As I'm learning to read more analytically as a writer, I realize that it is also important to me to continue to have adult reading buddies that may or may not focus on analyzing the writing of what we read.
I have a teacher friend who I consider my Book Buddy. While we both love reading, we might like slightly different kinds of books. Hannah opens my eyes to new things through her recommendations - and therefore new thoughts that may become fodder for my future writing. You never know.
Hannah recommended Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend by Susan Orlean. Although I am a big time dog person, this wouldn't be the kind of book I'd ordinarily read. However, I learned a lot of (to me) interesting history through this book - the orphan trains in America, the origins of the German Shepherd breed, tidbits about World War I that I never knew, tidbits about Hollywood's early film days. It expanded my horizons, which can only help me as a writer.
Another teacher friend and I gush about all things MG or YA. Jasmine is just as deadly in a book store as I am, and I haven't asked her, but Amazon might thank her personally like they do me. Every time I finish an awesome MG or YA book, I know I can rave to Jasmine and she'll understand and rave even more. She raved about R.J. Palacio's Wonder a while back and I can't believe I still haven't read it! I know I will find not only new thoughts in it, but it will be great to analyze it as a writer.
I'm currently reading The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian, also recommended to me by a friend and fellow book lover/writer (Alison DeLuca). Now this is the kind of book I'd pick up and read in a heartbeat - fantasy, intriguing title and cover. And I did get this on Kindle quite a while back. Just hadn't read it. I was hedging because, honestly, you never know what you're going to get with Kindle books. I have read true drivel, and worse, irritatingly non-edited self-published books. I say that knowing that my own writing will probably be viewed as true drivel and/or irritatingly non-edited at some point. And I say that understanding that as writers, we all have to start somewhere. And I am glad that so many have started their writing adventures - very much so. But it also adds to the titles that you have to wade through that are not quite . . . finished.
The Cobweb Bride is not like that. So far, anyway, and I'm about half way through it. Again, I might have put this book down a little way in to it if not for Alison's recommendation. Why? Because it's a zombie book. No, it's not, really. But it is. I mean, it has people in it who should be dead but aren't. But saying Cobweb Bride is a zombie book is like comparing the Mona Lisa to a paint-by-numbers Mona Lisa. They are both paintings, but the masterpiece has infinitely more detail, delicacy, subtlety, nuance, emotion and intelligence.
I wouldn't have read it if someone had told me it's a zombie book. It's not. Not any more than your Great Aunt Sophie's paint-by-numbers Mona Lisa is the real thing. So read it. The book, not your Great Aunt Sophie's paint-by-numbers.
Point being, Nazarian's concept and implementation of the concept of Death and hence the plot, is phenomenal. Creativity plus skill. It opens my thoughts to how I can think and stretch creatively as a writer to new ideas and concepts. It makes me think about how we can help our students do that. My reading buddy spurred me to all of that.
My next book up is from my Book Buddy, Hannah. She has let me borrow Lisa See's Shanghai Girls and Gail Tsukiyama's Women of the Silk. Again, neither are the sort of book I would pick up and read on my own. I tend to get stuck in MG/YA and fantasy, as well as Native literature. But I can't wait to find out what new information, world views, perspectives, concepts and tidbits I will discover.
And after those, Wonder! Because MG/YA.