? Any new releases that caught your eye? Let me know!

Published by Eliza Lita

Founder and editor-in-chief: Coffee Time Reviews. Freelance writer and Higher Ed comms person.

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