Many writers take a break from writing in the last week or two of the year. Quite a few of us spend that time reading — essentially filling the creative well and helping recover some of the spark and energy that can be lost in the shuffle of sentences, edits, promotion, and all the other aspects of being a professional writer. I’m a big proponent of reading like a writer, that is, honing the ability to identify what another author is doing on the page, whether it works for you or not, and what lessons you can learn. And I often urge writers to “read up,” choosing as your next read the latest by an author your admire or a book by a writer who gets a lot of accolades but whom you’ve somehow missed.
Sometimes, though, we should all read just for fun. If you learn something, great. If the author gives you an idea for how to handle a tricky subplot, make a note. But maybe the best gift you can give yourself these last few days of yet another particularly trying year is to read like a reader. Get caught up in the story, the poetry, the setting. Reread a favorite or pull something frivolous off the shelf. Get in touch with your inner ten-year-old, the one who read Harriet the Spy by the glow of the street light or snuck a flashlight into bed. Because a writer must first be a reader.
So grab a blankie — my gnome friend is keeping them warm for you — and curl up with a book. And I’ll see you back here next year.