OK, you know what my feelings are on the first of these - I believe so strongly that writing is for readers it's the tag-line of the Year Zero website.
But the converse is also true. OK, tired point. Old point. But nonetheless an important one - and, of course, timely as the end of the year approaches. I've not read as much as I should this year -I've been so busy with SO many things. Or rather what I have been reading is some wonderful stuff, but contemporary stuff - bang on contemporary, as in works in progress. The highlights, for me, having last year discovered Glimpses of a Floating World and Benny Platonov, in terms of novels were undoubtedly Brown Trash, Sabina England's brutal breath-taking masterpiece of suburban dystopia; and Daisy Anne Gree's Babylon, a bone-chilling modern morality tale.
In 2010 though, I want to spend more time reading some older books. I know my writing needs it.
Why is reading important for writers? Well, it's part of mastering your craft for one - how can you synthesise what's gone before and build onit if you don't KNOW what's gone before; it's inspiring - it gives you ideas, shows you technical tricks you hadn't thought of (my discovery of 2008 was the way Murakami uses dialogue tags and metaphor/simile instead of adjectives; of 2009 was as simple - but devastatingly effective - as the way Brett Easton Ellis uses the word "and"); third, and most of all - reading is just great.
Here's a list of what's on my definite TBR pile in 2010 - literally - there's no clever order to this - I have them physically lined up in front of me:
Inez - Carlos Fuetes
Brick Lane - Monica Ali
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Generation X - Doug Coupland (giving him a second chance after hating Girlfriend in a Coma)
37.2 le matin - Philippe Djiann
The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje
What I Loved - Siri Hutstvedt
A Million Little Pieces - james Frey
Atmospheric Disturbances - Rivka Galchen
2666 - Roberto Bolano
All of Proust
and not yet on my physical shelf:
Sin - Josephine Hart (can't find it anywhere!)
the new Martell and Mitchell
Journals of Anais Nin
100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The rest of my plans for 2010 will follow later but, I'm sure you can guess, they'll be centred around raising the profile of Year Zero to the point where we start getting noticed in the mainstream media, mainly through devoting myself to making the 13 Shadows tour a blinding triumph. But this is the bones of my reading list. There will be more - anyone care to add?
Most important, what are the ten books you feel you HAVE to read in 2010?