Why I Read One Short Story, One Poem, and One News Article or Essay Everyday

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Okay, okay I might not actually read  all of these things everyday, but I do listen to some and read the others. Usually, my poem is listened to as part of my morning ritual. While putting on my makeup to get ready for work, I put on the Writer’s Almanac podcast. I mean really, what’s better than Garrison Keillor’s soothing voice giving you the important historical/literary happenings of the day? At the end of each podcast, he closes by reading a poem. So, this is how I get my poetry in everyday. 

Now, before Garrison Keillor and I partake in my makeup routine, I’m scouring my Twitter feed looking for news while I drink my morning tea. I make it a point to get up about 10-20 minutes early so I can have a cup of hot tea and look through Twitter. The feed usually works pretty well, but if I’m interested in something happening right that second in the news world, I’ll just tap on that little magnifying glass and hashtag away. #breakingnews, #news, or whatever seems relevant at the time.

If I’m not in the mood for news that day (but, invariably, I’ll end up reading something in the news while online at work since part of my job is social media) then I pull out an essay to read. A personal essay, not an academic essay (though that happens many days as well as I’m a writing tutor at a local college). At the moment, I’m finding great essays in The Best American Essays of 2014 and Bad Feminist.

On my lunch break at work, I usually read a short story. I have lots of short story collections in paperback like Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love or the 2014 Best American Short Stories or Alice Munro’s Dear Life. One of these collections always makes it to work with me. And, after I read that short story, I pull out the book of the week. Sometimes it’s a novel or non-fiction piece I’m reading off my TBR list, but lately it’s been a work that I’m scheduled to review for the blog.

Mmkay, now you know the routine. Here’s why I do it:

1. It’s Important to Keep an Open Mind

This is true in all aspects of life, but as readers, I think it’s really important to keep an open mind to all genres. We might happen upon something that causes a catch in our breath or makes a lasting impact on our minds. This can only happen if we step outside our reading comfort zones (chick-lit, mystery, personal essays— all outside my comfort zone). This happened for me with journalism. I didn’t understand that journalism, especially long-form journalism (a dying breed, I know, but I’m optimistic), is just as much a craft as any other kind of writing. I’m not talking about the quick, click-driven article that pops across your Facebook feed. I’m talking journalism that captures the lives and stories of real people.

2. I’m a writer still floundering to find my genre

I can’t write fiction to save my life. At least, I can’t yet, but the more I read it, the more I become familiar with how fiction works. The same goes for all other genres. I read to learn about style and tone and depth and on and on and on. I also think a writer has the right to affiliate themselves with multiple genres. I’m not sure one genre is what I want to stick with, so I read all of them and then I try to write in all of them.

3. I love reading

I’m literally okay with reading just about anything. And I’m not just okay with it— I can’t help it. Even when I don’t mean to read, when I mean to do something else, I find signs or flyers or stickers to read. It’s just in my nature. My husband seems to think that at some point my brain should explode because of an overload of information.

So that’s it. That’s why I do it. How about you? What are your daily reading habits like? Stick to one genre or piece, or do you read more than one work/genre at a time?


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