Reading and writing have always been inextricably linked in my mind. One is breathing in, the other is breathing out, and both are necessary for the organism to function. I always feel a special excitement, and an increase in respiration, when the leaves begin to turn and the crisp of autumn is in the air. My heart lifts. The winter reading season is at hand!
I grew up near Minneapolis, where winter is long, days are short, and school is often cancelled because buses will not start below –30 Fahrenheit. The climate gave me good cause to read. So did my parents, who led by example. No night was too cold for a trip to the library, or to take our haul home and celebrate with popcorn and apples.
The arrival of a long-awaited book caused palpable excitement throughout the whole house. My mother, a teacher, would race home from school to read before my father came home. After dinner, it was his turn with the book. This was an era of big historical fiction and, through sheer longing to be part of the family book circle, the first adult books I read were Michener’s Hawaii, MacKinlay Kantor’s Spirit Lake and James Clavell’s Shogun. I read all of these in the winter months as I recall, and all of them fuelled my desire to write. My first (and very terrible) book, written at age 15, was set on the Minnesota frontier.
I cannot imagine writing without reading, or reading without writing. My “to read” list, kept on a database, currently stands at 7,670. There are only a few hundred on there I don’t truly want to read, or believe I will have time to read someday. Winter is that time. So, get your duvets ready. Snuggle up with a hot drink, and maybe an apple, and take yourself off to somewhere magical.
Susan Waggoner was born in Iowa, grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs, and received degrees from the University of Iowa. Except for one year in which she worked as an editorial assistant, she has always been a self-employed writer. She has written a number of non-fiction adult books, one novel and one young adult title. Tired of the current trend for gloomy dystopia in YA fiction, she wrote Neptune’s Tears, an exciting and romantic vision of the future. She divides her time between New York and London.