Art by Mark Ryden
Lucia asked: "How do you find new books to read? How do you choose what to read next? And how do you select the books worthy-of-your-time?"
I have developed quite a method, Lucia, for finding new books and choosing them and reading them in the order that suits me. There are several parts to it, and they keep fluctuating and mutating according to what I learn as I read every day and begin to understand what books are worth my time and what books aren't. I'm fooling myself, of course, and fooling you, by telling you all this. The best books I read have come out of nowhere and I frankly don't remember how I stumbled on them and they defy all my methods. Nonetheless, since we're playing this game of knowing, let me list for you my sources and the decisions I go through before picking up and reading a new book.
1. My childhood.
The year I started writing full-time was the year when I looked back and was suddenly possessed with desire to reread the books I cherished as a kid and as a teen, the books that made an impression on me, like Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien and Lolita by Nabokov and all the Moomin books by Tove Jansson and on and on and on. The Badlings was born of that desire to traverse 30+ books of my childhood and it somewhat failed as I had to cut 20 of them out due to potential copyright infringement, but that's another story. So part of my reading list comes from my memory. I have never read The Lord of the Rings in English and was thrilled to be able to do so, same with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Dracula and Brothers' Grimm's fairy tales and more.
2. The authors' influences.
When you read lots of classics, or perceived classics, or books that have been published a while ago and have been recognized as masterpieces, you inevitably end up with books that have long introductions or long afterwords or author interviews in which other books and authors are mentioned and which I always look up and often, if I like the current book I'm reading, like a Stephen King book, and find out that he was influenced by H. P. Lovecraft, I look up Lovecraft's books on Goodreads to read the descriptions and pick one that seems to be read the most and then on Amazon I look inside the book and see if I like the first page. If I do, I add it to my reading list.