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Greene on Reading

heres not a day that goes by, likely not even a half day, that I do not sit down somewhere with a book. I keep a book on my bedside table, one in my bag, one in my

home office, one in my study and, usually, a couple in the living room. I even listen to books on my iPod while Im driving in my car. I keep them all going at once, dog-earing corners and setting them aside until the next time Im nearby. s I write this, The Strain by !uillermo del Toro and "huck #ogan is cued up on my iPod, The Quantum Thief by #annu $a%aniemi is hanging out near my bed, the Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 is in my living room, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by &etty 'mith waits near the chair in my study, en an! the Art of Motor"y"le Maintenan"e by $obert Pirsig bangs around in my bag and #ontent$Area %riting by #arvey (aniels, 'teven )emelman and *ancy 'teineke keeps me company in my school office. +hen I finish a book, it goes into a big pile in the corner of my bedroom. bout once a year, the books in the pile get put into boxes, where they wait for me to build new bookshelves. nd those are %ust the books I read. I also subscribe to four or five maga,ines, read six newspapers online, and use the !oogle $eader aggregator to read about two do,en blogs and other online media. Ive been a reader as long as I can remember. book report I did in second grade was

published in the local paper. 'ummers, the public library was my babysitter- my dad used to drop me off there on the way to work and pick me up on the way home. .y favorite book until I was about /0 was The &rin"e of #entral &ark- its about a boy who runs away from his abusive foster mother and goes to live in a tree in *ew 1orks "entral Park. nytime I got my

allowance in those days, 23 every two weeks for chores, I had a hard decision to make4 I could get a "oke, a candy bar and two comic books for that amount, or I could get a paperback. 5sually, I got the paperback. +hen I started making more money, through odd %obs and, eventually, after-school gigs, I bought more books. I was cheap so I usually bought the longest book I could find in the genre I wanted- that way I could get the most reading time for my dollar. I read to relax, escape, learn new things, and to find models for my own writing. $ecently, when working on my short story, Gus Grissom an! the Mer"ury Men, I came to the page where I needed to start a big space battle. I poked the keys for awhile but was forced to admit I had no idea what I was doing- Id never written a space battle before. I asked some of my writer friends for advice and they suggested I read '$%ing( )ogue S*ua!ron by .ichael 'tackpole. I picked it up and, sure enough, there was my model space battle. I didnt copy anything, but I read over 'tackpoles scenes a bunch of times to help me figure out the best way to pace and frame my own scenes with short sentences, active verbs, and minimal dialogue. It was a big help. #opefully, as writers and would-be writers, you are all readers, too. +hether thats true or not, this classs 61& 76eed 1our &rain8 $eading unit will help you out. (uring the course of this class you will be re9uired to read, on your own, books, short stories and articles of your choosing. (ifferent classes will have different re9uirements and time allocations, but here:s the skinny4 1ou will read and, upon completion of your reading, you will write a review for the class 61& binder. This is to be a review, not a book report or summary. Included in this packet are a sample review and a guide to writing one ; more likely several ; of your own. 71es, participation in the 61& unit is a class re9uirement. 1es, it is graded. *o, you cant use books youve read before, not even ones you read for another class.8

1ou can pick out your own books, short stories and articles, but Ill help you out if you get stuck or need a recommendation. In addition, once the 61& binder gets going, it will be a great place to find information about books to read. Ill help out, too. Ill review a few books a month, and put the reviews in the 61& binder for your perusal. The idea here is to 6ill 1our &rain with words, ideas, professional models and inspiration. 1ou cannot make good writing out of a brain diet of television, video games and 6ace&ook. 7Ironically, those things re9uire good writing to make.8 I also urge you, if you are a reader already, to read outside your tastes. 1ou like books about sparkly vampires and ghostly girlfriends< !reat. 1ou can write about those things, too. &ut to bring something new to those themes and tropes, you have to get outside of them. =therwise, you are %ust repeating what youve already read. $eading broadly is the only way to learn how to write well.

+ther %riters on )ea!ing(


"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." ; 'tephen >ing, author of #arrie, The Stan!, #u,o, and do,ens more. good writing style simply doesn!t form unless you a"sor" half a do#en topflight authors every year.$ 6 'cott 6it,gerald, author of The Great Gatsby and more %here are many rules of good writing, "ut the "est way to find them is to "e a good reader.$ 'tephen mbrose, author of Ban! of Brothers, -$-ay, The Vast .an! %he greatest part of a writer!s time is spent reading& a man will turn over half a li"rary in order to ma'e one "oo'.$ 'amuel ?ohnson, author of The -i"tionary of the /nglish .anguage %he man who doesn't read good "oo's has no advantage over the man who (an't read them.$ .ark Twain, author of Tom Sawyer, The &rin"e an! the &auper, A #onne"ti"ut 0ankee in 1ing Arthur2s #ourt and more.

)ow*%o Review
book review has three parts, made up of at least three paragraphs. Part one is the summary of (ontent, part two is the (riti(al assessment and part three is the answer to the +ig ,uestion. The summary of (ontent is generally one to three paragraphs long. In this part of the review, you tell the reader what book you are reviewing, who wrote it 7including some other things they may have written8, what genre and subgenres the book represents and what the book is about. 3mportant( This is not a summary. 0ou are writing a re4iew to let people know whether or not they shoul! rea! the book, not to tell them the en!ing. -on2t be a spoiler5 The (riti(al assessment can be one to three paragraphs. In here you get down to brass tacks4 +hat you liked about the book and what didnt work for you. .aybe the plot was great but the characters seemed fake. .aybe the dialog was fast and realistic but the plot was weak. 3mportant( 3t2s not enough to say that you like! or !i! not like something6 you ha4e to say why. 1our review will nearly end with the answer to the +ig ,uestion, which usually takes the form of a short paragraph. The &ig @uestion is4 A'hould your reader seek out the book you are reviewing, and read it herself< +hy or why not<B 6inally, one line4 +here can readers find this book or short story<

Sample +oo' Review


nearly -erfe(t .ir(le %hat haunts har!er, ghosts or a waste! life7 &y $obert !reene Touted as a cross between 'tephen >ing and playwright #enrik Ibsen, writer 'ean 'tewart is a rare find ; an author who keeps you in the dark. 'tewarts tale, &erfe"t #ir"le, is a ghost story of sorts. Protagonist +illiam A(eadB >ennedy was born with the ability to see ghosts and it hasnt helped him out much. (ead >ennedy 7(>8 is a slacker, recently fired from a pet store %ob because he ate cat food in front of a customer to prove a point. Its only the latest in a series of dead-end, low-skill %obs he has held since his wife left him for a .arine /3 years ago. #is short marriage resulted in a daughter, who (> gets to see about once a month. (> doesnt drive a car ; in the dark he cant always tell the dead from the living, a fact that has resulted in a couple of accidents ; and his soon-to-be teenage daughter is losing her interest in the monthly trips, via bus, with her wastrel father. Cnter a distant cousin with a ghost problem- he claims hes being haunted by the spirit of a girl he ran down with his car. (> also is haunted, by the love he still has for his ex-wife, his failures as a father, by certain tracks on his favorite "(s and, eventually, by a ghost who vows to kill everyone (> loves. 'tewarts writing is occasionally beautiful- some of his descriptions of happenings and scenes ; and (>s inner monologue ; stay with you solely for the grace of the writing. #is character development skills are also strong4 (> is a wreck but you cant help but liking the guy. 7#e also utili,es one of the best unarmed combat strategies Ive ever read.8 The books ending is a little rushed, however, with a tipping point that smacks more of Agod in the machineB than logical plot and character progression. Im new to 'tewarts writing and was happy to find out that he wrote seven novels prior to &erfe"t #ir"le. *ow, while waiting for his next book, I can busy myself with his earlier efforts. 1ou should check him out, too.
&erfe"t #ir"le, by Sean Stewart, Small Beer &ress, 8uly 9::;, 9;< pages

$eading $esources

Goodreads.(om D plagiari,eE

social-networking site for readers. .ake friends, share books.

+oo'Review.(om D n aggregator of book reviews and author interviews. $ead, but dont /igment.(om D 'ocial-networking site for teen writers. llows writers to post their own work for review. Short*Stories.(o.u' D 'hort story aggregator Salon.(om D +ell-written news and feature articles. 0ashua%elegraph.(om D 1our local paper 01%.(om D The *ew 1ork Times %heGuardian.(o.u' D &ritish news alt. Fefty, but great writing. SoylentGreene.us D .y website. .ore links like the ones above.

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