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I don't think any good book is based on factual experience. Bad books are about things the writer already knew before he wrote them.
I review books as a day job, and through the years I've come to view the contemporary memoir as, almost always, a saga of victimization, sometimes by others, sometimes by the self, and sometimes by illness or misfortune, leading, like clockwork, to healing and redemption.
One of the saddest things about publishing is how quickly it ages what it touches. The frenzy involved in getting books on shelves, and in putting the word out that they're there, moves at a speed that is not the speed of writing, let alone of reading.
In design-speak, 'a library' means a room lined with books, floor-to ceiling, but it all depends on the space you have. You may have a free-standing bookshelf of your favorite books if that's all you have room for.
What I mean by that is that the point of life, as I see it, is not to write books or scale mountains or sail oceans, but to achieve happiness, and preferably an unselfish happiness.
Every day, I read books on philosophy and science fiction and human consciousness.
Writing is a intensely personal activity. I can pen down my best thoughts when I'm alone. But when one is elevated into the stature of an author, you have to think about your books in terms of their business angle.
I have to have a character worth caring about. I tend not to start writing books about people I don't have a lot of sympathy for because I'm just going to be with them too long.
My perfect reader doesn't just read - he or she devours books.
The deeper I go into mythology, the more I find. I originally did five 'Percy Jackson' books. I thought that would cover Greek mythology and I couldn't have been more wrong. It's ever-expanding.
I read my books aloud before they were published.
With twins, reading aloud to them was the only chance I could get to sit down. I read them picture books until they were reading on their own.
All the characters in my books are imagined, but all have a bit of who I am in them - much like the characters in your dreams are all formed by who you are.
What I wish is that people would look beyond the tribbles and see I've written some other books that I really would like people to notice. There's 'The Man Who Folded Himself,' there's 'The Martian Child,' which is about my son and the adoption. There's 'The War Against The Chtorr,' which is my magnum opus, my great epic story.
The truly great books are always novels: 'Anna Karenina,' 'The Brothers Karamazov,' 'The Magic Mountain.' Just as with 'Shahnameh,' I browse these books from time to time to remember how a great book works on us or to teach my students at Columbia University.
You read these management books that say, 'These are the hard things about running a company.' But those aren't really the hard things. The hard things are when you have to layoff half your company, or you have to fire your best friend. Or you have to figure out a way not to go bankrupt.
You write a book and you hope somebody will go out and pay $24.95 for what you've just said. I think books were my salvation. Books saved me from being miserable.
While reading 'David Copperfield' in the middle of the night - probably because of the light, I had insomnia for the first time - I looked out of the window and thought, 'If this is what books can do, this is what I want to do.'
Other people are talking about writing books about my life, or about some of the things I've done. I find it strange, but I also feel it's my life and my story, and I guess I better be the one to get it on paper the way it actually happened.
I'm not one of those professors whose office is encased floor-to-ceiling with books. By the way, I think academics do this to intimidate their visitors.
I basically only read books that are over 2,000 years old.
Nothing teaches great writing like the very best books do. Yet, good teachers often help students cross that bridge, and I have to say that I had a few extraordinary English teachers in high school whom I still credit for their guidance.
In my next life, I want to be tall and thin, parallel park and make good coffee. But for now, I have lots of stuff to work out in my life, but I'll have that until the day I die. I want to write more books.
The science can tell you that the thousands of pseudo-scientific parenting books out there - not to mention the 'Baby Einstein' DVDs and the flash cards and the brain-boosting toys - won't do a thing to make your baby smarter. That's largely because babies are already as smart as they can be; smarter than we are in some ways.
Stephen King in many respects is a wonderful writer. He has made a contribution. People in the future will be able to pick up Stephen King's books and learn a lot about who we were by reading those books.
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
C. S. Lewis
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