BY Vani IN For Writers

Seven books to read before you start writing your own [Scroll]

“I never read a novel till I was 18,” Sunjeev Sahota, author of The Year of The Runaways was quoted as saying. (His book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2015 and the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2016). The fact that he grew up in a non-literary household and never read novels in school may resonate with many of us.

After all, not everybody has heard of The Brothers Karamazov; few of us have ever written anything beyond a leave application or a company memo. And yet, the urge to write a book is strong in many of us, for we all have stories to tell.

In his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King recommends a “strenuous reading and writing programme of about four to six hours a day” for all aspiring writers. Fair enough – but with a full-time job and family commitments, one might end up feeling overwrought, unless one cuts down on sleep and a social life. Writing (or reading), in that case, will become a painful process and not the creative medium of expression it is meant to be.

But the importance of reading books cannot be overstated. To quote King once again: “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.” So, if you are a late bloomer and think you want to read works to inspire you and to educate you before you start writing your own here is a suggestive list of seven books to help you get started:

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is a coming-of-age story that depicts the frailties of human beings as seen through the eyes of an orphaned English girl. While all the novels written by the Bronte sisters (Emily, Anne and Charlotte) are legendary, this one in particular has grown in its appeal in recent years.

That’s thanks to the prose, which is evocative and subversive, and the way it addresses themes like love, relationships, gender stereotypes, religion and social classes with deep compassion and tenderness. The novel shows us an old-fashioned away of telling a story, and that’s often the best starting point: you have to know the rules before you can break them.

For a first-time author who wants to master the art of storytelling and create unforgettable characters, this novel is a must read.

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