A writer has to read. I'm not talking about how-to books on writing, or articles about writing, or blogs about writing. I'm talking about reading actual books. Guitarists listen to Clapton and Hendrix. Piano players listen to Elton John and Billy Joel. Composers listen to Beethoven and Mozart. That's a big part of how they learn. Likewise, writers need to read other writers. I'm not saying that one should copy other writers, but a good writer emulates others, and along the way he discovers his own voice.
With that said, after much deliberation, I give you my list of the top five books ever written, for what my opinion may be worth:
5. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (1887)
I write mysteries, so a good mystery has to be on this list...
So, this is going to be a rare post for me. I say it’s rare because this is going to sound like a paid commercial endorsement. It’s not. Rather, it’s simply an explanation of why I buy the books I read where I buy them. This explanation will, I hope, encourage others to do the same.
Is there anything better than going to a bookstore early on a Saturday morning, before many others are out of bed. You enter the store and are immediately hit by the smell of books. Glorious books. You know the smell I’m talking about–just open a new book and take a whiff. It’s better than the memory of how Grandma’s house used to smell (it smelled like mothballs, especially in the upstairs hall closet). It’s almost better than the smell of my wife making chocolate...
I get asked sometimes why I chose to write mysteries. Surely, there are other genres out there. Some may say that so-called “literary fiction” is better and more impressive. So, why choose genre fiction? Why mysteries?
After some thinking, I’ve traced my interest in mysteries all the way back to when I was a kid in grade school. My mom would take my brother and I to the library in the summer so we could get books. Sometimes, if we were lucky, we’d go to a bookstore and be able to actually buy books, to keep. It was during this period that I discovered a series that first got me into mysteries, and I’d like to pay tribute to those stories here. No, it’s not The Hardy Boys, and not Nancy Drew–it all started when I discovered a kid from Idaville.