Writers Reading Together: By Shary Folkman
We read for pleasure and we read to learn, to experience a world beyond our own. It can be a solitary pursuit, but when a book means something to me, I have to share it. Because of that, I’ve belonged to a lot of different book clubs, some that were the wine, cheese, and gossip variety and others that were focused discussions of high quality literature. I’ve enjoyed them all, but Writers Read is unique.
We have a coordinator who keeps us organized, and we take turns choosing books and leading the discussion. Although that might sound daunting, it’s never a challenge to get our group talking. Sometimes we all love the book and are dying to figure out how the author did it. Other times, we hate it and are anxious to avoid similar mistakes. Usually, opinions fall somewhere in the middle, but in every case, there are writing lessons to be learned.
Could Writers Read benefit you? Two of our regular members share their experiences:
“Writers Read discussions always inspire me. In 2012 we read The Tiger’s Wife; after the group’s discussion, I worked to weave more elements of folklore into my own fiction. After the group read Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea, I wanted to play around more with my own version of an unreliable narrator. After reading, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, I felt that if Murakami could explore the setting of the bottom of a well, what unusual settings could I explore in my writing? Our discussions always engage the writer in me and encourage me to write more. It’s an essential book group when I’m seeking ways to improve the craft.”
“One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard for writers is ‘Read. Read everything!’ Writer’s Read facilitates this in a friendly, supportive, spectacular way.
I’ve read many excellent books I never would have chosen on my own – taking me from the cane fields of the Dominican Republic (Oscar Wao), to servitude in contemporary India (White Tiger), to a life raft somewhere in the Pacific (Life of Pi). I’ve also enjoyed discussing some of my favorite novels (Visit from the Goon Squad, Now is the Hour) and been shocked to realize that not everyone thinks they are brilliant! It’s easier to handle rejection of my own work when I see that taste is subjective, even among the well-read.
There are countless ways to tell a successful story and participating in this group, I’ll never run out of inspiration.”
Writers Read meets approximately every six weeks and our meetings and book selections are listed on the SDWI calendar. Our next meeting will be held on Sunday, April 21st from 3-5pm at Liberty Station and we’re participating in Write Out Loud’s celebration of The Big Read with a discussion of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. We hope you’ll join us!