Tag: Books

Leonard David Raymundo books

Top 5 Books of 2016

If you’re anything like me, part of your New Year’s Resolution involved reading more books. Studies and personal experiences show that people who read regularly tend to be more intelligent, empathetic, and happier. Reading more (and I don’t mean your Facebook feed) will open yourself up to viewpoints you never would have considered before. There are so many genres to choose from, that it’s nearly impossible to not find a book that peaks your interest. Some people say they don’t like reading, but that’s probably because they haven’t found the right book yet. If you’re looking for a place to start, here are some of the top books from 2016.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Set in the 1960’s, this novel follows the plight of a family after two marriages fall apart and then a blended family comes out of the ashes. Taking place over the rest of their lives, it’s often difficult to know exactly what happens, as the reader observes the family from the outside, hearing pieces of gossip and different perspectives of events that tells the story of a family that deals with job and tragedy, including the death of a child.

The Return by Hisham Matar

Written as a memoir, this book tells the tale of Matar’s father, who was arrested in Egypt and sent back to Libya. He was then placed in a prison where letters were occasionally smuggled out to Matar, but they stopped coming after a few years. Matar, his brother, and his mother immigrated to America, where his father’s absence haunted him for the rest of his life. The memoir gives insight into these events and also covers his return to Libya, where he attempts to discover what happened to his father.

Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich

A poignant novel examing the personal lives of several Russians as the Soviet Union dissolves. This novel vividly describes the experiences of people stuck in this country as drastic change takes over. Instead of approaching it from a historical point of view, Alexievich chooses the tell the story through emotions and memories. A reader feels connected with the characters as the novel gives deep insight into their struggles and triumphs.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

This novel features two timelines that alternate between the narrator working as a personal assistant to a celebrity who wants to establish a school in Africa and the narrator’s childhood, when she became friends with a biracial girl, which ends in friction between the two girls. The novel offers interesting insights into race and class issues that most readers will find engaging.

The Girls by Emma Cline

The story follows a lost teenager, Evie, who searches for a place she can belong, which leads her to join a cult eerily similar to that of Charles Manson. The story is told from the perspective of an adult Evie, who cannot come to terms with how close she came to taking part in a horrific murder. This book will definitely make you shiver.

Leonard David Raymundo novel

3 Things That Will Hurt Your Novel

Creativity can bring out a person’s greatest ideas, or their worst, and deciphering the former from the latter can be tricky. Many novels have failed throughout time because of a writer’s inability to expand on his or her original ideas, or producing content that is just not appealing. Below are a number of common mistakes novelists make that inadvertently dooms their works, with many of them not even knowing it.

Expecting inspiration to come to you

There are countless articles online when searching for writing tips that advocate the idea of inspiration being a free-flowing, natural concept that magically hits you when you least expect it. While this is typically rare, it can happen. However, in order to write a novel with purpose, consistency, and engaging content, relying on this strategy will almost ensure problems at some point in your writing process.

A flash of a great idea can come to you in an instant, that is true, but seeing that as the only thing to base your novel off of is foolish. This will usually give you a hefty 10-20 pages of great content, only to lead to a slump in your creative mind. When seeking inspiration, establish a writing quota. Give yourself a specific number of words that you think you can accomplish in a day’s work. You’ll typically find that, in order to delve into your story’s details, you will have to go well over the number you originally set.

Constant self-criticism

It’s healthy to be critical of your own work from time to time. This allows you to correct mistakes that you may have glanced over before, or rework sections of your piece to better suit the story as a whole. However, constantly worrying about how your novel might be perceived by others and doubting your abilities as a writer will only prove your negative thoughts true, and can even develop into a fear of finishing said novel.

A simple way to overcome this is to just write. Even if what you come up with on the spot isn’t what you had in mind, continue to expand on those ideas. This can kickstart your brain into a frenzy of creative flow. Devote 5 minutes of your time to non-stop writing. Within these 5 minutes, don’t even think about what you’re writing. Just write. A similar strategy would be the page-long sentence exercise. Choose any subject that you can think of and attempt to write the longest sentence you can. These practices can effectively silence your inner critic and get your words down on the page.

Not accepting criticism

Furthermore, writers that cannot accept criticism from others, and see that as an insult or an attack, will hinder their growth as a novelist. Don’t expect every story you come up with to be loved by all. All great writers have, at some point, written less than impressive pieces. When a reader or fellow writer suggests a different approach toward a certain aspect of your story, understand that they are doing so with good intention. Learn from every mistake you make when constructing a novel, and see total rejection as a motivation to write even better, though it may sting at first. Don’t let anything of the sort stop you from writing altogether. Quitting is far worse than finishing a work you aren’t completely happy with.

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