In my count, I’ve probably read a good 100 – 150 books since moving to Oregon in 2010. It could even be much higher than that. Perhaps as much as 250 or 300. It’s hard to guess. But a lot.
Prior to moving to Oregon I’d be lucky to read one book a year. Now I’m reading dozens. And it’s calmed me down considerably. It’s given my mind food to digest. It’s allowed me to see myself in new light. All in all, a very positive experience.
And my imagination has grown as a result. I can picture worlds in my head much more easily. Before they were just words on a page, now they appear as great cathedrals, great works of art.
Hunter S. Thompson once copied The Great Gatsby, line for line, just so that he could experience what it must have been like to write something that good. I’ve been doing the same for Armor by John Steakley in the last few weeks. A little here and there, but a little is better than none.
I’ve found it has helped considerably. I’ve noticed nuances that had previously eluded me, and I’ve grown a deeper respect for his writing ability. Nothing is flashy, it all seems so simple. But he writes in such a way that you can’t help but turn the page. It’s gripping and gritty, something I admire greatly.
After I finish transcribing Armor I’m moving on to The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester and then Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I consider both to be true masterpieces of fiction—works of art.
Armor is a special book to me. My uncle handed it to me when I was 13 and told me to read it. It was my first foray into science fiction. Previously, I had only read The Hardy Boys or Goosebumps. But when I read Armor I connected on a deeper, emotional level. His writing just got to me, simple as that.
It was because of that book that I started seeking out great science fiction. I’m not sure what order I took but I eventually discovered Neal Stephenson. Actually, I recall my uncle once again suggesting Snow Crash. I didn’t really like it the first time I read it but I couldn’t help but feel it was really cool all the same. Just sometimes a bit too wordy. But it was his first book so forgive him, yeah?
But when I finally got around to reading Anathem I found out that he was to be one of my favorite authors. That book was equally as pivotal as Armor—it was the first time I read a book longer than 1,000 pages. Before, I would have found a book that size intimidating. The last book I just finished was The Stand by Stephen King, the uncut edition standing at 1400 pages or so. I wouldn’t even have dared had I not read and loved Anathem so much.
But now it comes down to why even read at all. And that is to write.
And I keep putting it off and off and it’s never going to get written that way.
So that’s how we get to this. An exercise in futility? Maybe, but an exercise all the same.
Better than nothing.